Later this week I will be setting up for the first of Inly’s two annual book fairs. This one is the Scholastic book fair, a fact which I have incredibly mixed feelings about.
One of the things I love most about working at Inly is our respect for children, an understanding that they are not just small consumers, our emphasis on beautiful materials and most importantly to me, our commitment to exposing children to good literature.
So, one can easily make a case that Scholastic is not a great match. Their promotional materials highlight the latest “novels” based on TV shows and there are so many Disney princesses that I feel a little sick.
My Scholastic rep knows how I feel; we have had several lively and honest conversations, and she understands that Inly hosts a “modified” Scholastic fair. The thing is—I really appreciate what they do. They are getting books into kid’s hands. No argument with that. They are making money—again, no argument. If Captain Underpants inspires a reluctant reader, that’s great. I just feel that it’s my job to offer our parents something else. Captain Underpants is as near as the local grocery store, but Frederick may not be.
I am incredibly fortunate to work at a school where parents are able to buy books for their children. But I also feel like they should be able to come to the school book fair and not be bombarded by media images. If all of the books are good choices, no problem. Scholastic has some terrific books as well. They are just not as well promoted. They always have lovely picture books, art books and a good selection of classics for every age.
I’m excited to put good books into the hands of good kids. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year. I just hope they don’t peek behind the cases…