Luv Ya Bunches is a children’s book about four elementary school girls who don’t seem to have much in common, except that they’re all named after flowers. Sounds pretty harmless, right? Scholastic have refused to allow the book in their school book fair events. Why? According to the School Library Journal, it’s because one of the characters in the book has same-sex parents.
Written by Lauren Myracle, Luv Ya Bunches is the first installment in a four-book series. The author says that the book, which was released October 1, was rejected for inclusion in Scholastic’s book fair events for two reasons. They are:
- The book contained offensive language.
- The book depicted a child with same-sex parents.
The Offensive Language in Luv Ya Bunches
No children’s book should contain overtly gratuitous language, that’s for sure. So what was the language concerned Scholastic? The School Library Journal lists the following examples:
- “God” (as in, “oh my God”).
Having graced the top ten list of most challenged authors on more than one occasion, author Lauren Myracle is no stranger to controversy, but she agreed to make the requested changes to the language, saying that she would comply “with the goal–as always–of making the book as available to as many readers as possible.”
However, she would not comply with Scholastic’s request to re-write the storyline so that character Milla had a mother and a father instead of two moms.
The Same-Sex Parents Issue in Luv Ya Bunches
Author Lauren Myracle told the School Library Journal:
“A child having same-sex parents is not offensive, in my mind, and shouldn’t be ‘cleaned up.’… Over 200,000 kids in America are raised by same-sex parents, just like Milla. It’s not an issue to clean up or hide away… In my opinion, it’s not an ‘issue’ at all. The issue, as I see it, is that kids benefit hugely from seeing themselves reflected positively in the books they read. It’s an extremely empowering and validating experience.”
Scholastic remain quietly defiant. Here’s what they had to say (emphasis is mine):
“Authors are often given the opportunity to make changes in the books to meet the norms of the various communities that host the fairs,” – Kyle Good, a Scholastic spokesperson.
By extension, would Scholastic then say that, if a book featuring gay parents doesn’t belong in schools, a child that has two moms doesn’t belong in schools either because that child also breaks the “norm”?
Or do the two moms just have to stay at home, out of sight, out of mind? This appears to be the policy that Scholastic have, because a quick search of their website reveals that Luv Ya Bunches is on this month’s list of Scholastic Teachers’ Picks.
And this isn’t the first time that Scholastic have been in hot-water, either. Earlier in the year, 1,262 teachers signed a petition to ask that Scholastic stop pushing children’s toys at Scholastic school events, saying that they, as teachers, felt exploited. It does make me wonder, are Scholastic worried that Myracle’s book wont sell as much merchandise with the same-sex moms in tow?
Scholastic were stung by a backlash from religious conservatives when they allowed Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series into their in-school collection a few years ago. Are these the kind of “norms” that they are now catering to?
Scholastic is offering Luv Ya Bunches in our Book Clubs. We decided we would not offer this title in Fairs. School Library Journal inaccurately stated that we censored the book. We review thousands of books each year and only a limited number can be carried in our channels.
Noticeably, Scholastic do not challenge the School Library Journal’s assertions on why they rejected the book for in-school events. Scholastic, it is true, are offering the book on their website and in their Scholastic Book Club catalog. But this is almost worse.
It implies that there’s something taboo about Luv Ya Bunches because it features a character with two moms. The truth seems to be that Scholastic are censoring what they show in schools so as not to risk “damaging” their brand. That’s spineless, and not only that, it is offensive.
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*** UPDATE: Scholastic have reviewed their decision and have now decided to include Luv Ya Bunches in their school fair collection for Spring. Read their full statement here. ***