The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is accusing Scholastic Inc. of using school book clubs to sell video games, jewelry kits, and toy cars, The New York Times reported this week. A spokeswoman for the Boston-based advocacy group said it reviewed brochures for Scholastic’s book club for 2nd and 3rd graders and for 4th through 6th graders and found that 14 percent of items weren’t books. The group claims that an additional 19 percent of items in those brochures were books accompanied by trinkets, such as stickers or toys.
Judy Newman, the president of Scholastic Book Clubs, stands by the products in the book- club brochures. Even a product like a make-your-own-jewelry kit would have a reading component in the instructions, she said, according to the article.
The debate over what kind of book accessories are appropriate to pitch in schools brings to mind the debate from more than 10 years ago about whether it was appropriate for students to be exposed to ads through daily news programs produced by Whittle Communications.
I may be new to this curriculum beat, but I think I’m safe in concluding that issues about how much commercialism is appropriate in schools will not go away.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.