Long before #WeNeedDiverseBooks, Deborah Shine was publishing books about diversity and tolerance at Star Bright Books, which she founded in 1994 in Harlem and relocated to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2011. Beginning with the press’s first book, Rochelle Bunnett’s Friends at School, Shine has made a point of portraying children of different colors, nationalities, and abilities in the books on her list. Shine believes that children should not only be able to see themselves in print but also hear their native tongue when the books are read aloud. Star Bright makes bilingual books available in 24 languages, including Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, and simple Chinese. She wants families who immigrate to the United States to read books aloud in their own language.
She has also written her own books like Cradle Me (2012), with pictures of Native American babies, which she published under her maiden name, Debby Slier; or Witches (2011), about children with disabilities having fun trick or treating, which she wrote under the pseudonym Cheryl Christian. Altogether Shine has written, edited, or adapted more than 65 books under variations of her own name and various pseudonyms, including Edith Adams, Sarah Bright, and Robin Harris. At Star Bright, which has a backlist of 300 titles, Shine publishes 16 books a year.
The Role of the Independent Publisher: From Friends at School to the Jake series, why Star Bright has published books about diverse children for almost a quarter century.
Writing for a multilingual audience: What works and doesn’t work in picture book manuscripts that will be published in more than one language. Children should not only be able to see themselves in print but also hear their native tongue when the books are read aloud., so Star Bright makes bilingual books available in 24 languages, including Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, and simple Chinese.
What a small press like Star Bright looks for when hiring an illustrator and how illustrations evolve from initial story board thumbnails to final copy.