Scholastic Pulls New Book Fair Model After Facing Backlash

Let’s take a look at how Scholastic responded to the criticism they’ve received in the past week and what the publisher plans to do next.

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A group of kids gathered around a teacher in a classroom. The teacher holds a book in her hands and a child in her lap.

Last week, Scholastic announced a change to their usual book fair model that included a new case option, a collection called “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice,” that book fair hosts could add to their events. Upon receiving the collection, many teachers and librarians across the country criticized Scholastic for the lack of diversity in the main default case. They accused Scholastic of giving in to the pressure of restricting specific topics from books. 

Publisher Announces Retirement of New Model in 2024

A row of book displays inside an event spaces, holding a variety of books for young and advancing readers.

In response to the public outcry against their new elective case, Scholastic issued two responses on October 25. They released one statement as a press release on their website:

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.

The statement goes on to say that they are actively working on finding a different way of protecting educators from the rise in book bannings nationwide. They also announced that the “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice” collection will not appear in the next book fair season, which starts in January 2024. 

Scholastic also sent a statement directly to Scholastic authors and illustrators, which is available here. The statement comes from Ellie Berger, President of Scholastic Trade Publishing, who offers an apology on behalf of the company:

We recognize and acknowledge the pain caused, and that we have broken the trust of some of our publishing community, customers, friends, trusted partners, and staff, and we also recognize that we will now need to regain that trust.

Berger’s message appears to be a response to a declaration signed by over 1,500 people, including people in and out of the publishing industry. Although the signed declaration called for the reversal of the new book fair model, neither Berger nor Scholastic say that the model will be pulled for the rest of the event season, only that it will be discontinued in the new year.

Berger does go on to say that Scholastic is working on a different plan to enact for the remainder of the fall season, which implies that the elective case will still be active for the time being. 

Scholastic’s recall of their controversial model and their issued apology is evidence of the publisher’s intentions to do better by their artists and their readers. However, there will most likely be consequences to the publisher’s altered book fair design that will reverberate throughout the rest of the book fair season.

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