Tags: Africa, African Bureau Stories, children's books, diversity, Ghana, Golden Baobab, inclusivity, Pushkin Press, UK, YA. Bringing African Authors to a Worldwide Audience A s conversations about children’s and young adult books are underway at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. More from Publishing Perspectives on diversity in publishing is here and on Africa is here. “The Golden Baobab Prize was started 10 years ago when Internet access was just penetrating the African continent,” she said. “Our mission,” she said, “is to reach as many writers working in the field of children’s literature on the [African] continent as possible and to find ways of helping some of those writers find worldwide publication.”. 4.8 out of 5 stars 187. What’s behind this recent rise in diversity-oriented publishing? “And publishers can see the commercial reality reflected back at them.”. This gorgeous book tells the stories of 40 black women who have … Without diverse books, what we are telling children is, ‘Hey look, the world looks only like the people you read about.’”. Through Odedina, Pushkin Press plans to publish some of the titles in the UK, and the pair is also reaching out to their network of industry contacts to find additional US and UK publishers for their chosen African titles. “At the time we started,” said Ahenkorah, “there was no real conversation about diverse books happening anywhere. Ahenkorah said she feels “a deep frustration and disappointment with the fact that children are not being given windows into the world as it really looks. To complement the work of Golden Baobab, Ahenkorah launched her publishing company, African Bureau Stories, in 2015, publishing African authors exclusively. Odedina’s long career in children’s book publishing includes stints at Penguin Books and Orchard Books. literary festival in Accra. The Best Black Children’s Books 1. Lullaby (for a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes, Illustrated by Sean Qualls. One Love (Music Books for Children, African American Baby Books, Bob Marley Book for Kids) Cedella Marley. And while these books are vital tools to educate and inform, amplifying black voices also means seeking out novels and short stories by black authors that show a diversity of experience. Sarah Odedina, an editor-at-large for Pushkin Children’s Books in the UK, and Deborah Ahenkorah, founder of Golden Baobab and publisher at African Bureau Stories in Ghana, first met at a conference in Singapore, and then again at the 2018 Pa Gya! Wanting to see more African characters in children’s books—both in Africa and internationally—publishers Sarah Odedina and Deborah Ahenkorah have formed a new partnership. The main thing will to be to find all the authors we work with the right home.”. She also helped launch Hot Key Books and now works on Pushkin Press’s children’s book program. “The demand is too loud now and too viable to be ignored, and the industry is responding. Just want to add Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon (more for high schoolers), Barracoon by Zora Neale Hurston, Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, and Crossover by Kwame Alexander. In recent years, the UK publishing industry, in particular, has made a broad and public effort to embrace diversity, both in terms of the books published and hiring decisions. Middle Readers Book 3) Rita Williams-Garcia. June 8, 2020 5:59pm /Reply.
A few of the African authors the pair has on their radar right now include Ruby Goka, “who writes fabulous books for teens and young adults,” said Odedina; Dela Avemega, writer and illustrator of books for preschool children about life in Accra; and Bontle Senne, South African author of middle-grade books “the world should watch out for,” said Ahenkorah. We live in a capitalist world, and the easiest way to move the cursor of supply is with demand. Please, Baby, Please, by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee. Publishing Perspectives | 30 Irving Place, 4th Floor, New York NY, 10003 | +1-212-794-2851 |. One when I was told by a salesperson that ‘books with black people on the covers don’t sell,’ and another by a publisher who said that she didn’t publish books with black children in them because ‘she didn’t get those kinds of texts.’”, “Both comments,” Odedina said, “indicated a total lack of respect and understanding of the audience that existed and exist for books with diverse characters. Outreach plans, said Odedina, include meetings at book fairs, “talking with publisher friends, and all the usual ways of helping find co-publishers for the books. Sarah Odedina (left) and Deborah Ahenkorah are working together to build international recognition for African children’s book authors. Then it started online … parents, readers, librarians, and book lovers who have for a very long time not understood why there were not enough diverse books, could talk to each other, organize, advocate, talk loudly; and all of that is what has crescendoed into the response we now see from mainstream publishing. We will possibly appoint a sub-agent in the USA to represent the titles to American publishers and possibly the same in the UK. Along the lines of the kind of author mentorship that Ahenkorah already provides through the Golden Baobab Prize, this new venture aims to identify and publish African writers from across the continent. Before joining PP in 2009, she worked as Project Manager at the German Book Office New York. She was the publisher at Bloomsbury Children’s for 14 years, during which time she worked on each of the Harry Potter books. “But there aren’t enough voices in that canon for children to enjoy. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena (Goodreads Author) 3. Gone Crazy in Alabama (Ala Notable Children's Books. It was the only way we could be a truly pan-African prize, given that we were run by a small team. Odedina added, “I have read world literature for as long as I can remember because I want to read about the world. Ahenkorah’s children’s book publishing company, African Bureau Stories, will publish the selected titles in the African market. “We are discovering authors from Africa, providing mentorship, and then publishing their work,” Ahenkorah told Publishing Perspectives. But why now? “We put in the work to make sure that the books have a global reach but also a very African reach.”.
Fortunately (hopefully) those conversations are less likely to be had today because the audience is there and is demanding that books are available for them and their families. This adorable tale written by acclaimed … Hannah Johnson is the Publisher of Publishing Perspectives. African writers from Buchi Emecheta, Amos Tutuola, Ama Ata Aidoo and Ousmane Sembene as well as more contemporary voices like Ayesha Harruna Attah, Ayobami Adebayo and Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi are a fantastic part of our global literary culture. Board book. More on the ongoing Bologna Children’s Book Fair this week is here. “We designed the prize to function completely online: receiving submissions, jury meetings, and even announcing winners of the prize. It’s almost as if technology came and fueled demand for diverse books, which always existed but was latent.”, Odedina, looking back on her career, recalled a time when publishing wasn’t responsive to diverse stories or characters: “I remember two conversations very vividly. Brown Boy Joy by Dr. Thomishia Booker. Dismayed by a lack of black characters in books available to African children, Ahenkorah founded her literary nonprofit organization Golden Baobab in 2008 with the goal of supporting African writers and increasing the number of African books on the market. An adorable little picture book about all the things that brown boys love. During that second meeting, the two realized they shared a similar ambition to get more African writers published and recognized internationally, Odedina told Publishing Perspectives. Ahenkorah attributes this recent realization of the importance of diversity to technology and online communication.
“Our meeting, which was scheduled for an hour, went on all day,” said Odedina. Similar changes are taking place in other book markets as well. 4.8 out of 5 stars 1,796. Both Ahenkorah and Odedina have impressive backgrounds in the book world. Sign up to get our FREE email edition, Monday to Friday! Despite the rising desire for stories told by diverse authors, Ahenkorah and Odedina believe there is still a lot of work to be done to meet that demand. Little Leaders, by Vashti Harrison. That’s what ww’d like to work on to change.”. Taken from the poem by Langston Hughes... 2. “We hatched the plan to work together on bringing African writers for young readers to a worldwide audience and we haven’t stopped since. this week, a cross-continental publishing duo has launched a cooperation to mentor African children’s book authors and publish their books in the US, UK and across the African continent.
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