All posts by jasontlow

LEE & LOW ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN ITS EDITORIAL LEADERSHIP

LEE & LOW BOOKS, the 25-year-old children’s book publisher that focuses on diversity, will be making two major changes to its editorial department. Longtime Vice President/Editorial Director Louise May will step back from her administrative responsibilities, while Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Executive Editor Cheryl Klein will become Editorial Director.

Louise May
Louise May

Louise May, Vice President/Editorial Director, will become Editor-at-Large, effective March 1, 2017. May began her eighteen-year career at LEE & LOW as senior editor and advanced through the ranks to her current role as Vice President/Editorial Director. Her growth and commitment to diversity in children’s books parallels the success of the company. May’s invaluable contribution to LEE & LOW and its mission is evidenced by the numerous award-winning titles to her credit, including the Robert F. Sibert Medal winner Parrots Over Puerto Rico, the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, the Pura Belpré Award Honor book The Pot That Juan Built, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner Etched in Clay. May also was instrumental in developing and launching the company’s successful educational imprint, Bebop Books. She will continue to work with her many established authors and illustrators to acquire and edit new titles.

“Louise is a crucial member of the LEE & LOW family and has played key roles in growing our company and our lists with powerful books that speak to all children,” says Jason Low, LEE & LOW’S publisher.

Cheryl Klein
Cheryl Klein

Cheryl Klein will join LEE & LOW as Editorial Director, also effective March 1, 2017. Klein will oversee the company’s editorial program and work closely with ownership to expand the company’s diversity mission within the school/library and trade markets. Klein has worked at the Arthur A. Levine Books imprint of Scholastic for the past sixteen years, most recently as Executive Editor. She also served as the US continuity editor for the last two books of the Harry Potter series. Her passion for diversity has been evident in many of the authors she has worked with and books she has published, including the New York Times bestselling Shadowshaper, the American Indian Library Association Youth Literary Awards Honor book If I Ever Get Out of Here, the Schneider Family Book Award-winning Marcelo in the Real World, and the ALSC Notable Children’s Book The Princess and the Pony. She was a founding member of the Children’s Book Council’s Diversity Committee and serves as an assistant coordinator of the Kweli Colors of Children’s Literature annual writers’ literary conference.

“When we began our search, we wanted someone who was on the same page as us regarding the state of diversity in publishing and what needs to be done to continue to improve representation in children’s books—Cheryl gets it. We are looking forward to working with her,” says Jason Low.

ABOUT LEE & LOW BOOKS: Established in 1991, LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest children’s book publisher in the United States specializing in diversity. Under several imprints, the company provides a comprehensive range of notable diverse books for beginning readers through young adults. Lee & Low Books is a certified 100% Minority Owned Business Enterprise (MBE). Visit the company website to learn more.

The Diversity Gap in the Tony Awards, 1982-2015

Guest BloggerThis year’s Tony Awards will be broadcast on Sunday, June 12, 2016. We posted our first infographic and study on the Diversity Gap in the Tony Awards in 2013. In 2014, we did a brief follow-up post. In 2015-2016, there was such a pronounced uptick of diverse productions on Broadway that we felt it was worth updating our infographic and taking another look at diversity in the theater industry.

This year, Broadway megahit Hamilton—which almost exclusively stars actors of color—broke Tony records with a whopping 16 nominations. Add to that nominations for The Color PurpleEclipsed, and Shuffle Alongand we’re in a year where conceivably all the main acting Tonys could go to people of color.  But is this year’s diversity a sign of lasting change, or an anomaly? To find out, we touched base again with award-winning writer, actor, and director Christine Toy Johnson to get her take on the current state of diversity in theater. Welcome, Christine! Continue reading

The Diversity Baseline Survey: What Happens Next?

Diversity 102Since its release, the Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) has become the most visited blog post we have ever produced. The DBS has been widely read and written about, and has opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity in the publishing industry. In our first piece, Behind the Scenes of Publishing’s First Diversity Baseline Survey, we covered the methodology and obstacles we faced conducting the survey. In this piece we will shed light on what happens next—and what’s already happening to improve the numbers. Continue reading

Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2015 Diversity Baseline Survey Results

diversity102-logoBy now it’s no secret that publishing suffers from a DBS_caption1major lack of diversity problem. Thanks to years of research by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, we have ample data to confirm what many readers have always suspected: the number of diverse books published each year over the past twenty years has been stuck in neutral, never exceeding, on average, 10 percent.

