First Book Announces Pioneering New Initiative to Create More Diversity in Children's Publishing

  First Book Announces Pioneering New Initiative to Create More Diversity in
                            Children's Publishing

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2013

Nonprofit Creates Market Demand with First-of-its-Kind $1 Million Special

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --First Book – a nonprofit
social enterprise that aims to end knowledge poverty – today announces a new
initiative to put new books featuring characters, cultures and voices rarely
represented in children's literature into the hands of children in need.


HarperCollins Publishers and Lee & Low Books submitted the winning proposals
for diversity-focused titles that First Book will make available – at deeply
discounted prices – exclusively to the organization's network of schools and
programs serving children in low income communities. This special purchase
marks the launch of The Stories for All Project through which First Book is
establishing a strong and vibrant market representing children in need who
want and deserve content that speaks directly to their lives.

"For years educators and parents have lamented the lack of high quality
children's books that represent diverse cultures and communities, but the
problem still persists," said Kyle Zimmer, First Book's president and CEO.
"Through The Stories for All Project, First Book is aggregating the market of
educators and programs serving children in need, proving that these
communities are here, they are full of potential readers, and they are willing
book buyers. As we grow this market, publishers will welcome the opportunity
to respond with more relevant content for a variety of cultures."

First Book's mission is to help end knowledge poverty by getting high quality
books and resources into the hands of children who risk falling behind because
they do not have access to the same educational materials as their more
affluent peers. In a recent survey of more than 2,000 First Book schools and
programs, 90 percent of respondents agreed that the children in their programs
would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with
characters, stories and images that reflect their lives and communities.[1]

"We are thrilled to be a part of The Stories for All Project," said Susan
Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books. "By
partnering with First Book, we can provide our award-winning multicultural
titles to the children in greatest need."

"As the largest multicultural children's publisher in the U.S., our mission is
so aligned with that of First Book," said Craig Low, president of Lee & Low
Books. "We aim to publish books that reflect how people live today and this
incredible initiative will help our content reach their audience in a huge

First Book originally planned to award one publishing partner with a $500,000
purchase, but was so impressed with the 24 proposals responding to its
competitive bid that the group chose two winners, doubling the impact.

The Stories for All Project

This $1 million purchase marks the official kick-off of The Stories for All
Project, First Book's groundbreaking, multi-year initiative to meet the need
for books that better reflect the rich and growing diversity of the
population, including minorities, LGBT and special needs populations. The
Stories for All Project will include: continued growth and expansion of
diverse content and inventory; convening a leadership council of noted
authors, illustrators and others to inform content; outreach to schools and
programs to drive registration and purchases; and ongoing measurement to
evaluate impact of the program.

With the reality that for the first time, racial and ethnic minorities make up
more than half of children born in the U.S,[2] the facts supporting The
Stories for All Project are staggering:
Of the 3,600 books the Cooperative Children's Book Center reviewed in

  o3% were about Africans/African Americans; 1.8% were written by
    Africans/African Americans
  o1.5% were about Latinos; 1.6% were written by Latinos
  oLess than 1% were about American Indians; less than 1% were written by
    American Indians
  o2% were about Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans; 2.3% were written by
    Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans
  oThe last Newbery Medal featuring a black protagonist was for Christopher
    Curtis' "Bud, Not Buddy" in 2000[4]; the last featuring a Hispanic
    protagonist was 48 years ago for Maia Wojciechowska's "Shadow of a

Diverse Books on the First Book Marketplace
The hundreds of thousands of books First Book purchased from HarperCollins and
Lee & Low Books will be available beginning in May through the First Book
Marketplace, a website offering deeply discounted books and educational
materials exclusively to schools and programs serving kids in need – ensuring
these communities access to affordably priced, relevant resources. Anyone that
works with children in need is eligible to receive drastically reduced cost or
free books from First Book. Sign  up at
Some of the new books include:

  oShooter, Walter Dean Myers (HarperCollins)
  oTofu Quilt, Ching Yueng (Lee & Low Books)
  oIn the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson, Bette Bao Lord
  oThe Storyteller's Candle: La Velita de Los Cuentos, Lucia Gonzalez (Lee &
    Low Books)
  oEl Bronx Remembered: A Novella and Stories, Nicholasa Mohr (HarperCollins)
  oPassage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story, Ken Mochizuki  (Lee & Low Books)

EDITOR'S NOTE: An infographic supporting this news release, titled "The Haves
and the Have Nots: How Books Make a Difference in Children's Lives", is
available for editorial use at the following link:

About First Book
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise working to end the crisis of
knowledge poverty throughout communities in the U.S. and Canada. Through
unprecedented innovations and publishing partnerships, First Book puts quality
books and resources into the hands of children in low income communities,
providing the wealth of knowledge they need to read, learn and succeed. For
more information, please visit us online or follow our latest news on
Facebook, Twitter or the First Book blog.

About HarperCollins Children's Books
HarperCollins Children's Books is one of the leading publishers of children's
books. Respected worldwide for its tradition of publishing quality,
award-winning books for young readers, HarperCollins is home to many timeless
treasures—Charlotte's Web, The Chronicles of Narnia, Goodnight Moon, Where the
Sidewalk Ends, the Ramona series, and Where the Wild Things Are—and popular
new classics—The Graveyard Book, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Warriors, and
Fancy Nancy. Consistently at the forefront of digital innovation,
HarperCollins Children's Books delights young readers through engaging
storytelling in all formats, including ebooks and apps. HarperCollins
Children's Books is a division of HarperCollins Publishers, one of the leading
English-language publishers in the world and a subsidiary of News Corporation
(NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV). Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins
has publishing groups in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia/New Zealand, and
India. You can visit HarperCollins Children's Books at and HarperCollins Publishers at

About Lee & Low Books
LEE & LOW BOOKS was founded in 1991 with the sole mission to meet the need for
stories that children of color can identify with and that all children can
enjoy. We make a special effort to work with writers and illustrators of
color, and take pride in nurturing many talented people who are new to the
world of children's book publishing. Our high quality, award winning and
culturally diverse books are distributed to schools, libraries and bookstores
throughout North America and beyond.You may visit us online at and follow our most recent news on The Open Book Blog
•Twitter • Facebook.

[1]First Book Diversity Survey, 02/25/13


*Statistics are based on the new books received each year at the Cooperative
Children's Book Center. These are the trade books typically available for sale
to public schools and public libraries, as well as some series/formula
non-fiction titles. CCBC does not receive every book published annually,
though receives most of the hardcover books for children and teens from the
major trade book publishers.



Media Contact: Brian Minter,, 202-639-0115 or
202-744-3432 (mobile)

SOURCE First Book

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