Scholastic apologizes and backtracks on segregating books about race and LGBTQ topics

The president of Scholastic, a publisher of children’s books, has expressed regret and reversed the decision to create a separate collection for books discussing LGBTQ themes and race. Ellie Berger, the president, issued an apology in a letter to authors and illustrators, which was shared on social media by author Vicky Fang. The collection, titled “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice,” will no longer be available starting in January.

Berger acknowledged that while Scholastic had good intentions, it was a mistake to segregate diverse books. The books were previously offered in a separate case that elementary schools could include or exclude from their fall book fairs. Juana Martinez-Neal, a renowned children’s book author, confirmed that her literary agency also received a copy of Berger’s letter.

The initial decision to segregate the books was made to protect school employees from liability in states or districts with book restrictions. However, this decision triggered backlash from several bestselling authors and librarians who viewed it as a sign of the erosion of a cherished American tradition due to culture-war battles.

In response to the criticism, Scholastic stated that they had made changes to their U.S. elementary school fairs to address concerns for Book Fair hosts. They acknowledged that the separate nature of the collection caused confusion and feelings of exclusion. The company is now working internally to find a better approach.

A group advocating for free speech, PEN America, accused Scholastic of potentially being complicit in government censorship. Additionally, a liberal mom group raised concerns about Scholastic clearing the path for “book banning extremists.” The Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country, emphasized the importance of every child, regardless of race or gender identity, seeing their lives reflected in the stories they read.

According to Vicky Fang, the children’s book author and illustrator who shared Berger’s letter, the letter was sent directly to her and other authors. In the letter, Berger acknowledged the pain caused and the broken trust within the publishing community, customers, partners, and staff. Scholastic will now explore alternative ways to ensure a wider range of books reaches children’s hands. Additionally, they vowed to double their efforts to counter laws that restrict access to children’s books.

In relation to the surge in book bans, a low-tech website associated with Moms for Liberty has been identified as a key factor.

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