I just spent the past two days at my son’s school as co-chair of the Scholastic Book Fair. I’m home today, and my co-chair is running things, but I’ll be back in the school tomorrow and Friday as the book fair winds up.
After seven years of heading the book fair, I’ve learned to read a lot into the selections that we’re sent — particularly about trends. I’ve watched as kids have devoured the Harry Potter series (for the first time ever, there are no Harry Potter books in our selection this year), then the Percy Jackson series (I can tell that series has just about run its course because there is only of them at the book fair this year), and now the “Dairy of a Wimpy Kid” series is all the rage.
In addition to kids’ books at the book fair, we are always sent an assortment of cookbooks. When I first started, the cookbooks were all fairly gimmicky. Books like “A Man, A Can, A Plan” were sent to us for years, but I haven’t seen it at the past two or three fairs. In recent years, the cookbooks we’ve been sent have been less gimmicky and people are buying more of them.
It seems to me that Scholastic is good at sending us what people are interested at the moment, so I’m pleased to see that several of this year’s selections at the book fair offer real recipes, using real food, for real families with hectic schedules.
If cookbooks like “Busy Family Recipes,” “Almost Homemade,” “New Slow Cooker Recipes” and “Fresh Food Fast Weeknight Meals” are what’s selling, that tells me that people are looking to be able to get home-cooked meals on the table despite their busy schedules.
I understand that just because people are buying these books does not mean that they're actually using them. Many purchased cookbooks sit on shelves, unused — but people are thinking about it. They are intending to do it. If some of the books purchased get used to help busy families cook a home-cooked meal (even if it’s not completely from scratch, it’s better than anything that can be super-sized), it’s a good thing.
It’s also interesting to note that none of the cookbooks offered is about organic, local or sustainable food. I’d like to think that if families are beginning to make home cooking a priority, that thinking about how and where the food is produced would be a next logical step for many of them.