Today I did something I've been wanting to do for years: I went to the Scholastic Books Warehouse Sale!
Now, I know Scholastic has had their problems. And they're not a local, independent bookstore. In fact, I felt a little dirty afterward, like I'd been shopping at Walmart or something. But, books! For kids! My kids, and students I work with. Half price, or even better!
Aside from Christmas presents, I wanted books for kids to read in the computer lab when they're finished taking tests, and also for my before-school reading area. This year, I'm on duty outside the front door for 15 minutes before school. There's one bench near the front door, which a lot of kids would like to sit on, so I made a rule that they could sit there only if they read (and if space allows). I have a bunch of books that were library discards, or that were left behind and never reclaimed, but many of them do not hold the kids' interest, or they have gotten tired of them. So I was specifically looking for high-interest books that could be read in short spurts. I ended up with some easy-to-read sports biographies, a book about President Obama, and another election-themed book (hey, the election's over, but I figure it's still a familiar topic), as well as copies of Holes, A Wrinkle in Time and Clementine's Letter.
But I'm disappointed by what I didn't find: non-fiction books about women athletes, or really, any prominent women or girls who aren't actors or singers. There are plenty of princess-themed books, High School Musical books, and biographies of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stars. And Taylor Swift. But no Gabby Douglas, Venus Williams, or Missy Franklin? Not Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton? J.K. Rowling? Or any of thousands of other women doing great things?
The only thing I saw was a nice, gift-type hardcover about Coretta Scott King, which appeared to be on an African-American-themed table. And that's great, but it wasn't what I needed -- I bought inexpensive and easy-to-read paperbacks.
Now, Scholastic does list books about some of these women online. I suppose it's possible they were there and I didn't find them, or that they'd already been bought out (which would be great!), but I did look pretty thoroughly, and I would have at least expected books about female athletes to be shelved near books about male athletes.
Aside from that, the warehouse sale was definitely worth shopping. I got everything for 50% off, including 50% off on books that were stickered with a special, final price of $2.50-5.00. My final total was $30.25 for 13 brand-new books. They also had a section where you could fill a box with books for $24.95, but I didn't like the selection available (mostly Disney and such). I was told that sometimes the selection is better, though.
The Portland warehouse sale is open through December 18 (closed on Sundays), and Scholastic does hold warehouse sales in many cities throughout the United States (check here for listings and info). Despite my concerns, I would recommend it as a low-cost option for gift-buying and to acquire books for classrooms.