Reading & Literacy

Scholastic Says Schools Can Exclude Diverse Titles From Book Fairs

By Eesha Pendharkar — October 16, 2023 5 min read
Gabrian McDaniel, 9, picks out a book at a book fair at Dixie Elementary School in Tyler, Texas, on Sept. 19, 2017.
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Update: Scholastic has reversed its decision to allow schools to exclude a collection of books about LGBTQ+ characters and Black characters when hosting its book fairs. Read more.

Elementary schools that host Scholastic book fairs can now choose to exclude certain books about race and LGBTQ+ characters issues, the publisher announced in a press release late last week.

In response to several state laws that restrict books and other learning materials related to race, racism, gender, and LGBTQ+ topics in libraries and classrooms, Scholastic—the publisher of several well-known children’s books—announced in a press release late Friday that it was adding an optional collection to the list of books that educators can choose to include or exclude from book fairs.

By separating these 64 books—many about LGBTQ+ characters, civil rights activists, and people of color—into a separate collection called “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice,” the publisher says it allows schools to opt out of offering the titles at a book fair.

Over the past two years, several states have enacted laws limiting the use of classroom and library materials about these topics. That legislation has led to at least 3,362 instances of book bans in U.S. public school classrooms and libraries in the 2022-23 school year, according to PEN America, a free speech advocacy organization. The bans removed student access to 1,557 unique book titles, the latest PEN data says.

Earlier this month, Scholastic took a stance against book bans by signing an open letter opposing book bans, written by PEN America.

However, the publisher said in its press release Friday that, given proliferating legislation that’s leading to increasing restrictions, bans, and challenges, its only choice was to make books about race, gender, or sexuality optional in its book fair collection or not offering them at all.

“We don’t pretend this solution is perfect—but the other option would be to not offer these books at all—which is not something we’d consider,” the press release read.

The list includes some commonly challenged books about civil rights activists, such as I Am Ruby Bridges and Because of You, John Lewis, and She Dared: Malala Yousafzai. Books about Black families and same-sex families are also included in the collection.

To create the list, Scholastic “began with titles we support even as they are the most likely to be restricted,” said Anne Sparkman, senior vice president of corporate communications at Scholastic in an emailed statement to Education Week.

Schools can choose to order specific titles in the collection for the book fair, she said.

“Because Scholastic Book Fairs are invited into schools, where books can be purchased by kids on their own, these laws create an almost impossible dilemma: back away from these titles or risk making teachers, librarians, and volunteers vulnerable to being fired, sued, or prosecuted,” the Scholastic press release said.

“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.”

Scholastic launched its fairs in 1981, and currently hosts more than 120,000 events annually across the country, according to the publisher’s website.

The complete list of books in Scholastic’s separate collection

This is the list of the 64 book titles for the Scholastic book fair’s “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” collection, according to its fall of 2023 preview, provided to EdWeek. It includes a disclaimer that while it includes most of the books that will be available, “Some books may not be available and there may be some books—not in this preview—sent as substitutes.”

  • The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
  • All Are Neighbors by Alexandra Penfold
  • All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
  • Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal
  • Alma’s Way: Junior’s Lost Tooth by Gabrielle Reyes
  • Battle Dragons: City of Speed by Alex London
  • Battle Dragons: City of Thieves by Alex London
  • Because of You, John Lewis by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • Big Nate: Payback Time! by Lincoln Peirce
  • Blended by Sharon M. Draper
  • Booked (Graphic Novel) by Kwame Alexander
  • Change Sings by Amanda Gorman
  • City of Dragons: Rise of the Shadowfire by Jaimal Yogis
  • Dragon Prince Graphic Novel #2: Bloodmoon Huntress by Nicole Andelfinger
  • Dragon Prince Graphic Novel #3: Puzzle House by Peter Wartman
  • Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
  • Federico and the Wolf by Rebecca J. Gomez
  • Freestyle by Gale Galligan
  • The Girl in the Lake by India Hill Brown
  • The Girl With Big, Big Questions by Britney Winn Lee
  • Her Own Two Feet by Meredith Davis
  • Our World in Pictures, the History Book
  • Home for Meow: Kitten Around by Reese Eschmann
  • Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd
  • I Am My Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams by Tanisia Moore
  • I Am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges
  • I Color Myself Different by Colin Kaepernick
  • Into the Heartlands: A Black Panther Graphic Novel by Roseanne A. Brown
  • JoJo’s Sweet Adventures: The Great Candy Caper by JoJo Siwa
  • Justice Ketanji by Denise Lewis Patrick
  • Karma’s World: Daddy and Me and the Rhyme to Be by Halcyon Person
  • Karma’s World: The Great Shine-a-Thon Showcase! by Halcyon Person
  • The Loud House: No Bus, No Fuss by Shannon Penney
  • The Loud House: Old Friends, New Friends by Daniel Mauleon
  • Mabuhay! by Zachary Sterling
  • Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo
  • Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
  • More Than Peach (Bellen Woodard Original Picture Book) by Bellen Woodard
  • Nuestra América by Sabrina Vourvoulias
  • Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang
  • Pedro and the Shark by Fran Manushkin
  • Pets Rule: My Kingdom of Darkness by Susan Tan
  • Pets Rule: The Rise of the Goldfish by Susan Tan
  • Picture Day by Sarah Sax
  • Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
  • Refugee by Alan Gratz
  • Reina Ramos Works It Out by Emma Otheguy
  • Remarkably Ruby by Terri Libenson
  • Rez Dogs by Joseph Bruchac
  • The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
  • She Dared: Malala Yousafzai by Jenni L. Walsh
  • Speak Up! by Rebecca Burgess
  • Sports Heroes Lebron James
  • The Storyteller by Brandon Hobson
  • That Girl Lay Lay: It’s Time to #Slay by That Girl Lay Lay with Kwyn Bader
  • That Girl Lay Lay: Positive Vibes Only by Andrea Loney
  • Thunderous by M. L. Smoker
  • The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat
  • We Shall Overcome by Bryan Collier
  • When Clouds Touch Us by Thanhha Lai
  • Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Méndez
  • Who Was the Greatest? by Gabriel Soria
  • You Are Enough by Margaret O’Hair
  • You Are Loved by Margaret O’Hair
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