Press

January 19, 2011

Rally Cry For Reading
The Brown Bookshelf Announces 2011 Spotlight Authors & Illustrators

Today, The Brown Bookshelf announced the twenty-four authors and four illustrators to be spotlighted in the group’s fourth annual 28 Days Later initiative, a month-long celebration of veteran and emerging children’s authors of color. “Four years in and spotlighting authors of color is as important as ever,” said Brown Bookshelf member, Paula Chase Hyman. “It was especially heartening to see so many young adult authors submitted this year. This is the first time that we had more YA authors submitted than Picture Books. As much as we want to see balance, no doubt it’s progress that a category that averaged a handful of submissions was the top submission getter.”

Spotlight suggestions from faithful Brown Bookshelf visitors began rolling in soon after the submissions window opened in September.  Readers, librarians, teachers and writers of children’s literature stepped up to suggest names of African American authors they felt were not getting enough exposure. “There’s always a question of how ‘under the radar’ an author or illustrator is, but those submitting are passionate about their suggestions,” said member, Kelly Starling-Lyons. “Whether it’s a brand-new author or someone who has been toiling in the trenches, it feels good to see so many worthy nominees.”

The authors and the day they will be featured are as follows:
Vanguard authors in bold.
Illustrators in italics.

Feb. 1 – Ebony Joy Wilkins (YA)
Feb. 2 – Randy DuBurke– (Illustrator)
Feb. 3 – Toyomi Igus – (PB)
Feb. 4 – Hope Anita Smith – (MG)
Feb. 5 – Renee Watson – (PB)
Feb. 6 – Wade and Cheryl Hudson – (PB)
Feb. 7 – Christopher Grant – (YA)
Feb. 8 – Crystal Allen – (MG)
Feb. 9 – Artist Arthur – (YA)
Feb. 10 – Vanessa Brantly Newton – (Illustrator)
Feb. 11 – Marie Bradby – (PB)
Feb. 12 – Torrey Maldonado – (MG)
Feb. 13 – Reshonda Tate Billingsley – (YA )
Feb. 14 – Ernest Hill – (YA)
Feb. 15 – Lynn Joseph – (MG)
Feb. 16 – Kevin Lewis – (PB)
Feb. 17 – E.B. Lewis – (Illustrator)
Feb. 18 – Joyce Carol Thomas – (PB)
Feb. 19 – Rachel Renee Russell – (MG)
Feb. 20 – Frank Morrison – (Illustrator)
Feb. 21 – Adwoa Badoe – (YA)
Feb. 22- Sharon Dennis Wyeth – (MG)
Feb. 23 – Dia Reeves – (YA)
Feb. 24 – Gwendolyn Hooks – (PB)
Feb. 25 – Harriet Robinet – (MG)
Feb. 26 – Jewell Parker Rhodes – (MG)
Feb. 27 – Dimitrea Tokunbo- (PB)
Feb. 28 – Lori Aurelia Williams – (YA)

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January 18, 2010

Saluting The Unsung
The Brown Bookshelf Announces 2010 Spotlight Authors & Illustrators

Today, The Brown Bookshelf announced the twenty-four authors and four illustrators to be spotlighted in the groups’ third annual 28 Days Later initiative, a month-long celebration of veteran and emerging children’s authors of color. “Recognizing these authors and illustrators is as important now as it was when we began the initiative in 2007,” said Brown Bookshelf member, Varian Johnson. “Like many industries, publishing has felt the recession’s crunch. So it’s no surprise that it would also adversely affect authors of color. We remain committed to beating the drum so word spreads about African American authors that focus their work on children’s literature.”

When submissions opened in September, readers and writers of children’s literature stepped up to suggest names of African American authors they felt were flying under the radar of librarians, teachers and parents. “Although a percentage of nominees are repeats or have already been honored in our last two campaigns, we’re discovering a handful of gems that few readers know about, every year,” said member, Don Tate. “I have mixed feelings every time I see a name I’m unfamiliar with. On one hand it’s wonderful to know there are that many folks out there published in the children’s lit arena. On the other, you wonder – why hadn’t I heard of them?”

