Boycotting Jason Reynolds’ S & S books is not the answer

My top Newbery hope for this year is Jason Reynolds’ Ghost, published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, part of the huge publishing conglomerate that is Simon & Schuster.  The Wikipedia page on that massive corporation indicates that they publish an enormous range of writers, have imprints that feature a variety of opinions, and are huge, huge, huge. I have been repulsed in the past by some of their publications, am currently repulsed by their latest decision, and expect to be repulsed again. That said, I do not think refusing to buy Reynolds’ Ghost and other worthy, important, and remarkable books coming out from S & S is the way to respond to their latest disgusting choice. We are trying so hard to amplify diverse voices in children’s books, in getting them into children’s hands everywhere, and centering them in our small teeny-tiny world of children’s literature. Boycotting those very books because they are in the same universe as a horrid book is not the answer anymore than leaving our country is the answer to how to deal with the forthcoming president. Do speak up strongly against vileness, but not at the expense of goodness.

ETA Alexandra Schwartz in this New Yorker piece offers a comprehensive overview on the deal along with a similar view to mine regarding a boycott.


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8 responses to “Boycotting Jason Reynolds’ S & S books is not the answer

  1. Instead of boycotting Simon & Schuster and missing really good books like Jason Reynolds’ Ghost, perhaps the thing to do is hold Simon & Schuster accountable for the things Yiannopoulou writes in his book that should have been dealt with when it was being edited. I personally think giving him a book deal is reprehensible, but that is the price for free speech sometimes, and another way to deal with it is to actively counteract Yiannopoulou lies and name calling, or simply boycott the book. If they don’t sell enough, maybe they won’t continue to print it (after all, there are 3,000,000 more liberal thinkers out there than conservatives). And to continue providing diverse books towards young readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Monica, for this balanced and wise post.

    I would add that we can all use whatever platform is available to us to make the truth about good books be the conversation young people hear first and most often. The goodness that can be done by millions of people reading GHOST has unlimited potential.

    It would be fantastic if we began a ONE COUNTRY, ONE BOOK movement and had GHOST be the book we all read and discuss.

    Instead of boycotting it, let’s raise it up as high as we can both individually and as a group. Let’s start the conversation about the ghosts boys and girls carry with them…ghosts that can stop them if they don’t have people to stand with them.


    • Judy

      Barb, I like your idea so much. I have lived with a “ghost” for more than 60 years and indeed it has “stopped” me over and over again because I had no one stand with me. Recently, a miracle happened. I chose to speak my mind, in a group of about 50 strangers. Afterwards, one person came up to me and said, “I liked what you had to say”. The next day another person said the same thing. Two people standing with me and that quickly my 60 year old ghost has lost its power.


  3. I agree that we should not boycott every book by this conglomerate that publishes thousands of books a year. We shouldn’t support the Threshold imprint, which has published other right-wing extremists before Milo Yiannopoulous and will publish more afterward…unless they go broke doing it. We should support authors of quality and humanity like Reynolds because S & S will be encouraged to publish more of those books if they’re profitable. And perhaps progressive authors should be mindful of the missions of the publishers they work with, perhaps sending some of their work to smaller presses, or highlighting the work of smaller presses to strengthen those alternatives to Big Media.


  4. Judy

    Just when I thought we might get through the Newbery season without real provocation, along comes this post from Monica! Thanks so much for sharing this news. I read your post this morning and have thought about it all day. First of all, I want to say I totally agree with your remarks, Monica. If individuals (or God forbid, the Newbery Committee) boycott Ghost because of the PUBLISHER of this book, that would be a great mis-justice. IMHO Ghost is an outstanding piece of children’s literature and deserves impartial consideration along with other outstanding books published this year.

    As far as supporting/boycotting Simon&Schuster, I think we should be glad our country values free speech. I may choose to buy and read Dangerous, not to support evil, but to read for myself the garbage being consumed by my fellow citizens. Then I might choose to burn it, bury it, or just put it in the trash. I see the citizens of America moving toward a civil war, if we choose to be aware and do everything we can to counter the hatred and complete disregard for our country’s values. To choose to ignore what is happening will result in victory for them. Please, everyone, speak up and be counted. Thank you, again, Monica.


  5. Anonymous

    Which boycotts, then, do you support? Every singole boycott is going to have a negative effect on people who are completely innocent. The boycott of North Carolina for conventions and sports events because of its law that is homophobic hurts the 45% of the state that voted for Clinton. The BDS boycott of Coca-Cola for its dealings with Israel hurts the 45% of the Israeli public that is strongly opposed to the current government. How do you make your distinctions and decisions?


  6. Judy

    I have been reading others’ opinions on child_lit and have not found anyone express approval for the publishing of this hateful book. Not only is the book not wanted, most responders are focused on the best ways to punish the publisher for its choice to print the book. I’m of the opinion that we NEED to know as much as possible about the hatred that surrounds us. Instead of keeping the literature hidden or underground, I want to have examples of their awful beliefs and thinking to examine and to use as evidence in teaching others ( including youngsters ) just what it is so many of us find despicable. We need to go far beyond “don’t take candy from strangers” to protect our children today. They need to be armed with facts and information. Just my opinion, and one I would love to have challenged or supported.


  7. Pingback: 2017 Reading Challenge – The (Somewhat Annotated) Plan | a glass of milk

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