Reading in Elementary School Was Awesome

Sure, there are endless ways to acquire books and get reading recommendations these days as an adult. You have your public libraries, your blogs, your social media of all sorts, all full of smart people with good advice.

But sometimes I get nostalgic for the book promotions of the days of yore. And when I say days of yore, I mean elementary school in the ’90s.

Things like Scholastic Book Orders. You perused that colorful catalog so carefully! You mapped out the hottest titles. Maybe the Summer Edition of the Boxcar Children? A copy of Shiloh? You checked the box next to the exact Lisa Frank poster you wanted. And then one day–like magic!–it arrived in wonderful Scholastic boxes in your classroom, a bundle full of awesome packaged just for you.


But did Scholastic stop there in their quest for happiness? No! Of course not! Because then you had book fairs! You strolled into the school library and suddenly all the boring stuff like encyclopedias and non-fiction melted into the background and all you had were bright cardboard set ups full of super sweet paperbacks! Here, you could select even more books, I mean if you were privileged enough to have money from your parents. But at the very least, even the poor kids could be guaranteed to leave with some RAD BOOKMARKS!


Of course, any Joe Shmoe with a soul could enjoy a Scholastic Book Fair, but for the real nerds among us, there was also Accelerated Reader. You’d march down that library aisle, searching out those books with the special sticker on the spine, and when you were done, what would you do? Talk about it with your friends? Just return it? Hell no! While others in your class were starting to learn about things like “being cool” and “popularity,” you spent your spare time taking tests on a big clunky computer to prove JUST HOW WELL you comprehended that shit. Was there a purpose to this other than to score some extra nerd points with your teacher or to inflate your burgeoning intellectual ego? Not really! In other words, what great practice for future academia!


And was there anything better than when you got to sit back, relax, and watch Reading Rainbow? Of course there wasn’t! Everything was butterflies and rainbows and LeVar Burton and nothing hurt.

But then.

But. Then.

There was Book It.

All other book promotions paled in comparison, because Book It had what all human beings desire: some serious swag, and pizza.

First of all, they give you this sweet pin from the start, before you even read anything! And sometimes it was a fancy pin like this one where it’s all shimmery and holographic, like the rainbow is just jumping out at you after you attach it to your denim jacket or Jansport. FANCY.


So then you just read a book. Any book! And you get gold star stickers to put onto your fancy pin. Stickers!


And when you sticker up the entire pin, you take the pin to Pizza Hut and they just give. you. pizza.


I KNOW. And if you are a nerdy kid, do you know how many free personal pan pizzas that can result in? IT CAN RESULT IN A LOT.


So I guess what I mean to say is, all you geniuses that made reading so fun and continue to do so (also, Pizza Hut):

I thank you, and I miss you.



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