Countless panels, articles, and even conferences have been dedicated to exploring the causes and effects of this lack of diversity. Yet one key piece of the puzzle remained a question mark: diversity among publishing staff. While the lack of diversity among publishing staff was often spoken about, there was very little hard data about who exactly works in publishing. Continue reading

Is Staff Diversity Training Worth It?

diversity102-logoRecently, we sent a number of LEE & LOW staff members from different departments to an “Undoing Racism” workshop, held by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. The People’s Institute is an organization that “is a national and international collective of anti-racist, multicultural community organizers and educators dedicated to building an effective movement for social transformation.” The workshop, jointly taught by a white leader and a leader of color, was a three-day intensive that covered everything from a history of race and racism to the power dynamics at play today in various systems. Participants were encouraged to reflect on their own experiences and identities, as well as to listen deeply as others shared. Continue reading

Why We’re Asking Publishers to Join Our Diversity Baseline Survey

diversity102-logoIf you’ve been following us for a while, you know that over the past few years we’ve released a series of infographics about the diversity gap in different industries including publishing, film, television, theater, and politics. Our infographic studies were designed to give people who were unfamiliar with issues of race and gender a sense of how deep the diversity problem goes in the United States and how entrenched these issues are in every facet of media. Continue reading

The Diversity Gap in Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley has been the darling of the US economy for decades. Creativity, leadership, risk taking, and hard work are all attributes of American innovation at its finest. Though lauded as a true meritocracy by the business world, the truth is that Silicon Valley that suffers from a similar lack of representation among women and people of color as other industries. In our past Diversity Gap studies of the Academy Awards, the Tony Awards, the Emmy Awards, the children’s book industry, The New York Times Top 10 Bestseller List, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Films, and US politics, we have shown that there is a disturbingly consistent lack of diversity across the boards. Continue reading

ALA Midwinter Day of Diversity Recap and Reflections

Chicago, IL, January 30, 2015
photos courtesy of Dan Bostrom

diversity 102This past weekend, I went to Chicago to attend the first ever Day of Diversity organized by the Association of Library Services for Children (ALSC) and Children’s Book Council (CBC). This event, which took place in conjunction with ALA’s Midwinter Conference, brought together 100 people from all parts of the book world including publishers, editors, librarians, booksellers, and authors. It included a mix of noted diversity advocates and newbies. The ultimate goal was to inform, engage, and ultimately find ways to turn talk into action.

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The Problem with Ethnic Heritage Months

Diversity 102November is Native American Heritage Month, which is as good a time as any to discuss the slight issue we have with observance months. Native American Heritage Month and Black History Month, for example, were established to celebrate cultures that otherwise went ignored, stereotyped, or otherwise underappreciated. Educators often use these months as a reason to pull titles by/about a particular culture off the shelf to share with students.

While we can generate a recommended reading list just as well as the next publisher, the problem we find with Native American Heritage Month is that it puts Native American books—and people—in a box. The observance month can easily lead to the bad habit of featuring these books and culture for one month out of the entire year. Ask yourself: Have we ever taken this approach with books that feature white protagonists?

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Recap: Horn Book’s Mind the Gaps Colloquium at Simmons College

On October 11, 2014, I attended a colloquium called Mind the Gaps, hosted by The Horn Book at Simmons College in Boston. There was an all-star line up consisting of Peter Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild), Gene Luen Yang (Boxers and Saints), Andrew Smith (Grasshopper Jungle), and Steve Sheinkin (The Port Chicago 50), to name a few. Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, played a big part in pulling all these folks together for a day.

One of the highlights was the keynote by author/librarian Vaunda Micheaux Nelson (No Crystal Stair). Here’s a snippet from her speech:

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Keynote speaker, Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Photo credit: Shara Hardeson

“We are here at Simmons trying to solve this problem while one of the biggest stories in the news is that Apple released a new iPhone. Yet ALA struggles to get a one-minute spot on one network to announce the nation’s most prestigious children’s book awards. Is this our world now? To quote one of my favorite library patrons, ‘Have we dumbed down society so much that what is truly significant is not considered important?’ This conversation is significant. So how do we make it important?”

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