As we wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month, a concerning issue with Scholastic has come to light. While many of us remember the joy of Scholastic bookfairs, it’s vital to acknowledge their recent approach on diverse titles in school offerings. Word on Tik tok and X (previously known as Twitter) is that Scholastic has made the decision to exclude diverse titles from their school fairs.
As a response, Scholastic, a key player in the world of educational literature, released a statement clarifying their stance on diversity in U.S. Book Fairs:
Scholastic provides diverse titles to every Book Fair... The biggest misconception is that Scholastic Book Fairs is putting all diverse titles into one optional case. This is not true... There is now enacted or pending legislation in more than 30 U.S. states prohibiting certain kinds of books from being in schools – mostly LGBTQIA+ titles and books that engage with the presence of racism in our country... To continue offering these books... we created an additional collection called Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice... All children need to see themselves in stories... Scholastic’s commitment remains unshakeable to publish and distribute stories representative of ALL voices.
This statement, while reassuring, also shines a light on a larger, more pressing issue: legislative restrictions on literature. The following points extracted from Scholastic's message underscore the severity of the situation:
There are misconceptions about Scholastic's approach to diverse titles in Book Fairs.
Restrictive legislation in over 30 U.S. states poses significant challenges.
These laws target specific themes, notably LGBTQIA+ representation and discussions on racism.
The legislation places educators in precarious positions, risking their jobs and legal action.
Scholastic has devised a workaround, but it's not without its challenges.
So, what does this mean for the literary community, and more importantly, for our young readers? The broader implications of such decisions by publishers, and the restrictive laws themselves, send a message: That certain stories, experiences, and perspectives are less valuable or less important than others. This is a dangerous precedent to set, especially for young minds that are still forming their worldviews.
The exclusion of diverse titles is a significant concern. Literature has the power to educate, inspire, and provide insight into different cultures, experiences, and perspectives. Denying students access to diverse literature robs them of the opportunity to understand and empathize with narratives different from their own. Our children deserve to feel seen and validated in the books they read.
For organizations like ours who are committed to amplifying Dominican-American voices and fostering a thriving community of creatives, such exclusions are particularly disheartening. DWA has worked tirelessly since 2015 to educate the community, celebrate Latinx culture, and ensure that Dominican writers receive the recognition they deserve. The very essence of our mission is to nurture and promote the works of Dominican writers to ensure visibility in literary publishing.
Addressing this issue is not just the responsibility of publishers like Scholastic but falls upon all of us in the literary community and beyond. Here's what we can do:
- Raise Awareness: Highlight the importance of diverse literature in schools.
- Engage with Policymakers: Communicate the long-term benefits of diverse representation.
- Support Affected Educators: Create a network of support for those at the frontlines of education.
- Alternative Distribution: Explore creative ways to ensure diverse literature remains accessible.
- Educate the Public: Organize campaigns to showcase the value of diverse literature.
In conclusion, it is crucial for publishers, educators, and literary organizations to recognize the importance of diverse representation in literature. Excluding diverse titles from reading lists not only deprives students of valuable learning experiences but also perpetuates a narrow and incomplete view of the world. It is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders in the literary community to ensure that every voice is heard and valued.
As the executive director of the Dominican Writers Association, I see firsthand the power of representation. Our mission, much like Scholastic's, is to amplify voices and ensure visibility. In the face of challenges, let's remember the words of Scholastic: "All children need to see themselves in stories."
Hasta la proxima,