I read a blog post on Stltoday.com recently about those Scholastic Book Club flyers that some schools hand out. Yep, those same newsprint sheets that we got in elementary school back in the "good old days".
A Boston-based group reviewed the flyers and concluded that they’re full of toys. Well, that for the series they examined, 14 percent of the items offered for sale were not books, and 19 percent were books packaged with other items. Apparently they found this to be a problem.
My kids’ preschool hands out the same Scholastic flyers every so often, and we almost always buy something (usually, many somethings). Now, we get a slightly different series than the one reviewed—I think that was for 2nd graders—but our flyers also have an assortment of "non-books".
I’ve never found anything to complain about. They’re not selling guns and candy. The "non-book" items are frequently flashcards, art kits, kits that include small models (like dinosaurs or bugs). And honestly, my husband and I control all purchasing from the pamphlets, so there is no opportunity for Charlotte to blow all her cash on stickers. Not that she has cash to blow just yet. She’s only 4.
Have I ever bought any of the "non-book" items? Just last month. I got a pack of Valentines Day books that came with a rolling stamper (with 4 different colored stampers). Charlotte loved it. So much that she roller-stamped the walls (and then had to clean them). Guess I need to get that back out again tonight for her to work on Valentines cards for her school party. Wall washing aside, it was a nice little packet—4 or 5 books plus the stamper for around $10.
I think Scholastic is doing a fine job, and if they’re making money on the deal, that’s wonderful! I find it incredibly convenient to buy their books. There are usually 1-2 items per flyer for only $1 each (I usually buy these, plus other stuff). I love shopping in bookstores too, but the bookstores tend to carry more hardbacks. And while the hardbacks are nicer quality, I love the quantity and variety that buying all the little paperbacks affords us. And their packs introduce us to authors and series that I might not have chosen individually.
Each of our children has a bookcase overflowing with books (we’re talking 100’s, not even counting all of the early readers Charlotte just inherited from her "little aunt"), and they request to read more every night than we ever have time for. That doesn’t mean that we buy more than we read—but if you don’t cut them off, they’ll request to read every book in the place. Annoying as it is when you really just want the kid to sleep, I love that. I’m a huge reader, and we’re rearing two huge readers. That’s a good thing.
If selling a few educational trinkets helps entice a kid to read, what’s the harm?