Author Denene Millner takes her children’s book imprint to the next level

The author, journalist and entrepreneur has found a new home with a major publisher and now will have the chance to get her titles to a broader audience

Denene Milner

As if being an award-winning journalist, top selling author, creator of the My Brown Baby blog and head of her own children’s book imprint isn’t enough, Denene Millner is bringing her “love letter” to children of color to a bigger stage.

In the spring of 2020, Denene Millner Books, which publishes titles written by Black authors and illustrators, will be leaving Agate Publishing’s Bolden Books and joining Simon & Schuster’s Books for Young Readers imprint – a move that will give her a larger budget for projects and allow her to be competitive in bringing in talent.

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In an interview with Publisher’s Weekly, Millner said she is excited that she will have a greater ability to bring in top talent, as well as open the door for Black storytellers and illustrators who might not otherwise receive an opportunity to have their stories published.

“I’m super excited about being at a company that has resources, not just financial, but also folks who can help spearhead what it is I’m trying to do,” Millner told PW.

Next spring, Denene Millner Books will debut five books on the S&S imprint, including: If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio; Just Like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan and illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow; Me and Mama by author-illustrator Cozbi Cabrera; My Rainy Day Rocket Ship, written by Markette Sheppard and illustrated by Charly Palmer; and Ya Ya and the Sea by Karen Good-Marable.

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“We’re still in a moment where African American storytellers, be they writers or illustrators, are not given the opportunities in any grand way to practice their art, to tell their stories, and to shine a light on the everyday lives of black children and families. When I’m at S&S, I can open a door, which perhaps wasn’t so easily opened,” Millner told PW.

In a statement released to reporters, Justin Chanda, vice president and publisher of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, said: “Denene’s instinct, tenacity, and genuine love of books are on display in every project she works on. Having Denene Millner Books join the Simon & Schuster family is a thrill and I am beyond eager to see the array of books that she will help bring into the world.”

When Denene Millner Books first launched under Agate in 2017, the author shared her vision for her line with PW: “This is a love letter to children of color who deserve to see their beauty and humanity in the most remarkable form of entertainment on the planet: books.”