Do You Have Book Order Memories?


I’m working on my From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors blog post
and wanted to tap into the collective memory here in LJ-Land.

I’m writing about the huge role Scholastic Book orders played in my childhood,
and I’m wondering if anyone here wanted to share a memory or thought on the subject.
I’m also including stuff about my kids’ book order days, so those kinds of thoughts are welcome, too.

You may leave your comments here or send me a personal message.
And unless you tell me otherwise, I’ll asume it’s okay to use your material and name/link in my post.

Thanks much in advance!

21 thoughts on “Do You Have Book Order Memories?

  1. Do I have a memory of Scholastic book orders?? hmmmm

    We received gifts on our birthday and Christmas, maybe a stuffed bunny at Easter, but that was it. Don’t even ask me about having to make a costume with whatever was in the basement for Halloween– oh the humiliation!
    In the summer we were allowed to buy something with our allowance at Benjamin Franklin’s 5 and 10 cent store, another huge thrill! Oh those beautiful rubber pinky balls!
    But that was all the purchasing power we had.

    Until, oh glory day! the Scholastic Book order came to school. And my mother said, “Yes.” YES! I could pick a book!! Angels sang, flowers bloomed! It was like a birthday every time the teacher passed out those paper brochures! oh Happy Day!!

    Nope, I don’t remember that at all ; )


    • Re: Do I have a memory of Scholastic book orders?? hmmmm

      Oh, Laura. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know about the happiness of getting that little paper brochure. Hooray!!


  2. I loved book order days — actually, my favorite memories are from the fairs themselves. Wandering through the library every year and looking at all those piles of books…it was heaven 🙂 I got THE WESTING GAME when I was in 4th grade, and I devoured it. In junior high, I discovered Norma Johnston through Scholastic, and I ended up buying almost all of her Keeping Days books through the book fairs.

    My kiddos already love the Book Fair days. I do order from the flyers once and a while, as well — but they like getting to go through the piles and making their wish lists 🙂


    • I think it’s so cool you remember how old you were when you got/read THE WESTING GAME. Wow.

      I love those book fairs, too. But I’m not thrilled about all the non-book stuff they sell now. (We didn’t have book fairs when I was growing up).

      Thanks for the input, Robin.


  3. I remember the Scholastic Book order forms, and I remember Weekly Readers, as well. The former was like looking through the Sears Gift Catalog–all wishes, but nothing obtainable. I remember feeling a bit sad each time the teacher passed them out and then collected orders. I was the outsider, knowing from the outset that when the book orders arrived, it’d be like Christmas for everyone else in the classroom but me. (Maybe there were others in similar situations, but I don’t remember that being the case).

    But the Weekly Reader–oh, it was lovely! Printed in the same leaflet format, it transported me to other places (and sometimes, other eras) and introduced me to people I didn’t know. And while the Scholastic Book Order form was a lovely daydream, I liked the Weekly Reader best of all because it fed my insatiable curiosity. I devoured it, cover to cover, as I did with all other printed matter placed in front of me. And one of the wonderful things about the WR was that it — like checking out books at the library and in the bookmobile — was absolutely free.


    • Oh, this makes my heart ache. I am so, so sorry. I didn’t even think about this possibility, and I apologize for my thoughtlessness. I’ve always been grateful to my parents for allowing those book purchases to be the one time growing up that I could have what I wanted, no questions asked. It was a huge deal for me, and I wish it’d been the same for you.

      I loved the Weekly Reader, too. I can still smell them when I think of opening them up to read inside.


      • Oh, not at all, Tracy! I didn’t mean for you (anyone) to feel sorry for me!!! I was just relating my own memories, as you’d asked. I’m very, very glad that other people are able & willing to share happier memories about SBC–and I wouldn’t ever want to diminish those experiences, however different they are/were from my own.

        I am so very grateful that now, as an adult, I can buy as many books as I want–for myself and/or for other people. But I’m still an avid fan/frequent visitor of my local libraries. 🙂


  4. We went to the library a lot when I was little! I checked out and read stacks of books each week, but was always sad when it was time to take them back. When it was book order time at school, I hardly ever got to buy a book.

    I remember cutting out the list on the back page and pasting it into my notebook, checking off the books I wanted to have my own copy of….

    Sometimes if I had my own money, I bought a book, but it was really hard to choose just one. I still have many of my purchases from the book orders of elementary school. They are kind of moldy, but I love them. How to Eat Fried Worms, Freckle Juice, All of the Ramona books, The Trumpet of the Swan, The Little House books, and many Lois Lenski and later, I got the Judy Blume books.

    Now that my kids bring the order forms home, I still get a book each time: It’s Raining Cupcakes, Eggs, City of Ember, and a bunch more.

    My kids know I can’t say NO to a book.


    • “I remember cutting out the list on the back page and pasting it into my notebook, checking off the books I wanted to have my own copy of….”

      Wow. That’s a powerful image.

      Thanks so much for sharing, Stephanie. My kids are the exact same way about me and books; they know I’m a soft touch when it comes to spending money on books.


  5. I loved the catalog we ordered from, and I even invented my own fictional catalogs of books that didn’t exist. (But hey, writing the synopses for my invented books was a skill that came in handy later on!)
    I still remember gathering up coins to put them in an envelope with my order form.
    And when the books came in, it was like a holiday.
    I got a bunch of Marguerite Henry books, also one called A PLACE AND A TIME that I read to pieces, I think JEAN AND JOHNNY by Beverly Cleary, and scores of others. I still have a few of them.


  6. My parents aren’t readers, but my mom saw that books mattered to me. We didn’t have a bookstore near our house and most of the preschool books I had were ones she had bought at the grocery store.

    But when the Scholastic fliers started coming home in third grade, my mom always let me buy three books. I remember the excitement of carrying the envelope back to school, tipping it back and forth to feel the coins rolling in the envelope. Then when the books came, with the order form sticking out of the top book, it was like my birthday. In fact, I still have some of those books with my name written loopy childish cursive inside the front cover.


    • Ooh, these memories feel so familiar. The coins rolling in the envelope. The loopy cursive inside the cover. Sigh. I think it’s especially wonderful that your mother recognized how books mattered to you. My parents were both readers so it was a natural fit. Kudos to your mom for stepping outside her “comfort zone.”

      Thanks very much for sharing with me, Cindy.


  7. Re: Scholastic Book orders

    I’m sorry you weren’t always allowed to buy, Brian. It makes me sad to find out so many of my friends weren’t given that opportunity. But you also remember that newsprint paper and the story descriptions, the universal memories, I guess. I, of course, am delighted you allow your kids to buy multiple books, and I really appreciate your “this is a book fair” comment to ward off the video game/non-book purchases.

    Thanks very much for sharing.


  8. I can say that several of my childhood books were from the book orders at school – and even though they were never “big” titles, I loved them, because they were mine. As an adult, I know that the reason those books were purchased at all was because they were affordable every now and again – and we had no money back then. As in, one year we were the recipients of church charity or there’d have been no Christmas, no money.


    • I’m stunned by how many friends’ families had to struggle to get by. I’m so very glad you were able to get some books, now and again. Otherwise, maybe we’d be without our Poet Kelly.


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