Once the Brown Bookshelf membership (now six strong with the addition of Middle Grade author, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Picture Book author, Tameka Fryer Brown) received the names, it was no easy task to cull them down to only four illustrators and eight authors per category. “There’s so much talent among the candidates nominated. It’s a struggle to not give in and say, let’s showcase all of them,” said new member, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich. “I’ve followed 28 Days Later annually, and I can honestly say this year’s selections are as deserving as previous years. I’m honored to have been part of the process.”

Member Don Tate will once again design a 28 Days Later poster featuring the honorees. It will be available for download at http://www.thebrownbookshelf.com.

This year, a copy of each featured author/illustrator’s work will be donated to Color Online, a community organization dedicated to empowering young women. Color Online operates a library and offers support to young girls at local non-profits in Detroit.

The authors, their most current book and the day they will be featured are as follows:
Vanguard authors in bold.
Illustrators in italics.

Feb. 1 – Marguerite Abouet (YA) AYA: The Secrets Come Out
Feb. 2 – AG Ford – (PB) Michelle
Feb. 3 – Kekla Magoon – (MG) The Rock & The River
Feb. 4 – Sharon Flake – (YA) Begging For Change
Feb. 5 – Natasha Tarpley – (PB) The Princess and the Frog: Princess Tiana and the Royal Ball
Feb. 6 – Dwayne Ferguson – (MG) Kid Caramel Series
Feb. 7 – Bernette Ford – (PB) Ballet Kitty: Play Book
Feb. 8 – Yasmin Shiraz – (YA) Retaliation
Feb. 9 – Shadra Strickland – (PB) A Place Where Hurricanes Happen
Feb. 10 – Sandra Belton – (MG) The Tallest Tree
Feb. 11 – Debbie Rigaud – (YA) Perfect Shot
Feb. 12 – Tony Medina – (PB) I and I, Bob Marley
Feb. 13 – Sharon Bell Mathis – (MG ) The Hundred Penny Box
Feb. 14 – Christine Taylor-Butler – (MG) Sacred Mountain
Feb. 15 – Tonya Hegamin – (YA) Pemba’s Song: A Love Story
Feb. 16 – Eric Velasquez – (PB) My Friend Maya Loves to Dance
Feb. 17 – Dinah Johnson – (PB) Black Magic
Feb. 18 – M. LaVora Perry – (MG) Taneesha Never Disparaging
Feb. 19 – Freddi Williams Evans – (PB) Hush Harbor
Feb. 20 – Janet McDonald – (YA) Off-Color
Feb. 21 – Jerdine Nolen – (PB) Pitching in for Eubie
Feb. 22- Jaimee Adoff – (YA) The Death of Jayson Porter
Feb. 23 – Cozbi Cabrera – (PB) Most Loved in all the World
Feb. 24 – Nikki Grimes- (MG) Rich: A Dyamonde Daniel Book
Feb. 25 – Martin Mordecai – (MG) Blue Mountain Trouble
Feb. 26 – Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard – (PB) Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys
Feb. 27 – Denene Millner & Mitzi Miller- (YA) Hotlanta Series
Feb. 28 – Charles R. Smith, Jr. – (PB) Dance With Me

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November 11, 2009

Meet The New “Kids” On Our Block
Brown Bookshelf Expands Membership

There comes a time in every organization’s existence where it must take inventory and ask what could it do to operate more effectively? The time for The Brown Bookshelf arrived several weeks ago, when inaugural member Carla Sarratt resigned from the group due to time constraints. “Losing Carla was a real blow because she was a go-to member when it came to juggling the details and legwork,” says founding member, Paula Chase Hyman. “And The Brown Bookshelf is a lot of details and legwork. But we’d been thinking about expanding for a year now, so Carla’s departure was the impetus to consider it more seriously.”

