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KATE: "Fact: There is no need to cover schoolbooks."

Kate Hunter

by KATE HUNTER

Wherever I go, it’s all I’m hearing …

‘Have you ‘done’ the schoolbooks yet?’

‘Did you hear Officeworks at Windsor still has a few rolls of One Direction Con-Tact in stock?’

‘There’s a girl up the road who will cover exercise books for a dollar each (plus Con-Tact).’

‘That cute online sticky label company is offering free delivery on orders over $50!’

And on and on. It’s the song of January. The schoolbooks! Cover the schoolbooks! Crack out the Dymo and label the pencils – if you’re lucky you might get the super skinny tape that’ll fit along the side of a Staedtler 2B perfectly. But you gotta be quick.

I sang the song too, once. I’m a back to school veteran and I’m here to tell you something shocking. Brace yourselves.

THERE IS NO NEED TO COVER SCHOOLBOOKS.

No, there is not. Unless you love doing it – and there are some stationery addicts (my sister is one) who love nothing more than staring at a neat pile of perfectly Con-Tacted exercise books and neatly labeled pencils. It’s like some people find satisfaction in the sight of clean washing on the Hills Hoist. I don’t understand it, but I accept it.

If book covering does it for you, go ahead, contact yourself into a frenzy.

Mia trying to cover her daughter’s books.

BUT if you’d rather paint your toenails and you resent the expense, then rise up with me and refuse to do it. Your child’s academic success and social acceptance will not be compromised. I’m reasonably sure Mrs Einstein didn’t spend hours ensuring Albert’s book covering was bubble-free, but I could be wrong.

It’s a brave move, resisting the covering movement. Certainly, there may be whispers in the staff room, ‘Gosh, did you notice Sally’s slackarse mother sent her along with naked exercise books again?’ I can live with that, and you can too.

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What parents need to realise is this: BOOKS COME WITH COVERS. Otherwise they’d be known as ‘brochures’ or ‘leaflets’. Most schoolbooks are fashioned from paper, with COVERS made of cardboard, which is somewhat more robust. So we’re covering the covers! Why? Do our kids need their exercise books decorated?

In the olden days, when I was a lass, one textbook had to last three, four or five kids. My mother would do everything short of cardiac massage to get another year out of a science text; so covering was important. My friend Sharon’s mother was the same, thriftily cutting up shower curtains (scraped of mould, obviously) for use as robust covering material. Top tip, thanks Joyce.

There may be cases where a book is ‘special’. My older girl had a book last year for original stories she’d written. We covered that, and I’ll keep it, it’s precious. But the spelling practise books and the maths books full of rubbed-out long division all went in the recycling bin on the last day of Year 5 – uncovered, unmourned.

When it comes to labelling, I’m of the black permanent marker school. It can’t be rubbed out, washed off, peeled off. Works for books, pencils, swimmers, drink bottles, sneakers. For dark-coloured items I splash out and use a Liquid Paper pen thingy.

Someone will do a study one day, but at time of writing, there’s no evidence a lunchbox labelled with a natty butterfly motif sticker will be lost less frequently than a box with the owner’s name printed in fat felt-tip. All you need to do is spell your kid’s name correctly. Some days that’s a challenge, but I find it’s worth the effort.

So, contacting your kids’ books. Are you for or against?

(If you liked this post, you’ll probably also appreciate this one by Mia: “School went back today and I’m already falling apart”)

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