100 Scope Notes
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Battle of the Bad Bookmarks: Quarterfinals

Quarterfinals | Semifinals | Finals | Winner/Loser

What’s up with all these terrible bookmarks people use? Am I right?

(Gentle sound of crickets chirping)

While I’m all for marking a page by any means necessary, some bookmarks make more sense than others. This week in a bracket-style tournament based on your votes, we’re going to determine once and for all which bookmark is the worst.

The Competitors:

A Tissue

Any time a breeze can blow your bookmark away, you’ve got yourself a bad bookmark. A tissue also has potential gross factor if it has been used.

A Piece of Junk Mail

Come on, you really can’t find anything smaller?


If you want your bookmark to mark your page, it’s not a good idea to use something that people are tempted to steal.

An I.D.

Look closely and you’ll see me at 18 years old. It’s never really a good idea to use something as important as an I.D. as a bookmark because the rate of losing a bookmark is (by my latest estimate) 100%.

A Tiny Scrap of Paper

Did you miss it? Here:

Marking your page with something you can barely see is like buying a highlighter in “paper color”.

Another Book

Really? The only thing you could find was an entire book? I would guess that folks who do this move also make those brownies that have Reese’s cups inside of them (side note: those are delicious and I would never knock anyone who made them).

A Pencil

The issue I have with this choice is that you can’t close the book. People who use pencils as bookmarks are also likely to leave car doors ajar.

A Bandage

(This one comes courtesy of @colbysharp)

Unused? A bit silly, but no big deal. Used? You need to read elsewhere, my (former) friend.

Let the Tournament Begin

Polls are open today (Monday, February 20) until 8:00 PM EST. Check back tomorrow to see the winners and vote in the semifinals.

Vote for the worst:

[polldaddy poll=5959327]

[polldaddy poll=5959334]

[polldaddy poll=5959342]

[polldaddy poll=5959346]

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. This is awesome! I have a student who does the tissue thing and it does creep me out a bit. It also kills me when ki ds just don’t use bookmarks at all.

  2. Ha! And I even voted! Want to travel to Flint with me? Flint Institute of Arts? Pinkney exhibit? Call and let’s plan a road trip. I’m posting this here because this is an open invitation to any of your readers.

    • Ed – I’m totally in. I’ll give you a call.

      • I’m planning a trip to see it as well but haven’t nailed down a date…. would love to meet you both in person!

      • Same here! Going, no visit date figured out yet, love to meet you both if it worked out, schedule-wise.
        As for bookmarks, what a fun post!
        Highlighter in paper color made me laugh.
        I’ve used all recently except the bandage. Also: nail file, Post-it note, penny, book jacket flap… (hmm. I have a stack of bookmarks for books I’ve created, but I never remember to use them for my own reading)
        Forgottenbookmarks.com has lots of fun finds.

      • I’ll wait by the phone.

  3. Very funny. I confess my main consideration is what I’d hate to lose if I accidentally returned a library book with said bookmark (money, ID). I have been known to mark books with tissues… but only the most pristine, fresh from the box!

  4. The worst is when I’m confident I’ll remember my page number, because I rarely do.

  5. I love this competition. I have used most of these book marks during my reading life. The thing that kills me is when students flip the book over to run and get a tissue or need to use the bathroom. Just grab something to save the spine!

  6. As a former school librarian, all I can say is Love This!
    Ugh to the (used) tissue. (Thanks for picking my book to display the money and not the Kleenex, by the way.)
    I kind of like it when I borrow a library book and it has a real bookmark forgotten inside it. I feel a kinship with the previous reader.

  7. The pencil vs. I.D. one was difficult. The pencil is too bulky, so the functionality of it isn’t there. But yeah, losing I.D. is bad. I chose pencil, though, because at least the I.D. still actually works as a bookmark.

  8. “…like buying a highlighter in ‘paper color'”–genius! I remember the days when I really did recall the page number. Alas, those days are gone. My favorite bookmark right now is a business card, but I’ve been guilty of using both small scraps of paper and junk mail on a regular basis.

  9. Funny! No crickets gently chirping here. As a school librarian I knew exactly where you were headed. Voting-wise I opted for choices that were easier on the books. I find all kinds of fun things in books – although, sadly, no one has left me any money. I’m just waiting for my first electronic-device-as-bookmark in the book return.

  10. What a wonderful idea, Travis. Do you care if I use this idea with my students, giving you credit of course? I have to admit, shameful as it is, that most frequently, now that I wear glasses for reading, to using them to mark my spot.

  11. You missed my favorite! Several years ago I went to a demonstration on book repair and was given a booklet (by Demco) and inside was an illustration of a book with a piece of raw bacon sticking out! Raw bacon! I have tried again and again to imagine the scenario where one would resort to using a piece of raw bacon as a bookmark and why it would be such a popular situation that it would be featured in a book repair booklet.

  12. This made my day… I needed a good chuckle this morning.
    My daughter is a big fan of the tiny piece of paper… then gets annoyed because she can’t find it. :)

  13. This is epic. I have to admit, my head almost explodes whenever I see one of my students bookmarking their book with another book. Grrr… that’s why I hand out awesome bookmarks all the time, people! :)

  14. Charlene Irvin-Brown says

    A student was hysterical one day because used used the minuscule piece of paper and couldn’t find her place. Almost anything is better than when they bend the corner back. I am getting sick just thinking about it. I have to take several deep breaths before I call them on this or they might get a body part bent back. I supply tons of fun books marks too including fun scratch as sniff. They just don’t use them.

  15. Oh my word…I have used every. single. one of these. Just about spewed the coffee when I saw the little bitty bit of paper!

  16. still laughing. In the book piles on my desk, every single one of your examples (except the ID) is represented, most more than once. In sight are more than 5 perfectly good “real” bookmarks which just don’t cut it for some reason. Raw bacon? At least I haven’t sunk that low.

  17. Janet Thompson says

    It’s a good list. I’ve used all but the bandage and ID unless you count something like a conference ID or swipe card, then I’m also guilty of that. Okay, I don’t use $ either, but did use Monopoly $ recently. Let it be remembered that bookmark users are not folding down the pages. Guess I fall into the just-grab-something-to-save-the-spine category.

  18. @Shelly – yes, I wanted to write in bacon: we’ve had that happen at our library. But the most interesting I’ve found – and I’ve found them many times – are snapshots, including – this would have to be a contendor for worst/best – compromising polaroids.

  19. This post had me snorting! It is sooo true, so, of course, I just had to vote and then share it with my MS buds. Thanks for posting about this very real and serious issue. It made my day. :D

  20. I think the worst thing I’ve found is a used dental floss pick thing. Seriously, so gross. I really don’t get the tissue thing, though. We get a lot of books back with tissue bookmarks.

  21. Julie Cummins says

    You left out a slice of bacon!

  22. So I’m not the only one who complains! I’ve seen pens, coupons, baby pictures and a tiny flashlight. Also a camera. According to a library myth someone found a (gasp) fried egg, but I can’t verify that one.

  23. Help!! I can’t figure out how to vote!!

  24. Oh, I guess that’s because this is nearly a year old… ;-)

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