Rounding out membership meant identifying authors of color who were not only actively writing and publishing children’s works, but willing to take on the group’s volunteer efforts to showcase other children’s authors of color. “It’s a double-edged sword because you’re recruiting an author while they’re immersed in writing new books and/or promoting them,” says founding member, Varian Johnson. “You’re asking them to add one more, very time consuming, thing onto their plates. There are plenty of viable candidates, but only a select few are willing to manage the additional workload.”

The select few who answered the call were debut middle grade author, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and debut Picture Book author, Tameka F. Brown, two very active members of The Association of Children’s Authors and Illustrators of Color (ACAIC). “Sometimes things work out picture perfect. We’ve needed another dedicated middle grade writer on the team for some time now,” says founding member, Kelly Starling-Lyons. “And the insight of another Picture Book author is essential because the bulk of our submissions for 28 Days Later are picture books. Olugbemisola and Tameka’s backgrounds matched our needs and, fortunate for us, they believed in our mission enough to join us.”

A long-time mentor and advisor to youth, Rhuday-Perkovich’s debut, Eighth-Grade Superzero (Arthur A. Levine) will debut January 1, 2010. She’s also written for a variety of lifestyle and pop culture magazines including American Baby and Word Up! “In a short time, The Brown Bookshelf established itself as a precious and dynamic force in the publishing world. From the beginning, they were unstoppable,” says, Rhuday-Perkovich. “They’ve maintained a commitment to quality and education that I have long admired and am so grateful for. I’m truly honored to be offered this opportunity to join them in highlighting the diverse array of work by Black authors and illustrators across the Diaspora.”

Brown also has an extensive background mentoring young people, both professionally as a Teacher’s assistant and through her church as Sunday School Teacher and Youth Counselor. While she awaits her Fall 2010 debut of, Around Our Way (Abrams Books for Young Readers), she’s been busy with AuthorsNow, a marketing co-op of children’s authors debuting in 2010. Of being a part of the group, Brown says, “It was an honor to receive the invitation from The Brown Bookshelf. In the two years of its existence, BBS has done a phenomenal job of enhancing the visibility of many prolific authors and illustrators. I’m excited about making my contribution to this important endeavor.”

Brown and Rhuday-Perkovich join as the group burrows deep into submissions for the third annual 28 Days Later. “It’s akin to baptism by fire,” says founding member, Don Tate. “The best way to understand what the Brown Bookshelf is about is to jump right in and get your hands dirty. They’ll feel like they’ve run a marathon, come March, but we’re excited to have Tameka and Olugbemisola in the trenches with us.”

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September 21, 2009

On The Troll Again

Brown Bookshelf Opens Submissions for 2010 28 Days Later Campaign

“Third one’s the charm,” the old saying goes. So The Brown Bookshelf (BBS), a website designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, will open submissions for its third annual 28 Days Later Campaign on September 28, 2009 with hopes for its deepest candidate pool, yet. “I go into each year thinking, who’s left that we haven’t highlighted – because the number of African Americans writing for children isn’t huge,” says BBS member and author/illustrator, Don Tate. “And then I’m happily baffled to see the submissions stream in with names of authors I’m unfamilar with.”

Although the first two 28 Days Later campaigns, Black History Month spotlights of 24 authors and four illustrators of color, succeeded in highlighting illustrators such as London Ladd and Nicole Tadgell, trailblazing authors such as Patricia McKissack and Rita Williams-Garcia and rising talents like Tanita S. Davis and Coe Booth, submissions were down. “We had two hundred submissions our first year. But only about half that in ’09,” says BBS member and Picture Book author, Kelly Starling Lyons. “I believe there are many out there who need and deserve the spotlight. We just need them brought to our attention.”

Created just two years ago to inform librarians, teachers and parents of books written by African American authors, The Brown Bookshelf has featured nearly eighty authors and illustrators. The primary focus of 28 Days Later is on African American authors. But from its inception, members of The Brown Bookshelf have joined forces with other authors of color and members of the children’s literature community to advocate for both more diverse literature and an increase in marketing for books by authors of color. “The Liar book cover controversy reinforces that there are still plenty of systemic challenges when it comes to books centered on a person of color,” says BBS Co-founder and Young Adult author, Varian Johnson. “The Brown Bookshelf is dedicated to being a voice that doesn’t shy away from those challenges.”

