Jack has already brought home a book order from Scholastic. Memories of last year's book fair at his old Montessori came rushing back to me as I tossed the order into the recycling. Displays of trinkets. "Books" based on movies. Sponge Bob and other TV-show "books." I hadn't anticipated my having to say "no" every 30 seconds to my children at a book fair. At their school. I asked my sister in law, who is a school librarian in Pittsburgh, about her opinions of Scholastic. She said they have a near monopoly. She didn't like their extensive selling of licensed products and junk, either. But she really liked the particular sales rep who works with her school. Not a battle to pick in an inner city school, anyway.
The other day I browsed for information about Scholastic and stumbled upon the story, a few weeks old, about how Scholastic books had teamed up with ABC to present 9/11 propaganda. This was a study guide to the 9/11 docudrama (!), aimed at high schoolers. Scholastic did pull the study guide and replace it with material on critical reading and critical thinking. That's all very well, but . . .
Now I'm concerned all over again about Scholastic and their influence. Do they deserve near-universal patronage? I found this article in the Denver Post (from almost two years ago) in which lots of parents think exactly the way I do about the company's book fairs. But because Scholastic can cover losses due to error and theft, and smaller companies can't, there are few other options.I did find Jabberwocky, a local company in the Philadelphia area that holds book fairs. They claim to carry lots of award-winning titles and "virtually no fluff." What would it take for the Montessori (which Will still attends) to change? Half the yearly library budget comes from the book fair. I'm not ready to tackle the public school yet.
I'd be curious to get reader input on this . . . Does anyone else out there feel the way I do?