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Gear Up for School With a New Backpack

Gear Up for School With a New Backpack

By Melissa Summers

Each summer I carefully plan activities the kids and I can enjoy together. We visit our local pool and museums. We eat popsicles on the porch, blow bubbles and sometimes try to catch fireflies at dusk. It’s fun for the first eight weeks of summer, then August rolls around.

I spend almost the entire month imagining my children as pretzel sticks. Pretzels sticks I could dip in chocolate and roll in multi-colored sprinkles and devour. By August we’re all kind of tired of waking up each morning, looking at one another and saying, “What are we going to do today?” And when I say “we” I actually mean that by August I am a little tired of waking up and facing the “What are we going to do today?” question.

But the end is near and I have a supply list from our teachers to prove it. There’s not a lot I love more than the first day of school, it’s like Christmas only with more free time.

I’m shopping for school supplies and other back-to-school necessities. Today: backpacks.

Pack it Up: Stylish Backpacks

Best School Backpacks for KidsThe Randoseru (pictured at left) is a Japanese tradition I wish we’d made our own. These backpacks can be pricey, but I’m certainly not one to put a price tag on adorable. I picture my little girl wearing a beret, a plaid pleated skirt and Mary Janes, walking to school down a cobblestone street. Except that my daughter has declared an embargo on any article of clothing without two separate leg openings, a beret would probably get her beaten up on the playground and we don’t live in a particularly picturesque place. It’s just my fantasy.

The more practical part of me is a huge fan of the Lands End line of backpacks. The ClassMate pack is durable, classic and affordable. My daughter thinks it’s boring, but it comes in a lot of colors and a few patterns. You can get it monogrammed, too — Madison would like, “This Backpack Is Boring” embroidered on hers.

My daughter wants a dog more than anything in the entire world, she’s wanted a dog for over half of her relatively short life. I have a secret though: I don’t really want a dog very much at all and I’m not sure if we’re ever going to actually have a dog. This is why my daughter has a lot of items with dogs on them, so the backpacks from Little Pack Rats really appeal to me. A nice vinyl backpack with an adorable puppy (or cat or rabbit or eagle or dinosaur — kids like weird animals) on the back. No barking, no chewing … fine, it’s not really as fun as a real dog, but who’s side are you on anyway?

Best Backpakcs for SchoolMy daughter might go for a cute dog backpack, but my son is lobbying hard for a character backpack because in his world, everything is better if it has a character on it. Of course in my world, everything with a character is just a little more tacky, but that might be our generation gap talking. I don’t know.

On the other hand, if a character backpack makes you laugh I’m all for it. This Yoda backpack will appeal to your child’s love of the Star Wars films and it will appeal to your desire to laugh just a little bit when you send your kids to school. When I showed it to Max he crinkled his nose and backed away from me slowly saying, “I just really think I want a Power Rangers backpack. Okay?” Maybe your child is a little more adventurous.

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Find more Back-to-School Ideas here!







Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Zoot

    August 29, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    I let my son (6th grader) get a new backpack almost every year, because I think that’s part of the joy of school starting back: New Stuff. But last year? He asked for a North Face backpack for Christmas, and wanted to use it again this year.
    Sometimes steal it and use it for myself, it’s that cool. I kinda want to go back to school just to have an excuse to buy one.

  • Angie

    August 29, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    LOVE the new column name and I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

  • Teresa

    August 29, 2006 at 2:47 pm

    The best lunch box I’ve found is a disposable brown bag. My children, that are in school, do have lunch boxes, but none that live up to my standards. I couldn’t seem to find any plastic and/or metal Snoopy lunch boxes (with the thermos provided), which is what I had growing up, anywhere. I only found lunch sacks – thermal lunch sacks. YUCK! So, most days my children are sent off to school with their brown bags which I’ve drawn a creative picture on. They do enjoy seeing how many different things I can draw though. Plus, they can throw it away and I don’t have to come home and see that my son didn’t touch his sandwich, but ate all his chips.

  • Ceej

    August 29, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    Just wait until you get to buy a backpack for a teen! Apparently, there is no end to my idiocy!!(To which we have now said, “Pick it out yourself,Your Royal Laziness!”) Honestly, you find the best sites!–who would have thunk it? Oh, and I can’t believe I beat cursingmama here.

  • chris

    August 29, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    The fact that Madison wants an adorable dog backpack gives me hope that my daughter’s dress-only, pink-only, must feature at least one Disney princess days will come to and end some time before I die.
    Awesome column, Melissa.

  • Michele

    August 29, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    I was one of five Michele’s (or Michelle’s) in my fifth grade class. And my parents thought leaving on “L” off would make me unique. (sigh)
    My boys are to young for book bags yet. They still head off to daycare with a Trader Joes bag filled with diapers, but I am totally crazy about the dog bag. Might have to buy in advance.
    Love the banner.