To stay abreast of the state of authors of color, members of The Brown Bookshelf steep themselves in the children’s literature community and current publishing industry events. According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s annual study, of the 3,000 books submitted for the survey, 83 books were by African Americans and 172 about them. While those numbers are still low, they indicate a slight increase, from 2007, in both categories. “A seven percent increase isn’t necessarily a victory, considering the number of books by Black authors hovered in the high 90’s between 1994 and 2001,” says BBS member and Young Adult author, Carla Sarratt. “But the numbers didn’t decrease, this year. We want to continue to see the numbers increase and visibility of the books availab le may help with that.”

The Brown Bookshelf’s mission remains to make more people aware of the rich selection of children’s books by and about African Americans. The annual 28 Days Later initiative will feature under-promoted and little-known black authors and illustrators alongside vanguard African American authors. To successfully fulfill that mission, the group is calling for submissions for the 2010 28 Days Later campaign. Submissions can be submitted through the website www.Thebrownbookshelf.com or at thebrownbookshelf at gmail dot com from September 28 through November 1, 2009.

Guidelines from previous years remain intact:
– Seeking authors and illustrators of African or African-American descent
– Only one submission per author necessary.
– Submissions are accepted from individuals, librarians and teachers and are encouraged from publishers.
– Traditionally-published authors may nominate themselves.
– Self-published spotlights are by invitation only.

The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, is a month-long showcase of some of the best Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written by African American authors.

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February 9, 2009

The Cobblers Children Have Shoes

Brown Bookshelf Members Talk A Little Bit About…Themselves

Although dedicated to uplifting African American creators of children’s lit, twenty-eight authors at a time, the members of the Brown Bookshelf are about to give loyal visitors to the site a peek “behind the curtain.”

“When you dedicate four months to researching authors and illustrators and another month to interviewing them, it’s easy to fall victim to the cliche, the cobblers children have no shoes,” says BBS member, Paula Chase Hyman. “As we prepare for 28 Days Later we don’t give much thought to talking about ourselves…so we wanted to have a little fun with it.”

March second, the Monday immediately following the 28 Days Later campaign, the blog will launch a week-long feature, Meet The Brown Bookshelf, highlighting factoids about the members, their books and their publishing experience.

“We’ve had folks nominate us for the 28 Days Later campaign, which is an honor we choose not to accept,” says member, Carla Sarratt. “We’d rather keep the focus on the many other authors out there in need of good word-of-mouth. Meet The Brown Bookshelf is a good way to share more about ourselves, once our flagship initiative ends.”

Commenters at the blog during the week of March first will be eligible for a drawing to receive books by Brown Bookshelf members.

(end)
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January 19, 2009

Arming The Gatekeepers
The Brown Bookshelf Announces 2009 Spotlight Authors & Illustrators

The Brown Bookshelf, today, announced the twenty-four authors and four illustrators to be spotlighted in the groups’ second annual 28 Days Later initiative, a month-long celebration of veteran and emerging children’s authors of color. “Spotlighting these authors is like giving a big gift to the readers of the world,” said Brown Bookshelf member, Paula Chase Hyman. “There’s a palpable excitement when we talk about showcasing authors, some who are potentially unknown or not well known among librarians, teachers and parents.”

Once again writers, publishers and readers of children’s literature answered the groups’ call to present African American authors who may be flying under the radar of librarians and teachers. Close to one hundred names of Picture Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult authors were submitted at the Brown Bookshelf website. “Admittedly the submission pool was not as deep as this year,” said Brown Bookshelf member, Varian Johnson. “That was disappointing. But it only meant we had to dig deeper this year to identify who was out there that needed to be put in front of readers and influencers.”

