Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Must read article on publisher LEE & LOW’s blog: Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?

One of the few minority-owned publishing companies in the United States, co-founded in 1991 by Tom Low and Philip Lee, LEE & LOW Books is an independent multicultural children’s book publisher whose goal is to publish stories all children can relate to. Since its first list, in 1993, LEE & LOW has published an impressive lineup of over 200 titles, many of which have been translated to Spanish and won a number of major awards and honors. In 2000, LEE & LOW launched the imprint BEBOP BOOKS, which extends the company’s mission by bringing diverse stories to children who are just beginning to read.

In 2010, TU PUBLISHING, an independent press focusing on diverse fantasy, science fiction, and mystery for middle grade and young adult readers, was acquired and in 2012 Children’s Book Press (CBP), the first multicultural children’s book publisher in the United States, became an imprint of LEE & LOW. Read PaperTigers’ 2010 Q and A session with Jason Low of LEE & LOW here.

Week-end Book Review: ‘The Dragon Slayer’ and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom by Shiho S. Nunes, illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Reprinted with permission from Asian Review of Books. For more reviews from this source, click here.

Chinese Fables

Shiho S. Nunes, illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard,
Chinese Fables: ‘The Dragon Slayer’ and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom
Tuttle Publishing, 2013.
Reviewed by Karmel Schreyer

1 June 2013 — When there is so little on the television, in film and in popular music to assist parents with the task of teaching their children values education these days, it is good to know that we can still turn to books. Fables, fairy stories, and other “cautionary tales” have of course served that purpose well over the generations: Tortoise and the Hare, The Greedy Dog, The Gingerbread Man… we remember them well, and as parents we can tell many of these stories, as well as their underlying second (moral) meanings, to our children without the help of a picture book.

Still, a pretty picture book is a nice thing to have when you are snuggled in bed, shoulder to shoulder. Because, as any multi-tasking mum will know, why stop with just entertainment and values education at bedtime when you can also use the opportunity to get a bit of reading / learning in—or art appreciation! And here’s where Shiho S. Nunes’ book comes in.

If you are more than familiar with the offerings of Aesop and Grimm, then you will enjoy the chance to add to your repertoire with this assortment of stories of Oriental wisdom. The 19 stories in this lovely hardbound, four-color illustrated book are a fresh take on some age-old ideas. The level of writing is quite sophisticated, and the wording concise, a good choice if you are wishing to advance your child’s word power. Also, these stories are not drawn out—all the stories are only from one to three pages in length—which makes it a perfect collection for sleepy kids, or for young children with short attention spans.

You will notice a lot of overlap with some of your own favorite fables—and even some new, and very famous, modern stories. My own favorite in this collection might be “The King of Beasts”—about a fox caught by a hungry lion. The sly fox convinces the lion to let him go, so he can prove to the dubious lion that he is the most feared animal in the forest. The lion agrees to follow the fox through the forest, and is gobsmacked when every one of the forest creatures scurries away from the fox in fear, just as the sly animal had predicted. “Astounding!…” said the…

Part of the fun of this book may also be in figuring out where we’ve heard this before.


Karmel Schreyer is the author of Empress Emi-poo: A story about learning to love your potty, and Empress Blaze Moon: A Story about never giving up.

© 2013 The Asian Review of Books.

paw_sm3 Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard is currently featured in our Illustrators Gallery. Click here to read our interview with her and see a gallery of her work.

Hats off to First Book for their amazing “The Stories for All Project” and to winning publishers Lee and Low Books and HarperCollins!

Friday, March 15th, 2013

the stories for all project

First Book is a non profit organization located in the USA and Canada whose mission is to provide  new books to children in need. Founded in 1992 by First Book President Kyle Zimmer and two friends, First Book addresses one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books. An innovative leader in social enterprise, First Book has distributed more than 100 million free and low cost books in thousands of communities in North America.

Turning kids into strong readers is, as First Book says, “the critical step to succeeding in school and in life. But all too often the children we work with have books with characters and stories that aren’t relevant to their lives. And that makes it harder to turn them on to reading.* So today we are announcing an extraordinary step toward remedying this problem: The Stories for All Project.

Here’s the press release:

The Stories for All Project

We are not the first people to complain and worry about this issue. So we knew if we were actually going to make a difference we needed a market-driven solution. In short, we needed to put our money where our mouth is.

We reached out to the publishing industry with the offer to purchase $500,000 worth of books featuring voices that are rarely represented in children’s literature: minorities, characters of color, and others whose experiences resonate with the children we serve. The response was overwhelming. In fact, we received so many great proposals that we decided to double our commitment, purchasing $500,000 worth of new titles from both HarperCollins and Lee & Low Books — $1 million worth of books altogether. We’ll be able to offer hundreds of thousands of new books to the kids we serve.

With these major purchases, First Book is continuing to harness market forces to create social change; by aggregating the untapped demand for books and resources in thousands of low-income communities, we’re helping to create a new market for the publishing industry. When that happens, they respond by publishing more titles with more relevant content. Everyone really does win, and that’s how you make real, systemic change both possible and sustainable.

This is an exciting step! But it’s just the beginning. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days and weeks about The Stories for All Project.

