This fall, one of the most prized and nostalgic school traditions is strained by controversy. In light of recent book bans the Scholastic Book Fair finds itself under constraints. Forced to confront the mass of book bans now taking hold in many states, Scholastic has been accused of giving in to censorship as it tries to navigate this year’s book fairs.
The accusations began online through sites like TikTok and Reddit after users claimed that the revered educational company and publisher would be allowing schools to opt out of including diverse books in their catalogs.
Those making the claims, many of whom are school librarians have gone on to say that Scholastic is creating a separate catalog for books featuring diverse perspectives and that schools would be able to choose whether or not they provided these books to the students.
Scholastic both confirmed and defended its actions through a recent statement, pointing out that in the chaotic climate of enacted or pending censorship laws, it’s doing its best to help schools navigate the book bans without causing teachers or librarians to be fired.
Defending the collection– titled “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice”– Scholastic stated, “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 collection features around 30 books, many of them having to do with diverse racial and sexual identities, ranging from The ABCs of Black History to books by celebrities like Jojo Siwa, who came out as gay in 2021.
Scholastic argues that the creation of the collection has made it possible for these books to be offered to students and that it has also opened up a space for diversity amid the book ban controversy.
Fears over the consequences of either complying with or rejecting book bans are valid given the current climate and the action being taken against teachers or librarians who speak out.
Though most book bans are taking place in a collection of states, Texas and Florida for example, the legislature is being replicated elsewhere, and educators are continuously finding themselves in seats of hypocrisy– forced to either comply, resign, or face the consequences.
Facing possible job termination, harassment, and threats, teachers are fighting an uphill battle against censorship and some are calling upon Scholastic as a strong voice in education, to speak out against the bans.
California librarian Mychal Threets addressed Scholastic as he said:
“We are fighting for the freedom to read. We are celebrating the freedom to read. Join us. You are the powerhouse. Use your voice.”