Richard Robinson Dies at 84; Turned Scholastic Into an Empire

Richard Robinson, who took over his father’s journal firm, Scholastic, and remodeled it right into a behemoth within the youngsters’s ebook business with the “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” sequence and titles like “The Magic School Bus” and “Goosebumps,” died on Saturday in Chilmark, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. He was 84.

His son Maurice stated the trigger was a sudden stroke or coronary heart assault whereas Mr. Robinson was out for a stroll close to the household’s residence on the island. He lived in Greenwich Village.

Under Mr. Robinson, the corporate generated as a lot as $1.6 billion in annual income to change into the most important writer and distributor of kids’s books on the planet. Under his stewardship it expanded its attain with print and digital tutorial supplies, remedial textbooks, academic and entertaining movies and software program, three dozen periodicals and studying golf equipment.

In addition to Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen’s zany discipline journeys on the “Magic School Bus” and R.L. Stine’s ”Goosebumps” horror tales, Scholastic sequence embrace Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants,” Norman Bridwell’s “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and Ann M. Martin’s “The Baby-Sitters Club.”

In 2000 Scholastic acquired Grolier, one of many largest encyclopedia publishers.

Two of the various well-liked titles within the Scholastic secure. 

Scholastic shattered gross sales data by venturing into unchartered territory with Suzanne Collins’s young-adult dystopian novels within the “The Hunger Games” trilogy, which roosted on The New York Times best-seller lists for greater than 260 consecutive weeks, and by buying the American rights from Bloomsbury for J.Okay. Rowling’s blockbuster sequence on the boy wizard Harry Potter; these books first appeared within the United States underneath Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine imprint. Scholastic’s commerce publishing division has bought 180 million copies within the Potter sequence since 1998.

Mr. Robinson, who typically stated he thought of studying a civil proper, prided himself in reviving books and selling narrative storytelling as a muscular rival to video video games within the competitors for kids’s consideration.

“Publishing the ‘Harry Potter’ books has changed the company and made it more visible,” he instructed The New York Times in 2005. “But what everybody feels the most about Harry Potter is that it brought kids to the reading process who had never been readers.”

“Research says that if children choose and own their books, they are much more likely to finish them,” he stated in 2017, when he accepted the Literarian Award from the National Book Foundation.

Part of Scholastic’s mission, he stated, was to handle related public points and even topics that had been taboo in youngsters’s literature.

“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 instructed The Associated Press final yr. “Here is what people are saying. Here are questions you can ask to formulate your own view.”

In 2019, when he was honored by the literary and human rights group PEN America, he recited a litany of banned Scholastic publications because the 1930s and added, “Despite these controversies and temporary bans, schools have relied on our balanced approach to help the young gain basic knowledge about their world, with the larger goal of helping kids know how to build and maintain a fragile democracy.”

The librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, stated in a Twitter submit on Sunday that Mr. Robinson had left a “lasting legacy” as a supporter of libraries and studying.

Mr. Robinson in 1980 together with his father, Maurice Robinson, who based Scholastic in 1920.Credit…through Scholastic

Maurice Richard Robinson Jr. was born on May 15, 1937, to Maurice and Florence (Liddell) Robinson and grew up in and round New York City.

His father, coming back from World War I and noticing an improve in highschool enrollment, began his journal firm, the Western Pennsylvania Scholastic, in 1920. It didn’t change into worthwhile till the 1950s, however the elder Mr. Robinson caught with it.

“We’re big, from filling in the niches,” his son stated.

Richard graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and, magna cum laude, from Harvard College with a bachelor’s diploma in English. He later studied at St. Catharine’s College, a part of the University of Cambridge in England, and at Teachers College at Columbia University.

“I wanted to be a writer but floundered a little and thought I should get a job to support my writing, so I became a teacher for two years in Evanston, Ill.,” he instructed The Times in 2005.

In 1988, in a earlier interview with The Times, he stated, “I taught kids who would graduate from Radcliffe summa cum laude, to kids who would get football scholarships, to kids who would go into the Marines, to kids who would go to jail.”

Mr. Robertson with Clifford in 2018. Scholastic has lengthy revealed the “Clifford the Big Red Dog” sequence. Credit…NASDAQ

(Many individuals in Scholastic’s annual scholar Art & Writing Awards went on to fame, amongst them Sylvia Plath, Bernard Malamud, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Avedon, Stephen King, John Lithgow, Ken Burns and Lena Dunham.)

Mr. Robinson joined Scholastic as an affiliate editor in 1962. In 1974, after the person his father had been grooming as his successor died all of the sudden, Richard turned president. He was named chief govt a yr later and elected chairman in 1982.

In addition to operating Scholastic, Mr. Robinson served as chairman of the Association of American Publishers and led the capital marketing campaign in 1988 for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s new residence on West 83rd Street.

In 1986, he married Helen V. Benham, who labored for 33 years at Scholastic as an editorial director, writer and company vp; they divorced in 2003, however she remained a confidante.

In addition to his son Maurice, who is called Reece and who was a guide to Scholastic, his survivors embrace one other son, John, who additionally consulted with the corporate; a brother, William; and three sisters, Sue Morrill, Barbara Buckland and Dover Ford.

When he was a toddler, Mr. Robinson recalled, he by no means uninterested in listening to his mom learn to him from “The Little Engine That Could” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.” His favourite novel of all time, he instructed The Times in 1999, was James Joyce’s first novel, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” which impressed him as writer of Scholastic.

Joyce’s novel was a coming-of-age story however certainly not a youngsters’s ebook. It begins, although, as many a whimsical story for younger readers may, with the phrases “Once upon a time.”