Scholastic, a staple in children’s literature, has sparked controversy with its recent decision to create a separate section called “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” for diverse titles at its Book Fairs. Each Rising Voices Library was designed for students to have access to high-interest, culturally relevant texts that celebrate the stories of the historically underrepresented. The collection of 64 titles- includes stories such as “I Am Ruby Bridges” by Ruby Bridges, “I Color Myself Different” by Colin Kaepernick, “She Dared: Malala Yousafzai” by Jenni L. Walsh, and more.
While Scholastic is adamant that not all LGBTQ or diverse titles will be placed in this optional category, they issued a press release to the public.
“To continue offering these books, as well as even more high-interest titles, we created an additional collection called Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice for our U.S. elementary school fairs. We cannot make a decision for our school partners around what risks they are willing to take, based on the state and local laws that apply to their district, so these topics and this collection have been part of many planning calls that happen in advance of shipping a fair.”
Advocacy groups and authors alike condemn this form of censorship that could embolden those advocating for book bans and restrictive laws in schools.
The American Library Association (ALA) reported 695 attempts to censor library materials in the first eight months of the year, impacting 1,915 unique book titles. The majority of these challenges were directed at books by or about people of color or LGBTQ authors, highlighting the vulnerability of diverse literature.
PEN America, an organization dedicated to free expression, along with Penguin Random House and a diverse group of authors, have joined with parents and students from Escambia County, Florida, to file a federal lawsuit challenging removals and restrictions of books from school libraries that violate their rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.
Scholastic, despite recently signing an open letter by PEN America against book bans alongside advocacy groups, found itself at odds with several co-signers and authors who criticized the creation of a separate section for diverse stories.
“So Scholastic Book Fair has created a separate diversity bookcase, “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice,” which permits schools to opt in or opt out to having these books accessible at their fairs. My book, Change Sings, illustrated by the award-winning Loren Long was one of these books. It honestly feels like a betrayal.” Gorman wrote on X. “As an elementary student, for weeks I’d save every single penny I had for the Scholastic Book Fair because it felt like a safe place to explore and choose for myself what books I wanted to read, what stories I wanted to find representations of myself in. It was in part what made me want to write children’s books in the first place. I never thought that my work would be a #1 NYT best-seller, or that the very place that had inspired me would censor my words.”