Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Boxes, book fairs and beagles

Part of my, er, inheritance from my Gran was a boxful of cards and notelets. These please me in a number of ways. I'm fond of the box because it reminds me of visiting her with the children, when they were fascinated with it and wanted to use it all, and she was not keen... She once bought them bingo markers to keep them occupied, which was not wholly successful, but it was a kind thought and the best she could do with the rather useless on-site shop. Some of the contents are genuinely cute and tasteful and some, well, some are not.

I am enjoying finding opportunities to use the more bizarre or 'so-not-me!' ones.

This very sad dog card was one I used to apologise to a woman from whom I was withdrawing my children's orders for books. The picture makes me chortle: I'm not sure why. Perhaps just because I don't see myself as a sad dog sending sort of person. I don't think Gran was either. I'm not sure who is. I doubt it's an actual character trait, sad-dog sending. Hehehe, that made me chortle too... OK, moving on...

The World Book Day book fair that they put on at the school frustrates me in several ways. To celebrate reading is a good thing, inarguably, and to be a method of acquiring for the school more resources is also, inarguably, a good thing.

But I feel railroaded, I feel boxed in.

We're given an Usborne book token we can only spend at the book-fair, we can do a sponsored read to get more book tokens that we can only spend at the book-fair, and the children are given time out of their school day to look at all the books and get excited about buying them. Then home comes the invoice.

It's a business, selling in school to a captive audience of little consumers.

Now, we go to the library once a week and the children already have shelves of books they own. They bring home books from the school library daily. I have a boxful of books from my own childhood that we've no space for, as yet*.

I like to buy secondhand books from the charity shop, as it's cheaper** and supports our local hospice. I do not like to buy books because of pester-power and be-a-good-little-parent vibes. So, when presented with not one but two invoices for books I didn't give permission for the children to buy (but it's not their fault, they're children, got carried away and I hadn't said they couldn't order anything because a. I'd forgotten it was on and b. I didn't realise they could order without a permission slip or something), I returned the invoices & tokens with my apologetic, sad dog card.

I wonder how many parents just stump up the cash? Two of the other mums that morning were grumbling about it too. It's all well and good, promoting reading, but it smacks of paternalism in some ways (your children need books, you deficient parent) and it's capitalism in the classroom.

* One day that man will put up shelves, or I will do it myself. We'll see who cracks first.
** Three classics and two novels for £2.50 were my last purchases. Bargain!


ellie said...

That is really quite naughty - getting the children to order books without their parents permission. It's not setting a very good example to the children either - most parents strive to teach children they should ask nicely and not expect to get everything they want.

Never had that with mine - although the school did once pull off the masterstroke of framing the children's artwork and selling it to the parents. I fell for it of course, the picture's still in the living room :-)

Mephitis said...

Yes, was quite annoyed at the time.

We've also had artwork turned into coasters and Christmas cards (to buy, of course). The school is quite hot on revenue-making ideas :D.