School book fairs

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School book fairs



Those of you with kids in elementary school - what do you think of the book fairs they put on for your kids?

At my son's school, they have a book fair on parent-teacher night (a good time to really sell books, with the parents there with their wallets). Anyhow, I remember being surprised at how many non-book items were there for sale, and most of it crap. I told my son that he could get something but it had to be a book or something to read. But I didn't like being undermined by all that crap.

[url=]Looks like I'm not the only one.[/url]


Are you tired of all the items for sale at your book fair that aren’t books--such as toys, video games, posters, and fashion accessories? Do you think that school book fairs should promote reading without promoting TV shows and movies?

Also, I took this picture at a book fair last year. I couldn't BELIEVE this:



Hmmm ... I didn't realize that Einstein was strictly for boys. It's got to be all that math and science that the fairer sex doesn't excel at. [img]rolleyes.gif" border="0[/img] Was there a Books for Girls section too? I'm thinking with a pink tablecloth and a lot of books featuring Disney princesses.

That really is too bad. I used to love the book fairs when I was a kid. I’d actually save up my birthday money in anticipation of them. Though, I don’t think I had the eye for sexism that I do now, so I can’t recall any specifics. My mom volunteered at our elementary school library, so she was partly in charge of stocking the library with new and interesting books that could appeal to both genders, so if I remember correctly we had quite the diverse assortment in those days.


Books for boys..Good Lord!

They had one per year at my kids school as a library fundraiser. There was a small selection of novelty pencils, pads, erasers and such, but mainly books. Maybe sorted by age and interest, but not gender. I'm sure our venerable librarian who has been there for ever would know better, but if she didn't she'd have been told in a pretty big hurry.

Skinny Dipper

I have purchased books that appeal to different students. No, each book does not need to appeal to everyone. What is needed in each classroom and in the school library are a wide range of books that will appeal to selected groups of students including boys, girls, white, black, "Christian, Jewish, Miscellaneous" (Quote from the Simpsons). Note that there are cross-interests.

I understand why there is a "Books for Boys" tag on some of the books. It is very difficult to get boys interested in reading. I also do understand that the tag may discourage girls from reading those books found under that tag. Perhaps Scholastic should have choosen another name to describe those books such as "Real Interest." I know that's not a great name, but it is not gender specific.

I have been to several Scholastic Book Fairs where students end up buying the latest movie-books or those annoying licorice shaped erasers which I have to confiscate after because students whip them in class or misuse them in another way.

I wish the government could better fund our schools so that we would not need to have commercialism in the schools.

[ 10 March 2008: Message edited by: Skinny Dipper ]



Scholastic Book Fairs

I went to one at our school and I was not impressed with all the junk they were trying to sell for outrageous prices. And the books were not all that great either.

I used to find better books for my kids at garage sales and secondhand book stores.


My eldest son especially appreciates all the reference books. I am happy to pay the retail prices because these purchases benefit the school library and classroom acquisition of books.



Originally posted by Skinny Dipper:
[b]... or those annoying licorice shaped erasers which I have to confiscate after because students whip them in class ...

[ 10 March 2008: Message edited by: Skinny Dipper ][/b]

[img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img] I had forgotten about those! Ahhhhhh the memories! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

Anyone remember the bookmobile? I used to think that was so awesome, cool and exotic!!!


Watch this Michelle. It'll tell you exactly what boys [b]should[/b] be reading.



Originally posted by Skinny Dipper:
[b]I understand why there is a "Books for Boys" tag on some of the books. It is very difficult to get boys interested in reading. I also do understand that the tag may discourage girls from reading those books found under that tag. [/b]

That's not the only reason I was peeved about it. The other reason is because boys might get the idea that the selections on that table are what boys SHOULD read and all the other stuff is stuff they shouldn't! It can also give the BOYS the idea that books about Einstein are for boys (and not girls), and frankly, my son gets enough of that kind of sexist conditioning by growing up in our society. He doesn't need it reinforced at school.

