Friday, March 20, 2020

Resources and Guidelines to Support At-Home and Remote Learning

To help support our children, parents and families, educators, librarians and greater community during this challenging time, Just Us Books has compiled below links to resources and guidelines that support at-home and remote learning.

Free activity guides for our titles are available hereThese guides contain discussion questions, writing activities, project ideas and other suggestions that can be used with our books. They might also inspire ideas that you can use for other books you're reading.

We are also making our Black History Handbook available again for free download. We know Black history is not just for Black History Month. This book provides activities and resources for stand-alone and supplemental activities that focus on Black history.

Read Alongs:
If you are an educator or librarian who would like to use our books as part of an online read along or other online instruction, we ask that you follow these guidelines:
  • Please send a courtesy email to with your name, school/library, city, state, along with title and author/illustrator of the book(s) you plan to read online and the date of your reading. 
  • Please mention at the beginning of the video that you are reading with permission from Just Us Books, and note the title, author, and illustrator of the book.
  • Please only post the video through your school’s private platform or through another group or platform with limited access for your students only.
  • Please delete your video or disable access by June 30, 2020.
  • Please also send a follow-up email with a link to your video (even if it is private) 
  • Readings on social media are allowed using the ‘live’ function only (ex: Facebook Live, Instagram Live, etc.) The video may not be archived or posted permanently on any social platform. Please also send us a courtesy email as noted above.
  • By posting a reading, you are agreeing to abide by the above guidelines.

Please tag @JustUsBooks in social media posts of/about your readings. We’d love to see what you’re doing!

If you are a book retailer, literacy group, or other organization interested in doing online reading of our books, please contact us at for separate permission.

Book Packages
We have curated two book packages -- picture books and for middle reader - especially for at-home learning. The packages include discounted books, printed activity guides for each title and free shipping. Learn more

We are encouraged by all the ways our reading community is providing support, comfort and hope during this time. Thank you all!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Just Us Books Announces Call for Manuscript Queries

Just Us Books, leading independent publisher of children’s books that celebrate Black history, culture and experiences, is accepting queries for picture books, chapter books (target ages 7-9) and middle reader titles (target ages 9-12).

What we are looking for:
  • Excellent writing  
  • Unique story ideas
  • Cultural authenticity 
  • Interesting characters 
  • Compelling, high-interest plot lines 
  • Fiction and nonfiction
We welcome queries from both agented and unagented authors.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please send only the following:
  • A query letter pitching us your manuscript (please include your email address and list any previously published books)
  • A synopsis of your manuscript
  • 3-5 samples pages of your manuscript 
Submissions may be sent via mail or email:

Just Us Books
Submissions Dept.
P.O. Box 5306
East Orange, NJ 07019
email: Submissions (at)
    For e-mail submissions, please include pitch, synopsis and sample pages in the body of the e-mail. Do not include attachments. All emails containing attachments will be deleted without being read.

    Complete submission guidelines are available here:

    To learn more about Just Us Books visit our website:

    Wednesday, February 5, 2020

    Just Us Books and Crown Books for Young Readers Team Up for Their Second Project: The Talk

    -Award-winning Kidlit Creators Including Derrick Barnes, Adam Gidwitz, Rudy Gutierrez, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Traci Sorell, and Renée Watson, Tackle Tough Social Issues in Middle Grade Anthology-

    Wade Hudson, Cheryl Willis Hudson, Torrey Maldonado, Phoebe Yeh,
    Tracey Baptiste and Adam Gidwitz at a November 2019 presentation of The Talk
    Just Us Books is partnering with Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, on a middle grade book called The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth. Edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson of Just Us Books and acquired by Phoebe Yeh of Crown, The Talk is an illustrated anthology featuring 30 award-winning authors and artists who offer frank and honest stories, essays, and poems about race, class, heritage, privilege, and other important issues.

    The Talk is the highly anticipated follow up to the publishers’ 2018 collaboration: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, which was named a 2019 Jane Addams Honor Book. The Talk is scheduled for release on September 29, 2020.

