Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Remembering Tom Low

Our hearts were saddened to hear of the transition of Tom Low, co-founder of Lee & Low Books.

We have known Tom since before he and Phillip Lee founded their independent children’s press in 1991. Both Tom and Phil came to visit Just Us Books’ office in East Orange, NJ to share their vision and to get feedback about the industry. Soon after, they hit the ground running, becoming one of the first independent multicultural children’s publishers in the industry.

Over the years, as our two presses grew, and in many ways helped to shake up the children’s industry, we stayed in contact with each other. We encouraged each other and continued to share information about the industry. At conferences, our two companies were often among a handful whose sole purpose was publishing books that recognized our country’s and our world’s diversity, those who were overlooked and or marginalized. Sometimes, we would chat at each other’s booths when we should have been at our own, conducting business.

We will always remember Tom’s positive attitude and his unfailing belief that he and Phil could build Lee & Low Books into a publishing giant. Indeed, they did.

When our anthology We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices launched, Tom sent an email of congratulation and encouraged us to continue our important work. He had retired by then. But he still cared deeply.

Tom Low was one of the pioneers in the push for diversity, inclusion and equity in children’s book publishing. His legacy will live on as the publishing company that he and Phillip Lee founded, Lee & Low Books, continues to discover new voices, tackle new topics, give opportunities to writers and illustrators, and produce so many wonderful books that all of our young people need.

We will remember his laugh, his sense of humor, and friendship and his trailblazing work.

Thank you, Tom! We salute you!

Wade & Cheryl Hudson

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

AFRO-BETS Kids Coloring Page

Meet Langston, Nandi, Tura, Stef, Robo and Glo: the AFRO-BETS Kids!

Thank you to illustrator Nancy Devard for creating this fun coloring page taken from the picture book Afro-Bets Kids: I'm Going to Be, written by Wade Hudson.

Download a PDF you can print here

Learn more about the book here

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.