I've worked at Scholastic for the better part of my adult life, and have experienced our books and programs as, of course, an employee, and also as a nostalgic reader who, as a child, devoured Clifford and Baby-Sitters Club books, and bought Garfield comics through Book Clubs in third grade.
One thing that has brought my work here into a whole new light is becoming a parent. I've written a lot on this blog about my daughter's burgeoning literacy—I started writing when she was a baby, and she's now a nearly literate five-year-old. I haven't written a lot about how and where I get books, and there is a big new development in that arena since my daughter started kindergarten.
This year, I became a Book Clubs customer, which is a little surreal. I signed up in the beginning of this school year, and received a "Welcome to Scholastic!" email at my personal account. The first time this happened I laughed, because I was sitting at work, and my desk is about twenty feet from the Clubs department.
Every month, my daughter's teacher sends home all the flyers for young readers, including the one we created in partnership with We Need Diverse Books and also Club Leo. My daughter gets extremely excited when the flyers come home. She asks me 500 times how many books she can order, and goes through each order form with a crayon, circling strategically. I try to strike a balance between not overspending, but basically letting her get what she wants. My husband and I have a general philosophy that we don't say no to books. (But of course, I can't break the bank, either!)
After she circles her books, I go through her selections and tell her which I will and won't agree to get. When I say no, it's usually just to pare down a bit and avoid duplicating titles that are very similar to what she already has. In my view, this is the time when she can choose what she wants to read. Some of the books she picks for herself are not necessarily the ones I would choose for her, but I know that in order to help her become a joyful reader, she needs to be able to pick what she likes. (We know from the Kids & Family Reading Report™ that 89% of kids ages 6–17 count books they've picked out themselves as their favorites. I really take that to heart.)
When I'm in book stores, I pick books based on my own priorities, some of which she declares "boring" (sigh). But Book Clubs time is her time. She gets to make decisions, which is very important to her at age 5, and be in charge of her own reading life.
I remember from my own childhood how fun it was to pick Clubs books, and though I wish I had broadened my horizons beyond Garfield compendiums, I also know I still became a reader. And that's my goal for my daughter as well.