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Why a Yearbook?

In a time when almost all of us walk around with high-quality cameras in our pockets, students have hundreds of photos on their phone, thousands shared across social media, and even more in the cloud, it’s pretty common to hear

the question:

Why should I buy a yearbook? That’s a lot of money for a book of pictures!

Why do I need one?

It’s not a bad question. One of the paradoxes of high school yearbooks is that we create them for students at the exact point in their lives when they will appreciate them

the least.

They’re right in the middle of all the events and stories that are captured in the yearbook; their memories are fresh, and they’re thinking, “I don’t need a book! I will remember these things forever!”

But they won’t

And all those thousands of pictures they have? Those are a part of their story, and that’s a good and important thing. However, their story is only a slice of the bigger story that is this year at this school. If they want that bigger story, they will need a yearbook.

"’ll find yourself looking at it for an hour."

However, as I said, they may not realize that when the yearbooks go up for sale. If I could sit down with the students at your school, this is what I would tell them:

Here’s what’s going to happen. On the day the yearbook is handed out, you’ll be excited. You’ll flip through it — looking for yourself first, of course — and you’ll get friends and maybe a teacher or two to sign it. Later that week, you’ll probably take a few hours to go through the whole thing.

Then it will go on your shelf…or under your bed…or in the trunk of your car. And the only time you’ll think about it is when you wonder, “Why did I spend that much money on a book?”

"’ll read all those messages your friends wrote and you’ll wonder how they’re doing."

Then five years will go by, and you will start getting wedding invitations…or maybe you’ll be sending wedding invitations. And you will pull out your yearbook and start looking up names and faces, and then you’ll read all those messages your friends wrote and you’ll wonder how they’re doing.

When ten years goes by, you’ll do the same thing, except this time it will be baby showers and birth announcements, and you’ll take out the book and, instead of five minutes, you’ll find yourself looking at it for an hour.

Twenty years goes by, and maybe you’ll have your own kids going off to high school, and you’ll pull out that book and show it to them, and they’ll laugh at the hair, and they’ll laugh at the clothes, and they’ll laugh (hopefully politely) at you: “Mom, who’s this loser in this picture with you?” “That’s your father, dear…”

Twenty-five years after that, maybe you’ll pull the book off the shelf and show it to grandchildren. They will never believe that’s you, of course: “You used to be so pretty!”

And then forty or fifty years after you first opened that yearbook, you’ll start getting phone calls and texts and notices on social media that some of the people in that book are gone: “It is with heavy hearts that the reunion committee announces that…” And at that moment high school seems like a thousand years ago, until you open that book and you remember…

“Oh yeah, that was me. And that was us...”

So if spending $50 or $75 or $100 on a book sounds like a lot to your students, tell them,

Yes, yes it is a lot. But years from now, you’ll think it’s the best money you ever spent.

United Yearbook offers resources, curriculum, and on-site workshops on this and other topics. To learn more, contact us at or visit our website at


Dr. John Tuttle, Curriculum Specialist & Lecturer

Dr. John Tuttle is a lecturer for UYB’s in-class workshops, and also works with curriculum development, podcasts, and blog posts. He holds an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Biola University, where for ten years he was Director of Student Communications. For several years, Dr. Tuttle has also worked as an adjunct faculty member within Biola’s “great books” program.

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