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Scholastic reverses decision to make books on race and LGBTQ issues optional at elementary school book fairs

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Scholastic has reversed a decision to allow school districts to opt out of offering a wide range of diverse books, including those that discuss subjects like racism and LGBTQ issues, at its elementary school book fairs, the book publisher said Wednesday.

The company offered a collection of 64 titles called “Share Every Story, Celebrate Every Voice,” that included “titles we support even as they are the most likely to be restricted,” a Scholastic spokesperson previously told CNN.

The publisher said the move was in response to dozens of state laws and pending legislation targeting books across the United States and would have allowed districts to elect not to offer the collection at their annual book fairs.

But on Wednesday, Scholastic said it was working to “find a better way” to combat efforts to target and ban books.

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The collection of books will remain available online and at Scholastic book fairs this fall, a spokesperson told CNN. But, the publisher said, it will not be offered in January 2024.

Scholastic said it would “keep in mind the needs of our educators facing local content restrictions and the children we serve.”

“We understand now that the separate nature of the collection has caused confusion and feelings of exclusion,” Scholastic said in a statement.

“It is unsettling that the current divisive landscape in the US 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.”

The decision to offer diverse books in a separate collection faced widespread backlash online, including from poet Amanda Gorman, who said her book, “Change Sings,” was part of the collection.

“It honestly feels like a betrayal. As an elementary student, for weeks I’d save every single penny I had for the Scholastic Book Fair, because it felt like a safe place to explore and choose for myself what books I wanted to read, what stories I wanted to find representations of myself in,” Gorman wrote on social media last week.

“It was in part what made me want to write children’s books in the first place. I never thought that my work would be a #1 NYT best-seller, or that the very place that had inspired me would censor my words.”

In addition to Gorman’s work, the separate collection included titles addressing Black and Latino history, and the biographies of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, boxing legend Muhammad Ali and NBA superstar LeBron James, CNN previously reported.

CNN’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.

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