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Give them Books and They Eat the Covers
2008/03/13
5:39pm
Jim Jelke
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I just heard the discussion of “I give them books and they eat the covers” from the tape I made of the WHAD broadcast when I wasn’t home. I first heard this in 1962 or 1963. I was working part time as a stock boy at the local Jewel grocery store and going to high school. One of the adult part timers used this phrase and I thought it was quite imaginative. I don’t think he created it.

Here’s how he summed up his disappointment in his kids: “I don’t know. I send them to school, buy them books, I teach them all I know, and what do they do? They eat the covers.” That may not be exactly what he said but it’s very close.

I lived in Evergreen Park, a southwest suburb of Chicago.

2008/03/15
1:51pm
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Wordsmith
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2008/03/05
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If you can judge a book by its cover and it’s true that you are what you eat, then if someone eats book covers can you judge him/her by what (s)he eats?

OK, very bad joke… Sorry! 🙁

2008/06/28
12:42pm
Carl Nielsen
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Jim Jelke said:

I just heard the discussion of “I give them books and they eat the covers” from the tape I made of the WHAD broadcast when I wasn’t home. I first heard this in 1962 or 1963. I was working part time as a stock boy at the local Jewel grocery store and going to high school. One of the adult part timers used this phrase and I thought it was quite imaginative. I don’t think he created it.

Here’s how he summed up his disappointment in his kids: “I don’t know. I send them to school, buy them books, I teach them all I know, and what do they do? They eat the covers.” That may not be exactly what he said but it’s very close.

I lived in Evergreen Park, a southwest suburb of Chicago.


I am from San Bernardino CA. In the early 50s in High School I heard ” Buy them books, send them to school, what do they do they eat the teachers.

I heard it from other students about the hopelessness of other students.

2008/06/28
1:06pm
Brian H
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The way I heard it (west coast…maybe twenty years ago) was,
“You send’em to school, you buy’em their books, and whatta they do? They eat the books.”
Of the versions I’ve heard, this one seems the most complete and internally consistent. But maybe I’m just attached to “my” version.

-Brian Henderson

2008/07/03
2:20pm
Randy T
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What I read back in the early 60’s, maybe in Boy’s Life magazine, a cartoon that went something like this:

Says one cannibal chief to another; you buy them books, send them to school and what do they do, eat the teacher.

I always thought it must be part of a larger quote from some gifted writer.

2012/05/25
6:42pm
DeeVee
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2012/05/25
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I heard this from my ex-husband’s father in 1980, quoted as “Give them books, give them books, and what do they do? Eat the teachers!” This was in Omaha, Nebraska. I do not know where the quote came from.