by Lara Neel, Trade Marketing Manager
We know that books hold true power.
Power to affirm our identities, to build understanding with people unlike ourselves, to challenge our misconceptions, and to broaden our awareness of the world. In the 60 years that Lerner Publishing Group has been creating children’s books, inclusion and diversity have been important considerations for our company.
In fact, the very first books published by our founder, Harry Lerner, in 1959—titles such as Michael Gets the Measles and Dear Little Mumps Child—were written by a female doctor and featured a female doctor in the illustrations. At this time, only 6 percent of the doctors in the United States were female, and women in general were not encouraged to have careers outside the home. We also published the first children’s book to provide a scientific explanation of skin color.
The original Mr. Bumba books in the 1960s featured illustrations showing a multi-cultural cast of characters, intentionally drawn to be diverse. Our list has grown and evolved over the years, and we’re proud to have many award-winning, diverse titles on our list. We continue to make diversity a core component of all of our publishing efforts, from our employees to our authors and illustrators and the subjects of the stories, photos, and illustrations.
Last fall, we began exploring ways to make those books more discoverable. We looked at definitions from a variety of movements, including We Need Diverse Books, #OwnVoices, #ReadWoke, and the “Windows, Mirrors and Sliding Glass Doors” theory. We followed conversations on social media, reviewed diversity surveys from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and other organizations, and looked for common themes.
Using all of this information, we developed nine categories of diverse books, which are noted in the key and on the inside front cover of our Spring 2020 Diverse Books Catalog. This brochure highlights some of our best titles in picture books, graphic novels, novels, and nonfiction, and the index starting on page 23 will lead you to titles by thematic category. Look for additional titles online at lernerbooks.com/DiverseBooks. We hope you will discover offerings that will help you provide more diverse books for your readers.
Other blog posts you might like:
Cicely Lewis, Kao Kalia Yang, Melanie Gillman, and NoNieqa Ramos on #ReadWoke, #OwnVoices and Diversifying Library Collections
Diversity, Audits, and Choosing Books