Kimberly Barrett Luttery
Why I Founded Azure Dusk Publishing, LLC
Photo Courtesy of A Flash of Color by LaShasta
As the Owner/Author of Azure Dusk Publishing, LLC, my mission is to tell positive universal fictional stories, featuring African American characters as the main protagonists, that appeal to all children. These colorful interactive picture books for children ages 3 - 8 years old focus on themes centered around family, friendship, love, self-esteem, learning, and more. The simplicity of the language in each is perfect for reading aloud as a bedtime, classroom, or anytime story. Titles include Grandma Had a Grandma Too, I am Wonderfully Made, and Grandpa Had a Grandpa Too.
It is important for children to see characters that look like them, yet stories featuring African American children, and other minority groups, are underserved audiences in the children’s book genre. Books about Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) need to reach children from all backgrounds to promote diversity and inclusivity. Data from the 2021 University of Wisconsin’s annual Cooperative Children’s Book Center School of Education shows that “Despite slow progress, the number of books featuring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) protagonists lags far behind the number of books with white main characters–or even those with animal or other characters. Of the 3,405* children’s books published in 2021 in the U.S. received by the CCBC, taken together, books about white children, talking bears, trucks, monsters, potatoes, etc. represent nearly three-quarters (69%) of children’s and young adult books published.”
The statistics are as follows:
Minority Group Number of Books Percentage (%) (By/About) · Black/African 305/438 9%/12.8% · Asian 463/337 13.5%/9.9% · Indigenous 46/60 1.3%/1.7% · Latinx 308/233 9%/6.8% · Pacific Islander 8/6 0.2%/0.17% · Arab 21/21 0.6%/0.6% TOTAL 1,151/1,095 33.6%/31.97%
*Due to the pandemic, some publishers did not send out review copies, so we did not get the number of books we typically do. As always, we recommend calculating percentages to see trends.
As you can see from the chart above, currently just under 13% of children’s books published each year feature Black children. The percentage for most other groups of color is even less. I want to have an impact on improving those numbers.
Owning my own company gives me the creative freedom to write the stories I want to tell; stories that I wish I had as a child. While I hope that the future of mainstream publishing is more inclusive, self-publishing has provided an opportunity for diverse voices to be heard. There are so many bright, creative, and innovative self-published books that represent a variety of cultures. I am happy to be a part of that synergy and look forward to creating more stories for young readers.
There are a number of websites that you can visit to find diverse books and support authors of color. These are a few that I recommend:
Until next time . . . happy reading and writing!