The five members — Hyman, Johnson, Carla Sarratt, Don Tate and Kelly Starling Lyons — culled submitted names down to eight authors per literary category via research, speaking to booksellers and librarians and using circulation and library inventory data. “There’s something momentous about unveiling this year’s roster at the same time that we’re about to welcome an African American president who also happens to be an author,” said member Sarratt. “The time is ripe for people to embrace authors of color. So we’re excited to put these talented authors and illustrators in front of potential readers of all races.”

Member Tate will design a color 28 Days Later poster featuring the honorees. It will be available for download at http://www.thebrownbookshelf.com.

The authors, their most current book and the day they will be featured are as follows:

Authors in bold are veteran authors
Illustrators are in italics

Feb. 1 Sharon Draper
Feb.2 Crystal Hubbard
Feb.3 Nicole Tagdell
Feb.4 Tia Williams
Feb.5 Julius Lester
Feb.6 Philana Marie Boles
Feb.7 Zetta Elliott
Feb.8 Angela Johnson
Feb.9 Pat Cummings
Feb.10 Floyd Cooper
Feb.11 Tanita S. Davis
Feb.12 Derrick Barnes
Feb.13 Brenda Woods
Feb.14 Greg Foley
Feb.15 Joyce Hansen
Feb.16 Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
Feb.17 London Ladd
Feb.18 Marilyn Nelson
Feb.19 Andrea Davis Pinkney
Feb.20 Deborah Gregory
Feb.21 Evelyn Coleman
Feb.22 Jacqueline Woodson
Feb.23 Lesa Cline-Ransome
Feb.24 Cornelius Van Wright
Feb.25 Sherri Winston
Feb.26 Shelia P. Moses
Feb.27 Monalisa DeGross
Feb.28 Monica McKayhan

(end)
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September 23, 2008

In the Trenches Trolling for Gems
Brown Bookshelf Opens Submissions for 2009 28 Days Later Campaign

When The Brown Bookshelf (BBS), a website designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers, launched last Fall, the founders knew they were filling a void. But the authors, Varian Johnson, Paula Chase, Carla Sarratt, and Kelly Starling Lyons and author/illustrator, Don Tate had no idea the void’s magnitude, until they were already knee deep in submissions. “Nearly two hundred author names were submitted in a thirty-day window,” says BBS Co-founder and Young Adult author, Paula Chase. “I don’t think I’ve ever been able to name two hundred African American children’s authors and, no surprise, many of them were authors I’d never heard of.”

The five-member Brown Bookshelf went on to cull those two hundred names down to twenty-eight authors and four illustrators, which they spotlighted through interviews in February, as a complement to Black History Month. The site has drawn over 44,000 views since it launched and has fast become a source for librarians and parents seeking diverse literature for their young readers – and not a second too soon. “The numbers of books published by people of African descent remains stagnant, according to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center’s annual study,” says Co-founder and Young Adult author, Varian Johnson. “Of the 3,000 books submitted for the survey, only seventy-seven were by African Americans, down 12% from their 2006 numbers. So either CCBC is not receiving the titles upon calling for books or the numbers are truly decreasing.”

The Brown Bookshelf’s mission to make more people aware of the rich selection of children’s books by and about African Americans remains on course. 28 Days Later will feature under-promoted and little known authors and illustrators alongside vanguard authors. With steady web traffic and a loyal following of librarians, the group is calling for submissions for the 2009 28 Days Later campaign. Submissions can be submitted through the website The Brown Bookshelf dot com or at thebrownbookshelf@gmail.com from September 29 through November 1, 2008.

Guidelines from 2007 remain intact:
– Seeking authors and illustrators of African or African-American descent
– Only one submission per author necessary.
– Submissions are accepted from individuals, librarians and teachers and are encouraged from publishers.
– Traditionally-published authors may nominate themselves.
– Self-published spotlights are by invitation only.

“It was amazing to see the breadth and depth of African American children’s literature through last year’s submissions,” says, Co-founder and Author/Illustrator, Don Tate. “If five authors were rocked by being exposed to so many great books, imagine how a reader feels having these new doors opened to them. We’re ready to shine the light on more deserving authors and illustrators.”

