Scholastic Books


Just about everyone I know remembers the Scholastic books fairs. They were the highlight of my school year. The anticipation. Watching the librarians and other staff busily rearranging the library and strategically placing the book displays in a way not to disturb students still needing to use the library. The buzz…. Kids talking about what they planned to get this year. The excitement. Thinking about those thin colorful catalogs. I couldn’t wait to get mine so I could thumb through each page and put a checkmark by everything I wanted. Here they come. My eyes lit up when the teacher presented them to the class with the instructions, “Be sure to take these home to your parents and decide what you want.” I hurried home to show my mama! This time I would get everything I wanted. Yes! My mother, my rock, my first teacher. The woman who put everything on the line for her girls. The one I knew loved me more than anything and wanted to give me everything she never ever had. What parent doesn’t. Although my mother and father were married, we didn’t have a lot of money. I knew we lacked, but I didn’t realize we were considered poor because my mother always ensured we had what we needed. However, I knew we struggled financially. She never wanted us to see her worried. I remember her working several jobs at a time to make ends meet. She was strong, had grit, worked hard, did what was right, helped others, but we still struggled financially. Gosh, I hated what poverty did to us.… And when book fair time came around, I noticed that my always jovial mother became sad. I later learned that my mother’s love language is giver. She loved and still loves making others happy by giving gifts. But she couldn’t quite make it work for book fair time. It wasn’t a necessity. You know, shelter, food, and clothes. It was a luxury. The book fair came and went. I didn’t get much of anything that year, maybe a pencil or a coloring sheet. But she always tried. I knew she always tried. She was hopeful that next year would be different. That hopefulness always got me through, because she believed she could do more next time. Next time … she said.

I couldn’t comprehend her overwhelming love for me and desire to ensure my every need and wish until my daughter went to kindergarten. The Scholastic book fair came around. She brought home that thin catalog. With the same excitement, she immediately pointed out everything she wanted. A familiar feeling … we both checked-off what she wanted. She even saw a cute book for her baby brother. We set a hefty budget. We woke up early to get to school; we found the books and rushed to the register.

As I prepared to check out, I cried. I purchased everything on her list and a little more.

About the "Stories that Change Hearts, Minds, and Policies" Collection

Organizers and Advocates are heroes. Every great hero has a story to tell. The "Stories that Change Hearts, Minds, and Policies" Collection shares stories about challenge, triumph, great personal cost, and outright determination to love and serve Arkansas.

The Foundation put this collection together to share spoken-word narratives from our "Stories that Change Hearts, Minds, and Policies" Story Slam, where we recognized "October is Advocacy and Organizing Month" (OAOM). Our Story Slam was hosted in partnership with the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and The Yarn. Special thanks to Herstory Writers' Workshop for helping Arkansas Organizers and Advocates find their voices and tell their stories.

Click here to experience other powerful stories of Organizers and Advocates who have transformed Arkansas communities.