In the weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, the international publishing community has come together with a number of initiatives aimed at offering support to children’s authors, publishers, and aid organizations. For those interested in helping, there are a number of ways to get involved.
KidLitForUkraine Stories of Hope Virtual Event
On Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m., more than two dozen children’s authors and illustrators will join the Stories of Hope virtual event organized by author Marc Tyler Nobleman and hosted by KidLit TV. The event brings together American authors including Kathi Appelt, Jason Chin, Donna Barba Higuera, Minh Lê, Neal Shusterman, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Ukrainian authors Victoria Amelina (Вікторія Амеліна), Adrianna Bamber (Адріянна Бамбер), and Olha Kupriyan (Ольга Купріян). Surprise guests are expected to attend as well. Donations will go to Save the Children, which is operating on-the-ground support for families and children in Ukraine. The organization has been operating in the country since the first Russian invasion in 2014.
During Stories of Hope, the authors will read and tell stories, some taken from their books but also personal ones. “The stories are not explicitly about Ukraine, but rather for Ukraine,” Nobleman said, noting that the stories by the Ukrainian authors will contain powerful emotional appeals. Participants will have the opportunity to donate during and after the event. Translation to provide English subtitles for videos in Ukrainian has been volunteered.
Click here to register/donate and to watch the program. All the donated proceeds from the event go directly to Save the Children.
Book Sales Equal a Donation
Enchanted Lion Books is donating 100% of the proceeds from online sales of How War Changed Rondo—by Ukrainian husband-and-wife author-illustrator team Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv, translated into English by Oksana Lushchevska—to UNICEF’s Ukraine relief funds. The picture book, released in fall 2021, tells the story of three children whose peaceful life is disrupted by war and ultimately offers a message of peace and hope. The book must be ordered from the publisher’s website (donations are only made for books purchased through the company website).
Pre-Order to Help Ukrainian Author
Picture book publisher Red Comet Press has worked with translator Zenia Tompkins to translate into English The Happiest Lion Cub by Ukrainian author Oleksandr Shatokhin. The book centers on a lion prince who would rather pursue his dream of being a musician than fulfill his destiny as a king. Shatokhin is a father of two young children and his family has been subjected to daily bomb threats in their Ukrainian town, Sumy. Red Comet releases the book on September 13, but pre-orders will help the author now.
Buy a Book, Donate to a Classroom
City of Light Publishing, an independent publisher in Buffalo, N.Y., has organized a campaign around its picture book Hello! A Welcoming Story by Gina K. Lewis, illustrated by María José Campos. The dual narrative story recounts the stories of refugee children from their own perspectives and from those of their classmates. Through its Welcome Ukrainian Refugees Book Donation Campaign, communities can purchase books to donate to their local schools and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the UN Refugee Agency’s Ukraine Emergency Fund. The book is written in English.
U.K. Publisher Translates Ukrainian Picture Book, Donates Proceeds
Next month, Bonnier Books UK will release an English translation of picture book Maya and Her Friends by author and activist Larysa Denysenko, illustrated by Masha Foya, both Ukrainian. The book was published in 2017 with the title Maya and Her Moms and was controversial in Ukraine because of the main character’s parents, a lesbian couple. The story takes place after the 2014 annexation of Crimea and occupation of part of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In Maya’s classroom, each of the children has been touched by the war in a different way. The English edition features a new introduction by Denysenko, written while she was sheltering from missiles just a few weeks ago. The book will also be published in Finland, Poland, and Germany. All of the company’s profits will be donated to UNICEF. The book can be pre-ordered here.
U.K. Publisher Donates Profits from Immigration Book to Relief
For every copy sold of The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (2020), U.K. publisher Nosy Crow will donate £1 per book to Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Appeal. The picture book is about having to leave one’s home and relying on the kindness of strangers. The publisher is also working on a Ukrainian edition of the book.
Canadian Publisher Reprints Classic Children’s Book in Support
Canadian publisher Durvile Publications is publishing The Little Book: Story Reader for a Free Ukraine, a new edition of a 1940s book used in Canadian schools to help Ukrainian immigrant children learn to read. The themes in the book, which was originally published in Lviv, include duty and responsibility to the homeland of Ukraine, the value and love of family, and living the farm life and features beautiful illustrations. The book has been translated into English by Magda Stroinska, a professor of linguistics and languages at McMaster University. The stories in the book are aimed at children from about eight to 14. Proceeds from the book—to be published March 31 and available at Indigo/Chapters as well online outlets and direct from the publisher—will go to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal of the Canada Ukraine Foundation.
Ukrainian Publisher Raises Funds for Lviv Residents
Ukrainian children’s book publisher The Old Lion Publishing House produces about 130 children’s books a year, including picture books, fiction, poetry, and activity books. Foreign rights director Ivan Fedechko is appealing to international publishing colleagues for help for the embattled citizens of the company’s hometown, Lviv. Located just 50 miles from the Polish border in western Ukraine, the city has been pummeled by airstrikes in recent days. Donations will go directly to relief organizations within the city that are providing for vital needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical attention. The donation link is located here.
Polish Literacy Foundation Publishes, Distributes Books to Refugee Children
As we reported earlier, the Polish literacy foundation Fundacja Powszechnego Czytania (Universal Reading Foundation) is working with Ukrainian children’s book publishers to print and distribute books in Ukrainian for refugee children in Poland. Using established distribution networks, the Foundation has already begun to distribute books to children staying in shelters and beginning to attend schools in Poland. All services have been donated by Polish publishers, printers and distributors, and all proceeds will go to Ukrainian children’s book publishers. Donations for this effort can be made here.
Books Offer Comfort
Finally, in these troubling times, books are already providing comfort to children. Author Dan Gutman has used his social media channels to share photos of a Ukrainian refugee boy who is trying to learn English by reading his My Weird School books. The photos speak to the power of books to offer comfort and hope to children when it’s needed the most.