I realize these Book Fairs make money for our school and, for this reason I should buy from them. And because this Fair is paired with “Book” the implication is I’ll be a good parent if I take part. But I look around and wonder where the books without movie characters on their covers are. Somehow these Book Fairs put me and my kids in a bad mood!
While I love the idea of helping my children support their school, I’d rather buy good quality books from our local used book store and then donate them to our school library when we’ve finished reading them. I’ve diligently taught my kids to love used books over the years, and these frequent Book Fairs aren’t aiding me in this endeavor.
The Book Fair’s marketing has been well researched and funded by its sponsor company. Teachers are strongly encouraged to march their students to the Book Fair during school hours, armed with sheets of paper titled “Books I Want.”
My kids are no different than other kids. Creating a list of books they want sends them directly into an “I Want” mindset for the rest of the day. This “I Want” thinking, so regularly promoted in our children by countless marketers, dictates that they are lacking in some way and need to purchase something to feel better.
Thus, when we arrive home on these Book Fair days, we drop our numerous other responsibilities and get down to business turning this “I Want” world view back into an “I Have” outlook.
According to Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a researcher who studies gratitude at the University of CA at Davis, and author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, practicing grateful thinking can lead to greater happiness because we learn to “want what we have.”
Emmons found that those who practice gratitude consistently by keeping a gratitude journal, also tend to exercise more regularly, get sick less, feel better about their lives as a whole, and express more optimism about the future.
He notes that grateful people are less likely to base their happiness on material possessions, are less envious of others, and are less likely to measure success in terms of material gains. In our family we’ve found feelings of gratitude always trump feelings of deprivation. These two emotions can’t coexist simultaneously.
A few years back, my friend Marsi mentioned that she routinely asks her kids three things they’re grateful for as she puts them to bed each night. Because the “unofficial parent advice network” is where I get some of my best ideas, I decided to test this at our house.
When my son, Stephen (then age 7), responded to the gratitude question with, “trees, animals that are wild, and Daddy’s fried catfish” on one of the first nights, a window opened into his young mind. I love that these words of gratitude are the last spoken of the day and float gently through the kids’ heads as they fall asleep.
Reading autobiographical series such as the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the Little Britches books by Ralph Moody about some childrens’ endurance and courage a century ago, has also given my kids more perspective on their young lives and fostered a sense of gratitude.
So on the next school Book Fair day when everyone’s feeling a little down, I think I’ll swing by the used book store or library on the way home and pick up one of these old favorites.