Richard Robinson, longtime CEO of children’s publishing giant Scholastic, has died at 84.
The publishing house announced that Robinson died Saturday, but did not release further details. The publisher said that Robinson had been in excellent health.
“We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson,” Scholastic’s 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.”
Robinson is originally from Pittsburgh and graduated from Harvard College, where he graduated magna cum laude with membership to the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa society. He was the son of Maurice R. Robinson, who founded Scholastic in 1920 as a single classroom magazine. The younger Robinson was named president of Scholastic in 1974, CEO in 1975, and board chair in 1982. Robinson began his career as a high school English teacher in Evanston, Illinois.
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Robinson was the recipient of an honorary National Book Award for his contributions to the literary community and was also honored by PEN America for his contributions to free expression.
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Robinson’s time at Scholastic presented its fair share of challenges over the years though, with financial ups and downs despite astronomical successes like “Harry Potter,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” and “Captain Underpants.” He faced several battles with censors in particular, who objected to series such as “Harry Potter” and “Captain Underpants” because they were deemed inappropriate for younger readers.
Throughout the years, Robinson also influenced how Scholastic was responding to a changing culture. In an interview last year with the Associated Press, he noted that Scholastic had endured profound societal changes and aimed to educate readers in a balanced and responsible manner.
“We are dealing with issues like global warming, racial inequality in a way that doesn’t polarize the issue but gives points of views on both sides and is a balanced neutral position but not in a sense of being bland,” he said. “Here are the arguments on the other. Here is what people are saying. Here are questions you can ask to formulate your own view.”
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