Watchdog Dings Scholastic for Pushing Video Games, Other Items

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.


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  1. nekusagi says:

    I couldn’t believe this story when I heard it.


    I’ve got so many cool things from Scholastic book orders- my Roald Dahl collection, most of my Harry Potter paperbacks, my first Edgar Allan Poe collection (<3 <3 <3), and so many great memories.


    And who’s to say there’s no value to the commercial tie-ins? If it weren’t for the How to Draw Pokemon book I ordered back in seventh grade, I would never gained an interest in art and drawing like I have now. That book and the tutorials in it got me started.



  2. Seiena_Cyrus says:

    it is to me, my nephews have no life as it is, they’re getting the same ammount of work a college student gets per class every single day where as college students get days off between classes to get their massive homework done, theses kids get till class the next day to do the same amount of work, so sorry, I think it’s in their best interest to have non-educational fun stuff at school…

  3. Seiena_Cyrus says:

    Me and other kids will take the poor dog over spongebob ^_^; But thats because there are others out there that don’t like Spongebob or actually enjoy a little serious plot now and then XD

  4. nighstalker160 says:

    While I think the idea of a "commerical free" childhood is an unrealistic pipe dream; I do agree that advertisements IN SCHOOL should be limited.

    School is different when it comes to 1st Amendment free speech concerns. The specific goals of a public school make it so that free speech can be more restricted than it otherwise could.

    There is no legimitate pedagogical value to having an advertisement for Hannah Montana stuff.

    Of course, if this stuff is advertised as say, a prize for a fundraiser, that’s a different issue.

    I also suppose if the school is getting substantial money for allowing this advertisement you can tie it back to an educational concern: advertisement = money = better school.

    Still though, the IDEA of removing non-educational project advertisements from schools is not the worst idea I’ve ever heard of.

  5. Inimical says:

    I actually remember ordering a video game from them at some point. I don’t think it was when I was in 1st grade, but I did at some point. They were all at least somewhat educational if I remember correctly…

  6. TBoneTony says:

    I loved the Goosebumps books and they were from Scholastic.

    Why didn’t that Watchdog group say anything about R.L.Stine’s popular books?

    Oh, wait, the Watchdog does not mind if it is a book, but if it is a videogame then the Watchdog group fiers with all guns blazing.

    Shouldn’t the Watchdog group just be put down like a dog who is nothing but trouble to Freedom of Speech in Society?


  7. JC says:

    Hmm,  I don’t see why they are up in arms about this now. When I was a kid for those book fairs about 15 years ago, there were tons of ads and stuff for other products. Little trinkets or weird books that never required much reading aside from the meaty books. I remember seeing coin collection books and wayside school, goosebumps, stickers, posters, all kinds of crap. I forgot what got me into heavy reading, but perhaps it was High School teachers telling me about stories that I’d like at the time (brutal stories of despair or tragic trouble with some gore, fantasy). I think it only takes a little push to pique a child’s interest to start reading a lot. However, I believe it takes subvocalization and better reading skills/comprehension to keep them going, otherwise they’ll loathe it from books taking too long.

    If all else fails, perhaps articles of interesting tidbits on the internet will persuade them?

  8. Moriarty70 says:

    The ONLY way they’d let you discus politics is if the view expressed in the book matched their own. Otherwise they’d encourage peopel to ban it, with fire.

  9. Deamian says:

    "[…]This (book club) model is 60 years old, and it has to stay relevant to do the work it does."

    I like paradoxes! How about THEY change instead? Putting up characters like SquareBob SpongePants and Hannah Montana is the most they’ll do, they won’t, for example, try to go internet/compture-y to actually stay relevant.

    They’re children, let them be marveled by basic flash animation with their favorite character, before sending them back flying in the past/in class with old out-dated books…

  10. Godkarmachine says:

    Scholastic has always had things for sale that weren’t educational, years ago I bought a bouncy ball making kit. I got the magic trick book also, and a bunch of other things that were useless. But those were like the most fun times in school, when the little ad was passed around to everyone, and then when we got our things back.

    – I have a cookie, but I’m willing to share

  11. NovaBlack says:

    ”What would a kid rather read? A tale about some kid trying to save his poor dog or spongebob on one of his goofy adventures? I think we know the choice. ”


    HELL, id rather read about spongebob on one of his goofy adventures, and im 25….