That's all we need - another generation of BOYS who think that science and technology books are for boys.


jrose - good god in heaven.


Horrifying, isn't it? I stumbled across it on the Open Book Toronto blog. The whole post can be found [url=

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Ahh, the interminable crisis of the American Male. Its history is as long as that of the United States. Perpetually emasculated, perpetually under siege, masculinity is always at risk.

"Where did TIME TRAVEL come in?"

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Over at [i]Quill & Quire[/i] John McFetridge points out on Quillblog that it is on TV sitcoms where all these male mental lightweights are displayed. And that's probably where Glenn Beck gets his cultural instructions and cues from anyway.

No wonder whiny conservatives like him are so distressed. He probably feels outnumbered by vampires, gangsters in therapy, and reality show contestants. Just say "No" to the idiot box.


Yeah, you've got to wonder if the guy has ever actually READ a children's book. Their problem seems to be that girls are no longer portrayed in fiction as helpless little damsels in distress, and they assume that if girls are not helpless then this somehow emasculates boys.

There are all sorts of books where boys are not only the main characters, but also the hero, without turning the female characters into airheads looking to be saved by a boy. I mean, hello, HARRY POTTER?

The Magic Treehouse series is a brother and sister who both have strengths and weaknesses. The sister is impetuous which means she is more fearless than the boy, but the boy is the one who is very studious and smart and likes to do the research.

And there are all sorts of series that are sort of "aimed" at boy readers, like the gross-out novels that Dan Pilkov writes (Captain Underpants and others). The characters in that are boys.

I find no end of books for my son to read, with strong male AND female characters in them. And I think that's a good thing.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture


There are all sorts of books where boys are not only the main characters, but also the hero, without turning the female characters into airheads looking to be saved by a boy. I mean, hello, HARRY POTTER?

Hah!!! I thought of the Harry Potter series too! We're currently reading book four aloud.

I don't like most of the Scholastic company's books. They tend to be based too much on commercial take-offs of toys and movies, and those particular products are dumbed down too much, just fluff. Both the wild girls are very advanced readers for their ages, so we're spending more time on more challenging material.

There is also the sexist thing in books for girls -- lots of Bratz (I HATE those things!), fairies, princesses and fluff. Now, I know some light recreational fluff can be a fun read, and we get that from the library sometimes, but owning it generally leads to a quick read and then clutter -- the girls just don't go back to it. I would rather invest in something that has substance and will be revisited later.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I've seen these sorts of book sales in federal government departments that I've worked for.

I've no doubt that some of it is simply part of "covert" operations to privatize public education as part of the neo-conservative plan to turn all human relations into market relations. Get a foot in the door, and then gradually murder public education.

The content is also suspect, with stereotyped learning methodologies and so on, and with fund-raising for fundamentalist organizations and pathological anti-abortionists. Before buying a book it's wise to find out - I mean REALLY find out - where your hard earned money is going. ETA: These zealots are good at covering their tracks.

[ 25 June 2008: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]

Skinny Dipper

While my comment may sound stereotypical, I do find that boys look for books with action and girls look for books that deals with relationships. This is not absolute as boys and girls can look for both sometimes. Sometimes if boys and girls read the same book, they will pick-up different information.

A few years ago, CBC television did a [url=]feature[/url] on the gender gap in reading. I found it interesting that one boy in the feature didn't like reading [i]Treasure Island[/i]--something Glenn Beck liked.


Michelle - I thought of you last night when I was at the library. I couldn't help but pick up one of the most offensive books I've seen for girls, published by none other than scholastic.

It's called the Girls' Book of Glamour: A Guide to Being a Goddess. It's branded the same way as the Daring/Dangerous books for Girls/Boys, but I'm not sure Scholastic published them.

Here are just a few of the chapter headings:

Put on a Fashion Show

Host a Spa Party

How to Descent a Staircase Gracefully

How to Be the Best Bridesmaid

Of the dozens of chapters, really, there were only one or two that I didn't find completely offensive. (E.g. I thought how to turn your jeans into a skirt pretty DIY and fun). My wonderfully feminist better half went through yesterday and cringe chapter after chapter.


