Sky Pony Press, the children’s arm of Skyhorse Publishing, has announced the debut of Better World Kids, its new imprint for young readers. True to its name, the imprint will publish values-oriented books by socially conscious authors. Every author published under the imprint will donate a significant number of their books to public libraries across the country via the Chapters Relations Office of the American Library Association.

Conservation and philanthropy are the respective themes of the line’s inaugural releases. Our House Is Round by Grammy-nominated harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, illustrated by Joan Brush, offers an introduction to environmental issues and will be released on Earth Day (April 22, 2012). Due in June is The Lemonade Ripple by Paul Reichert, which centers on a girl whose act of kindness creates a ripple of generosity throughout her small town. Reichert, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer and artist, will donate all of his royalties from the book to the Foundation for Community Betterment, which distributes proceeds to individuals and organizations in the U.S. and other countries.

Editor Julie Matysik directs Better World Kids, and Bruce Harris serves as consulting editor. The imprint, which is the brainchild of Matysik, Harris, and Skyhorse publisher Tony Lyons, was launched “to publish books that teach kids great values, inform them about their world, and allow them to become good citizens,” says Matysik. Better World Kids will publish four hardcover picture books per year.

“For now, we are targeting readers ages three to eight,” Matysik says, “since we think it’s important to instill these values in kids early on, while they’re still formulating their ideas about their place in the community, their place within their peer group, and their place in society as a whole. But there is a possibility that we’ll branch out to a slightly older age range in the future.”

Our House Is Round and The Lemonade Ripple were initially self-published. Matysik notes that both books “have been revamped, with new illustrations and new content.” Though the fall 2012 releases have not yet been finalized, Matysik says “we have several projects in the works, and we are actively seeking submissions for future lists.”

Matysik says that the company’s pledge that each Better World Kids author will donate books to libraries is in keeping with the imprint’s mission. “We wanted to do something special with this imprint, and to establish ourselves as a children’s book publisher that cares about quality literature with important messages for kids,” she says. “That’s our goal with Better World Kids Books and with Sky Pony Press in general—and what better way to do that than donating books through ALA’s Chapters Relations Office, to make more good books available to more children?”

Our House Is Round by Yolanda Kondonassis, illus. by Daphne Knox. Sky Pony Press/Better World Kids Books, $16.95 Apr. ISBN 978-1-61608-588-9

The Lemonade Ripple by Paul Reichert. Sky Pony Press/Better World Kids Books, $12.95 June ISBN 978-1-61608-701-2