Teen People magazine editor Isabel Gonzalez shows parents on The Saturday Early Show what book bags, gadgets and school supplies are on children's wish list.
Gonzalez says this year's back-to-school trends combine fun and function. Look for lots of bright colors and wacky designs that allow students to express themselves. Parents should expect to say goodbye to dreary and traditional. When it comes to electronic gadgets, everything must look sleek and allow students to be totally connected.
Gonzalez sees backpacks as the most essential back-to-school item. Every teen needs one. Here are the ones she likes:
Airpack Backpack: This bag is amazing, in Gonzalez's opinion. It's ergonomically designed to provide back support. The lumbar support and shoulder straps are filled with air. Students tend to lug around a LOT of weight in their bags; these features help prevent injury or strain. Plus, it looks cool, $59.99.
JanSport "The Pulse:" Kids have carried Jansport bags for years; it's a very popular brand name. The brand is known for durability and use of top-quality materials. This bag is also filled with air, $140.
Le Sportsac: These sturdy totes will carry books but don't look like the traditional school bag. They come in a wide variety of patterns and styles. Girls will be just as likely to carry their Sportsac to the mall as to class. Le Sportsacs have been around for years and use to be bought at Wal-Mart. However, they've recently become very "chic" and are sold for lots more money at Bloomingdales and Soho boutiques, $72-$98.
JanSport Single Shoulder Strap: Backpacks with one strap, worn slung over a shoulder and across the chest, have been popular the past few years. They are big among younger students who don't have as many books to carry, $50.
Students also need a fresh supply of notebooks, folders, organizers and pencil bags to start the academic year. We don't need to spend a ton of time talking about these items. We do want to point out that the wide variety of colors, patterns and sizes allows students to make a statement about their personalities and makes back-to-school shopping just a little more fun. Here's some of the coolest stuff:
Todd Oldham: This designer now makes inexpensive home items and school supplies for Target stores. Some of his folders, notebooks and pencil bags are all covered with stars, ziz-zags, and argyle patterns. His brown and orange organizer holds paper, notes, folders and pencils and has a handle so it can be carried like a briefcase.
Nike Notebook: Nike is also getting into school supplies. Nike has a red rubber organizer that looks and feels like the bottom of tennis shoes.
Fred Flare Notebooks: Composition books and notebooks don't have to be 8.5 x 11 anymore.
Bulletin Boards: Most students have a bulletin board in their room. It's an easy way to stay organized and to display fun pictures of friends. Two new options have replaced the standard brown board. Delia's offers a quilted board that have pictures secured by ribbons, $18. Three by Three offers a long skinny magnetic board, $13.
High-tech items are the newest members of back-to-school shopping lists and most students have at least one gadget or something similar. They are expensive, but most of them can perform a variety of functions. Students like them because they look cool and make their lives easier; parents like them because they can stay in constant communication with their kids.
TI-83 Plus Silver Edition: This isn't your momma's calculator! You can plug any math or science formula in here. Buying an attachable keyboard, $39.99, also allows you to use it for typing notes in class and hooking it up to a computer. Believe it or not, these monsters are approved for use during the ACT and SAT college placement tests, $129.95.
Palm i705: These have come down $100 in price. In addition to storing phone numbers and calendars, this Palm Pilot has wireless e-mail. Of course, this function is key with students who want to be in touch with everyone at all times. Adding a keyboard, $59.95, makes inputing information even easier, $299.
Apple I-Book Gonzalez's teen trendspotters tell her that once kids hit 15 or 16, every wish list includes a car and a computer. If parents want to invest in a computer, this is the way to go. Laptops are preferable to desktops because students can use them at school, home, the library, in the car, etc. Apple's newest I-book is updated with new functions and a sleek look. It's fast and has great sound. In general, the Apple brand is popular with students, $1199.