    “We created The Talk to stimulate conversations that will help children as they are learning more about who they are and navigating their way in the world,” says Wade Hudson, co-editor of The Talk and CEO of Just Us Books. “Our contributors provide honest perspectives about important issues such as bullying, prejudice, and privilege. These are issues that young people face earlier and earlier; issues that both they and adults must address head on as we work to become more culturally and socially aware.”

    When considering the project VP & Publisher Phoebe Yeh says, “The Talk offers so many entry points to talking about race, affirming our children’s experiences, and increasing empathy among all children. Crown Books for Young Readers is proud to partner with Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson and their contributors by publishing this important, much needed book.”

    The Talk features a diverse team of authors and illustrators: Selina Alko, Tracey Baptiste, Derrick Barnes, Natacha Bustos, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Raúl Colón, Adam Gidwitz, Nikki Grimes, Rudy Gutierrez, April Harrison, Wade Hudson, Gordon C. James, Minh Lê, E.B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Torrey Maldonado, Meg Medina, Christopher Myers, Daniel Nayeri, Zeke Peña, Peter H. Reynolds, Erin K. Robinson, Traci Sorell, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, MaryBeth Timothy, Duncan Tonatiuh, Renée Watson, Valerie Wilson Wesley, and Sharon Dennis Wyeth.

    Thursday, January 2, 2020

    Our Focus in 2020

    Photo: Stephan Hudson for 2nd Chapter
    Happy New Year! We can’t believe how quickly another year has passed. We are thankful for all we accomplished in 2019 and for the many opportunities we’ve had to connect with young readers and book lovers around the country. We appreciate the work of all those who advocate for a more inclusive and representative body of literature for young people. 

    As we enter a new year, a new decade even, we do so with the same determination and commitment to make a difference that led us to start Just Us Books. Now in our 31st year, we will continue to publish titles that spotlight Black history, Black culture, and Black experiences and that reflect our country's diversity. Just Us Books will focus on books that not only entertain, but enlighten, inspire, motivate, encourage, empower and provide learning opportunities across cultures, ethnicities, borders, races and experiences. We will continue to promote the difference good books can make as we embrace our role as one of a few Black-owned publishing companies in the United States.

    Today, the truth is under siege in many quarters of our society. Values such as respect, patience, honesty, justice, generosity, fairness and dependability are being trampled wantonly. But these values are our North Star. They guide us to a better place. They show us the way. The books we read — that our children read —play a major role in that journey. So our work as children’s book creators is as crucial as ever.

    In 2020 and beyond, we will press onward, in the company of so many others — inspired, motivated and determined to allow our books to be vehicles for young people to see that North Star. We know Good Books Make a Difference!

    Wade and Cheryl Hudson
    Founders, Just Us Books

    Monday, December 23, 2019

    Celebrating the Nguzo Saba Through Books

    The seven principles of Kwanzaa (Nguzo Saba) are an important part of our work at Just Us Books. They not only shape our approach to business, but they show up as themes in many of the titles our company has published.

    1. Umoja = Unity (To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.)  
    Book Recommendations: One Million Men and Me, Sink or Swim; The March on Washington

    2. Kujichagulia = Self-Determination  (To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves).
    Book Recommendations: We Could Be Brothers; Path to My African Eyes; I Told You I Could Play

    3. Ujima = Collective Work and Responsibility (To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together)
    Book Recommendations: Willimena Rules;  Freedom Rides: Journey to Justice; 12 Brown Boys

    4. Ujamaa = Cooperative Economics (To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.)
    Book Recommendations: The March on Washington; Tamika and the Wisdom Rings

    5. Nia = Purpose (To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.)

    Book Recommendations: Scientists, Healers and Inventors; Great Women in the Struggle; Kids Book of Wisdom

    6. Kuumba = Creativity (To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it
    Book Recommendations: Poetry From the Masters: The Pioneers; Poetry from the Masters: Black Arts Movement; Clothes I Love to Wear, Annie’s Gifts

    7. Imani = Faith (To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.)
    Book Recommendations: We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our VoicesBishop Daniel PayneCome by Here Lord

    What are your favorite books about Kwanzaa or books that focus on one (or more) of the Nguzo Saba?