New Release: If I Were a Tree

Today we’re excited to release If I Were a TreeTwo siblings journey into the woods in a tender story of branching out and new growth from acclaimed writer Andrea Zimmerman and New York Times bestselling illustrator Jing Jing Tsong.

If I Were a TreeAbout the Book:

If I were a tree, I know how I’d be.
My trunk strong and wide, my limbs side to side,
I’d stand towering tall, high above all,
My leaves growing big, and buds on each twig.
If I were a tree, that’s how I’d be.

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The Importance of Black Joy in Children’s Books: A Conversation with Kelly J. Baptist and Darnell Johnson

A few years ago, conversations surrounding the importance of joyful books that feature Black characters finally started to pick up steam. Though BIPOC readers, specifically Black readers, have noticed the lack of joyful diverse books for some time, publishing is finally getting to a  place of recognition that Black characters are more than just oppression and a teaching moment for outside readers. BIPOC are just like everyone else with varied lived experiences that aren’t always rooted in pain. In this guest blog post, we hear from author Kelly J. Baptist and illustrator Darnell Johnson to discuss the importance of Black joy in children’s books and how that translated into their newest title The Electric Slide and Kai.

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Writing Poetry in the Classroom: A Lesson With Author Mark Karlins

Kiyoshi's Walk coverIn this guest post, author and poet Mark Karlins shares how his latest title, Kiyoshi’s Walk, can be used to engage students (and anyone!) to write poetry in the classroom and at home. Mark Karlins also shares how the traditional Japanese poetry form, renga, can help create community in a classroom especially in time for National Poetry Month! 

As I was writing Kiyoshi’s Walk, all I was thinking about was writing an engaging story about a child who wanted to learn to write poetry, a story which has a strong grandfather-grandchild relationship and a progressive structure that keeps people reading and listening. Now that Kiyoshi’s Walk has been published, I’ve begun to think about how the story can expand and become a base for teaching writing both at home and in the classroom. A walk outdoors with a parent and child, a stroll through the playground of a school, even an indoors excursion from one window to the next, can provide experiences for the writing of haiku. Grandfather Eto and Kiyoshi demonstrate a way this can happen.

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Congratulations to NAACP Image Award Winner She Was the First!

We’re so excited to share that She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Eric Velasquez is the 52nd Annual NAACP Image Award Winner in the Outstanding Literature Work – Children’s category!

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Decolonize Your Bookshelf: Supriya Kelkar’s New Book Illuminates the Brutal Realities of Colonialism in India

Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame coverIn this guest blog post, author Supriya Kelkar writes about the story behind her latest middle grade novel Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame as well as the need to have conversations surrounding the atrocities committed in the name of colonialism and whose story is routinely told and whose story is left out.

When I was growing up, I never got to see myself in a book. Although I’m sure books with South Asian American characters, written by South Asian Americans, were being written, they weren’t being published. Because of this erasure, I never thought my story mattered.

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Upcoming Spring 2021 Tea Time Talks: Meet Our Editors and Authors

Tea Time Talks

Curious about the ins-and-outs of the editorial process? Join us for our Spring 2021 Tea Time Talks  between our authors and editors!

In these short, casual conversations, get a behind-the-scenes look at our publishing process as our Lee & Low editors share a (virtual) cup of tea with their authors. Hear them describe the initial inspiration and the development process, discuss questions that came up during the editing, and reflect on decisions they made.

Join us live, or register for a link to watch the recordings later!

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Lee & Low Books Statement of Solidarity with the Asian American Community

Over the last several months, we have been horrified to watch the uptick in hate crimes, harassment, and violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. The NYPD reported that in 2020, hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900%, and the reporting database Stop AAPI Hate received over 2,800 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March and December 2020. While politicians’ racist rhetoric has fanned the flames of hate, we know that this is not an isolated moment, but rather a continuation of a long history of discrimination against Asian Americans. Continue reading

New Release: Kiyoshi’s Walk

Today we’re excited to release Kiyoshi’s Walk by poet Mark Karlins and illustrated by Nicole Wong!

Where do poems come from? This beautiful picture book about a young aspiring poet and his grandfather shows that the answer lies all around us—if we take the time to look.

Kiyoshi's WalkAbout the Book:

After Kiyoshi watches his grandfather, Eto, compose his delicate haiku, he wonders out loud: “Where do poems come from?” His grandfather answers by taking him on a walk through their city, where they see a cat perched on a hill of oranges; hear the fluttering of wings; imagine what’s behind a tall wall; and discuss their walk, with each incident inspiring a wonderful new haiku from Eto. As Kiyoshi discovers that poems come from the way the world outside of us meets the world within each of us, he also finds the courage to write a haiku of his own. Continue reading

Social-Emotional Learning & Diverse Books: One Cannot Exist Without the Other

In this blog post, Katie Potter, Senior Literacy Specialist at Lee & Low Books, offers guidance on curating a social-emotional learning library and reinforces the necessary role that diverse books play in building an SEL collection. This blog post first appeared on  the Center Of Responsive Schools’ Two Sides of the Same Coin

As teachers, we know how difficult it is to explain and define emotions in concrete terms. A situation arises and we grapple with how best to approach it with the students. What are the right words to say that will resonate with them after a disagreement? How do we explain empathy or resolve a student conflict in a way that young people will understand? It can be a challenge to act quickly and make a meaningful impact when there is minimal time to prepare.

This is where books can come into play. By allowing the characters and engaging storyline to do the heavy lifting, books can take the onus off of teachers, presenting to children both the problem and the solution in a safe way that will reverberate with them.

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New Release: The Electric Slide and Kai

Today we’re excited to release The Electric Slide and Kai by New Voices Award Honor Kelly J. Baptist and illustrated by Darnell Johnson! In this picture book, Kai is the only member of his family who can’t get the dance steps to the Electric Slide right. But Kai is determined to bust a move in this fun and sweet celebration of African American families.

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Exploring Children's Books Through the Lens of Diversity