If you’re looking for a list of the best African American children’s book publishers, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ve featured 5 publishing houses and have summarized their publishing activities.
Located in the US, Brown Girls Books is a boutique publishing company established by Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley. Victoria is one of the most renowned African-American novelists in the country and the winner of the Phyllis Wheatley Award, among others, while ReShonda is an award-winning TV and newspaper journalist, and the author of more than 40 books.
In terms of genres, their adult backlist includes books of fiction, faith fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and anthologies. At the same time, they feature a BGB kids & young adult section, where you can find children’s books such as Anything I Wanna Be, by Gloria Clark and Sydni Moore, and The Perfect Present, by Morgan Billingsley, Jackie Lee, and Gabrielle Simone. If you’re curious about their children’s authors, you can read more online.
Unfortunately, they are currently closed to submissions. You can check for any updates here.
With an experience of more than 50 years in the field, Third World Press is a foundation established by Haki R. Madhubuti in 1967 in Chicago, Illinois. Since their targeted market consists of African American readers, it seems rather self-explanatory that their publications tackle African American themes, issues, and critique for the most part – this is because their purpose is that of helping their audience learn about cultural traditions, while also trying to reach people who are either young, or less scholarly-focused.
Besides children’s books, they are also interested in publishing works of fiction, history, poetry, women’s studies, African American studies, psychology, and a few more. However, if young readers are your target audience, make sure to check out some of their titles – My Name Is Oney Judge, by Diane D. Turner, and Black Fairy & Other Plays, by Useni Eugene Perkins are just two worth mentioning.
Before submitting a manuscript, keep in mind that it should be typed, double spaced, and proofread. It should contain a one-page synopsis, a letter regarding your qualifications and the importance of your work, as well as an outline of the intended target market. To learn more about the guidelines, click here.
Founded in 1991, Lee & Low Books is a New York-based multicultural children’s book publisher. The company was named Indie Publisher of the Year by Foreword Magazine in 2014 and it also earned the 2016 Angel Award from the Carle Honors. In terms of goals, they have always strived to produce stories to which all children could relate. At the same time, they always try to provide illustrators of color and unpublished authors with extra support.
Their website features six main categories, respectively PreK – Grade 2, Grades 3 – 6, Grades 6 – 8, Grades 9 – 12, leveled reading, and cultures. The latter includes books of African/African American interest, Asian/Asian American interest, Latino interest, as well as a few others. To get an idea about their interests, you should check out Joshua’s Masai Mask, written by Dakari Hru and illustrated by Anna Rich, and Heroes, written by Ken Mochizuki and illustrated by Dom Lee.
Unfortunately, Lee & Low Books are currently closed to unsolicited submissions, but agented ones are welcome. If you want to learn more, you should read their full guidelines.
Located in West Orange, New Jersey, Just Us Books is a company established by Wade and Cheryl Hudson. Out of the desire to provide children with books which accurately depict Black experiences and heritage, the Hudson’s managed to create a company that is now regarded as a renowned leader in multicultural publishing. They launched their first imprint in 2004, thus being able to bring back numerous out-of-print Black classic books.
When it comes to genres, they feature board & pre-k books, picture books, chapter books, middle grade books, and several others on the website. A few examples of titles which are included on their backlist are Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, written by Cheryl Willis Hudson & Bernette Ford, and illustrated B George Ford, as well as I’m going to be!, written by Wade Hudson and illustrated by Nancy Devard.
At present, Just Us Books accept both agented and unagented queries for middle reader titles (ages 9-12), picture books, and for chapter books (ages 7-9). Each submission should also include 3-5 sample pages and a synopsis of your project. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, your work may be of interest if it involves high-quality writing and cultural authenticity.
The product of Ramunda and Mahogany Young’s desire to empower the people who belong to their culture, Mahogany Books is a publishing company currently located in Washington, DC. Initially an online bookstore, the business has been featured in NBC, Vanity Fair Magazine, the Washington Post, as well as in a few more outlets. At present, Mahogany Books is a publisher that promotes books by, for, and about people of the African Diaspora.
They are mainly interested in fiction, children & young adult, cultural literature, and in nonfiction. The second category involves books for children of ages 0-8, 9-12, as well as for teenagers. A few examples of such titles are Bronzeville – Boys and Girls, written by Gwendolyn Brooks and illustrated by Faith Ringgold, and Malcolm Little: The Little Boy Who Grew Up To Become Malcolm X, written by Ilyasah Shabazz and illustrated by AG Ford.
In order to be able to collaborate with them, your books have to be distributed by their primary vendor, which is Ingram Books Group. If this is the case, feel free to complete and send this form – they will let you know if they’re interested. To learn more, click here.
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