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Scholastic Under Fire for Allowing Schools to Opt Out of ‘Diverse Books’ for Book Fairs

Several librarians have taken to social media to allege that Scholastic allows schools to opt out of providing diverse books at Scholastic book fairs. Scholastic annually hosts an estimated 120,000 book fairs in schools across the United States. It’s a day where students get to wander through gymnasiums, libraries, and auditoriums to explore and buy all kinds of books sent over by Scholastic. The whole idea is to expose kids to a variety of books they might not otherwise have access to. Unfortunately, book fairs may look very different this year as the right-wing effort to ban books continues to gain momentum.

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The United States has been experiencing an unprecedented rise in book challenges and censorship as conservative politicians and parents wage a war on books. These people want any book that deals with topics they dislike, such as racism or LGBTQ+ themes, to be censored. States such as Florida, Mississippi, and Iowa have passed legislation that requires schools to remove books from classrooms and school libraries that don’t meet this rightwing agenda.

Although these book banners often insist that they’re just trying to protect kids and have a say in what they’re taught or exposed to at school, the real agenda is very clearly meant to ban every book they dislike for everyone, both adults and children, inside or outside schools.

This is why they’re now attacking book fairs, as they’ve decided that students, who have already had so many resources snatched from them by book bans, also shouldn’t have the right to purchase a book that they want to read at a book fair with their own money. An organization called BRAVE Book Fairs has sprung up, offering censored book fair options and trying to stir hysteria by warning that Scholastic is trying to promote “dangerous and anti-biblical ideas” and sneaking books into schools that expose kids to “the LGBTQIA+ agenda.” While the hatred and hysteria flowing from conservatives over Scholastic book fairs is concerning, especially considering a rise in bomb threats against libraries, one thing that provided small hope is that this is Scholastic.

Scholastic isn’t a little bookseller facing the threat of going out of business from the toll of book-banning efforts. It’s one of the biggest publishing companies in the world, estimated to be worth over $1 billion, meaning it’s a company that could actually take a stand against book banners. Unfortunately, it seems the company is choosing to bend to book banners instead, as it has done in the past.

Scholastic allegedly offering censored book fairs

Several librarians have taken to social media with allegations about Scholastic offering schools a way to censor diverse books. The first allegation came from a Reddit user, who accused Scholastic of offering a “bigotry button” for school book fairs.

The poster explained that their school’s librarian was upset when Scholastic asked her the bizarre question of whether she wanted to include diverse books at her school’s book fair. Apparently, Scholastic has compiled all of its “diverse” books—books with BIPOC characters, LGBTQ+ topics, immigration issues, and racism—into one case. The posters noted that these books ranged from kindergarten to middle school, so it did appear that Scholastic specifically looked for diverse books across all age ranges to separate from all the rest of the books. This way, conservative and bigoted school officials can easily decide that they don’t want diverse books and refuse to have the diverse case sent over.

A week later, librarian and TikTok user Tegan B posted a video making similar accusations. They recounted being asked if they wanted diverse books, and even though they confirmed that they did, the diverse bookcase wasn’t sent until three days into the fair. While a few books with BIPOC characters were still included in the “non-diverse” book selections, the majority of the librarian’s books were about animals or white characters. This meant that many of her predominantly Hispanic students didn’t get the option to buy books they saw themselves reflected in.


#Scholastic is allowing librarians to opt in or out of having #diversebooks in their Book Fairs this year. First, diverse books should be in all collections automatically, our WORLD IS DIVERSE. Second, I opted in to have the diverse books, but did not receive them. They’re on their way, but I’m already on day three of my Fair, and many students have already purchased, and will miss out on a book where they could see themselves, versus an animal or someone they can’t relate to. C‘mom folx, we gotta do better for these kids. #weneeddiversebooks #booktok

♬ original sound – Tegan B

Meanwhile, author Kelley Jensen revealed that Scholastic’s optional diverse books case came up at The Association of Illinois School Library Educators’ meeting. She called the decision “insidious” and stated that librarians must “raise hell about this.”

If these users’ allegations are true, then they are extremely disturbing. This billion-dollar company is directly contributing to bigotry and censorship, even though it has always claimed its book fairs give children the freedom and power to read and buy what they’re interested in. Yet, now, in some cases, one bigoted school official can decide to take away an entire case of diverse, award-winning books. Additionally, some librarians or admins may feel forced to opt out of diverse books to save their jobs or avoid threats and backlash from parents.

The biggest problem is how a major publishing company could conceive this idea. How does it rationalize promoting the idea that diverse books are optional? Diverse books belong everywhere. They should only be set apart to highlight and promote them further. To specifically dig through stacks of books looking for ones that meet the definition of “diverse” and then toss them aside into their own optional category is abhorrent and raises many questions about Scholastic’s stance on book banning and censorship.

What’s especially concerning is that, if Scholastic is doing this, it appears to be doing so on the down-low. However, this isn’t a choice that one school official should make. Parents, students, and all school staff need to know that censorship may be happening right under their noses and given the opportunity to fight it.

(featured image: Catalin205 / Getty)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.