The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, is a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written by African American authors.

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March 1, 2008

February’s Over…But We’re Not Done

We hope we’ve armed readers and influencers alike with an arsenal of choices for reading recommendations. We look forward to making 28 Days Later an annual initiative. But we’re not stopping at Black History Month. Next, on the horizon for The Brown Bookshelf…

28 & Beyond

While the BBS wholly supports Black History Month and felt it was the best time to bring attention to under-the-radar authors – we don’t want readers thinking they can forget about authors of color until next year. Plus, it would be a shame to not share some of the great candidates submitted for the 28 Days campaign, who didn’t make our final cut.

So tune into our site for the 28 & Beyond blog feature, where we’ll discuss books by some of the authors who made our Top 12.

Summer Chat Series

We’re gearing up a forum on Myspace to conduct a series of chats. Summertime is good reading time and since the publishing industry slows down a bit, also the perfect time to talk books, writing and book publishing.

Every Wednesday, June through August, BBS members will host a chat. We’re lining up guests now. Look for chats for young readers, aspiring writers, current authors and influencers.

Examples of the chats we’re putting together include:

*Indies & The Author: Looking at opportunities for indie bookstores and authors to work together in innovative ways.

*Temperature Check: Chat with agents to talk about what’s going on in the kiddie lit industry

*Hype, Hype Hooray: Chat with teen readers to find out what really makes them pick up a book.

-END-

 

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March 1, 2008

And The Winners Are…

Congratulations to all of the winners of our February 29th Book Giveaway. Thank you for supporting The Brown Bookshelf by visiting our site and submitting author names for the 28 Days Later campaign.

Grand Prize Winner: Gift Basket

Lesha*

*Will designate a library to receive a basket containing books by the 2008 28 Days Later spotlight authors and illustrators.

Individual Book Winners

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County – Diannewrites

Mama’s Window – Sheila K.M.

Chess Rumble – Sabra R.

Jazz Baby – Christal

When Horses Ride By – Hannah

Juneteenth Jamboree – WendieO

How Smart We Are – blbooks

Sweet Land of Liberty – Erin

I Dream for You A World – Ramasay

Tyrell – Joyce H. & Liz B.

Nikki & Deja – Wits & Lesha

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It – Stephanie I.

Dance Jam Productions – Katia

Elijah of Buxton – Carole Mcd.

Played – Curtis F.

The Shadow Speaker – Hershey Brown

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February 29th is Book Giveaway Day!!

On Friday, February 29, 2008 one big ol’ basket filled with books by our 28 Days Spotlight authors will be donated to the library of one winning person’s choice.

If you’ve ever submitted a comment (and it was published) or sent an email to the Brown Bookshelf, you’re automatically eligible and entered.

Also, we’ll select random winners for the rest of the books so generously donated by the authors or their publishers.

Want to know what the Brown Bookshelf is doing next?  We’re announcing that on the 29th as well.

There’s no better way to end a month that’s been chock full of profiles on some of children’s literatures best and brightest then with free books and new initiatives.

-END-

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28 Authors For 28 Days

The Brown Bookshelf Announces Spotlight Authors

(Severna Park, MD) The Brown Bookshelf, today, announced the twenty-eight authors to be spotlighted in the groups’ 28 Days Later initiative, a month-long celebration of vanguard and emerging children’s authors of color starting February first. In addition, the campaign will spotlight four illustrators on the rise. “Since our launch, it’s been sixty intense days of research, reading and relishing the truly talented works out there,” said Brown Bookshelf member, Paula Chase Hyman. “We’re excited to finally unveil some of children’s literatures best kept secrets and jewels.”

Librarians, writers, publishers and readers of children’s literature answered the groups’ November first call to present African American authors flying under the radar of librarians and teachers. Over one hundred names of Picture Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult authors were submitted at the Brown Bookshelf website. “We discovered quickly that the definition of under the radar varies,” said Brown Bookshelf member, Varian Johnson. “Some of the finalists may be recognized among readers, but virtually unknown by a majority of influencers. Or vice versa.”