  12. Zero Beat says:

    I cannot accept that any organization would be mad with the company that brought us The Magic Schoolbus.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  13. finaleve says:

    You know what got me into reading?  Book-It (i think thats what its called).  Book-It was a thing where if you read a certain number of books, you’d get a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  I looooooooooooved going there for the pizza…until i went to middle school.  But MAN was it awesome.

    What would a kid rather read?  A tale about some kid trying to save his poor dog or spongebob on one of his goofy adventures?  I think we know the choice.

    I’d rather throw a gimmick to at least have the option that the kid will read a book.  Reading is a fundamental part of life, and if gimmicks are the only way to get kids to read, than so be it.

  14. finaleve says:

    I remember playing Parasite Eve a long time ago.  got really into the game and its story and learned a few things from the game…when I hit 7th grade, we started doing biology stuff and some of the things like Mitochondria were mentioned and I was able to understand a lot better than before.

  15. BearDogg-X says:

    Campaign for a Fun-Free Childhood should get a life and worry about their own kids.

    Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

    Proud supporter of the New Orleans Saints, LSU, 1st Amendment; Real American; Hound of Justice; Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always

    Saints(3-4), LSU(7-0)

  16. Bennett Beeny says:

    I’m with the CCFC on this one.  The one place kids should be able to go without being bombarded with commercials is school.  While I agree that schools are often still mired in outdated 1950s era education models, the people companies should be targeting for their ads (if they’re serious about offering a better way to educate) are teachers and parents, not kids.

  17. Sai says:

    Eh, this I can agree with. Kids can get toys and games anywhere, the point of Scholastic’s catalog is to sell them BOOKS. They’re selling shitty games anyway.

  18. Neeneko says:

    Of course not.  You just have to sell kids the wholesome products that they are in favor of.  Its only commercialism if it is stuff you don’t want.

  19. Yuuri says:

    While they didn’t have the video games in them back when I was in elementary (note, this is the year for my 20th High school reunion), they did have things like posters, misc pen and pencil thingies.

  20. Inimical says:

    Did they just catch this? They’ve been doing this since I was in elementary school (at least 15 years).

  21. gamadaya says:

    That’s so sad. Somebody didn’t have enough fun as a child. And I’ll bet their parents were in also in a watchdog group.


    Internet troll > internet paladin

  22. King of Fiji says:

    Man I loved those book fairs at school.  Along with books I read alittle bit then put aside I always bought the most random of thigns like twirly pencils and other stuff.

    Don’t ruin it for a newer generation CCFC.  😛

  23. chadachada321 says:

    Where was impeccable in a Pokemon game?


    But I do agree, RPG’s are really good at helping vocabulary

    -If an apple a day keeps the doctor away….what happens when a doctor eats an apple?-

  24. Kincyr says:

    The opportunity to sell directly to children in schools is a privilege and not a right.

    wait, the CCFC isn’t entirely opposed to selling to children? What a world

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  25. Kincyr says:

    Scholastic is also right about some kids learning from videogames. Case in point: RPGs with vocabularies exceeding that of their target audience. Example: Chances are, a vast majority of kids who know what the word impeccable means probably learned it from playing Pokémon games. That’s how I learned it and I was entering high school at the time.

    岩「…Where do masochists go when they die?」

  26. NovaBlack says:

    God .. heaven forbid they put things in the books to grab kids interest and make books feel relevant to them. Books should be black and white, have no pictures, and talk about nothing but ‘useful’ things like finance, and politics.


    At least these kids will have good literacy. Not every single bit of reading has to be about pure learning. What about making kids interested in reading in their free time, to relax and have fun?. Although yeah an ‘M&Ms’ car is a bit, i dont know, ‘stretching’ of the idea, but hey id rather have kids who can read and write, and who WANT to read and write, than kids who never pick up a book because they have no interest.  (what better way for them to learn, than to be practicing in their free time because they enjoy it)



  27. CyberSkull says:

    I understand the complaint against the M&Ms game (aside from such branded games are usually crap anyways), but Scholastic is right on one level: they need to change with the times. Personally, I need to see just what software they are offering to render a judgement.

    I recall getting a good load of comics compilations off of them. 🙂

  28. catboy_j says:

    Um back 8 years ago when I was in elementary they had this stuff. Goosebumps keychains, small video games, backpacks. The backpacks were to small to even be suitable for a kindergardener.

    I think it’s a bit of BS to say that just cause they were offering only books before it was better though. I got a lot of good books from there as a kid at a low price but it never taught me anything.

  29. TheEggplant says:

    BOO BOO and BOO again.

