Meet the Publisher: Planting People Growing Justice

Planting People Growing Justice

We’re back to introduce you to one of Lerner Publisher Services newer publishing partners–Planting People Growing Justice Press. We first began distributing PPGJ’s empowering books for future leaders in Spring 2023. Please enjoy this interview with founder Dr. Artika R. Tyner.

What is Planting People Growing Justice?

Dr. Artika R. Tyner (Image)
Dr. Artika R. Tyner

Founded in 2017 by award-winning author and nationally recognized author, professor, and civil rights attorney Dr. Artika R. Tyner, Planting People Growing Justice Press (PPGJ) publishes books that encourage and empower children to find joy in reading. PPGJ is a Black woman-owned children’s book publisher and social enterprise that seeks to increase diversity in books, promote youth leadership development, and provide young readers with the tools needed to make a difference in the world.

Spring 2023 Releases

Tell us how Planting People Growing Justice started?

Planting People Growing Justice was started with the goal in mind of planting seeds of social change. It emerged in my living room as a group of community leaders came together to discuss how to address an issue impacting our youth — mass incarceration. We made a decision to advance social change by inspiring the next generation of youth to become readers and leaders, hence the name of our first book series and award-winning reading program, Leaders are Readers. We achieve this goal by promoting literacy and diversity in books.

Dr. Tyner reads to young children (Image)

Addressing the national reading crisis is personal and important to me. As a civil rights attorney, many of my clients learned how to read in prison. The reality is:

  • 1 in 4 American children are not reading at grade level by 4th grade.
  • If you are not reading at grade level by 4th grade, you are four times more likely to drop out of school.
  • If you drop out, you are also three and a half times more likely to be arrested during your lifetime.

This is unacceptable. Yet, this is an opportunity for change. Where we can create new pipelines for the future and work to end mass incarceration. We are growing futures — one child at a time, one book at a time.

How would you describe your publishing vision?

Dr. Tyner with students (Image)

My publishing vision is inspired by my love of books. As a young girl, my favorite place to visit was my local library. My mother and I visited the library weekly, and I ran after the bookmobile whenever I saw it. I always carried a backpack full of books. Through these books, I traveled the world from China (climbing the Great Wall) to Africa (visiting the safari in Tanzania). I learned Mandarin Chinese and studied leadership profiles of inspiring heroes and sheroes like Charles Hamilton Houston and Fannie Lou Hamer. These experiences helped to unleash my imagination and prepare me for my future. I have since lived and worked around the world, although my world growing up encompassed only the one-mile radius of our neighborhood. I was inspired to become a civil rights attorney and professor after reading leadership biographies. This journey of discovery and preparation for the future began on the pages of books.

Often, we hear the statement: “You cannot be what you cannot see.” Through our publishing vision, we are creating opportunities for children to see themselves more clearly. We want them to see the infinite possibilities that are within. Our children are future leaders and difference makers. Our books provide them with the tools to learn, grow, and lead.

Dr. Tyner and a student read Justice Makes a Difference (Image)

We are also celebrating diversity by creating mirrors and windows for our children. Mirrors for young people of color to see a positive representation of themselves on the pages of books. In addition, for all children — we will create windows that help create bridges across cultures. Our society has evolved into a rich multicultural tapestry where cultures, history, language, and experiences are interwoven and interconnected. Our books explore history, art, culture, science, geography, and more across the African Diaspora, supporting children’s literacy and leadership, as well as their social and emotional intelligence skills.

Any upcoming projects you’re particularly excited about?

We are excited about the launch of our new series—Little World Citizens. It will provide young readers with a passport to the future as they connect with cultures across the world and learn key lessons about global citizenship. Our first books in the series will introduce Swahili, a world language. These books serve as an introduction to learning a second language that has been named an official language of the African Union.

Anything else you’d like to add?

This year, we launched a 100 Black authors campaign, by which we will inspire and train Black authors to write picture books. By publishing 100 Black authors over the next decade, we will promote cultural preservation through the arts and humanities and build an ecosystem for new literary artists.

Stay tuned for more excellent releases from Planting People Growing Justice Press this fall and beyond!

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