Gross gross gross.

Did I ever end up posting a picture on babble, taken from a Scholastic book order form, of a section of the form where they were targeting girls with stories with captions such as, "Need a good cry?" and such?

I think I have the image on my computer at work - I'll have to upload it to flickr and post it here.  It's beyond offensive.


Oh, that's terrible! I don't remember seeing that one.

I read a lot of young adult fiction for female readers. It's kind of an obsessive pastime of mine. I think it's because I read so much in my formative years, and really got so much out of an enjoyment of reading, and I truly worry about the side-effects of Gossip Girl, The Clique, and "non-fiction" books like "A Guide to Being a Goddess."

At the library last night, I skimmed the shelves with my eyes, and it seemed to be a collage of different shades of pink, all targeted at young women. It's sickening really. I guess it's no surprise that the book I'm talking about is packaged to look as though it's out of the 1950's, featuring a young woman bathing in an old-fashioned bath tub. The exception to this 1950's theme is the book's fluorescent pink colour.

I have a bad habit of reading books that make me mad, just to know what's out there. This is another example of that.


Here it is!  I also still had it on my camera, so I downloaded it now.

Like, seriously, are you kidding me, Scholastic?  Really?

I almost had an aneurysm when I saw this a few months back in my son's book order.  I told him I'd be happy to buy a book for him somewhere, but it wasn't going to be from Scholastic, after that Books for Boys table, followed by this sexist tripe.  He totally understood where I was coming from, too.  If a 10 year-old boy can recognize sexism, you'd think the executives at Scholastic could!


Gah! That's absolutely awful! And if I remember correctly, Kit Pearson had some great books with positive female characters. It's a shame to see them summed up with such an awful tag line.


We have these bookfairs at my son's school twice a year, plus the monthly brochures. Scholastic certainly could use some work in terms of their marketing!

However, I happen to know that our teacher-librarian (we are lucky to even have a teacher-librarian, let alone such an amazing one) gets about 1200 a year in her budget. This has to cover adding to the collection, covering the books to add to their longevity, cataloging materials,any extra programming she wants to do, software for the computer lab etcetera.

Without Scholastic, she wouldn't be able to buy any books!

Unless we actually get a government in power that is willing to fund our schools to an acceptable level, I feel I have to support our teachers through purchasing these cheaply bound, gender marketed books. However, he has to buy books not based on a television cartoon, and the novelty pencils and erasers and stuff are kept to a minimum.


Jabberwock's rationale is why we buy many books from Scholastic. Our youngest son usually starts wanting about 20 titles and we whittle him down to a maximum of 5. We are in an economic space to be able to afford many books and therefore can assist the school which is inner city and undefunded. Parenthetically, our oldest son read Brideg to Terabithia in grade 6 this year.


Scholastic's educational texts are a whole different ballgame, as well. I've been to enough book fairs to realize they do have some high-quality books that they release, outside of the whole bookfair/book catologue deals.

And yes, I know first-hand how underfunded schools are when it comes to purchasing books. It's very sad.


So Scholastic has made another great stride towards a Schlaflian gender relations utopia:

Boys Only Survival Tips vs. Girls Only Survival Tips


Don't know what to get little Billy or Sally before they go off to summer camp? How about one of Scholastic's new "How To Survive Anything!" books? The "Boys Only" edition looks pretty sweet: you can learn how to survive a snakebite, swarm of bees and forest fire, as well as how to make it through some more unrealistic scenarios, like a polar bear attack or "space."

So what does the "Girl's Only" edition include? Well, there's "How to Survive a BFF fight," How to Survive a Breakout" and, uh, "How to Have the Best Sleepover Ever." (We can't even get sleepover survival tips? My younger self would've at least liked to know how not to end up the only person not kissed during Spin the Bottle...)

Check out the table of contents for both books...