This year City Lights Publishers, the San Francisco-based publisher started in 1955 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and for the first time in its history, is publishing a children’s book. Titled Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History… and Our Future!, the book is part of the City Lights/Sister Spit imprint that author Michelle Tea started in 2012. (Tea recently published her own YA novel, Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, with McSweeney’s.)

Stacey Lewis, v-p of City Lights, told PW, “When Michelle brought this book in, the concept was so perfectly in line with our commitment to progressive politics. We say we don’t publish children’s books, but this one was just so City Lights.”

Written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, Rad American Women A-Z highlights the stories of 26 women whose lives have shaped the society we live in. It features a wide range of subjects, from punk rock icon Patti Smith to civil rights activist Ella Baker, and includes women whose important contributions are never recognized publicly, writing “X is for the women whose names we don’t know.”

Schatz said she got the idea for the book when her daughter was two. “Being a parent made me think really differently about being a writer and feminist,” she said. “When you become a parent you see the world in a different way. We have a house full of children’s books, and there were so many A-Z books, but I wanted something more dynamic, diverse and engaging. I realized I would need to do that myself. At first I thought it would be just a fun side project, but people reacted so passionately. I realized all kinds of people were hoping for and wanting something like this book.”

Not only is it City Lights Publishers’ first children’s book, it’s Schatz’s first as well. “The landscape of children’s literature is so exciting right now,” she noted. “It’s really different than when I was a kid. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign is amazing and it’s getting the attention of publishers.”

Lewis and Schatz both expressed enthusiasm for the children’s book world. “It’s really gratifying to be publishing a book for kids,” said Lewis. “People in the children’s book world are really perceptive and interested in the books they are covering. They exhibit more passion than I often see in the adult book market.”

Schatz also celebrated City Lights Publishers. “It’s amazing and incredible to be with City Lights,” said Schatz. “I love that this is 2015 and it’s their 60th anniversary. This book is like their grandchild. We weren’t sure how they would react to it, but they loved it. It’s new for them and it brings in a new audience but it connects with their established audience. It’s a real honor to work with them.”

As for City Lights’ future as a publisher of children’s books? “We are very excited to be doing this book, but it’s so new that we’ll have to wait and see,” said Lewis. “I’m sure people will approach us now to publish more children’s books, but there are publishers who are already doing that really well. Right now we have no plans for another children’s book. When you’re a small press and you take a chance, you have to wait to see how successful you are. We don’t know what will happen – but it’s been a great experiment so far.”