Since about 1960, most American students have had a relationship with the Scholastic book company. Rarely was there a student who, at one time or another, did not buy at least one Scholastic book. I still have short biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller and Thomas Edison that my parents purchased through a flier I got in school.
An Educational Institution
Those books were influential. I eventually spent a career teaching history. Those books helped me identify the God-given interests and inclinations that sent me in that direction.
Therefore, until recently, I had a great affection for Scholastic. When my child wanted to buy something at her school’s annual book fair, I was a “soft touch.” I suspect many other parents are also eager to have their children develop a love of books via the Scholastic link.
Generally, the book fair “point person” is the school librarian. The school promotes the fair, allows space and herds the students into the fairs. In return, Scholastic donates books to the school library. It’s a win-win proposition.
Scholastic’s business model is highly profitable. In 2022, it earned revenues of $1.64 billion, of which slightly over half—$877 million—was gross profit.
A Sharp Left Turn
My affection, however, has grown sour. The modern Scholastic promotes the LGBTQIA+ agenda. The company has long published books that embrace the movement. Its website includes a “Resource Guide” titled Read with Pride: Educator, Caregiver, and Advocate Resources for Supporting LGBTQIA+ Youth and Books. You must dig a little to find it, but it’s there.
While Scholastic largely orients its guide to “Middle Grade (Ages 8-12)” and “Young Adults,” there are seven such offerings for “Early Readers (Ages 0-8).”
Among these is Llama Glamarama. The book’s online description would be right at home in a “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
A Llama “Coming Out” Party?
“Larry the llama loves to move and groove! But will his friends all disapprove?”
Larry’s dilemma is that his life is rather sedate, which most of the other llamas like. However, “Larry loves to dress up in bright costumes and DANCE! He has to hide this from the others, for fear that they won’t approve of his raucous ways.”
Then Larry discovers a traveling show called “Llama Glamarama” with other performers like him. However, he fears the other llamas in the barn won’t approve.
If the connections to the homosexual ritual of “coming out” aren’t already obvious, Scholastic makes the point clear in the last sentence.
“A bright and colorful rhyming story with a powerful message about celebrating differences, Llama Glamorama is the perfect Pride picture book for everyone!”
An Increasingly Obvious Intention
Whatever marginal subtlety Scholastic maintains for the under eight-year-old students, it throws away all restraint with its titles for adolescents. An example is “Volume 3” of Heartstoppers, a graphic novel series.
Its description begins, “Charlie didn’t think Nick could ever like him back, but now they’re officially boyfriends. Nick has even found the courage to come out to his mom.”
Scholastic has been marketing these books for years, a phenomenon I first noticed in 2019. Prudent parents need to carefully screen the books that they allow their children to purchase. However, Scholastic has been willing to assist marginally by excluding such books at the individual school’s administrator’s request. With this opt-out option in place, Scholastic did business with woke and unwoke schools alike.
A Co-Ordinated Leftist Attack
However, the forces of “inclusion and diversity” object to such solutions. All children, the activists cry, need access to their skewed and perverted version of reality. A far-left website, The Intercept, titled its article, “Scholastic Makes It Easy to Ban Black and LGBTQ+ Books.” Another site, Popular Information, labeled the company’s practice as “Scholastic’s ‘bigot button.’”
“Scholastic is facilitating the exclusion of books that feature people of color and/or LGBTQ characters. Scholastic has grouped many of these titles in a collection called ‘Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice.’ School officials are then given the option to exclude the entire set of books from the book fair.”
Similar coverage came from the ultra-liberal NPR, The New York Times, USA Today, Slate and others. Lest anyone think that the timing of these attacks was coincidental, all of the articles mentioned above ran on October 16 or 17, 2023.
Such tactics are typical of the left toward their moderate fellow travelers. First, the true believers circulate a narrative about an offending party, and then the “hangers-on” join in. Soon, there is a myriad of articles generating colossal pressure. The softest targets are companies like Scholastic that are either run by liberals, do most of their business with leftists, or both.
A House of Cards Falls
So, Scholastic caved in to the pressure. The company wrote a groveling press release that stated its new position. The release is undated, but the press coverage of the change all dates to October 25-26. First, there was a North Korean-style mea culpa.
“We understand now that the separate nature of the collection has caused confusion and feelings of exclusion.”
Then, the company shook its pointer finger at the common enemy, those rascally conservatives.
“It is unsettling that the current divisive landscape in the U.S. is creating an environment that could deny any child access to books, or that teachers could be penalized for creating access to all stories for their students.”
Finally, there was the determination to be good little liberals.
“By listening to those who share our mission—we have successfully piloted our way through past difficult periods, and we will do so successfully again.”
False Connections to Race
Education Week, the trade journal for education administrators, began its reporting, “Scholastic is reversing its decision to allow schools to exclude a collection of books about LGBTQ+ characters and Black characters when hosting its book fairs.”
Readers may notice the deft way the education press weaves two very different issues together. This controversy is not, they subtly argue, only about homosexuals, transsexuals and other “sexual minorities.” It is also about race.
This gambit is a ruse. Titles about influential African-Americans have always been part of Scholastic’s offerings, with no objections from anyone. The tiny library of the elementary school I attended in the mid-sixties contained Scholastic’s biographies of Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver.
There is, naturally, controversy about the role of Critical Race Theory. Many schools and states want to exclude books containing the distortions of American history that the 1619 Project and its ilk promote. That opposition does not demand removing books about noteworthy African-Americans and other minority group members from school library shelves. However, there is just enough overlap to allow the liberal press to muddy the waters.
Time to Object
Those of us who object have two weapons at our disposal. First, contact your schools and let them know that the parents are on to the game that Scholastic is playing. Do not assume that the principal is aware of this policy change. Understandably, Scholastic wants leftists to know about it but not its customers, especially those who may be of a more traditional frame of mind.
Second, we can tell our friends about the situation. Public pressure can, indeed, go both ways. The issue of the sexualizing of the schools is now raging. Everyone needs to be on board to preserve the innocence of our children.
Photo Credit: © FornStudio– stock.adobe.com