Join us! If you work with children from low-income neighborhoods, or know someone who does, sign up with First Book today. We have books for you too.

* In a recent survey of more than 2,000 educators from 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 their neighborhoods

Must read literacy articles in the The New York Times.

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Two must read articles recently published in the The New York Times: For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing and Books to Match Diverse Young Readers. “Introductory chapter books aimed at second, third and fourth grade readers overwhelmingly reflect a suburban milieu with white protagonists.  Students of other races and ethnicities seldom encounter characters like themselves in books, and some education experts say that can be an obstacle to literacy.” Read what teachers, students, parents and literacy advocates have to say about this and then use The New York Times interactive page to click on book titles that feature main characters who are black, Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native and read the beginning of each book.

CBC (Children’s Book Council) Diversity Committee

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Earlier this year the Children’s Book Council (located in the USA) launched the  CBC Diversity Committee in order to:

increase the diversity of voices and experiences contributing to children’s literature. To create this change, the Committee strives to build awareness that the nature of our society must be represented within the children’s publishing industry.

We endeavor to encourage diversity of race, gender, geographical origin, sexual orientation, and class among both the creators of and the topics addressed by children’s literature. We strive for a more diverse range of employees working within the industry, of authors and illustrators creating inspiring content, and of characters depicted in children’s literature.

Click here to visit the CBC Diversity Committee Blog and here to access their Resources page which contains information put together by the Committee for anyone interested in producing, promoting, buying, or writing diverse books for children.

Click here to read John A. Sellers’ recent Publisher Weekly article CBC Diversity Committee: Starting Conversations and Building a Following.

Asian Festival of Children’s Content, Singapore ~ Day 1

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I’ve just arrived in Singapore to take part in the upcoming Asian Festival of Children’s Content and thought I would post a few pictures taken during my first afternoon in the city. I’ve only been here a few hours and to say I’m impressed would be an understatement. Singapore is amazing! The weather is beautiful, the people so friendly and the city itself is stunning: modern highrises mixed with colonial buildings, multicultural enclaves such as Chinatown and Little India, all surrounded by immaculate parks and tropical greenery.

The first two photos were taken at Vancouver International Airport and show the First Nations artwork which is highlighted throughout the terminal, then it’s on to Singapore. Enjoy!

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Thailand Reading Association's Literacy Conference

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

The Thailand Reading Association recently held a two day conference entitled “Reading Literacy for Quality Education”. One of the organizers, Tuk, has just informed me that photos and information from the conference (including downloadable speeches and reports) are available here on the Thailand Reading Association’s website and also here on Tuk’s blog.

October Literary Events in India: Voices from the North East and the Pushkar Literature Festival

Monday, October 5th, 2009

On October 13th and 14th, Siyahi, India’s leading literary agency, and India Habitat Centre are presenting Voices from the North East, a focused literary meet on the stories, tales and folk narratives of North East India. The event will take place at India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

The verdant Seven Sister States from the North East of India have a unique indigenous culture where myths, oral traditions, legends and folklore are commonplace and yet unique. Voices from the North East will take into account the quantum of diversity in art and culture in this region which is evident from the multitude of languages and ethnic groups. It will deal with the art of storytelling in context to the development of North Eastern culture and civilization. Authors, poets, storytellers and performers will engage audiences in a cultural dialogue and help them to understand the North Eastern literature in all its myriad forms and dimensions.

Siyahi is also hosting the Pushkar Literature Festival on October 31st during the International Pushkar Fair. For one day, writers, poets, book lovers, publishers, performers and storytellers will be brought together to add to the mesmerizing riot of colours, textures, hues and flavours that come alive during the International Pushkar Fair. This literary event will help explore and discover the meeting points between contemporary literature and folklore, oral traditions, legends, myths and languages, which precisely define the spirit of Pushkar.

For up-to-date information about these events including detailed programmes and photos, visit Siyahi’s Facebook page.

Check out this article recently published in the Vancouver Sun….

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

“Kids’ character builds cultural bridges. Trevor Lai working to bring Ralphy the Rhino to children on both sides of the Pacific” by reporter Joanne Lee-Young. Trevor’s books and his storybook character Ralphy have proven to be real hit especially amongst Asian ESL students. To visit Trevor’s website click here.

Congratulations, Children's Book Press!

Monday, September 21st, 2009

The San Francisco Foundation Community Leadership Awards annually recognize organizations and individuals who have made a significant impact in Bay Area communities. This year, one of the organizations being honored is Children’s Book Press, the first independednt, non-profit publisher of bilingual, multicultural literature for children, established in 1976. PaperTigers congratulates Children’s Book Press on this wonderful and well-deserved honor!

Here is the judges’ statement about the impact CBP has had in its community—and no doubt beyond it, too:

For the past 33 years Children’s Book Press has served as a vehicle for civil rights, human rights, and social justice, with a profound impact on the children, youth, and adults who better understand their own lives and histories as a result of its bilingual, multicultural books. Children’s Book Press builds the connection between literacy and success, preserves traditions, and helps build a stronger future for our children.

For those in the Bay Area, the award ceremony will take place tomorrow, Sep 22, at the San Francisco Herbst Theater. To attend the event, you can rsvp using this page.