Greeting book lovers! Is everyone thawed out from our New Ice Age? Goodness has it been chilly!
As you know Jump Into a Book along with Pragmatic Mom has been busily working on our upcoming national event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. We want to change that. Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.
To achieve this, on January 27th, Jump into a Book and Pragmatic Mom will be organizing and presenting this first-ever event to celebrate diversity in children’s literature. We have several wonderful sponsors (Wisdom Tales Press, Chronicle Books and LEE and Low Books) along with generous publishers and authors who have all agreed to donate books to be reviewed in honor of this event. One of our cherished sponsors is LEE and Low Books. Here’s a little info to help you get to know them better.
LEE & LOW BOOKS is an independent, family-run children’s book publisher focusing on diversity. It is the company’s mission to meet the need for stories that all children can identify with and enjoy. The company publishes books for children of all ages under several imprints, including leveled books for beginning readers (Bebop Books), bilingual books (Children’s Book Press), and speculative fiction for middle grade and young adult readers (Tu Books).
LEE and LOW Books to Take Note of:
Marisol McDonald and the Clash Bash/Marisol McDonald y la fiesta sin igual
Tankborn YA trilogy, the last book of which (Rebellion) comes out this spring.
LEE and Low books have won several major awards including:
Coretta Scott King Award (American Library Association)
Pura Belpré Award (American Library Association)
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (American Library Association)
ALA Notable Children’s Books (American Library Association)
Jane Addams Children’s Book Award (Jane Addams Peace Association)
“Choices” List (Cooperative Children’s Book Center)
Carter G. Woodson Award (National Council for the Social Studies)
Texas Bluebonnet Award (Texas Library Association)
Ezra Jack Keats Book Award (Ezra Jack Keats Foundation)
NAACP Image Award (NAACP)
Getting to Know LEE and LOW Books
1. Why do you think reading to our kids is so important?
Reading to kids is, I think, the best way to teach kids to love books and, in turn, make sure they develop into lifelong readers. Aside from all the important literacy and education benefits that come with exposing your children to books from the earliest possible age, reading with kids is a way to establish books as something beautiful and sacred, part of a special parent-child routine, and an essential part of life.
2013 was a great year for us. One major achievement for us was receiving a $500,000 grant from the literacy nonprofit First Book for their new Stories for All Project, which will put a significant number of multicultural books into the hands of low-income children. This is incredibly important work, and we were thrilled to be chosen as part of it. We have also been working on a series of infographics about diversity in various industries, and we were excited to watch some of those infographics go viral. Our infographics were shared by places like Upworthy and the Huffington Post, and got a hugely positive response from readers. We really wanted people to look at these infographics showing how people of color (and often women) are still so underrepresented in so many places across the board, and we wanted them to be outraged and inspired to create change. And that happened, which was amazing. We’re working to keep the momentum going in 2014.
3. What do you look for in quality books to publish?
Since we only publish about 12 books a year, we have to feel really passionately about a book in order to publish it. One of the things we look for, especially when it comes to nonfiction, is stories about great people who fell through the cracks of history – in other words, people who have done amazing things and should be better known. One of my favorite examples of that is our book Seven Miles to Freedom, about an escaped slave named Robert Smalls who became one of the Civil War’s greatest heroes. For both fiction and nonfiction, we look for unique and well-written stories that offer a new perspective and that are culturally accurate and well-researched.
4. What would you like readers to know about your company?
We are an independent, family-owned publisher and have been since we were started 20 years ago. We take risks on stories we believe in, not just the stories we think will sell best, and I think that really shows in the range and quality of our books. We also really believe in the company’s diversity mission and the importance of creating books that are both mirrors and windows, that all young readers can see themselves in. It’s not just a business for us: we really believe that more diverse books for young readers are urgently important and a step toward equality for all of us.
Connect With LEE and Low!
Tumblr: (Lee & Low Books)
http://tubooks.tumblr.com/ (Tumblr of our Tu Books imprint focusing on YA and science fiction/fantasy)
Visit our MCCBD Book Review Bloggers!