Too many toys, too few books?

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Will America's  students spend more time reading or playing this summer? Some teachers are worried that longtime children's publisher Scholastic is pushing kids towards toys rather than books.

Some 1,262 teachers have signed a petition by consumer group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood asking Scholastic to stop enlisting teachers to sell toys to students, reports USA Today. The action comes even as Scholastic is busy processing summer book orders. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood says that a third of the items for sale through Scholastic's 2008 elementary and middle-school book clubs are toys or trinkets like lip gloss.

"Scholastic is taking advantage of its privileged place in schools," Susan Linn, director of the consumer group told USA Today. "Some teachers are fed up enough to say, 'Stop.' "

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At book fairs, students often pass up the books and go for the bracelets, video games and erasers, says Larry Burt, a fourth-grade teacher at Roseway Heights School in Portland, Ore.

But not all teachers agree. Laura Bush, a second-grade teacher in Vernon, Conn., told USA Today that she doesn't care, "if a child gets a SpongeBob toy if that encourages them to read. And if a child writes a wonderful story because she got a fuzzy fairy pen, that's great."

Scholastic is the US publisher of the Harry Potter series.

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