The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has targeted Scholastic, Inc. over the bookseller’s marketing of items such as video games, jewelry kits and toys to school children.
As reported by the Associated Press, CCFC director Susan Linn was highly critical of Scholastic. The company has been welcomed into schools for decades. Said Linn:
The opportunity to sell directly to children in schools is a privilege and not a right. Scholastic is abusing that privilege by flooding classrooms across the country with ads for toys, trinkets, and electronic media with little or no educational value.
The AP details some of the bookseller’s marketing practices which prompted CCFC to act:
Items pitched to elementary school students in the last 14 months include M&M’s Kart Racing Wii video game, an American Idol event planner, the SpongeBob SquarePants Monopoly computer game, lip gloss rings, Nintendo’s Baby Pals video game, Hannah Montana posters and the Spy Master Voice Disguiser.
The campaign said about one-third of the items for sale in Scholastic’s elementary and middle school book clubs were either not books or were books packaged with other items such as jewelry, toys and makeup.
However, Scholastic exec Judy Newman defended her company’s offerings to the AP:
We’re losing kids’ interest (in reading). We have to keep them engaged. This (book club) model is 60 years old, and it has to stay relevant to do the work it does. To the extent we put in a few carefully selected non-book items, it’s to keep up the interest… some kids learn through video games.