Scholastic Trade Publishing president, Ellie Berger, has announced the reversal of the controversial decision to segregate “diverse titles” at the Scholastic Book Fair. The initial move to create an “elective case” for books centered around LGBTQ+ and BIPOC authors sparked outrage and criticism. Berger stated, “Even if the decision was made with good intention, we understand now that it was a mistake to segregate diverse books.” The company is discontinuing the elective case in January and is working on an alternative plan for upcoming book fairs this fall.
The decision had earlier aimed to address challenges posed by book bans or pending bans in 33 states, where Scholastic Book Fairs operate in schools. By creating a separate catalog titled “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice,” Scholastic intended to offer 64 titles focusing on race and gender. However, the move was met with swift backlash, with PEN America and authors alike condemning it. Olivia Wolfgang-Smith, a senior digital manager at Scholastic, called it “a cowardly, demoralizing, and harmful way for Scholastic to use its power in this industry.”
This controversy highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the literary world, as book bans and censorship efforts continue to rise. PEN America’s recent report revealed a 33% increase in book bans during the 2022-2023 school year, despite widespread disapproval. Some states have even resorted to “soft book bans” to achieve similar ends. For example, Texas passed House Bill 900, which aimed to “rate” books like films based on their content. These developments underscore the importance of protecting diverse voices and literature in today’s educational landscape.
In a climate where free expression and access to diverse perspectives are under threat, Scholastic’s decision to reverse course sends a signal that commitment to BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors remains a priority in the world of literature and education.