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

Wed Mar 13, 2013 8:50am EDT

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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 way."

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 2012:*[3]

* 3% were about Africans/African Americans; 1.8% were written by
Africans/African Americans  
* 1.5% were about Latinos; 1.6% were written by Latinos  
* Less than 1% were about American Indians; less than 1% were written by
American Indians  
* 2% were about Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans; 2.3% were written by
Asian Pacifics/Asian Pacific Americans  
* The 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 Bull"[5]

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. Signup at
Some of the new books include:

* Shooter,  Walter Dean Myers  (HarperCollins)  
* Tofu Quilt,  Ching Yueng  (Lee & Low Books)  
* In the Year of the Boar and  Jackie Robinson,  Bette Bao Lord  (HarperCollins)
* The Storyteller's Candle: La Velita de Los Cuentos,Lucia Gonzalez  (Lee & Low
* El Bronx Remembered: A Novella and Stories,  Nicholasa Mohr  (HarperCollins)  
* Passage 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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