Tag Archives: Race issues

Interview: Donna Janell Bowman on the Amazing William “Doc” and Jim Key

Step Right Up cover imageStep Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World About Kindness is a biography of William “Doc” Key, a formerly enslaved man and self-trained veterinarian who taught his horse, Jim, to read, write, and do math. Together they became a famous traveling performance act and proponents for the humane treatment of animals around the turn of the twentieth century. In this interview, author Donna Janell Bowman discusses the power of Doc and Jim Key’s message of kindness and what inspired her to write about one of the most famous performing duos in the country.

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25 Books from 25 Years: Tankborn

25 Year Anniversary posterLEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we are celebrating Tankborn by Karen Sandler. First published in 2011, Tankborn was one of the original launch books for our Tu Books Imprint, which publishes diverse middle grade and young adult literature. Since its launch, Tu has published nearly 20 titles for older readers featuring diverse characters, stories, and worlds. Tu Books also established the New Visions Award, an annual writing contest for unpublished authors of color (and today is the deadline for submitting your manuscript!). Continue reading

What Diversity Means to Me: Lee & Low Staff Share Their Thoughts

Thanks to movements such as We Need Diverse Books, #1000BlackGirlBooks, and vocal authors, writers, and readers, the conversation regarding diversity in children’s books has gained more traction. Studies such as the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s Publishing Statistics on Children’s Books and our Diversity Baseline Survey have helped to supplement these conversations, highlighting the need for more representation in children’s literature. We’re starting to see more stories that represent people from different backgrounds and different ways of life, and stories with protagonists and heroes that finally look like us. Here at LEE & LOW BOOKS, our mission is to publish children’s books about everyone and for everyone. So today, LEE & LOW staff share the impact and importance of diversity and what diversity truly means to them.

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When Fashion Meets Diversity

Before my big move to the publishing industry, I worked in the corporate world of fashion and apparel (and a small stint in home furnishings). There were many times when I’d look forward to seeing what new styles would pop up on the runway during NYC Fashion Week. I’d even spend my lunch breaks gazing at every single design captured perfectly by photographers at the right moment. I knew in my head that most, if not all, those pieces I probably wouldn’t wear (and let’s be honest could never even afford), but anyone can dream.

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Interview: Gwendolyn Hooks on the Unsung Hero of Medicine, Vivien Thomas

Tiny Stitches cover imageTiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas is the compelling story of Vivien Thomas, an African American surgical technician who developed the first procedure used to perform open-heart surgery on children. In this interview, author Gwendolyn Hooks discusses the legacy of this medical pioneer and what inspired her to write about a man whose research helped to save countless lives.

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Part 2–Having Students Analyze Our Classroom Library To See How Diverse It Is

Guest BloggerEarlier this month, we highlighted the impressive work happening in the classroom of Jessica Lifshitz, veteran educator in Northbrook, Illinois. Following her popular essay on how Jessica empowered her fifth grade students to analyze their classroom library for its culturally responsiveness and relevancy, she shares in this interview with LEE & LOW BOOKS why she wanted to take on this project with her students, where families and administrators fit into this process, and her hopes for her students.

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25 Books from 25 Years: Richard Wright and the Library Card

Lee & Low 25th AnniversaryLEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we are celebrating Richard Wright and the Library Card, an inspirational story for children of all backgrounds. This book shares a poignant turning point in the life of a young man who became one of this country’s most brilliant writers, the author of Native Son and Black Boy.

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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