Scholastic Apologizes, Will Discontinue Optional Set of Diverse Titles at Book Fairs

In a letter to its authors and illustrators, Scholastic Trade Publishing president Ellie Berger apologized for the decision to create the "Share Every Story" set of diverse titles at Scholastic Book Fairs. Calling it "a mistake to segregate diverse books," she added that Scholastic will discontinue the scheme in January and is "working on a pivot" for the remaining fall fairs.

Scholastic has reversed course and is discontinuing its optional diversity set of titles at Scholastic Book Fairs.

In a letter to its authors and illustrators, Scholastic Trade Publishing president Ellie Berger apologized for the decision to create the "Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice" add-on set at Scholastic Book Fairs, calling it "a mistake to segregate diverse books in an elective case" and announced that the scheme will be discontinued in January. The company is "working on a pivot" for the remaining fall fairs, she added. 

"Equally important, we pledge to stand with you as we redouble our efforts to combat the laws restricting children's access to books," Berger wrote.

The letter was not released publicly but was posted on social media by several authors who received it from Scholastic.

The move to reverse the decision to have an add-on case of diverse books came in the wake of widespread backlash the company received over its add-on case that included titles by and about people of color and those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Berger's note appears to be in response to a statement signed by more than 1,500 people, including Scholastics authors and illustrators Christina Soontornvat, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Raina Telegemeier, Dan Santat, Daniel José Older, and Kelly Yang, along with a veritable who's who of children's literature best-sellers and award winners from other publishers such as Nicola Yoon, Gene Luen Yang, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and Carole Lindstrom. The petition closed after garnering more than 1,500 signatures.

That statement, which was spearheaded by Scholastic authors Tracey West, Vicky Fang, and Mike Jung, read in part, "Deciding that the subject matter of these books might go against a state’s law capitulates to the idea that these books are not suitable for children. That is harmful, and wrong."

It went on to say, "Accommodating and making it easier to concede to book banning cannot be the answer. In times of trial, we need to work and fight for people who want to do the right thing, not defer to the oppressors."

In closing, the undersigned asked the company to use its "clout to fight book banning and support the teachers and librarians who are also fighting for access to books for their kids. Simply, there has to be a better way."

On Tuesday night, Fang tweeted, "Scholastic has sent a letter apologizing, reversing the program, and redoubling efforts to combat book banning legislation. Thank you to all who signed and shared the statement which helped instigate forward momentum for Scholastic's decision."

In an Instagram post, Jung thanked everyone for their compliments about his leadership, but said the campaign was "a collective effort, and one we can use to hearten ourselves for all the collective efforts we still face today, and will face tomorrow."

[READ: Outraged at Scholastic’s Option to Opt in—or Out—of Receiving Diverse Books, Librarians Seek Book Fair Alternatives]

In addition to creators speaking out, Scholastic had come under fire from PEN America, We Need Diverse Books, school librarians, and others for its change to book fairs that it said was to protect educators and volunteers from persecution based on newly enacted laws in some states.

On Wednesday, Scholastic publicly released a statement with an update:

"This fall, we made changes in our U.S. elementary school fairs out of concern for our Book Fair hosts. In doing this, we offered a collection of books to supplement the diverse collection of titles already available at the Scholastic Book Fair. We understand now that the separate nature of the collection has caused confusion and feelings of exclusion.

"We are working across Scholastic to find a better way. The Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice collection will not be offered with our next season in January. As we reconsider how to make our Book Fairs available to all kids, we will keep in mind the needs of our educators facing local content restrictions and the children we serve.

"It is unsettling that the current divisive landscape in the U.S. is creating an environment that could deny any child access to books, or that teachers could be penalized for creating access to all stories for their students.

"By listening to those who share our mission–we have successfully piloted our way through past difficult periods, and we will do so successfully again."

This statement was not received as well as the original letter from Berger, to say the least, with many authors taking to social media to once again criticize the company.

"OH FFS," Jung wrote on Instagram. "The absolute worst way to end a segregated book program is by segregating the books EVEN MORE, but @Scholastic @wearebookfairs , true to form, chooses the absolute worst way #StepUpScholastic " 

Read the full letter from Berger to the authors and illustrators below.

the apology letter
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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (, @karayorio) is senior news editor at School Library Journal.

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