Scholastic Remembers Chairman and CEO Dick Robinson | News Bites

The publishing world was shocked by the unexpected death of Scholastic's Dick Robinson; We Need Diverse Books will no longer use #OwnVoices; News Literacy Project announces Educator of the Year and more in this edition of News Bites. 

The publishing and library world was shocked by the unexpected death of Scholastic's Dick Robinson; We Need Diverse Books will no longer use the term #OwnVoices; News Literacy Project announces Educator of the Year and more in this edition of News Bites. 

Scholastic Chairman and CEO Dies Unexpectedly

Scholastic’s Chairman and CEO M. Richard Robinson died unexpectedly over the weekend, the company announced. Robinson, who was 84, had been in excellent health and had been overseeing Scholastic’s long-term strategic direction and day-to-day operations for the better part of five decades, according to the announcement.

“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson,” the Scholastic board of directors said in a statement. “Dick was a true visionary in the world of children’s books and an unrelenting advocate for children’s literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life. The Company’s directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss.”

Current and former employees, as well as others whose lives were impacted by Robinson took to social media to share their memories.

"Teachers, a heartbreaking day for me and our Scholastic family," wrote Scholastic author Lauren Tarshis. "Our CEO Dick Robinson died unexpectedly. He's the son of the founder (his dad). He led with heart, kindness, wisdom & unwavering focus on YOU and your kids. I'm so lucky to have known and learned from him."

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden tweeted, "Remembering @Scholastic’s Dick Robinson. On behalf of all the children, parents, educators, librarians and caregivers THANK YOU. Your literary legacy is cemented forever. Rest In Peace. Your outstanding work is done."

Jimmy Brehm, the vice president of academic planning and solution development at Scholastic Education, tweeted screenshots of a longer post he had written: “I realized my dream was to work for Scholastic after eating lunch with Mr. Robinson, or as he insisted everyone call him “Dick.” We spent an hour talking about how equity begins with foundational literacy instruction. He was the Chairman of a 100-year-old, billion-dollar company, I was a principal in Central Kentucky. He had time to trade ideas with me because he always had time for anyone and anything devoted to changing the lives of young people through the right to literacy. He wanted to help ALL teachers and families and ensure ALL students become independent readers, writers, and thinkers.

“I learned and continue to learn, from the being blessed to be a part of the Scholastic family that he leads. So many leadership lessons, but the one that stands out the most is that a culture of equity, inclusion, and acceptance CAN AND SHOULD BE A REALITY. It happens when the leader walks the walk, talks the talk, and refuses to accept anything less than full love of all people regardless of race, creed, religion, sexuality, gender identity…He never stopped working to increase positive representation in the workplace and in texts. He never stopped working for ALL kids.

“I am just one small person of millions who have these stories.”

We Need Diverse Books drops term #OwnVoices

We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) announced that it will no longer use the term #OwnVoices to refer to children’s titles or authors, because it has been co-opted into a marketing term that has ended up hurting some of the marginalized authors it was meant to spotlight.. The organization removed mentions of #OwnVoices from previously published blog posts.

"Moving forward, WNDB will use specific descriptions that authors use for themselves and their characters whenever possible (for example, “Korean American author,” or “autistic protagonist”)," it said in a statement.

WNDB explained the decision:

"#OwnVoices was created as a hashtag by author Corinne Duyvis in September 2015. It was originally intended as a shorthand book recommendation tool in a Twitter thread, for readers to recommend books by authors who openly shared the diverse identity of their main characters. The hashtag was never intended to be used in a broader capacity, but it has since expanded in its use to become a “catch all” marketing term by the publishing industry. Using #OwnVoices in this capacity raises issues due to the vagueness of the term, which has then been used to place diverse creators in uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situations. It is important to use the language that authors want to celebrate about themselves and their characters."

Washington librarian named News Literacy Project’s Educator of the Year

The News Literacy Project has named Kelly Vikstrom-Hoyt, director of library services at The Overlake School in Redmond, WA, its 2021 Educator of the Year.

“As the librarian, I consider it my duty to integrate news literacy across as many areas of the curriculum as I can,” Vikstrom-Hoyt said in the announcement. “In this era of misinformation, social media, and information overload, being news-literate is more important than ever. It is the key to being an engaged and informed citizen of our democracy.”

News Literacy Project also named two students of the year: Ana Rodriguez from Central Middle School in Quincy, MA, is the Gwen Ifill Middle School Student of the Year and Ana Rodriguez, a sophomore at Archie Williams High School in San Anselmo, CA, is the Gwen Ifill High School Student of the Year.

"We celebrate these honorees as news literacy change-makers who have distinguished themselves in their commitment to news literacy in their classrooms, in their professions, and in their daily lives," the organization said in its announcement.

The Bench, by The Duchess of Sussex, is released

Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, is now a published children's author.

Inspired by her husband Prince Harry and their son Archie, the Duchess wrote The Benchwhich was illustrated by Caldecott-winning illustrator Christian Robinsonis about the special bond between father and son, as seen through the mother's eyes. It was published by Random House Children's Books, which announced that the author will narrate the audiobook edition, to be released in the US Listening Library, an imprint of the Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group; in Canada by Tundra Books; and in the UK by Penguin Random House UK Audio.

SCBWI announces 2020 Magazine Merit Awards 

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators announced the winners of the 2020 Magazine Merit Awards for fiction, nonfiction, illustration, and poetry. All honorees' work appeared in magazines in 2019.

In fiction, Pamela Love won for “The Fog Test,” which appeared in Crickets.

Carol L. MacKay was awarded the poetry award for  “Moving Day Villanelle,” which was published in Caterpillar.

Hatem Aly won for the illustration "Saving the village bicycle" in Highlights.

And in the nonfiction category, Viji K. Chary won for "Powder Art," an article that appeared in Spider.

1455 Literary Arts Launches Teen Poetry Contest

1455 Literary Arts, an independent nonprofit “committed to building community through storytelling,” launched its Teen Poetry Contest. With a theme of “Finding Community During Crisis,” this international competition is designed to inspire young writers age 13-19.

The contest runs through July 1. 1455 Literary Arts will accept submissions of previously unpublished poems of any length, in any style. The submission should be a reflection on or reaction to the contemporary sociopolitical and cultural environment (including but not limited to #BLM, #MeToo, COVID-19, or other topical issues). The winner, who will receive $5,000, will be announced during1455’s third annual Summer Festival (July 15-17), which will be virtual this year.



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