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Do you secretly hate the book fair too?

Posted by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 9:49 AM
  • 10 Replies

The School Book Fair Is Every Parent's Nightmare

school book fair rant

How is it that after I swore up and down I wouldn’t spend a dime on overpriced items that don’t actually have anything to do with promoting a love of reading, I walked out of the room $50 lighter than when I walked in? Not to mention the buckets of sweat I’d lost from being crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with a thousand other parents and kids. If you ask me, the school book fair diet is more effective than a cayenne-and-lemon-juice fast for shedding those extra pounds.

For someone who loves books, I sure hate the school book fair. I’m talking about the Scholastic one that takes over kids’ brains for days on end as the entire school focuses on getting every student worked into a rabid lather over the chance to spend their parents’ hard-earned cash on things like the Super Mega Must-Have Star Wars LEGO Character Guide That’s Filled With Eight Thousand High-Resolution White-Background Photos of Toys and Like Maybe Five Words and Pokémon-branded pencils (merchandising motto: “Gotta beg for them all!”).

The book fair starts pissing me off before it even happens, because first the wish list comes home. Oh, the WISH LIST. I don’t know what classroom time gets usurped by the activity of having kids methodically circle all the various things they want their parents to buy, but here's MY wish list: how about the district gives overworked teachers more time to actually teach instead of encouraging children to whine for Ninjago marketing brochures thinly disguised as I Can Read! books.

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If you can’t tell, it’s the non-book stuff that really pisses me off about the book fair. My first-grader pouted all night because I wouldn’t buy the book about sharks that came with a fake shark tooth packaged on the front cover. Look, it would be one thing if he was legitimately interested in marine biology, but I know exactly why he wants that $19.95 hardcover: BECAUSE IT COMES WITH A PLASTIC TOOTH.

Don’t even get me started on my third-grader’s requests for LEGO coloring guides, Minecraft how-tos, and Pokémon “essential handbooks.” And that was before we showed up to the fair — which was, as always, a total sensory nightmare of adults and kids packed into one tiny space — and saw that they were also selling lollipops, posters, and a variety of toys.

I try to boycott the book fair, but I always end up feeling guilty as the week goes on and my kids sadly describe how all their friends are getting these totally amazing books each day. So I finally give in, and even though I insist on purchasing books that have sentences in them instead of product SKUs, I still find myself spending way more than I intended.

I suppose it’s all for a good cause, but I’d rather donate directly to the school and replace this yearly buy-buy-buy bonanza with a trip to the library. Last I checked, the children’s section over there is still devoted to stories -- although based on how book retailers have changed over the years, I'm sure it’s only a matter of time until library books are replaced by sticker collections, nail polish sets, and friendship bracelet kits.

Do you secretly hate the book fair too?

by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 9:49 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:47 PM


by Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:55 PM

I gave her a set amount in cash to spend at the school book fair.  We also would take monthly trips to the bookstore and let her get a book or two.  I encourage reading and collecting books.

by Anonymous 1 on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:59 PM
I loved book fairs and worked them a lot of times.
by Bronze Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 1:00 PM
My kids asked for actual books. Hell, I bought two for myself. I <3 the book fair.
by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 1:32 PM

My kids occasionally ask for the extras but they genuinely want books so I don't mind the book fair. They know the extras are off limits and the book fair is for books only. I have a pretty sizable collection so my kids already want to collect books of their own too. I indulged in a collectible LEGO star wars book and a set of hard cover minecraft books the last time we went thinking I would kick myself for it and I was SO wrong. My ds(8 at the time) loves them and has read them repeatedly despite being FAR above his grade level and very long. My dd always wants the diaries and I have found that requiring her to actually write in them improves her writing skills and it's a way I don't have to force her to practive handwriting. My whole family loves the book fair really!

by Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 1:41 PM
We love the book fair. Both of my kids love to read so every time there is a book fair going on, I let each kid pick out a book or 2 (depending on how much each book is) and we look over the teacher wish lists and get one book for each of their classrooms. Sometimes I will also let each kid pick out an extra like a book mark or something. My kids know not to expect anything except one book. I also don't care if they are actual stories. The fall book fair this year, there was a book that my 5 year old put on her wish list and then took me straight to this book when we walked in the book fair. It was an interior design drawing book. She loves art and loves to draw and color etc. I believe that books don't have to have a bunch of words to be educational. I think kids should also have books geared to their interests and talents.
by Bronze Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 8:30 PM


My kids(I have two) both want, or as they say "have to get", about $50 of books and merchandise.  Most of which is either to easy or too hard for them.  I don't mind the ones that are too hard so much because the will eventually read them but a 6-9 year old does not need picture books.  We get them down to maybe $20-$30 each, but that is hard for them to do most of the time. 

by Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 10:29 PM
No, I like it.
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by ♥ char ♥ on Feb. 18, 2015 at 10:33 PM

No, i love the book fair.

by Member on Feb. 19, 2015 at 10:49 AM

Not at all.

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