Position Statement written on behalf of The Educator Collaborative by its educator members.
The Educator Collaborative is a think tank and literacy consulting organization made up of K-12 and college educators from throughout the United States and around the world. We are made up of award-winning classroom educators, school leaders, instructional coaches, library media specialists, university educators, consultants, and education authors. From time to time the organization releases Position Statements on behalf of its members and our wide educator community.
Position Statement on the Harm Enacted When So-Called “Diverse Titles” Are Segregated from Main Book Collections
Background: Scholastic’s decision to segregate a number of titles available for U.S. elementary school book fairs was made, according to their October 13, 2023 statement, under the guise of protecting “teachers, librarians, and volunteers…[from] being fired, sued, or prosecuted” in states whose laws restrict the use of books containing content related to race and/or LGBTQIA+ communities in schools. On October 24, the President of Scholastic Trade Publishing sent an apology to authors and illustrators, announcing that the company would be discontinuing the practice, and vowed to “redouble our efforts to combat the laws restricting children’s access to books.” A day later, Scholastic released another public statement that was markedly different in tone and that left many readers confused.
The Educator Collaborative unequivocally supports the intellectual freedom of readers of all ages, who deserve unbridled access to texts that serve as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors (Bishop, 1990). Such access helps readers engage with a wide range of identities, experiential lenses, and knowledges, all of which are crucial to appreciating and understanding the rich, complex, multicultural nature of the world they inhabit–including their own place within it.
We reject all methods of “soft” censorship–and censorship as a whole. Scholastic, which describes itself as the “world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books,” has long been well-positioned to challenge policies and practices that seek to marginalize the stories and lived experiences of people in a way that individual educators and librarians have not. While they maintain in their apology to authors and illustrators that the initial decision to segregate titles was made “with good intention,” the fact remains that they willfully perpetuated the marginalization of books with characters that reflect the stories of people of the global majority and/or who are members of various LGBTQIA+ communities.
We disavow the centering of whiteness and cis-heteronormativity that is implicit in terms like “diverse titles” as well as in Scholastic’s decision surrounding which books were included in their “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” opt-in collection.We are disheartened by their instinctive urge to ‘other’ the stories and lived experiences of folks who are 1) already underrepresented in publishing and 2) under attack from bigoted social and political powers aimed at silencing them.
We stand alongside our author and illustrator colleagues–many of whom are people of the global majority and/or members of various LGBTQIA+ communities–whose stories were devalued and whose opportunity to succeed in the marketplace was placed at risk through Scholastic Book Fairs’ discriminatory “opt in” policy.
We call for a thorough redress of the harm the Scholastic book fair division enacted by segregating their elementary book fair offerings. Part of this work should include a public-facing inquiry into how this decision came to be made/approved in the first place. Scholastic is not the first—and will not be the last—entity to make decisions that prioritize politics over humanity. The more they are willing to hold themselves accountable to learning and growing from their mistakes, the more likely other corporations and organizations will follow their lead.
- Contact Scholastic to express your thoughts about the decisions behind their most recent public statements:
- By phone: 1-800-799-7323
- Via their website
- Consider collaborating with your local independent bookseller to host a DIY book fair.
- Alternatively, consider partnering with your local library to host a #TrueBookFAIR.
- Support authors and illustrators who are members of the global majority and/or are from the LGBTQIA+ community by purchasing their books, inviting them to visit your school/library, and writing positive book reviews on Amazon and other sites.
For Further Reading/Learning:
- Chad Everett, “There is no diverse book” [blog post]
- #TheEdCollabGathering Fall 2023 Closing Keynote: Navigating the Next Wave of Challenges: Educate, Communicate, De-escalate
- Rachel Ulatowski, “Serial book banner demonstrates how 11 people accounted for 60% of all U.S. book challenges” [The Mary Sue]
- We Need Diverse Books October 18. 2023 & October 26, 2023 statements
Nittle, N. (2022, August 22). What Is ‘soft’ censorship? When school districts don’t ban books, they still limit student access. The 19th. https://19thnews.org/2022/08/book-bans-limitations-school-districts-soft-censorship/
Bishop, R. S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom,6(3).
Welcoming Schools. (n.d.) Definitions to help understand gender and sexual orientation. https://welcomingschools.org/resources/definitions-gender-sexual-orientation
Scholastic (2023, October 13). A message from Scholastic on U.S. book fairs. http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/press-release/message-scholastic-book-fairs
Scholastic (2023, October 25). An update from Scholastic on U.S. book fairs. http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/press-release/message-scholastic-book-fairs
Yorio, Kara. (2023, October 25). Scholastic Apologizes, will discontinue optional set of diverse titles at book fairs. School Library Journal. https://www.slj.com/story/Scholastic-Apologizes-Will-Discontinue-Optional-Set-of-Diverse-Titles-at-Book-Fairs