The Rainforest Action Network has issued a report and consumer guide aimed at encouraging holiday shoppers to buy children’s books from publishers that have paper policies that commit them to phase out buying Indonesian paper and pulp from controversial suppliers. The guide and report are part of RAN’s campaign stop the deforestation of Indonesia’s forest and peatland. Of the 11 children’s publishers listed in the report, six earned a “recommend” designation—Hachette Book Group, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan, Penguin, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster. The three companies on the avoid list are Disney Publishing, HarperCollins and Candlewick. Random House and Sterling Publishing have a “could do better” label.

RAN said its rankings for the consumer guide were determined based on the companies’ answers to a paper procurement survey conducted in August 2010 as well as each company’s public statements, environmental policies and commitments. After an initial scoring, RAN shared its assessment with each publisher and requested feedback and further clarification before it re-evaluated and finalized the rankings.

HC took issue with the way the ranking is compiled, noting in a statement that not providing data directly to RAN for its study automatically results in an "avoid" rating. HC’s statement added that “HarperCollins is working with all of its paper and printing vendors to ensure that we do not have illegal or unsustainably grown and harvested fiber in our paper and are fully compliant with the Lacey Act.” A spokesperson for Disney, meanwhile, said the company is changing is paper policy. “Disney is committed to putting a sustainable paper policy into place during the current fiscal year [which ends September 30],” the spokesperson said.

Candlewick flat-out disputed RAN's listing. Kim Lanza, executive director of production and manufacturing, said, "On June 8, 2010 RAN contacted Candlewick to inform us that in their independent laboratory test investigating the prevalence of controversial wood sources likely coming from Indonesia’s rainforests in the US children’s book market, the results of which were published [here] on May 23, 2010. Candlewick’s books contained no rainforest fibers. While Candlewick Press did not respond to RAN’s survey, we stand by our environmental policy: Candlewick Press will not knowingly use paper sourced from high risk regions or other controversial sources. We are deeply committed to eliminating all paper sourced from controversial sources. In addition, we support and encourage our suppliers to operate in accordance with our high standards. Overall, Candlewick Press makes every effort to uphold the highest environmental standards."

The new RAN report and guide, “Rainforest-Safe Kids Books: How Do Publishers Stack Up?” follows a May study on the impact publishers’ paper buying practices were having on the Indonesian rainforest. RAN’s Nell Greenberg said the organization was very encouraged that six of the 11 publishers had cut ties with controversial Indonesian paper suppliers. The goal of the study, she said, “is to galvanize the laggards to step up to the leaders.”

Results of the guide will be posted on RAN’s Web site, promoted through social media and distributed to RAN’s e-mail list.