Ironically Named Policy Won’t Continue After Harsh Criticism
By Dolores Quintana
Following a wave of criticism, Scholastic is reversing its decision to permit school districts to exclude books addressing topics related to race, LGBTQ issues, and diversity from the publisher’s popular book fairs, as reported by CBS News.
Initially, the company defended this opt-out option, claiming it was intended to allow schools and teachers in states with laws restricting certain content in schools to continue hosting these events. Earlier this month, Scholastic introduced the “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” collection, particularly for states with prohibitions on specific types of books in schools. The collection included books written by US Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown.
Nevertheless, free speech advocates and children’s groups raised concerns about this move. PEN America, a group advocating for literature and free speech, expressed dismay at the separate group of diverse books and encouraged Scholastic to consider alternative solutions.
On Wednesday, Scholastic announced that it would discontinue the “Share Every Story” collection starting in January, acknowledging that the decision to create a separate category of diverse books led to confusion and feelings of exclusion.
Scholastic stated, “The ‘Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice’ collection will not be offered with our next season in January. As we reconsider how to make our book fairs available to all kids, we will keep in mind the needs of our educators facing local content restrictions and the children we serve. It is unsettling that the current divisive landscape in the U.S. is creating an environment that could deny any child access to books, or that teachers could be penalized for creating access to all stories for their students.”
Scholastic’s book fair business has faced pressure from conservatives regarding its book selection in recent years. Additionally, the pandemic, which resulted in widespread school closures, significantly affected the company’s financial performance. In the most recent quarter, sales at its book fair unit decreased by 4% compared to the previous year.