The five members culled submitted names down to nine authors per literary category via research, speaking to booksellers and librarians and using circulation and library inventory data. The twenty-eight finalists include six vanguard authors – individuals who are the forefront of the genre – and two stand-out, self-published authors.

“The selection represents a nice variety of emerging and popular authors that will surely pique anyone’s interest,” said Karen Lemmons of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. “We need to support these authors by reading, discussing and promoting their works.”

A vibrant poster acknowledging the featured authors and illustrators is live on the Brown Bookshelf home page. It’s available for download.

The authors, their most current book and the day they will be featured are as follows:

Key:

Authors in bold are vanguard authors

Illustrator spotlights are in italics

Feb 1 Christopher Paul Curtis – Elijah of Buxton

Feb 2 Michelle Meadows – The Way The Storm Stops

Feb 3 Dana Davidson – Played

Feb 4 Rita Williams-Garcia – No Laughter Here

Feb 5 G. Neri – Chess Rumble & Sean Qualls – Phillis’s Big Test

Feb 6 Janice N. Harrington – The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County

Feb 7 Eleanora E. Tate – Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance

Feb 8 Patricia McKissack – The All-I’ll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll

Feb 9 M. Sindy Felin – Touching Snow

Feb 10 Jabari Asim – Daddy Goes To Work

Feb 11 Mildred D. Taylor – The Road To Memphis

Feb 12 Nina Crews – The Neighborhood Mother Goose & Leonard Jenkins – Sweet Land of Liberty

Feb 13 Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu – The Shadow Speaker

Feb 14 Allison Whittenberg – Sweet Thang

Feb 15 Walter Dean Myers – Game

Feb 16 Tonya Bolden – George Washington Carver

Feb 17 Troy Cle – The Marvelous Effect

Feb 18 Eloise Greenfield – The Friendly Four

Feb 19 Sundee T. Frazier – Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It & John Holyfield – Bessie Smith & the Night Riders

Feb 20 Carole Boston Weatherford – I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

Feb 21 Karen English – Nikki & Deja

Feb 22 Coe Booth – Tyrell

Feb 23 Irene Smalls – My Pop Pop and Me

Feb 24 Stephanie Perry Moore – Prayed Up: Perry Skky Jr. #4

Feb 25 Kyra E. Hicks, Martha Ann’s Quilt for Queen Victoria

Feb 26 Celise Downs – Dance Jam Productions & Shane Evans- When Harriet Met Sojourner

Feb 27 Valerie Wilson Wesley – Willimena Rules!: 23 Ways to mess up Valentine’s Day

Feb 28 Sherri L. Smith – Sparrow

[END]
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Can You Hear Us, Now?

Co-ed Author Team Works to Highlight African American Children’s Authors

 

(Severna Park , MD ) YA authors, Paula Chase and Varian Johnson have never met in person. One lives in Maryland, the other in Texas. One is a spokesperson for a small city government, the other designs bridges. But they share two things in common: they write YA fiction and they’re tired of watching themselves and many of their peers fly under the radar. “If I hear ‘There’s no YA out there for African American teens’ one more time I’m going to scream,” says Chase, the author of Dafina’s Del Rio Bay Clique teen lit series. “Granted, it may not be publicized like some of the flashier mainstream YA fiction, but it’s out there.”

After bumping into one another on various children’s writers’ boards, they realized the same issue popped up again and again – the overwhelming lack of awareness to African Americans writing for children, especially YA, outside of the heavy-hitting veteran authors. Determined to launch an initiative that would shine the spotlight on the varied African American voices writing for young readers, Chase and Johnson took a page from Readergirlz, an online community that celebrates strong female characters in YA fiction, and created The Brown Bookshelf. “According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, out of the approximately 5,000 children’s books published in 2006, less than one-hundred were written by people of African decent,” says Johnson, the author of Essence Magazine best-selling novel, A Red Polka Dot in A World Full of Plaid. “If we want those numbers to increase, we have to do a better job of supporting African-American authors and illustrators.”

