We Need Diverse Books, the grassroots organization-cum-nonprofit that has lobbied the industry to publish more multicultural books, is partnering with Scholastic to bring books with diverse characters and themes into schools.
Through the partnership, eight Scholastic Reading Club flyers will be distributed throughout the 2016–17 school year in classrooms serving a range of children, from toddlers through eighth graders. The eight-page flyers, Scholastic said, will highlight 75 books "by and about people from traditionally underrepresented communities.” The books in the flyer will also, the publisher added, will also touch on various forms of diversity “including race and ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ, disabled characters and more.”
Scholastic Reading Club flyers—which vary according to grade, reading levels, and themes—are handed out by teachers in participating classrooms to children each month. The goal of the flyers, which feature titles originally published by various presses that have been reprinted by Scholastic in special paperback editions, is to encourage students to read. All books ordered by students are shipped directly to the child’s classroom for distribution, and classrooms receive reward points for each book purchased. (Those points are then redeemable for free books, and other classroom materials.)
As it happens, Scholastic has worked with WNDB on a similar outreach already. Last winter the publisher the publisher and non-profit created reading club flyers for grades 4–8 that spotlighted classics and new releases featuring diverse characters and themes. Scholastic executive v-p Judy Newman said the effort “resonated” with the students participating in the club during that cycle. The holiday flyer was distributed to 2.5 million students in 100,000 classrooms nationwide.
Ann Marie Wong, editorial director of Scholastic Reading Club, emphasized that the reading club’s mission in selecting titles is “to reflect the world as it is: filled with stories and experiences as diverse as you find in American classrooms today.” She added that partnering with WNDB is something she thinks helps more kids "discover the joy and power of reading.”