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The School Book Fair Is Every Parent's Nightmare

Posted by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 11:56 AM
  • 49 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.

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?

Do you volunteer OR spend too much money at the book fair?

Image via jose_kevo/Flickr

by on Feb. 18, 2015 at 11:56 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Bronze Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:07 PM
I love the book fair and usually get myself something too. I'm more into the toys than the books though. It brings back memories from my childhood book fairs and I do spend too much every time. Lol.
by Kristyn on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:10 PM

Our son had a book fair before Halloween, and it wasn't too bad. His teacher had written down 2 books that he really wanted. He and I went to the book fair and picked up the books. One of the books he wanted was a Lego book that was $22, but we had the money to purchase, so we did. No big deal.

by Emerald Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:16 PM

Our PTA has a Scholastic bookfair during open house in the school library, which is air conditioned.  Not to mention that our open house is split up over two nights, k-2 and 3-5, so it really isn't too hot and crowded in there.  Another plus is that we no longer put out all of the junk to sell and pretty much just stick with the books.  Parents and teachers alike didn't care for all of the random junk, so it made sense to leave it in the boxes that it arrived in.

We also have a Barnes & Noble bookfair in the spring.  Since that event is held at the store, we don't control what is sold.  It is a much smaller event and is only held on one evening.

by Silver Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:36 PM
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We don't usually go to the book fairs. We already own a ton of books and usually get them at book stores, yard sales or thrift stores for a lot cheaper

by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:37 PM
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I used to volunteer at the book fair at my DD's old school. Room was air conditioned and we were open all day so it was never really all that terrible. I like book fairs. The prices are the same as at Barnes & Noble, except your kid's school gets money from the book fair.

by Bronze Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 12:39 PM
I love the book fair.
by Ruby Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 1:11 PM
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 I let my kids get 1 book each from the book fair. If they do not whine too much, and it does not cost too much, I let them get a bookmark, too.

I could easily do w/o all the other stuff. If they want anything else, they have to use their own money for it.




by Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 1:20 PM

I send my ds with money. In the fall he gave away 10 dollars to a "friend" and we never saw it again. He also bought non book items there such as pencil toppers.I wouldn't have minded the fact that he gave away ten dollars but we are on a tight budget and every dime literally matters. Bottom line I hate that darn book fair.LOL

by Bronze Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 1:22 PM

My hatred for the book fair is no secret.  

by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2015 at 2:26 PM
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I don't care either way about book fairs. I do believe in encouraging kids to read, and the school gets money so it is WAY WAY better than selling cookie dough or overpriced crappy Christmas junk or the like.

I tell the kids that get 1-2 books each, or an approximate spending limit and it has never been an issue.
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