Daily Archives: March 9, 2017

Amplifying Diversity: Independent Presses

The ongoing and hugely important conversation featuring #ownvoices, diversity, and equity was most recently centered around an unfortunate WSJ journal article which Allie Bruce unpacks in her RWW post, “Why ‘Rock Star Librarian’ is an Oxymoron.”  I highly recommend reading the original article (tricky as it is behind a paywall — need to go to a library perhaps!), Allie’s post, and the ongoing conversation going on in her post’s comments.

One aspect of this that I think gets overlooked is that some of the best books featuring #ownvoices come from presses other than the biggies, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Little Brown, Penguin, or Random House. I would urge all of you, but especially those with big social media platforms, those with massive followings, some of whom were featured in the article, as well as working to celebrate and feature more #ownvoices, also make greater efforts to do so with books from smaller presses. While I see a sincere effort to bring out more voices, they tend to be from the afore mentioned publishers.  There are great books coming out from other places as well and those of you with big platforms could do a lot to bring them to the attention of your followers.  (By the way, for those who are fortunate in having books sent by publicists, this may involve the seeking out and buying of books rather than just waiting for them to come to you.)

A terrific resource is the CCBC’s list of Small Presses Owned/Operated by People of Color and First/Native Nations. Also, I recommend attending to recommendations by WNDB, RWW, Debbie Reese, Edi Campbell, Brown Bookshelf, Latinx in Kid Lit, Africa Access, Betsy Bird, Travis Jonker, Jules Danielson, USBBY, and the CCBC among others who celebrate books by independent presses regularly. (I’m sure I’m leaving many out so please tell me in the comments and I’ll add them in here.) Whenever I see mention of an independent press book that might work for my 4th grade students I order it immediately. I was delighted when serving on the New York Times Best Illustrated books jury to learn of many more outstanding independent presses. And when at conferences I come across still others at the exhibits (but many can’t afford to be there so it is important to look everywhere not just there).

Here is a collection of those I have come across over the years, some of which may be already familiar and some not. Please do mention others in the comments and I’ll add them here. (I’m leaving out some of the bigger and more familiar independents like Abrams, Candlewick, Bloomsbury, Lerner, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Holiday House, Scholastic, and Chronicle as I see their books already celebrated on social media by those with big followings. I do it myself.:) I recommend checking out their websites and, if something catches your eye, buy it. And if you like it celebrate it on twitter, facebook, your blog,  your podcast, and/or whatever your platform is.

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