Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Which I Whip My Hair Back and Forth...

When I was a kid, the Scholastic Book Fair was something I always looked forward to. I loved poring over every page of the colorful 4-page flyer and reading the teaser description for books, all of which looked so interesting. Plus, it was fun haggling with Mom and trying to convince her as to *why* I needed all those books and *what a good deed* it was to be buying them (after all, it’s partly a school fundraiser, library/classroom stocker).

So I was excited this week when bitty one emptied her back pack and her 2011 version of Scholastic came fluttering out. It wasn’t long, though, before that 2011 version got crossways with my 1974 memories of same.

I thought I might see some Beverly Cleary, or E.B. White, or Wilson Rawls, or even that good old standby Theodor Geisel.

Instead, I saw several descriptions like these:

“Eleven year old David dreams of becoming a TV star. With a little help from his pet hamster, he creates “Talk Time” videos which he posts on YouTube and becomes an internet sensation.” …He learns some tough lessons, however, when a not-so-accidental video of him in his undies goes viral; namely, the value of a dollar, the importance of a PayPal account for processing credit card payments, and the over-arching need for good domain name selection. Will David make it to high school without being snatched by a skeevy, middle aged, married and balding internet troll or will his parents shut off DWTS in time to GET THEIR 11 YEAR OLD KID OFF THE YOUTUBE VIDEO MAKING INTERNET?


“More than anything, Anjali wants to become a celebrity chef, but her parents think her passions are beneath her. Can she push past family beliefs and make her dream of a cooking reality TV show come true?” …because God knows that the only way to be a *true* success in this world is to BE A REALITY TV STAR, even if you do cook better than Paula Deen.  


“Just 10 years old, Willow Smith already has starred in TV and movie roles, released a hit single and video, and won an NAACP award for outstanding new artist. Find out all about this rising new star.” …who is ONLY FAMOUS BECAUSE SHE HAS NOT ONE BUT TWO CELEBRITY PARENTS WHO ARE PIMPING HER OUT SOLELY BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN SUED BY PARENTS OF CHILDREN ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY AFTER SAID CHILDREN REPEATEDLY whipped their hair back and forth causing multiple neck fractures, contusions, dental fragmentations, and, in at least one case, leprosy.


“These four best friends have a talent for getting in trouble. Will their smooth moves land them a sweet gig, or will they find themselves in a big time mess?” …if by “mess” you mean represented by an overweight, track suit and chain wearing, more than middle-aged hair dying, sex-crime having Manager who records their every move while on the bus (even when they are unawares, which is usually in the shower or in the bathroom or asleep) for the sake of the career he keeps telling them they’re going to have, then yes. They will find themselves in quite the mess.


I kind of quit reading the descriptions after that.

I recognize finding that elusive catalyst that sparks a child’s interest in reading is always a good thing. And, I’m all for that. But why does the so-called catalyst have to be so connected to TV (reality, at that) or the internet? Kids get so much of that as it is, they gotta get it from books, too?


I’m old. The world is changing and my daughter’s part of a whole new generation. And she needs to be prepared.

But, not yet.

Not yet.



  1. Why oh why did you use that video of the real everybody knows what you looked like when you were young and not OLD...and what a real dork you really are...slinging your hair around like that with your old friend...tsk tsk....

  2. I thought all the books I was exposed to was in many ways the highlight of my childhood. It saddens me to think that today's children might be missing some of the joy that I had from books.

  3. @Anon/Mom - that's not me!

    @Laoch - I agree. I think the key is parents who read and who read to their kids. I know I was read to as a child and somehow learned a love of reading, but I don't know if it translates to all kids. Hopefully my daughter will enjoy it. She's just now starting to read on her own. At the book fair, I let her make her own choices. She did fine, although one is basically a graphic (cartoon) job called "Super Diaper Baby 2, The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers."

    I can't fault her. I loved comics as a kid.


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