A Conversation with NorthSouth Books

by Ann Parker, Pima Community College, Tucson, AZ

For the month of January I will be exploring several independent book publishing companies that publish multicultural and even bilingual children’s books in the U.S. and that have received national attention for the quality of their books. These companies have not only avoided being bought out by a large conglomerate, they have even been able to successfully compete with some of these larger publishing companies in publishing quality children’s books that sell well. As I discussed in an earlier blog, it is often easier for these independent companies to publish books for “niche” markets such as books from within specific cultural viewpoints, mainly African-American, Asian-American, Native American, and Hispanic. The four companies featured this month are NorthSouth Books, Children’s Book Press, Lee and Low Books, and Just Us Books.
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The Role of Small Presses in Multicultural Children’s Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Last week I shared information that I collected on the role that small, independent book publishers play in publishing multicultural children’s books, particularly bilingual books. In this post I examine the contributions made by small presses and discuss some publishers who are committed to publishing quality children’s books that were originally printed in another country and often in another language.

Not too long ago, as a child growing up in Georgetown, D.C., I remember little Mom and Pop stores located on every corner. My friend Sarah lived near Mrs. Rosen’s store — so close that her mom would send us there on Saturday mornings to get breakfast. You had to ring the bell at Mrs. Rosen’s so she would buzz you in. We had another corner store closer to our home, where my 25 cent weekly allowance would buy a lot of penny candy.
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Creating Book Brands

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

admitoneThis week I want to examine a trend that the large, conglomerate book publishers are using to sell children’s books. This trend is called branding. Branding is a marketing term for the process of creating a brand that encourages people to identify a certain product more quickly. Nike, Coke, and Microsoft are all brands that immediately evoke a particular product –- and a particular feeling about that product. With books, branding means creating other products that tie in with the book. Book publishers and sellers have used tie-ins with book characters for centuries as a strategy to make their books more attractive to the people -– adults and children -– who buy them. There is concern that this practice has gotten so out of control in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that publishers have lost sight of the goal of publishing to produce good literature and have turned it instead into a commodity driven empire. Let me give you some examples.
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Independent Publishers Feature Bilingual Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Last week I discussed how several small, independent presses are publishing bilingual children’s books, often at the request of teachers and librarians within their communities who want to provide books in the languages that their children speak. These smaller companies have found an important economic niche in publishing multicultural books, particularly bilingual books, since the audience for these books is too small for the large conglomerate publishing houses to make publishing these books economically feasible (although more of them are discovering the market for books in Spanish). The smaller companies also have the advantage of being able to work closely with authors and illustrators to ensure that a book is culturally authentic, since they often find authors and illustrators from within their own communities, and can utilize their local resources to ensure that the language and culture portrayed in their books is authentic. For this reason, teachers and librarians can be assured that books published by these smaller companies are culturally authentic. I’d like to look at some of these smaller companies located in the greater Southwest and at some of the outstanding books they are producing.

Probably one of the most well-known independent presses that publishes multicultural and bilingual children’s books is Continue reading

Publishing Bilingual Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Last month, Janine Schall interviewed children’s book writer and illustrator Xavier Garza, who publishes his books in English and in Spanish because he thinks children should be exposed to their first language or to a language other than their own. More and more publishing companies, particularly smaller, independent publishers, are publishing dual language books. This week, I’d like to examine bilingual books and the role they can play in the classroom. Next week, I’ll focus on some of the outstanding bilingual books that are being published by independent publishers.

For my doctoral dissertation, I interviewed people from five publishing companies (Cinco Puntos Press, Luna Rising, Salina Bookshelf, Piñata Books, Children’s Book Press, and the University of New Mexico Press) to learn why they were publishing multicultural children’s books generally and bilingual books specifically. I found that most of them considered these books to be a niche market, because the big conglomerate publishing companies, whose interest is mainly in how many books they can sell, weren’t interested in books that had such a small buying audience from the outset. Interestingly enough, several national companies, such as Scholastic, have decided that there is a big enough market for Spanish language books (see Scholastic en Español), but the smaller companies also publish books in Native American and Asian languages as well as other languages from around the world.
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Wishing for Books

by Ann Parker, The University of Arizona

Parker Wishes, children’s wishes for booksI wish I had a book.

I wish for all kids around the world to have books.

I wish I had an endless supply of books.

I wish that I could have history books.

I wish everyone would read a book they enjoy!

I wish everyone could read.I whish I could red a book for the world.

Reading and own lots of books.

I wish I could levetat when ever Id wish.

I wish animals and I could talk.

I mirmaid real.

I wish for a dinosaur.

I wish I could fly!
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