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Publisher Profile: Gloo Books

The CBC asks Olivia Butze, Marketing and Publicity of Gloo Books, questions about the publisher.

How did your publishing house start out?

In 2021, after the birth of her first child, Karen Chan learned that 71% of children’s books feature characters that are animals or are white. She—like so many others—values compassion and inclusivity, and had to seek out books in an effort to diversify her son’s bookshelf to ensure that these values were reflected in the books he read. 

So, she decided to write her own children’s book. But when it became clear that the lack of diversity was also an issue throughout the publishing industry, she realized one book simply wasn’t enough. What started as an idea to write a children’s book turned into a larger vision to create a publishing company that makes books that more accurately reflect the world around us today, and we’re just getting started on our journey to empower little readers everywhere.

What is your publishing house most known for?

We publish children’s books for a more just, compassionate, and inclusive future, and this all starts with the authors and illustrators behind each story. Our books are known for depicting a wide range of stories and identities—including race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, religion, and ability—in creative, colorful, and meaningful ways. And we can achieve this because of the experiences, ideas, and passion our authors and illustrators bring to the stories. Currently, all of our authors identify as BIPOC, as do the vast majority of our illustrators. They themselves represent the vast range of identities that are present within the books we publish.

What are some of your house’s publishing priorities over the next few years?

Unlike most publishers, we run our own distribution. This has allowed us to not only publish the books we do, but also build personal relationships with schools and libraries—and we are eager to keep growing in these spaces. We’ve had such success with educators and librarians in the communities where our authors and illustrators live, and we believe little readers everywhere will benefit from Gloo’s stories, enabling them to see themselves on the page and empowering their sense of self. 

And, of course, we will continue to prioritize publishing stories from underrepresented storytellers and pushing the envelope on children’s literature subject matter.

Which upcoming titles is your house buzzing about?

This fall, we have two books releasing that we cannot wait to share with the world. The first is a book centered on voting rights and a group of kids that mobilize their community to vote, written by two veteran voting rights experts and a beloved children’s book author. Not only is this story timely with the upcoming election, but an important one during this period of pivotal democracy. 

The second book is still a secret…but we will be sharing more on that soon!

Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a school or public library?

Our forthcoming voting rights book is a great addition to any library, helping young readers learn about elections, democracy, and the role they play—even at a young age!—in shaping our country. 

Which of your frontlist titles would be great for a classroom? Which grade?

Another great read is Composting for Community (which recently received a 2024 NatGen Green Earth Book Honor Award), which shows readers the importance of taking care of our world and how everything we do is interconnected with the land we live on. We also love A Life of Song, a story highlighting the groundbreaking career of children’s folk musician Ella Jenkins and her role in the Civil Rights movement. What’s That?, our very first book and written by our CEO and Founder Karen Chan, is a story about two children at school who bring lunches that look different from those of their classmates, and their newly formed friendship. All of these books can be read in Kindergarten through third grade. 

Which of your frontlist tiles would be great for an at-home library?

Mostly Me is a story about navigating biracial identity, helping readers of any age navigate questions like “Who am I?” and “Do I belong?” empowering them to answer with “I’m mostly me.” Our Very Asian Guide series and Baby Go! series showcase cultures, food, and more from around the world, not only allowing little readers to see themselves on the page, but learn about identities and traditions different from their own.

Thank you, Gloo Books!

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