Seattle’s Sasquatch Books will unveil a young adult nonfiction imprint this week. Spruce Books will specialize in visual titles for tweens, teens, and young adults that encourage digital natives to make changes in their lives and communities.
Spruce launches later this summer with Anti-Racism: Powerful Voices, Inspiring Ideas (Aug. 18), the first in a Words of Change series from the new imprint, a quote book filled with photographs. Anti-Racism was written by Kenrya Rankin, senior editorial director at Colorlines, a daily news site focused on how race affects all aspects of our lives.
Rankin’s lifelong passion for anti-racist activism was ignited from her Black nationalist father. The book shares inspiring lines from historic leaders like César Chávez and Martin Luther King Jr. alongside quotes from contemporary activists like Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, author Ibram X. Kendi, and pop star Lizzo. Some of the book’s proceeds will support the new generation of activists marching around the country—donated to the Movement for Black Lives Fund, a nationwide coalition connecting 150 activist groups into “a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize, and take action.”
"I envisioned a book you could give to a teen that would spark a sense of recognition," said founding publisher Sharyn Rosart, "because it showed real people speaking honestly and passionately." Spruce will work with Black-owned bookstores around the country to offer free virtual events with the author and other activists. They hope to share quotes from the book widely across digital outlets as well, designing social media assets that readers can circulate, along with biographical information about the source of the quote.
"We aim to create fun, safe, and inclusive experiences tied to the books, to be able to meet readers where they are," said Nikki Sprinkle, director of marketing at Sasquatch. Sprinkle's team will build digital events, online workshops, online communities, readers guides, and educator resources to support Spruce titles. “Digital engagement will be very focused on supporting anyone who wants resources to help in the fight for racial equity,” Sprinkle said. “Young readers will also get social media-friendly assets and resources from the books to help guide their own personal journeys in self-expression."
Rosart began her career as a co-founder of Quirk Packaging, the book producer behind The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbooks, Jr. series and Subversive Cross Stitch. She also served as publisher of POW! Books for Kids. More recently, she worked as imprint sales director at Penguin Random House, where she noticed an opening in the nonfiction marketplace that Spruce could fill. “I felt there was a real need for books that were visual but not childish, that could draw in readers who might not pick up a more substantial text,” she said.
Spruce will release Best Worst Grateful: A 5-Minute Mindfulness Journal in September, a journal without a listed author that guides young adults toward self-improvement with daily prompts about gratitude, self-care, and mindfulness.
In October, Spruce will publish Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire, a title co-written by poets Jessica Jacobs and Nickole Brown, collecting strategies the poets had developed after years of teaching poetry workshops.
Penguin Random House acquired Sasquatch Books in 2017 for an undisclosed price, adding around 250 books from the fast-growing indie publisher’s backlist. The press has been based in Seattle for more than 30 years.