Chase and Johnson recruited fellow writers Carla Sarratt and Kelly Starling Lyons, and award-winning illustrator, Don Tate, to serve as a research and review team. On February 1st the group will launch the 28 Days Later Campaign, an initiative designed to highlight African-American authors with recently released books or books that have “gone unnoticed.” Each day during Black History Month, a different book and author will be featured at http://www.thebrownbookshelf.com. The campaign will culminate with a day of giveaways and announcements of future programs on February 29th.

“The name is a play off the zombie movie, because it signals the aftermath,” Chase says. “Once we showcase the twenty-eight best voices in African American children’s lit, parents, teachers and librarians will walk away with a full arsenal of recommendations for young readers.”

The committee is already scouring the shelves to identify authors of color offering the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. They will be taking nominations from others in the Children’s Lit Community and requesting publishers to submit authors. “We’re asking for help from all corners of the online Children’s Lit community,” Johnson says. “The more suggestions we get, the better.”

In addition to soliciting suggestions from the online Children’s Lit Community, the authors are partnering with the African American Children’s Book writers and Illustrators (AACBWI) and the Black Caucus of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) to ensure the 28 Days Later campaign reaches the intended audience of educators and librarians. Both organizations see merit in The Brown Bookshelf.

“We have been able to grow the African American Read-In through partnerships with those of like interest and commitment. The launching of this new literacy campaign is timely and we are excited that new seeds are being planted at a time when they are needed to reach out and encourage people of all ethnic groups to balance the images of reading failures with images of reading success,” says Jerrie Cobb Scott, Founder and National Director of the African American Read-In Chain. “Another partnership seed is certain to blossom into new readers and new supporters for literacy, the gift that keeps on giving.”

“Our online community boasts many authors and illustrators who are published or on the cusp of being published, and their words and art represent a broad spectrum of experiences and cultures,” says Karen Strong, moderator of the AACBWI forum. “The Brown Bookshelf is a great way to showcase these authors and illustrators and connect with readers.”

The Brown Bookshelf founders emphasize their desire to enhance, not duplicate efforts to increase awareness to books by authors of color. “We weren’t about to recreate the wheel,” Johnson says. “Our partners are in the trenches doing similar work to bring attention to good books. But often the focus is too broadly focused on all books by African Americans. Our focus is solely on books for children. It’s imperative people see there are lots of quality books out there for teens and young readers.”

Johnson and Chase encourage publishers to submit their authors work for consideration. Authors may also self-submit. However, self-published works are by invitation only. “There are so few national venues for under-promoted books to get a boost, authors are hungry for the attention. So we had to set limitations,” Chase says. “But we’ll be showcasing two self-published works in the campaign.”

Chase and Johnson see a life for The Brown Bookshelf beyond the 28 Days Later campaign. There are plans to launch a special initiative targeting book clubs, start a monthly author feature and make 28 Days Later an annual event. “Until people can name more than Walter Dean Meyers and Sharon Draper when asked about African American children’s authors, there’s a need for an initiative like this,” Johnson says. “We’re in it for the long haul.”

The Brown Bookshelf is designed to push awareness of the myriad of African American voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, is a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade and Young Adult novels written by African American authors.

[END]

(Click here to download press release as a pdf.)

8 Responses to Press

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  3. [...] Readers Meet Black Authors The Brown Bookshelf Color Online BrownGirl [...]

  4. [...] SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! Today, The Brown Bookshelf announced the twenty-four authors and four illustrators to be spotlighted in the groups’ third annual 28 Days Later initiative, a month-long celebration of veteran and emerging children’s authors of color. Read the list of those to be honored at The Brown Bookshelf. [...]

  5. [...] Brown Bookshelf selected me and Taneesha Never Disparaging to feature during their February 2010  “28 Days Later” campaign. This endeavor was designed to highlight books, during the month of February, that may be flying [...]

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