Scholastic, the renowned children's book publisher, reversed its earlier decision to introduce a distinct list of books focusing on topics like race, gender, and sexuality following significant criticism. The list was initially devised to offer school book fair organizers an option to exclude these titles, in light of emerging state laws emphasizing content appropriateness in educational settings.
Scholastic recognized the controversy surrounding the distinct list and decided to withdraw it.
In a recent statement, the company expressed, "We understand now that the separate nature of the collection has caused confusion and feelings of exclusion."
Starting January, the company plans to discontinue the list and aims to revisit its strategy. Scholastic seeks to ensure accessibility of their book fairs to every child, while also accommodating educators navigating local content restrictions.
The publisher expressed its concerns over the current U.S. socio-political climate that may limit children's access to diverse books.
Several authors, whose works were part of the list, rebuked Scholastic for their initial decision. Amanda Gorman, author of “Change Sings,” mentioned her dissatisfaction, labeling the decision as feeling like a "betrayal."
The “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” list encompassed a variety of books, including stories with same-sex parents, graphic novels about indigenous cultures, and biographies of significant figures like Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson and civil rights activist John Lewis.
Scholastic had earlier defended their choice, indicating the alternative would have been not offering such books at all.
The ambiguity surrounding which books from the list would genuinely face legal restrictions at school book fairs remains.
In states like Florida, there are specific guidelines about teaching subjects related to gender, sexuality, and race.
However, a representative from the Florida Department of Education clarified to The New York Times that some books, such as the biography on John Lewis, wouldn’t infringe upon Florida’s laws.
Referring to Scholastic's move, the spokeswoman commented, “This is a political stunt by a corporation prioritizing activism over the well-being of children.”