Industry & Advocacy News
November 1, 2023
The Authors Guild is relieved that Scholastic has rethought its controversial decision to segregate diverse books into a separate collection at its elementary school book fairs. Scholastic had previously announced the change in response to state laws limiting LGBTQIA+ and anti-racist titles in schools, saying it would offer a new diverse book collection called “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” that schools could choose to display in addition to the main book collection.
While Scholastic’s stated concern about “an almost impossible dilemma: back away from these titles or risk making teachers, librarians and volunteers vulnerable to being fired, sued or prosecuted” is understandable, segregating these types of works into a separate collection was not the solution to that dilemma, as Scholastic ultimately realized. The creation of such a separate collection would have made it all the easier for certain districts to prevent the diverse books it contained from being offered at their local book fairs. Self-censorship or segregation of books by publishers is not the answer to the increasing efforts to control and limit speech and the ability of students to read and learn about complex topics.
After experiencing some backlash for its earlier decision, Scholastic wrote a letter of apology to its authors and illustrators recognizing “the pain caused, and that we have broken the trust of some of our publishing community, customers, friends, trusted partners and staff.” It followed up that letter with a public statement recognizing “that the separate nature of the collection has caused confusion and feelings of exclusion” and that the company is working to “find a better way.” The Authors Guild supports this choice and would be glad to work with Scholastic in finding a better way to make age-appropriate BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ stories available to students. These stories and authors deserve to be heard, and students deserve to see themselves—and people who may differ from themselves—in books at their schools.
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