Scholastic Takes Heat For Selling Videogames

Scholastic Takes Heat For Selling Videogames

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Children's book publisher Scholastic is getting some grief from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for selling "toys, trinkets and electronic media" - that's videogames - to kids.

Founded in 1920, Scholastic has grown to become the largest publisher of children's books in the world. Although it holds exclusive U.S. publishing rights to the Harry Potter books, the company is probably best known for publishing and selling books and educational materials through mail order programs in schools and book fairs. But more recently it has expanded into other media including animated shows and videogames, changes that the CCFC feels are inappropriate for a company that markets to children.

The organization has begun an effort to convince Scholastic to halt the sale of non-book materials to children. "Scholastic's book clubs have become a Trojan horse for marketing toys, trinkets, and electronic media - many of which promote popular brands," the CCFC website says. "A review by CCFC of Scholastic's elementary and middle school book clubs found that one-third of the items for sale are either not books or are books packaged with other items such as jewelry and toys. Items sold by Scholastic in 2008 included the M&M's Kart Racing Wii videogame, the Princess Room Alarm, Monopoly SpongeBob SquarePants Edition computer game, lip gloss and a Hannah Montana bracelet."

As part of the campaign, parents are being encouraged to send a pre-generated email to Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson and Scholastic Book Clubs President Judy Newman. The email reads in part, "The opportunity to sell directly to children in schools is a privilege, not a right. Schools grant Scholastic unique commercial access to children because of its reputation as an educational publisher. But Scholastic is abusing that privilege by flooding classrooms across the country with ads for products and brands that have little educational value and compete with books for children's attention and families' limited resources. There's no justification for marketing an M&M videogame or lip gloss in elementary schools."

But Newman countered by asserting that the program had to change in order to stay relevant to children, and that while she respects the CCFC, she is "more attentive" to teachers, who are largely supportive of the program. "We're losing kids' interest. We have to keep them engaged," she told Washington D.C. radio station WTOP. "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."

The CCFC has earned a reputation for overreacting to any perceived threat to children, but in all fairness I think they have a valid point this time around. Kotaku notes that only 14 percent of the items Scholastic sells aren't books and that includes supplies like pencils, erasers and notebooks, but it's not a bad idea to have someone tap the company on the shoulder every now and then to remind it what it's actually here for. Newman is absolutely correct when she says Scholastic has to stay relevant, but its unique role in schools also gives it an obligation to stay true to its mandate: Teaching kids to read.

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I bought Civilization II from a scholastic magazine when I was in seventh grade. At the time they must have only been selling "educational" computer games.

As far as the opportunity to sell directly to children, parents are ultimately making the decision concerning what these children buy. Unless or course people think a third grader can pay for this stuff.

Unless they're selling them games that are rated for ages older than the children, who cares?
I got Zoo Tycoon from them when I was...young (can't remember how old)

As for the bracelets etc. that's because of the blurring of age lines. We used to have Kids and Adults. Now we have 7 year olds dressing as 17 year old whores and 30 / 40 somethings trying to remain young. Bring back distinct age line I say.

I remember being in third grade and ordering computer games like "Agent USA" and "In Search of the Most Amazing Thing" from Scholastic. These people are trying to shut down a practice that has been around for over 25 years. How old are these crotchety old killjoys?

"OH NO! EVEN SCHOOLASTIC IS SELLING THE DEVILS ENTERTAINMENT! HONEY, HIDE BILLY WHILE I GO WRITE A STRONGLEY WORDED LETTER TO THEM!"
Parents now days are 'tards.

No it's the right thing because CLEARLY Videogames have no intristic educational value no matter how many studies prove otherwise. No Videogames for Children! Censorship NAAUGH!

...wow.
That's all I have to say to that.
Who cares if scholastic sells video games or trinkets or anything that isn't book related. It's their choice what they sell and what they don't.

Man, I really hate all these parents and boards and things of such nature that keep saying that video-games are bad for children.

...I wish I could figure out how to order stuff from them, I got heaps of stuff out of their catalogs when I was a kid, including Majesty which at the time blew my mind. Introduced me to RTS (in a way). And who cares, if they only sold text books and bibles they might get 2 sales a year, why bother them for trying to market what kids want.

Yes, because all murders bought I-Spy The Video Game and Oregon Trial from a book fair and snapped. Not like a four year old watching SAW or Friday the 13th is corrupting at all, givin they can rent it at Blockbuster without an adult. Ok, mabye not 4 year olds, but kids can rent R rated movies.

Also, the word 'tards is hilarious when you don't expect it.

Hooray for conservative fuckwits pointing themselves out so we know where to shoot.

Scholastic is a business first, and everything else second. While they've maintained remarkable integrity over the years, never forget they are in the business of making cash. If books aren't cutting it anymore, they have to adjust their strategy. It's not like they're pushing Manhunt 2 or Maxim magazine.

Personally, I've seen this going on for quite a while now, and I'm rather inclined towards Scholastic's side. I know I'd probably never have opened my toilet-paper thin magazine if I hadn't seen SimCity 2000 and SimAnt on sale, as much as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone caught my attention amid a bunch of obscure books that have been on that very list since the seventies.

