Asked to Delete References to Racism From Her Book, an Author Refused
The most personal story Maggie Tokuda Hall has ever written about how her grandparents met and fell in love in an Idaho internment camp that held Japanese Americans during World War II. It was a story.
Called “Love in the Library,” the book is aimed at ages 6 to 9.Published last year by Candlewick Press, a small children’s publisher, it painted a glowing picture. review, but sales were modest. So when Scholastic, a publishing giant that distributes books and resources to her 90% of schools, said last month that she wanted to license her books for classroom use, Tokuda-Hall said: I was impressed.
When Tokuda Hall read the details of the offer, she felt deflated and then furious. I asked her Tokudahall said the decision was heartbreaking, but she turned down her Scholastic and went public, explaining her predicament: blog post and Twitter post It has been viewed more than 5 million times.
The revelation of Tokuda Kaikan children’s book author And it brought intense scrutiny to the editorial process of the world’s largest children’s publisher. The uproar suggests that the culture wars have spurred efforts to ban books in schools, particularly those about race and sexuality, necessitating a re-editing of already published work to remove potentially offensive content. It happened while I was questioning whether there is.
“We all know what’s going on with the rise of the book ban culture,” Tokudahall said. “We are aware that the nation’s largest children’s publisher and the publisher with the highest access to schools is surrendering behind closed doors and asking authors to modify their works to accommodate such demands. You can’t be a marginalized author if everyone knows you can find an audience.”
Scholastic acted quickly to contain the fallout. He apologized to Tokudado and illustrator Yasu Imamura, and offered to publish the book with a note from the original author.
The company also delayed production of a collection that was to include “Love in the Library.” The collection, which could include about 150 books by or about Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, assesses what went wrong.
For Tokuda-Hall’s book, Scholastic’s suggested edits included removing sentences in which she contextualized her grandparents’ experiences as part of “deep-rooted American racist traditions.” . The company also asked for the removal of a paragraph that links prejudice against Japanese Americans to current and past manifestations of racism. Explains the “culture of keeping children in cages at our borders.”
Candlewick said in an email to Tokuda Hall shared by The Times that during this “especially politically sensitive” time, schools would not hesitate to buy books containing outspoken comments about racism. At Amazon and Goodreads, some readers complained that Tokuda Hall’s message was too political for younger readers.
Shortly after Tokuda Hall posted about the incident on April 12, Scholastic brought in several authors and educators to consult and curate a series that was supposed to include Tokuda Hall’s book. condemned He condemned the company’s actions and demanded an overhaul of its editorial process.
Sayantani Dasgupta, one of the authors consulted for the collection, resigned in protest. “They’re preemptively censoring the collection, saying, ‘We’re trying to publish different stories, but only in the most palatable way,'” he said.
A similar controversy has arisen recently over efforts to remove discussions of racism from school textbooks. One textbook publisher, Studies Her Weekly, faced criticism after Rosa revised her elementary school textbooks so that her Parks story did not contain references to racism or race.
However, many were shocked to hear that a major commercial publisher like Scholastic was calling for such a revision.
More than 650 librarians and educators, who make up the bulk of Scholastic’s customer base, petition It requires Scholastic to release the book in its original form and to “take public responsibility for its decision to censor the book.”
Wisconsin elementary school librarian Gillian Hayes, who compiled the petition, said the original author’s notes were something young children, many of whom experience racism in their everyday lives, could work on.
“Children can understand at a simple level that it is not fair when we treat people differently because of who they are, how they perceive them, and what they look like. That conversation “helps develop self-awareness and perception of the world, along with empathy,” she continued.
In an interview Thursday, Scholastic CEO Peter Warwick said the company appreciates “all aspects of our curatorial approach.”
“Scholastic has published a wide variety of voices and stories at scale, and the fact that this incident occurred in the context of our diverse publishing is particularly disturbing to all of us,” Warwick said. .
After Tokuda Kaikan’s complaint, the company decided to postpone the entire collection within 24 hours, Warwick said. We invited two outside experts to examine how the collection was curated and edited. We will also consider the entire “Rising Voices” program which includes other collections such as “Celebrating Girls of Color”.
The review will look at whether and how other books have been edited to remove potentially polarizing ideas, Warwick confirmed.
Another author, whose book is due to appear in the same series as “Love in the Library,” said her work could be considered politically sensitive by some. When Scholastic requested the change, in an email to the author’s publisher, he expressed concern about the political climate driving censorship in schools. The author said that he explained that it was because of
The authors have asked to remain anonymous and hide certain editorial details, citing their ongoing relationship with Scholastic.
This argument comes as Scholastic aims to maintain its foothold in school. The school typically sells over 100 million of her books to 35 million children annually through fairs.
Like other publishers, Scholastic has made efforts in recent years to increase the diversity of its authors and titles. He has published groundbreaking work featuring LGBTQ characters and tackling complex issues of race, gender, sexuality and cultural identity, including a graphic depicting the romance between two of his high school students. His novels include bestsellers like his series “Heartstopper”.
Scholastic also licenses and distributes books from other publishers for school-focused programs such as clubs, fairs and the education sector.. Two publishing executives at other companies with direct knowledge of Scholastic’s licensing said it’s not uncommon for the company to request changes to already published text.
Requested changes typically include removing profanity and violence, a publishing executive told The Times. Another executive at another children’s publisher that regularly licenses books to Scholastic said the company has several times toned down politically sensitive or potentially polarizing content. He said he was asking for a change aimed at Both executives spoke on condition of anonymity and discussed the editorial process, which is usually confidential.
It is unclear how Scholastic’s editorial practices will change in the wake of the current controversy. Some of the authors, whose works were included in the same collection as “Love in the Library,” are watching Scholastic’s next move closely.
“This is a collection of stories that needs a larger audience,” said Katrina Moore, whose book Teeny Houdini: The Disappearing Act was supposed to be included. , I need to feel good about how they are moving forward.