The Brown Bookshelf Presents: Amplify Black Stories 2021

February 24 - November 30, 2021

A Year of Connection for Black Storytellers & Bridge-Building for Children’s Book Publishing Teams to Amplify Black Stories
The Brown Bookshelf
In partnership with the Highlights Foundation, the Brown Bookshelf presents this year-long program set to amplify Black stories, with a focus on supporting Black storytellers while confronting industry challenges and fostering change.


Amplify Black Stories is a living commitment to the Brown Bookshelf’s 2020 kidlit industry Call to Action, with recognition of how influential children’s literature can be for social change. It will feature a series of online sessions to:

  • Offer community and mentorship for Black storytellers as they bring their stories to life and provide children with beloved books for children in today’s world.
  • Foster educator connections and bookseller/influencer networking to bring Black stories to growing audiences, fueling the impact sparked by Black creators.
  • Promote publisher-collaborations to craft detailed, change-making, actionable programs of commitment and support for their Black authors, illustrators, and colleagues. Publisher teams will assess current states, see what’s working across the industry, and re-imagine possibilities, all building toward a deliverable plan to effectively support and market the work of Black authors and illustrators.


There will be two cohorts/tracks in the program: one for Black storytellers and one for publishing teams.

The Black Storyteller cohort will include debut, midlist, and vanguard Black authors and illustrators across all children’s literature genres and formats, at no cost to the storyteller. Interested Black storytellers can apply here to the program. Deadline is 3/15 and applicants will be notified by 4/7.

Apply Now

The Publishing Teams cohort will include a diverse and inclusive gathering of executives, editors, marketing, and design staff from publishing houses. Our sponsoring publishers and organizations can empower and fund Black creators and staff to participate while supporting this collaboration to dismantle the systems of racism that exist within the children’s publishing industry.
Sponsor here

The tracks will overlap at some points for collaboration, though much of the time will center on the needs and responsibilities of each group.
Download the press release.


February 24, Opening Celebration of Stories, Programs, and Commitment
Watch the celebration.

MARCH 2021
For Black Storytellers

  • Interested Black storytellers can apply here to the program. Deadline is 3/15; commitments by 4/7.
  • Replays of launch and publisher’s session available
  • Virtual community forum opens

For Publishing Teams
Learning Session

  • Panel: A Historical Perspective, and Hope-filled Future of Black Stories and Storytellers
  • Lay out sections that should be covered in final action plans (that publishers will
    work on through the year)

APRIL 2021
For Black Storytellers
Conversation & Small Group Discussions:

  • Program overview
  • Small group introductions
  • Action steps for finding, building, and sustaining community
  • Resource list for virtual connections

For Publishing Teams

  • No live session
  • Team to gather: past acquisitions, author relationships and support, and marketing plans

May 2021

For Black Storytellers
Panel Discussion & Small Group Meetings:

  • 4 Quarter Marketing Plans
  • Goal setting
  • Resources
  • Networking with marketing professionals

For Publishing Teams
Learning Session

  • The Journey of a Book from Submission to Sales
  • What does it mean to “amplify” a book: case study
  • Small group discussions of past acquisitions, author relationships and support, and marketing plans

June 2021

Conversation & Learning Session – for both cohorts
Panel followed by small group sessions:

  • Networking with organizations in the children’s books who Amplify Black Stories

July 2021

Conversation & Panel Discussion – for both cohorts

  • A panel discussion with Black Influencers and Black Media
  • Special focus on case studies of what has worked for amplification of Black stories
  • Optional paid consultations available for publishing teams as needed
  • Included small group meetings and networking for Black Storytellers


August 2021

For Black Storytellers
Connecting with Educators

  • Panel: Educators and Librarians
  • Small group discussions on best practices for school visits
  • Strategies for finding school visits and advocating and applying for speaking engagements at educator-focused events.

For Publishing Teams
No live sessions: Continued work on action plan, with optional consultations available as needed.

September 2021

Connecting with Community – for both cohorts

  • Panel discussion followed by small group connections with: community organizations, parents, churches, and more

October 2021

For Black Storytellers
Legal, Licensing, Rights & Permissions
Panel followed by small group sessions with invited guests

For Black Storytellers and Publishing Teams
Optional private meetings and support

November 2021

The Measure of Amplify Black Stories

  • The tracks come together to share their experiences and possibilities
  • Industry plans to support and market the work of Black creators, and creators offer feedback

The plans and relationships created during this program will outlast the program itself, creating transformative, palpable change that brings more Black stories to more children everywhere.

Click here to learn about sponsorship opportunities.

Benchmark Education     BloomsburyHighlights

Stimola Literary Studio Charlesbridge Publishing WorkmanNewmark Learning
Reycraft Books Andrea Brown Literary

Boyds Mills and Kane      Children's Book Council      Lerner
Just Us BooksRenee WatsonGallt & Zacker Literary Agency


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