In recent weeks we’ve called your attention to a number of articles that address the question of why we still lack ample children’s literature and young adult fiction by and about people of color.
Today, and for the next three weeks, I’m going to spin that coin on its head to offer a positive take. Beginning today with Lee & Low Books, we’re going to assume a measure of optimism and consider the companies that are publishing just such literature – and of course our focus will highlight those presses whose publications relate to Latin America, whether wholly or in part.
While there aren’t many publishers out there producing these books, there are a few companies who are doing it – and doing it exceptionally well. One of our favorite is Lee & Low Books, whose motto is “About Everyone, for Everyone.” If you missed our recent share of their article, “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased in Eighteen Years,” I suggest you check it out!
Lee & Low is an independent children’s book publishers focusing on diversity. The company’s explicit mission is “to meet the need for stories that all children can identify with and enjoy.”
Their titles repeatedly win awards and have received recognition through the Amelia Bloomer Project, ALA Notable Children’s Books, Américas Award, Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Best Books by Kirkus Reviews, etc. Their website has a complete listing of their Honors and Awards, if you’re interested. Some of the amazing books they’ve published include From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems / Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano written by Francisco X. Alarcón and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, and Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina written by Américas Award-winning author Monica Brown and illustrated by Sara Palacios.
In 2012, Lee & Low expanded their multicultural repertoire by acquiring Children’s Book Press, which was “the first independent press in the country to focus on publishing first voice literature for children by and about people from the Latino, African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American communities. Since 1975, Children’s Book Press has promoted lived and shared experiences of cultures who have been historically under-represented or misrepresented in children’s literature while also focusing on promoting inter-cultural and cross-cultural awareness for children of all backgrounds.” Now that Lee & Low and Children’s Book Press have come together, their focus is “to not only affirm and validate a child’s identity, culture, and home language, but also help build a solid foundation to achieve literacy in any language” (Children’s Book Press).
And, as icing on the cake, the company also offers numerous Common Core-based Teacher’s Guides and author podcasts to help use the books in classrooms. You can see a great example of these resources if you check out their page for Yum! ¡Qué Rico! Americas’ Sproutings written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael Lopez – they’ve listed an Ice Cream Activity, Booktalk with author Pat Pora, Video interview with author Pat Mora, and a Teacher’s Guide.
That’s it! Keep an eye out for Lee & Low Books the next time you’re at the library or your local bookstore!