After the 2016 election, author and book publisher Wade Hudson heard all kinds of opinions.
But when he heard that the election of President Donald Trump frightened his Raleigh niece’s 7-year-old daughter, he took notice. And he decided he needed to do something to change the narrative.
“(She) had heard all the nasty, vile and demeaning things he had said about women, people of color, immigrants, and those with disabilities,” he said. “She was frightened. That caught my attention. I had not thought that much about the impact that Trump campaign, and now presidency, was having on our children and young people.”
From that epiphany, the book “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices,” was born (Crown Books for Young Readers). It’s a compilation of poems, essays, personal letters, photographs and art from 50 writers and illustrators. Edited by Hudson and his wife, Cheryl Willis Hudson, they want to offer children ages 8 to 12 hope and guidance on navigating racism, sexism, bullying and bad behavior.
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“We need to do something as writers and publishers to let these children know we support them,” Wade Hudson said. “So we came up with the idea of an anthology that could be used to encourage, offer support, words of wisdom, hope, and love for them.”
The Hudsons will be joined Oct. 28 by several of the book’s local contributors for a reading, panel discussion and signing at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.
The Hudsons are the founders of the New Jersey-based Just Us Books. They started the company 30 years ago and have been recognized for their pioneering work publishing children’s books that reflect the nation’s diversity.
“We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices,” released last month, has received starred reviews from book critics.
“A love song from children’s literature’s brightest stars to America’s indigenous children and children of color,” wrote Kirkus Reviews.
“Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson, founders of Just Us Books, offer this empowering anthology to counter today’s often-unsettling political climate for children of varying ethnicities, faiths, identities and abilities,” wrote Publishers Weekly.
The collection includes works from North Carolina authors.
Knightdale children’s book author Eleanora E. Tate wrote a poignant and personal essay, “Dark-Brown Skin is Beautiful” to share how she was demeaned by her mother and sister.
“If you can survive your relatives’ in-home bullying about your skin color, you will surely survive it in the world,” she writes. “I did.”
Tate is the author of “Celeste’s Harlem Renaissance” and “Don’t Split the Pole: Tales of Down-Home Folk Wisdom.”
Charlotte children’s book author Tameka Fryer Brown asks in her essay, “Where Are The Good People?” Brown said it took her some time to determine her contribution to the anthology.
“The state of our country was torn with negativity floating around,” she said in an interview. “I’m in this mental space too… feeling down. I had to ask myself, what do I need to hear to give me hope? After I framed it like that, I was able to come up with the work.”
She said she wanted to validate children’s feelings that this is a time of uncertainty, but offer context and perspective as well.
“But we’ve had scary times in this country and world before,” she said. “They don’t last forever; it’s a matter of holding on, doing your part and looking for the helpers.”
Brown is known for his picture book, “Around Our Way on Neighbor’s Day,” a story of a close-knit inclusive neighborhood. The New York Board of Education bought 100,000 copies of the book.
Raleigh children’s book author Kelly Starling Lyons offers “Drumbeat for Change” as her selection.
“Sometimes we forget to share with children how we were able to overcome the trials of the past,” she said in an intervew. “It’s important for them to know that throughout history kids were on the front line for change.
“During the civil rights movement, children marched, sang freedom songs, standing up for their rights and pushing for a better future for all of us,” she said. “Kids can draw on that legacy of strength as we face the challenges of today.”
Lyons is the author “One Million Men and Me,” “Hope’s Gift,” and the “Jada Jones: Rock Star” series.
Kelli Hudson, the Hudsons’ niece, and her daughter live in Raleigh. They never imagined her daughter’s concerns, expressed in a Facebook post, would evolve into a love letter to children from authors, illustrators and her aunt and uncle.
“She didn’t imagine something would come from it and neither did I,” Kelli Hudson said. “We can’t wait to come to book signing and we are bringing friends.”
What: Reading, panel and book signing of “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices.” North Carolina children’s book authors Kelly Starling Lyons, Carole Boston Weatherford, Tameka Fryer Brown, Eleanora E. Tate and illustrator Jeffrey Weatherford join editors Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson.
The details: Oct. 28, 2 p.m. Quail Ridge Books, 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, in North Hills Shopping Center in Raleigh.