Last week, I was lucky enough to swing a work day short enough to take my daughter to her kindergarten class' "book fair". For those who aren't familiar with such a thing, a book fair is when your local elementary school brings in a book vendor to hock their wares to raise money for the school. My daughter and I were looking forward to this event, and she already knew what she wanted to look for before we even left the house. What was supposed to be a fun evening out with my family, quickly went down hill...I should have known.
For reasons I have yet to discover, my little girl has taken a big interest in space, specifically the solar system. So as we walked into the book fair, I was on a mission to find some really cool books about the planets and stars. It wasn't long until I started to hear a make-believe "mission control" relaying the message; "Huston, we have a problem" in my head.
I've known for some time now that public schools are but a few steps away from allowing your children to be raised by monkeys for the better half of the day...but the reminder I was experiencing was more than I needed to see right now.
As I searched and searched, dodging all sort of snot dispenser, and their accompanying "parents", I began to think someone was playing a trick on me for some 21st century version of Candid Camera...no such luck. After asking the lady running the book fair and seeing her own efforts to find just one, it became clear that there was not one book about the solar system to found at this book fair.
This sparked my curiosity, so I looked to see what else might be missing. Also M.I.A. were any books related to our nation's founding, basic civics, or history in general. With the exception of books concerning the animal kingdom, there were very few books about science at all.
"But Roadhouse, what kind of books were there at this book fair?" I thought you'd never ask. If you are fans of "SpongeBob", they got'cha covered. "Harry Potter"?. No problem. Those of you raising teenage girls will be happy to know that there were volumes of "Hannah Montana" books and related "swag" (at an elementary school). And for those of you who have the foggiest idea of what a "Pokemon" is (don't ask me), you can rest easy knowing that there books, toys, and all manner of paraphernalia to explain it.
If the racks and racks of every kind of dragon slaying, spell casting, vampire dating piece of crap book weren't enough, this book fair just wouldn't have been complete without the at least six different books about President Obama that I saw displayed. Washington? Zero. Lincoln? Zippy. Jefferson? Zilch. But Obama? SIX!
After taking a few minutes alone to go to my "happy place", I calmed down enough to ask the lady in charge who decides what books make it onto the shelves. She gave me a look that told me that she knew exactly what I meant, and why I was not happy, and assured me that unfortunately it was not up to her. She then explained to me that her company has decided to focus on putting books that are "big sellers" on the shelves...as opposed to books that actually teach kids something of value. By that logic, I guess we should hope that "Mien Komph" or "The Anarchist's Cookbook" don't start selling big numbers again.
On the up side, we decided to forgo the government option, for the private sector, and will be looking for a book about space at Barnes & Noble...where you can also by a copy of my book, I'm Not Hitler! What You're Not Allowed to Know About the real "Right Wing".