Soaring Kite Books, a startup publishing house in Washington focused on minority authors and diverse audiences, will have its books distributed by Lerner Publishing Group, the Minneapolis firm that is one of the nation’s largest producers of children’s titles.
The companies announced the relationship Monday. For Soaring Kite, the deal represents an opportunity to quickly reach some of the nation’s largest buyers of educational books, including retailers, schools and public libraries.
Lerner, meanwhile, gets the chance to help develop a publisher that’s focused on race and representation in media and educational materials.
“Lerner Publisher Services is dedicated to inclusion in children’s books and that is the main mission of Soaring Kite Books,” said David Wexler, lead sales executive at Lerner Publishing Group.
Soaring Kite was founded in April 2020 by Ceece Kelley, a Black marketing executive who wanted to give children of color more books with characters that look like them. On its website, the company cited data from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center that found about 27% of children’s books published that year were about characters who were Black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian.
The first Soaring Kite Books that Lerner will distribute includes the picture book “Dear Mama’s Loving Arms,” written by Kelley and illustrated by Sawyer Cloud. It will also distribute two books by Kelley featuring a character named Georgie Dupree and aimed at children who are just learning to read. They are illustrated by Chloe Guevara.
Kelley has recruited a handful of other authors and illustrators to build an initial pipeline of books.
“What started as a way to ensure families like mine were represented in books has turned into a platform for diverse authors around the world to share their cultures in children’s literature,” she said in a statement.
Soaring Kite will work with the publishing services arm of Lerner, which chiefly has served as a U.S. distributor and promoter of children’s books by publishers in other countries.