Scholastic Bookshelf

The Scholastic Bookshelf Helps Parents Talk To Their Kids

By: Julie Loffredi National Content Desk

Answering kids’ most pressing life questions is hard work. Scholastic aims to make “conversation starters” easier for parents and teachers with the launch of a new resource on Instagram.

Lauren Tarshis, the senior vice president & editor-in-chief of Scholastic Classroom Magazines, talked to our editors about the new social-first resource:

Q: Lauren, what exactly is an Instagram bookshelf?

Lauren: The Scholastic Bookshelf on Instagram is a collection of excerpts from 60 plus beloved Scholastic books and classroom magazine articles organized around social, emotional, and other pressing topics. The idea is to give parents beautiful, informative “slices” of stories they can use to talk to their kids or answer questions about everything from adoption to natural disasters to racism.

Q: How did this idea come about?

Lauren: We’re turning 100 this year, which is incredible to all of us, especially when we think about how much our founding mission continues to inspire us: to help kids understand themselves and the world. We’re passionate believers in the power of stories — to illuminate and inform, to bring us together. We wanted to celebrate our birthday by giving something of meaning to parents, teachers, and kids. The idea of the bookshelf resonated because it is so true to that founding mission.

We are always seeking new ways to connect kids with the stories that help them better understand themselves and the world around them, and the Scholastic Bookshelf is the latest continuation of this 100-year-long mission.

Q: Can you give an example of how it works?

Lauren: Let’s say a mom or dad is noticing their middle schooler seems more anxious than usual. If the parent is already following @ScholasticBookshelf on Instagram, they could grab their phone, go to the account and browse the topics. They might click on the “anxiety” post, which guides them through an excerpt from the award-winning graphic novel Guts by Raina Telgemeier, which tells the story of a middle school girl dealing with school-related anxiety and includes discussion prompts. So now the parent has a way into a conversation with their child about anxiety using an age-appropriate story, on a social platform that feels intuitive and familiar.  And of course, they are connecting their child to Raina herself and her amazing work.

Q: How does this help parents — with communicating with their children?

Lauren: Kids are facing a world that is so filled with uncertainty — this was true even before COVID-19. How can parents talk to their kids about issues like racism, climate change, bullying, or illness? How can they answer questions that in most cases have no clear answers? What we’ve learned through our discussions with experts is that the key is for parents to be able to talk — and listen openly. Sharing one of these book excerpts provides fodder for conversation. The Bookshelf also provides suggestions for other books that kids can read on their own to explore issues they’re wondering about, or that families can read together.

Q: Why are books trending right now?

Lauren: Of course kids (and adults!) have much more time on their hands than they did before. Many camps, sports programs, and other activities are canceled. So naturally, they’re looking for ways to keep busy. They’re looking to be transported out of their room, their house, their town. Books let them connect with new kinds of people and places and ideas. They spark curiosity and open doors of knowledge. But it’s even deeper than that, I think. Many books on the Bookshelf were selected because they feature characters who model resilience, who are struggling with challenges and learning to overcome them. Books can be sources of strength and inspiration and hope, which we all need more than ever.

Instagram users can follow @scholasticbookshelf to learn more.