Birmingham-based publisher The Emma Press has been awarded nearly £15,000 from Arts Council England to help them grow as an inclusive children’s publisher.
The press was founded by Emma Wright in 2012, initially specialising in poetry and short stories. It has been building a children’s book list since 2015, with poetry anthologies, collections, and translations. Their first full children’s collection, Moon Juice by Kate Wakeling, won the CLiPPA (Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award) for best children’s poetry book in 2017.
Recent Emma Press publications for children include Wain, a poetry collection by Rachel Plummer which features LGBT retellings of Scottish myths, and the Bicki-Books, a set of children’s poetry picture books, translated from the landmark Latvian series curated by Rūta Briede.
This grant will help The Emma Press to develop their children’s publishing activities, allowing them to reach wider audiences, learn about the industry and increase their capacity. It includes partnerships with two libraries, Staffordshire Libraries and Telford & Wrekin Libraries, and the publication of six upcoming children’s books from The Emma Press with accompanying events in schools and libraries:
- The Adventures of Na Willa, a collection of stories for children aged 8+ by Reda Gaudiamo (trans. Indonesian by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul and Kate Wakeling)
- When It Rains, a picture book for children aged 4+ by Rassi Narika (trans. Indonesian by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul and Emma Wright)
- Dragons of the Prime, an anthology of poems about dinosaurs for children aged 8+, edited by Richard O’Brien
- Super Guppy, a collection of poems for children aged 8+ by Edward van de Vendel (trans. Dutch by David Colmer)
- Incredible Insects, an anthology of poems about insects for children aged 8+, edited by Isabel Galleymore and Fran Long
- Poems the Wind Blew In, a collection of poems for children aged 6+ by Karmelo C Iribarren (trans. Spanish by Lawrence Schimel)
Publisher Emma Wright says: “Books are vital in shaping children’s worldviews and it’s the responsibility of the children’s book industry to make sure that the books being published reflect the realities of as many children’s lives as possible. It’s damaging on a profound level when you never see anyone like yourself within books or creating books, and it’s also incredibly valuable to be exposed to different people’s experiences and see the world through different eyes. Everyone benefits from more inclusive and diverse children’s books, and I want The Emma Press to be part of the change. The aim of this project is to learn as much as possible about the children’s book industry, and how books reach children.”
The grant will also help to develop The Emma Press team by organising work placements in bigger publishers to learn more about children’s publishing. Yen-Yen Lu, a freelancer who works with the Emma Press, will be undertaking a work placement at Andersen Press from April 2019.
Yen-Yen Lu says: “Inclusivity in literature, particularly children’s literature, is so important to me and I’m really pleased that we’ve received this grant to keep working on producing a diverse and international children’s book list. I’m also looking forward to learning more from my placement at Andersen Press, whose list includes authors from many different backgrounds.”