    My mother used to bring home the Scholastic game club when she taught 5th grade. There were some outstanding deals in that thing. Age of Empires 2 Gold for $20 before it had dropped below $30 anywhere else. Granted I was in my 20s so it’s not like I was being "persuaded", but still a great way for kids to get a cheap price, but not cheap in quality game. I also grabbed all three Zoombini games, and if those can’t be considered educational I don’t know what is.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————— Hookers and Ice Cream aren’t free.

  30. Seiena_Cyrus says:

    Don’t worry they were selling the same kinda stuff 20 years ago when I was in Elementary school, it was my favorite time of the school year I got to gets me some new books XD

  31. DavCube says:

    Not only are those idiots decades late in this (or at least one… they were sellings things just as reputible (by their standards) on drives when I was in middle school… TEN YEARS AGO.) but they’re still spouting their usual ‘Bleh, they’re not reading enough, not enough studying time, unless they’re mindless study machines with no social lives, they won’t be good citizens.’ kind of rhetoric.

    The quoted mess was exaggerated for effect, if your sarcasm meters were broken.

  32. Seiena_Cyrus says:

    yar cuz reading for the most part shouldn’t be educational it should be…FUN! Yeah that’s right I said it…Reading shouldn’t be all about the educational these kids need a reason to keep going all people are doing to them is destroying their will to live…they’ll all have Dysthimia (functioning depression) by the time they finish high school (if they make it that far). Seriously all this stuff is getting to be just too much, as an Aunt I can tell you…if my nephew wants Sponge bob…I don’t care he can have spongebob…why? Because I had My Little ponies, Mario, Talespin, and Darkwing duck when I was growing up and I turned out just fine…

    Oh and one of the things I got from my book fair one year was a book of stars addresses for sending fanmail…is that really educational?

  33. Moriarty70 says:

    My thoughts exactlly, all I need to point to is Goosebumps. All I learned from that is RL Stein is the name of a thousand monkeys.

  34. Baruch_S says:

    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.

    Because I’m sure the books they sell the children have so much educational value… It’s a Schoolastic elementary/middle school booksale. Most of the books aren’t worth anything educationally.

  35. sheppy says:

    Because that Saved by the Bell Poster Book and Transformers: Secret of Energon Activity Book I bought as a child weren’t advertising other products at all.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  36. Soldat_Louis says:

    Well, I have to take their defense here. The main problem is not that Scholastic sells games or other things. The problem is that the games and other items sold (M&M’s Kart Racing Wii video game, the SpongeBob SquarePants Monopoly computer game, etc…) are pure product placement for other brands.

  37. Papa Shango says:

     I remember getting the Farside collection called The Curse of Madame C way back in the day and I remember they had goofy stuff like how to learn magic that came with a bunch of crap. I faintly remember computer games but I can’t be certain on that one.



    These Commercial Free Childhood hippies need to shove it.

  38. SimonBob says:

    I remember ordering stuff from Scholastic; I got most of my Calvin & Hobbes collection from them.  But at least half of the stuff was commercialized junk from the syndicated hits of the time (Full House and Family Matters featured heavily, I recall.)  Far from disparaging them for trying to keep from going under, the CCFC should be congratulating Scholastic for still providing an alternative to the increasingly vacuous outlets of high-speed Internet and cable television.

    Actually, I find the rhetoric quite similar to that of the old fogeys who think new media doesn’t belong in libraries.  Plus, their January newsletter features "Vive la Quebec!" as a headline, which I find incredibly patronizing as an Ottawa-based supporter of the Bloc Quebecois — Charles de Gaulle’s speech at Expo ’67 is an important and valued moment in the quiet revolution that shouldn’t be diminished by its usage in an American coalition’s propaganda statements!  (Hey, this outrage stuff is easy.  I should do it more often.)

    The Mammon Industry

  39. KayleL says:

    I really don’t understand the point of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. They could be using money to help kids get into schools, but no, they are too concern about commercialised product?

    I would think that much more kids would be more educated if they had a school to go to, compare to kids reading less fictional books.

  40. Austin_Lewis says:

    They always had ads for toys and trinkets, as well as for things like a GI Joe ‘Event Planner’ which I bought as a child.  I think the Campaign for a Censored Childhood needs to sit in the corner and shut the fuck up.  I remember I once got a book of magic tricks from it.

    Goddamn, what a  bunch of jackasses run that organization.

  41. hellfire7885 says:

    As much as I too hate the same marketing, it’s the faul of people like this watchdog group that American schools are so fucking boring.

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