Corus Entertainment’s Kids Can Press this month launches its first branded program, CitizenKid, a collection of books that focus on global issues and inspire young readers to become better global citizens. The debut collection consists of two new titles, David J. Smith’s If America Were a Village: A Book About the People of the United States, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong, and How to Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt, with art by Fred Rix, plus five backlist books.

“As a company, we are very interested in global citizenship and making complex world subjects more accessible to kids,” says Karen Boersma, publisher of Kids Can Press. “We didn’t initially conceive this program as a series, but after we published David J. Smith’s If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People in 2002, which uses a simple metaphor to explain the concept of world mindedness, we began thinking about other global issues we could address. We believe that if you want to be a true global citizen, you need to understand the world.”

To this end, Kids Can went on to publish other world-themed titles, which are now part of the CitizenKid program. In addition to If the World Were a Village, these include One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Millway, illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (2008); Rochelle Strauss’s One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss, illustrated by Rosemary Woods (2007); Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Herb Shoveller (2006); and Strauss’s Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth, illustrated by Margot Thompson (2004).

Though the CitizenKid titles will not feature a uniform format or trim size, their back covers will be branded with the CitizenKid logo. This will be added to the backlist books as they are reprinted. Boersma anticipates that Kids Can will add at least one new title to the collection annually, but probably not more than two, “unless we find a fantastic book along these lines that we want to add to the list sooner rather than later.”

Kids Can plans to promote CitizenKid through print and on-line advertising, Web marketing and outreach to teachers and librarians. Boersma expects solid sales in the institutional as well as the trade market. “All the backlist titles in this collection have been strong sellers and we expect they will continue to be,” she notes. “We’ve discovered that there is a big global curriculum initiative in schools and that much data exists about how kids really do want to make a difference in the world. We are happy to give them some tools to do that. We are passionate about sharing this information to kids in a fun and understandable way and the fact we have found a market for it is a very nice bonus.”