2019 PEN America Publisher Honoree: Richard Robinson
2019 Publisher Honoree
At the 2019 PEN America Literary Gala, Richard Robinson, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Scholastic, will be the annual event’s Publisher Honoree.
Richard Robinson has been President of Scholastic Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHL) since 1974, Chief Executive Officer since 1975, and was elected to the position of Chairman of the Board in 1982. Under Mr. Robinson’s leadership, Scholastic has become the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a leading provider of print and digital instructional materials for pre-K to grade 12, and a producer of educational and entertaining children’s media. With annual revenue of $1.6 billion and more than 9,000 employees worldwide, the Company distributes one out of every three children’s books purchased in the US through school-based Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs, instructional programs, non-profit partners, retail outlets and online.
During Mr. Robinson’s tenure, publishing records were shattered with the release of each book in the Harry Potter® series by J.K. Rowling, and Scholastic published the script book of the 8th Harry Potter story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two in July 2016. Mr. Robinson also led the development of such popular series as Captain Underpants®, The Hunger Games, Clifford the Big Red Dog®, Goosebumps®, I SPY®, The Magic School Bus® and the groundbreaking, multi-platform The 39 Clues®, among many others.
Scholastic Reading Club catalogues, expert-curated collections of books from all publishers, are delivered monthly to nearly every K–8 school in the US, and are available online so children and parents have access to the best children’s books at affordable prices. Every Reading Club purchase helps the child’s teacher earn points toward the purchase of additional books for the classroom. More than 125,000 Scholastic Book Fairs are held in US schools annually, generating excitement about books for kids and families, and helping principals create a culture of reading in their communities.
Founded in 1920 as a single classroom magazine, Scholastic is now a leading provider of comprehensive literacy solutions for pre-K to grade 12 classrooms, serving schools and districts with a wide array of print and digital materials to support the renewed focus on independent reading as a core component of literacy instruction. Scholastic publishes 32 classroom magazines, which provide relevant, engaging content in print and digital formats reaching more than 25 million readers. The Company also provides classroom book collections, Guided Reading programs, and classroom digital subscription programs, including GO!™ (formerly Grolier Online), Core Clicks™, Storia® School Edition and the “Flix” line of products. Scholastic is a leader in the movement to improve family and community engagement and offers professional learning programs for educators who are striving to serve the diverse needs of their students.
Under Mr. Robinson’s leadership, Scholastic has developed a rich content and e-commerce experience for teachers, parents and children on Scholastic.com, attracting more than one billion page views every year. Scholastic.com is the most trafficked website for pre-K to grade 8 teachers, and is among the largest internet booksellers, according to Internet Retailer, offering quality, affordable children’s books from all publishers.
Mr. Robinson spearheaded the global expansion of Scholastic into Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia, where the Company has operations mirroring the US model of trade publishing, book clubs, book fairs and curriculum materials publishing. Scholastic also exports to more than 150 countries in 65 languages.
Scholastic is the founding sponsor of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the most prestigious recognition program honoring America’s creative teens. Since its founding in 1923, the program has established an amazing track record for identifying the early promise of our nation’s most accomplished and prolific creative leaders. Alumni include artists Andy Warhol, Philip Pearlstein, Robert Indiana, Zac Posen, Kay WalkingStick and John Baldessari; writers Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Stephen King, Lena Dunham, Bernard Malamud and Joyce Carol Oates; photographer Richard Avedon (who won for poetry); actors Frances Farmer, Robert Redford, Alan Arkin and John Lithgow; and filmmakers Ken Burns and Richard Linklater. Outside the arts, Awards alumni employ their creativity to become leaders in fields ranging from journalism, law, and medicine, to finance and public service.
Mr. Robinson has received numerous honors for his outstanding career, including the 2017 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the Literary Community from the National Book Foundation, Publishers Weekly’s Publishing Innovator of the Year in 2011, the Partners for Children Award and the Corporate Leadership Award from Save the Children, R.R. Bowker’s 1998 Literary Market Place Publisher of the Year, and the Cleveland E. Dodge Medal for Distinguished Service to Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He served as Chairman of the Association of American Publishers from 1996 to 1998, was inducted into the Association of Educational Publishers Hall of Fame, received the British American Business Award for Innovation, and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernest & Young. In 2013, he was named an Honorary Member of the Order of Australia for service to the promotion of children’s literature worldwide.
Mr. Robinson is a recipient of the UJA-Federation For the Love of Reading Award, The Creative Coalition Spotlight Award, the Robin Hood Foundation’s John F. Kennedy, Jr. Corporate Hero Award and the Best Friend Award from LA’s BEST After School Enrichment Program, as well as being named the National Association of Bilingual Educators’1995 Corporate Citizen of the Year — all in recognition of his efforts to improve literacy. In 2002, Reach Out and Read established The Richard Robinson Award in his honor to provide annual recognition to pediatric doctors and other healthcare professionals who exemplify the mission of ROR.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Richard Robinson is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard College. He also studied at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge University in England, and at Teachers College, Columbia University, and began his career as a high school English teacher in Evanston, IL. He is an Honorary Trustee of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.