I hate parents and people like that. Wheres my shotgun?

Oh, you have to love CCFC, they are like the PETA of angry, overprotective parental groups.

Really, what is the deal? Schoolastic is still primarily into the book market. If Schoolastic suddenly sold nothing but games and Hannah Montana merchandise, then fine. If Schoolastic was selling T and M rated games at elementary schools, then fine. But the fact is that they are just splicing up their inventory with a few kid-friendly video games. What is the issue here?

Besides...Video games CAN have educational value. Hell, I've become better at managing my money through playing strategy games. Even games that aren't marketed as educational can be used as such. There is no real educational value in, say, Harry Potter. The "educational value" comes from the fact that it is a book, which means that it can help younger children learn/get better at reading and increase their vocabulary. Likewise, a strategy game also has educational value in the sense that the player must think. Puzzle and strategy games can help children with problem solving, and they stimulate the brain, an activity that is consider helpful for developing minds. Then you have all the different "edutainment" games out there.

So, games aren't totally devoid of educational value, it is just less obvious to those who don't know anything about games.

I bought GTA IV from my school.

/facetiousness

Jester Lord:
I hate parents and people like that. Wheres my shotgun?

It got stolen, you'll have to order another from the catalog.

Reaperman Wompa:

Jester Lord:
I hate parents and people like that. Wheres my shotgun?

It got stolen, you'll have to order another from the catalog.

Ohhh. Not again. :(

Jester Lord:

Reaperman Wompa:

Jester Lord:
I hate parents and people like that. Wheres my shotgun?

It got stolen, you'll have to order another from the catalog.

Ohhh. Not again. :(

Hey look on the bright side, it comes with a coupon for your next purchase and 12 free shells.

Reaperman Wompa:

Jester Lord:

Reaperman Wompa:

Jester Lord:
I hate parents and people like that. Wheres my shotgun?

It got stolen, you'll have to order another from the catalog.

Ohhh. Not again. :(

Hey look on the bright side, it comes with a coupon for your next purchase and 12 free shells.

They always say that but never deliver.

What? Back when I was in elementary school, they had PC games for sale AND cheap plastic crap! (Not the good kind like the toy katanas, robots, and planes. Just cheap, useless stuff.)

Raven28256:
Oh, you have to love CCFC, they are like the PETA of angry, overprotective parental groups.

I dunno... You have to be some special kind of crazy to rate the PeTARD level. Have you heard what PETA did yesterday? To protest a dog show, they dressed up as KKK members and handed out flyers. They explained their actions as pointing out the dog breeders association trying to create "a master race" of dogs through breeding.

So is the CCFC that apeshit bongo fucked up?

I gotta agree with the write up. We don't allow just any company to come into our classrooms and shill stuff to our kids. If Scholastic pushes the line too far, then other companies will want in on that market as well. Then the schools will have no choice but to kick scholastic out, or worse, cave in to opening up the classroom as a market.

Oh, and I'm not buying Scholastic's line that "the program had to change in order to stay relevant to children." A kid is not going to read a book you bought him if he only wants the included toy. Although I have no problem with them selling video games as long as there is at least some education quality about them.

dthree:
I gotta agree with the write up. We don't allow just any company to come into our classrooms and shill stuff to our kids.

Nope, just the ones that pay the biggest campaign donations. If we really cared that much, don't you think we would've improved education, or, at the very least, not have advised it to bring an ice-pick with it on it's attempt to drown in the freezing waters of ineptitude?

Apocalyptic-Bob:

dthree:
I gotta agree with the write up. We don't allow just any company to come into our classrooms and shill stuff to our kids.

Nope, just the ones that pay the biggest campaign donations. If we really cared that much, don't you think we would've improved education, or, at the very least, not have advised it to bring an ice-pick with it on it's attempt to drown in the freezing waters of ineptitude?

Source?

Ah Scholastic. I remember my teacher in 5th grade used to hand these ad mags out. I got the first rollercoaster tycoon game through them.

dthree:

Apocalyptic-Bob:

dthree:
I gotta agree with the write up. We don't allow just any company to come into our classrooms and shill stuff to our kids.

Nope, just the ones that pay the biggest campaign donations. If we really cared that much, don't you think we would've improved education, or, at the very least, not have advised it to bring an ice-pick with it on it's attempt to drown in the freezing waters of ineptitude?

Source?

No legitimate source, just observations from dealing with my old school's politics and funding problems. Also, terrible misuse of the word campaign. Scholastic was giving large "donations" to my school district, in exchange for using their services.

The parents buy the stuff anyway, so what's the deal? Don't blame the organization for trying to stay in buisness.

Monkey Island was a great addition to the list of scholastic products because it was... Well, it was pretty much a colorful, interactive book.
Things like Sim City teach children multitasking, as well as how societies function. (That's how I learned the intricacies of taxes)

I'm sorry, but selling mindless casual games in their "educational" catalog makes both Scholastic and video games look bad.

 

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