Thursday, February 28, 2013

When Scholastic was cool: all-girl edition

Jenny Lind and Her Listening Cat by Frances Cavanah

I think you all know my feelings about Scholastic books by now. With my younger daughter home with the flu almost all week, I've been keeping myself busy excavating the bookcases and marveling over just how many vintage Scholastic paperbacks I've managed to amass—the kind that must've been originally purchased on a BookMobile—and marveling over how few we have actually read. A shame, really—I mean, don't these girl-centric titles look awesome? And so much more interesting than those American Girl books?

Okay, I'm not knocking those American Girl books. Not really. I haven't finished any of them (mercifully), so I don't have the right. Some of them might be great. But what I've read is just dull, dull, dull. And how about the boring cover designs? Compared to these old-school Scholastic books? I guess I'm mostly just a little fed up with the idea of excusing books for being boring/crappy just because they get kids interested in reading. Good books get kids interested in reading too. Maybe we should stop racing to make our kids read before they are ready—then we wouldn't have to fill their heads with such deadly prose. This is on my mind because my younger daughter is an audiobook addict and lately she's been listening to the Magic Treehouse series, "chapter books" designed for early readers. Which, okay, is fine. Does the job. If you think it's important that a 6- or 7-year-old can read books divided into chapters. But the colorless language, cardboard characters and unimaginative plotlines are really thrown into sharp relief when she's listening to Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, E.B. White and Laura Ingalls Wilder the rest of the time. Bleh.

Kate by Nan Hayden Agle

Lillian by Gunilla B. Norris

Nellie Bly reporter by Nina Brown Baker


  1. These are LOVELY. I know, crap kids books are so depressing. I have avoided the magic tree house so far but sadly cannot say the same about Horrid Henry. Check out the Beatrix Potter audiobooks. I have the set on cd's in a zipped tin (even that is nice) which i think is still on sale somewhere. They are all fantastic.

  2. Word - too many of those books involve selling their products. Kids are moved away from picture books to chapter books too early.

  3. For some reason my younger daughter refuses to read Beatrix Potter books--the older one did. I don't get it. Squirrel Nutkin is one of my all-time favorites.
    And at least no more Scholastic till next school year--right now my older daughter is reading a book by Jeff Probst which was heavily promoted by them. WTF


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