  • Melissa

    August 29, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    As a fellow Melissa (born in 1972), I wonder where you grew up. I only knew 2 other Melissa’s myself while growing up.
    And interestingly, this year, ‘Melissa’ fell off the Social Security’s list of Top 100 Names, where it was prominently in the bottom 20 for about 30 years!!!
    Good luck with the new blog!

  • melissaS

    August 29, 2006 at 5:30 pm

    Michigan. And I thought of another Melissa, but she didn’t have a last initial because she went by Missy.

  • AmyChop

    August 29, 2006 at 8:24 pm

    glad you’re here!

  • Robyn

    August 29, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    I am finally out of the lunch-box phase of parenting, with my youngest daughter a junior in high school. It was just today that I was thinking about how much I hated packing lunches, but I miss it a little. Good luck with the perfect box search.

  • Shelly

    August 29, 2006 at 8:36 pm

    My son has that spiderman backpack in his closet, just waiting for his first day of Kindergarten. Sigh.

  • madge

    August 29, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Maybe it’s a regional thing. There were almost 20 Jessicas at my camp. All born between 1972 and 1978. Can’t recall any Melissas, though.
    Oh, and, being from Maine, I am contractually obiligated to pimp the LLBean backpack and/or lunch box.

  • Judi

    August 29, 2006 at 9:26 pm

    My son has that backpack as well (kindergarten) and our middle school doesn’t allow backpacks which is way cool.
    I look forward to reading more.

  • FlippyO

    August 30, 2006 at 4:05 am

    I love love love the masthead. Did I say that I loved it? Just checking.
    I also love the Yoda backpack, even though I think Star Wars is a huge bore.

  • Amy

    August 30, 2006 at 9:20 am

    Isn’t it funny how starting school after Labor Day is supposed to keep the tourism dollars rolling in. Funny, the kids in every other state around us are back in school, so their families are not coming to Michigan to spend money. WE’RE the ones who are expected to still be spending money here in Michigan having lots of fun, throwing money off the Mackinac Bridge. Frankly, I’m too crabby from all of this summer togetherness to want to have much fun and I’m OUT OF MONEY from trying to get ready for school. Tomorrow you’ll find us spending tourism dollars in Ohio because all of their kids are already in school and the zoo will be more quiet! Just follow the trail of fun down I-75! Whoopee!

  • melissaS

    August 30, 2006 at 9:48 am

    So true. I’m out of money from trying to keep the kids entertained with camps and classes and museums and movies and bowling and vacations for the first two months of summer.
    I don’t have any cash left for Labor Day hooplah.
    Unless you count ‘drywalling the bathroom’ hooplah.

  • Melissa

    August 30, 2006 at 11:48 am

    I was Melissa M. also born in 1973 to a mother who thought she was being clever and original.

  • Melissa

    August 30, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Just another Melissa (I’m a Melissa M.) born in 1972 checking in.
    My mom was gonna name me Jennifer Joy but then there was a tv show with a little girl nicknamed “JJ” on it, so she was afraid there’d be a bundle of JJs and switched to Melissa. I was Missy almost my whole childhood, though. Then I went to college where my roommate was….Melissa M also! Small world.

  • erika

    August 30, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    We had 5 Sara(h)s in my high school class. We still call one of them Sara K. Love the new column!
    I also love the Yoda backpack – if only he faced forward like he was riding piggyback.

  • Melissa

    August 30, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Another Melissa here, 1974.
    Growing up there were the usual many Melissas in school, but in elementary school there was one with my same last name! And my name isn’t Smith or Jones either.
    Then when I got to college, I was randomly assigned a Melissa as a roommate.
    One time in college, the pizza delivery guy said ‘Oh, I thought you were going to be someone else.’ Apparently there was ANOTHER one with the same last name in my college town.
    Unless the elementary school one followed me there…

  • Melissa

    August 31, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Melissa W,
    I love your new site. I’m sure I’ll be a requent visitor.
    Best of Luck,
    Another Melissa W
    p.s. I always sign my name on cards with a bumble bee. I love the Greek meaning of my name.

  • Sherry

    March 4, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I know you wrote this a few years ago, but it was helpful. I was going to buy a Land’s End backpack for my boys before the school year started and I now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t. One of them that I bought, which he picked the nicest and most expensive at the store, has had zipper problems and now one of them busted. My poor little guy, who we try to keep school a positive, due to anxiety issues, is the one who’s backpack has been a challenge. Even though we have 3 months left of school to go he’s getting a new backpack and hopefullly LE will ship it soon.