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Black History Month at Stetson Public Library

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Writer Lucy Gellman from the Arts Council Greater New Haven interviewed Melissa-Sue John and Olivia Lauren John on Wednesday, February 26th at Visual Literacy, a one-night artist and vendor showcase at the Stetson Branch Library on Dixwell Avenue. She writes, "Melissa-Sue John was tired of books that didn’t reflect the two Black girls she had at home. Her daughters, Olivia Lauren and Alyssa Simone, were both budding writers. So the three of them did the only reasonable thing there was to do: they founded a publishing house to tell their own stories."

After describing all the other artists at the event, she continues, "The Johns greeted readers of all ages at a table for Lauren Simone Publishing, a small company that the two girls and their mom started four years ago. The idea came to John as the girls were growing up, and she realized how few characters looked like her children.

There were, in other words, no books that chronicled what it meant to be young and Black and happy, living a perfectly normal life. When she did research, John found that there were similar outlets—Mocha books in Tulsa for instance—but nothing in Connecticut. In addition to selling in a few independent bookstores, the company is online." To read the entire article, visit this link.

Rebecca Huang from the Yale Daily News also did a feature  of the Publishing House. "Among the many booths in the exhibition was Lauren Simone Publishing House, a publishing company started in 2016. Created by two sisters, Olivia Lauren John and Alyssa Simone John, the mission of the company is to introduce and celebrate diversity in authors and illustrators. Melissa-Sue John, the mother of Olivia Lauren and Alyssa Simone and Chief Executive Officer of Lauren Simone Publishing, cited the continual absence of minority main characters in children’s literature as the impetus for beginning the business. “I was complaining to my daughter and …  she said ‘stop complaining, mom! Do something about it,’ and we wrote our first books together,” John said. Today, Lauren Simone Publishing has released over twelve books, all written by people of color and illustrated by children."

There is a beautiful display of pictures in Urban Grants for Us's gallery. We are so thankful to Petisia Adger for the invitation to participate in this wonderful event.

 


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