Scholastic FINALLY cuts Bratz books from its school book clubs

For parents and children alike, the name Scholastic is a household word. It means books and book clubs, book fairs, summer reading. It is - and certainly intends to be - a widely trusted name in children's publishing. According to the New York Times today, Scholastic will "no longer include chapter books based on the overtly sexy Bratz dolls in any of its school book clubs or fairs this year."

Scholastic books and brochures arrive mainly through the public schools. This leads many parents to expect that these books are good - or at least okay - reading for their children. We would like to think that a children's publisher, particularly Scholastic, would be committed not only to its sales numbers but also to its customers. Think again.

Scholastic pulled flyers for book fair titles like "L'il Bratz: Dancin' Divas" and "L'il Bratz: Catwalk Cuties" only after an eighteen-month fight by Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Judy Newman, president of Scholastic Book Clubs, met with a representative from the Campaign earlier this year and said, "I can't be directed by anyone's special interest. That would almost be censorship."

As a writer, mother, children's therapist and constant reader, I consider myself at least reasonably well-informed on the topic of children's books.

I know how many good books are written, books that are actually intended to entertain, educate and help children grow. It is hard for me to imagine that Scholastic kept Bratz books, computer games and stencil kits in school fairs because they were opposed to being censored by a "special interest" group. (A commercial-free childhood is now a special interest?). No. Scholastic kept Bratz in its line until its sales declined.

Bratz sales are indeed dwindling. Scholastic follows Target and WalMart in reducing "shelf space" for Bratz products.

Shouldn't Scholastic have been leading?

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