Scholastic Accused of Misusing Book Clubs

Scholastic Inc., the children’s publisher of favorites like the Harry Potter, Goosebumps and Clifford series, may be best known for its books, but a consumer watchdog group accuses the company of using its classroom book clubs to push video games, jewelry kits and toy cars.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an advocacy group based in Boston, said that it had reviewed monthly fliers distributed by Scholastic last year and found that one-third of the items sold in these brochures were either not books or books packaged with other items.

Full article here.

Lead Law Exemption Gets Libraries Off the Hook

San Jose Mercury News reports that libraries are the latest organizations to win relief from a tough new federal law taking effect today that all but bans lead in children's products.

On Friday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission exempted children's books printed after 1985 from the new law's enforcement provisions, which allow fines of as much as $100,000 per violation for selling or distributing products that contain more than 600 parts per million of lead intended for use by children 12 and younger.

"We're jubilant," said Barbara Roberts, president of the California Library Association on Monday. Before the exemption, Roberts said libraries across the nation faced the prospect of closing their children's sections and discarding thousands of books from their collections. Roberts added that she was bewildered that lawmakers would pass a law with such broad reach "without thinking of the ramifications in the field."

There's a big exception though. Jennifer Baker, library director with the St. Helena Public Library in Napa Valley, said the law still puts off limits to children rare, older books. She said one library at which she worked kept a collection of Mother Goose books from the early 1900s, while others retain original copies of old classics, like those from the Nancy Drew or Tom Swift series, she said. I guess they'll have to wait til they're adults to enjoy the books.

Lead Law Could Cause Big Headaches for Libraries

Toys with dangerous levels of lead, toxic chemicals in clothing, hazardous baby cribs — the soon-to-be-enforced Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act aims to protect children from all of them.

But library books? Unless the Consumer Product Safety Commission exempts them from the sweeping legislation, libraries nationwide could be forced to pull children’s books from their shelves or, alternately, ban children. The law is scheduled to take effect on February 10.

“You’re talking about separating children from books, which has got to be the most ridiculous thing this commission has ever attempted,” said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association’s Washington office. “Books are safe. They are not a dangerous product.”

Paper cuts maybe...but lead? Kansas City Star reports.

Baby born at Denver library.

DENVER -- Within minutes of stepping off a bus Tuesday morning, a woman dropped a special package at the downtown Denver library -- a baby.
[rest of story here]

I don't know why a woman would take the bus to the library when she was clearly in labor. Maybe she'd heard that baby story times fill up fast and she just wanted to get signed up.

SCOTUS Won't Save the Child Online Protection Act of 1998

scotusblog says The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused the federal government’s request to salvage a six-year-old law seeking to ban minors’ access to sexually explicit material on the World Wide Web. Acting on that law for the third time, the Justices simply declined to review a Third Circuit Court decision last July striking down the Child Online Protection Act of 1998. The Justices’ action came without comment and with no noted dissents in Mukasey v. American Civil Liberties Union, et al. (08-565).

Hoboken Tot Denied a Library Card Because of Illegible Signature

A mad Dad reports his unhappiness with the Hoboken NJ Public Library due to his four-year old son being denied a library card. Here's the story from Hoboken 411.

Letter-writer Dave Dessel goes on to say: "My wife called several libraries in the area, including Millburn, Maplewood, Summit and Ridgewood, to find out what their policies are. Every librarian she spoke with was appalled by HPL’s policy. One went so far as to say that the story was heartbreaking, and the policy archaic, the kind of thing that was done away with forty years ago.

I wonder if the library administration has changed much since On the Waterfront?"

Library Gives Homeschoolers a Place to Socialize While Learning

How do libraries benefit home schoolers?

One way is with read-aloud programs such as the one led last week by Donnie Storms at the the Calvert Library in Prince Frederick MD. Last week, Storms read Derek Anderson's book "Romeo and Lou Blast Off" with enthusiasm peppered with questions to his young audience at the event, "Kids Just Want to Have Fun." The activity was designed to engage homeschooled children in reading and learning about a specific topic. Last week, the book and activity that followed the reading were centered on the Arctic and Antarctic parts of the world.

Terry Tolentino of Huntingtown, a mother who was attending the event with her daughter, Katana, 6, said she found out about the workshop on the library's Web site. While this was Katana's first time attending the workshop, Terry Tolentino said she would "definitely" be coming to future events.

Storms said the library came up with the idea of the workshops in order to give homeschoolers a "chance to get out and meet other children who are homeschoolers."

The book, incidently, is about adventures shared by two friends, a penguin and a polar bear. There's a lesson in this...

Computer-esque books to lure boys

Something about this headline just creeps me out... Computer-esque books to lure boys : Books illustrated with computer- generated images are the latest attempt to get boys to enjoy reading.

A Children's Play That Imitates Life...Tomás and the Library Lady

A lot of people pay lip service to the wonders of books and libraries, then spend most of their free time playing video games. Tomás Rivera was one person who truly owed his amazing life to the power of books.

The child of Mexican migrant farm workers who didn't speak English, Tomás walked past his local library in Iowa every day, not knowing what it was. The librarian noticed him and finally came outside one day to invite him in. This began an unlikely friendship between a young boy and a stern librarian who shared a mutual passion for stories. The play was written by José Cruz González, playwright in residence at Childsplay in Arizona, and is based on the book of the same name by Pat Mora. Saar is the founder and artistic director of Childsplay. Here's an audio report about the play including snippets of dialogue.

A 16-week national tour began in Hampton, the Iowa town where Rivera learned to read, and in the audience were people who knew the Library Lady. Rivera's widow saw the show in Los Angeles, and Saar says she gave it her blessing. (Rivera died in 1984; UC-Riverside renamed its general library after him.)

Once upon a trying time: It might be a good time to update classic children's books

It's the question every parent dreads. "Mommy, what's a collateralized debt obligation?" Who wants to be outed as an ignoramus by a kid? But with economic news blanketing the airwaves, such conversations are becoming almost impossible to avoid. Perhaps we should update children's books in time for the holidays.

Goodnight, Citigroup: a short poem of rescue promises from a little treasury secretary trying to keep the economy from falling into a deep slumber.


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