Monday, June 7, 2010

Children of the 90s is at a Work Conference...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: Scholastic Book Orders

Children of the 90s is at a work conference this week with tragically limited internet and computer access. Take my word for it, it's totally tragic. I didn't want to leave my loyal readers in a bind, so I am pleased to present you from a classic Children of the 90s' post from way back when I was getting a whopping 14 hits a day.

I trust few enough of you have trudged through the extensive backlogs that this is almost like new. Almost. I should be back in full force by next week. Until then, enjoy the reruns! Hey, it's summertime. I've got to save the good stuff for sweeps. Thanks for your understanding--see you next week!



There was no day like book-order day. It's crazy to imagine that book-order forms really drove the kids wild, but the love of these flimsy little pamphlets was irrepressible. Despite the fact that these books were available at local retailers everywhere, the idea that something would come to us in the mail at school and we could spend weeks anticipating it was almost too much to bear.

The best thing about book orders was not the order forms themselves, but rather the accompanying excitement of the purchase. Imagine, as a child, being able to select and buy something all on your own! Sure, your parents would have to fill out the form, write the check, and seal the envelope, but you brought it to school. The books arrived with a post-it with your name on it! Let's face it, as children we weren't big decision makers. We couldn't choose what we were going to eat for dinner or what time we would go to bed, but dammit we could pick our books and that was that.

Never mind that these books were educational. We usually found ways around that. There were always special "just for fun" books with no educational value whatsoever, and we hungrily devoured them. I specifically remember ordering a Full House Uncle Jesse's personal photo album. Just imagine! I, a mere third grader, could own Uncle Jesse's personal collection of photographs! In the days before I possessed the mental capacity to realize these "albums" were mass-produced, I actually believed that I owned a piece of history. Through my own good luck, book orders had allowed me to stumble upon a collection of pictures that Uncle Jesse had decided to mail to me and me alone! Take that, third grade peers!

Now of course we can look past our childhood frenzied enthusiasm to realize that at its core, Scholastic was really just a master of marketing to children. By distributing these in schools allowing the children to see these forms first, they put the kids in control. It was like programming children to pester and torment their parents until they finally gave in and wrote the check.

But in those days, we didn't see it that way. Aside from the obvious gratification of Christmas-morning-esque book-order deliveries, bringing in your book-order with all the right books checked off was a measure of your playground street cred. These book orders were ours, and we called the shots. As children, our level of autonomy was pretty limited, so we took it where we could get it.

And if where we could get it also threw in a boxed-set of Judy Blume books, it just made it all the sweeter.


Book-Orders in the news:
Book Orders Under Fire

Browse online Scholastic book-orders:
Book Orders Online

11 comments:

Sunshinemeg said...

I remember these so well in school!!! Great post today = )

Genabee6 said...

Those were great forms! I remember pestering my mom to get me the Baby-Sitters Club Series that sent 3 books a month to your house!! She finally let in, and my love of reading started from that point on! lol:)

Melanie's Randomness said...

I loved the Book Orders. They were my favorite times!!

Good luck at the work conference!!

Serendipity in the City said...

I wholeheartedly believe that my love of reading came from the Scholastic Book Orders! I soooo loved them... what was more exciting, as a kid, than flipping through your own little catalog that you could actually choose things to order from? And books, at that! Awesome!

Sadako said...

Uncle Jesse's PERSONAL PHOTO ALBUM?! WANT!

Does it show him and Brian Wilson devouring an entire cake? Or Jesse snapping and shoving Joey down a flight of stairs?

It would be so cool if you did a give away and gave that one away as a prize.

Crystal said...

I spent 1st-3rd grade (1990-1993) on an Air Force Base in Germany and often Book Orders were the only way I got my books, especially my American Girl Books. American Girl Books from Book Orders marked how cool you were. One time my 3rd grade teacher misplaced mine and one other kid's orders. She had to send them off with another class's and I had to wait an extra month for my copy of "Felicity Saves The Day."

Jamie said...

I loved Book Club!

One of the best things about having school aged children of our own is that they bring these home and I get to buy buy buy! I even go to the school library when they bring theirs home to make sure I receive all versions (my children don't get the Young Adult ones, yet).

Do you have the different versions in the US? We have Wombat, Lucky, Arrow-that's all I can remember off the top of my head.

Come to think of it. I'm waiting on an order from each of those versions right now. I wonder if my kids will bring home some books for me today! I won't even pretend I bought it for them!

Shannon said...

My son gets these and he loves them; and the books are so cheap that I always end up buying a bunch for myself too. It's so much better now -- it only takes the books like a week or two to arrive at school. When I was a kid, it really seemd like months went by before you order arrived...

alycat26 said...

I laughed my ass off reading this post. It's so true, our parents paid for it all and filled it out but for some reason we felt like we were all important "buying" them from school. lol and that's hilarious about Uncle Jessie's Album. I remember the same dissapointment when my parents adopted me a whale in the early 90s and I thought I was the only one to have adopted it. I knew i'd never see it, but I assumed that it was MY whale..then I found out that more than one person can adopt the same whale. BUMMER

I loved the heck out of my book orders. I get more excited than my six year old does when he gets the forms at school. Although I think that the book quality has really, really gone down. The books are alot flimsier than I remember them being.

Michelle said...

I taught in an elementary school last year. I was as surprised - and probably as excited as the kids - to see book orders. Monthly, I would peruse the offerings, talking with the students about what they were interested in. When the books came, the students would tell me what they purchased and why. It made me wish that I was a kid again!

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