Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Buy into the Gimmicks from Time to Time...

My boys' school (and soon to be mine! yea) is having their final book fair this week. You know the procedure, and if you have pre-school age children, here's a head's up:

Scholastic (usually) brings in a truckload of mobile metal bookshelves at two points in the year and takes over the library. Teachers take kids through the fair prior to it actually opening for "book browsing." This means kids take pencils and paper and make "Wish Lists" of all the books and prices that they REALLY, REALLY, and I mean REALLY want.

Then in the days following, you can send money with your darling to pick out the books they wrote down.

Having been on the other side of the dealings, I have seen kids bring in over $50 and blow it all on the posters and knick knacks they have available. Normally, as a teacher, I check with the wish list and try to keep them to that (for the parent's sake -- I think I might faint if my kids brought home pointers shaped like hands rather than the books -- Lord knows what they would be used for!)

Normally, because I have taught at the same school as my kids, I am there to shop with them. This year, however, I am not, so it was a different story.

Of course the wish lists didn't come out of the backpacks until 5 minutes before we were to walk out the door, the first morning of the bookfair. Caught off guard, I told them they would need to wait until the next day and we'd talk about what I would give them to spend vs. how much I would allow them to spend of their own allowances.

OH MY GOSH -- you would have thought I had cut off their right thumbs! Crying, begging, whining...and my frustration with this all wreaking havoc on my morning.

I stood firm, however (yea me). Until later that morning, when my mind returned to the scene.

I thought about why they were so upset. Part of it was the whole delayed gratification, yes, but some of it was just the opportunity to SHOP by themselves. I had forgotten what a big deal it is in their minds, and how the immediacy of getting to shop TODAY was topping their thoughts.

SO -- I went to school. It was my day to volunteer anyway, so it worked out well.

I stopped in their classrooms and gave them each a few dollars and asked them to tell me what they were going to buy. I told them I thought it would be a great idea for me to start letting them shop.

Matt picked out a great new Mike Lupica book about baseball (wonderful author, by the way).

Ben and Sam were a little different in their choices...Ben wanted a Phineas and Ferb joke book, and Sam wanted a Club Penguin book.

Would those be my top choices? No, but guess what they did in the car, at the haircut place, down the aisles at Target yesterday afternoon -- THEY READ THOSE BOOKS.

Let it be a big deal. Let them do the buying. And yes, gimmicky is good, when it gets them to read.

(Ben even shared some pretty good jokes with me!)

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