LEE & LOW BOOKS is the largest multicultural children's book publisher in the country. We are also one of the few minority-owned publishing companies in the United States, as well as a throwback to what many publishers used to be: independent, generational businesses in which the people running the company have a personal stake in its success.
What does it mean to be an independent publisher? It means we make our own decisions and publish what we want. It means we control the quality of our books and keep books in print for a long time so they have a chance to find their audience. It means we have the freedom to pursue our mission of increasing the number of diverse books available to children.
Our story began in 1991 with a simple mission: to publish contemporary diverse stories that all children could enjoy. We decided to steer clear of folktales since they tended to be about people who lived a long time ago. In contrast, we wanted our books to emphasize the richness of today’s cultures. We also avoided talking animal stories since there was nothing new we could bring to this genre. And we pledged to make a special effort to work with unpublished authors and illustrators of color.
To some, these editorial parameters would seem limiting, but for us, they helped guide our project choices for years to come. The result has been a tight collection of hundreds of books with universal themes and broad appeal. Our books convey a realistic vision of what the world looks like today.
In the 30 years that LEE & LOW has been publishing, the world has changed. Technology has made a quantum leap, but issues of inequality and the lack of representation in books and entertainment persist–even as our country grows more diverse. LEE & LOW was a pioneer in publishing diverse books 30 years ago, and has continued to play a vital role in the movement since then.
Activism and Diversity Initiatives
In 2000, the company established the New Voices Award, given to unpublished authors of color for a picture book manuscript. New Voices Award winners have gone on to win major awards and prizes including the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Award Honor. In 2010, our Tu Books imprint established the New Visions Award, given to unpublished authors of color for a middle grade or young adult novel. The first New Visions Award winner, Ink and Ashes, was published in June 2015 and received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. In 2015, the company also established the Diversity in Publishing Internship to give diverse candidates an opportunity to work in the industry.
LEE & LOW BOOKS is committed to staying at the forefront of these important issues. In fact, in 2014 we were named Indie Publisher of the Year by Foreword Magazine for our work in this sphere. We are proud to continue our commitment to creating books that are "about everyone, for everyone" and to be a leader in the movement for more diversity in books and publishing.
LEE & LOW was named the 2016 Angel Award from the Carle Honors for "inspiring so many people with its dedication to multicultural books and to a new generation of artists and authors who offer children both mirrors and windows to the world."
In 2016, LEE & LOW sponsored and organized the first major publishing Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS). The DBS measured the staff diversity of reviewers and publishers and opened up a renewed interest in how to improve staff diversity. LEE & LOW repeated the survey with Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS) 2.0 in 2019 (released in 2020), adding literary agents and university presses to the pool. The data from DBS 2.0 is often cited by major news outlets as a way to hold the industry accountable in its equity efforts.
Take a look at some of our recent studies to find out more about the kind of activism LEE & LOW is known for and what we are doing to encourage diversity and promote understanding in books and beyond.
LEE & LOW has worked with schools and districts across the country to help them build libraries and collections that reflect their students. We have partnered with well-respected organizations and educational thought leaders such as First Book, Teaching Tolerance, Reading is Fundamental, and Dr. Pedro Noguera.
We are committed to meeting the needs of educators not only through the publication of high-quality, culturally authentic texts, but also by providing additional resources to support the use of our books in the classroom. We are proud to offer free, in-depth Teacher's Guides for more than 500 of our books.
Visit the Educators section of our website to find additional educational resources such as thematic book lists, discussion questions, and more, developed by our literacy specialists.
Our books can be purchased right here on our website, and most are also carried by major wholesalers and distributors including Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and Follett.
For school orders, contact Abe Barretto, Vice President of Educational Sales at abarretto [AT] leeandlow [DOT] com
For book event orders, contact Jalissa Corrie, Marketing & Publicity Manager at jcorrie [AT] leeandlow [DOT] com
Not sure where to start? We offer customized, one-on-one help building a collection for your school. Contact us to get started.
Permissions & Sub-rights
Please follow the link to our customized, contact form and select permissions & sub-rights in the drop down menu. Please note: response time is typcially 10-15 business days for requests.
Lee & Low Books is a certified 100% Minority Owned Business Enterprise (MBE)
Lee & Low's books are printed on paper from sustainable and responsibly managed sources.
Read the Book Links interview
Read the Betsy Bird interview from School Library Journal
Read the Publishers Weekly article on our activists involvement with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement
Testimonials from Partners and Supporters
Lee & Low Books is proud to work with organizations such as FirstBook, Teaching Tolerance, Reading is Fundamental, We Need Diverse Books, and the National Education Association. Our supporters include librarians, educators, booksellers, and bloggers.
Awards & Honors
Browse a partial listing of the awards and honors our books have received so far.
In the Press
Lee & Low has appeared in the New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, C-SPAN and numerous trade magazines.
The Diversity Baseline Survey
The Diversity Baseline Survey was designed to measure the lack of diversity within the publishing industry. Contact us if you are a publisher or reviewer.
Diversity in Publishing Summer Internship
Lee & Low books established the Diversity in Publishing Internship in response to the lack of diversity in the publishing industry.
Careers at Lee & Low
Interested in working with a publisher that values diversity in literature and the workplace? Apply today!
The Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship
The Lee & Low and Friends Scholarship provides opportunities for students of color to enroll in the Simmons University graduate program in children's literature.
Lee & Low Ambassador
Meet Lee & Low's Librarian Ambassador, Andrea Jamison