Greystone Books is an adult nonfiction trade book publisher established in 1993. Over our 30 years in business, we published the occasional children’s book—when one of our authors shared a story that we couldn’t resist, or when a book on a topic near and dear to us came to our attention. David Suzuki’s Salmon Forest and The Hockey Song by Stompin’ Tom Connors are examples of Greystone bestsellers for kids, both of which are still in print today.

However, kids’ books were always the exception for us until a few years ago, when more of our long-term adult authors started writing children’s books. We realized that we needed a proper children’s publishing program so that our authors would not feel they had to go elsewhere to publish their books for younger readers. We also feel strongly about publishing books that engage kids with the natural world, a core theme of our adult program. To ensure these books were successful, especially in the U.S. and international markets, we needed a dedicated creative team, and guidance on how to successfully promote kids’ books to librarians, teachers, parents, booksellers, and wholesalers.

In 2019 we launched Greystone Kids with a small, mostly parttime staff, supported by the existing resources, both human and financial, at Greystone Books. With our new imprint in place, we published a middle-grade edition of our bestselling book The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben, called Can You Hear the Trees Talking? This was followed by a picture book and another middle-grade book by Wohlleben (with more on the way). We also published a picture book called Hello, Crow by Candace Savage, one of Greystone’s longest-standing authors and a corvid enthusiast, with a middle-grade book about crows in the works.

In addition to books from our existing authors, Greystone Kids’ editorial director of picture books, Kallie George, and consulting creative director, Sara Gillingham, brought in outstanding new authors and illustrators dedicated to children’s literature, including Julie Flett, Julia Kuo, Carmen Mok, and Lauren Soloy. And renowned children’s publisher Patricia Aldana came on board under her own imprint, Aldana Libros, to bring exceptional books to English readers by international authors and illustrators, including the dynamic team of Jairo Buitrago and Rafael Yockteng.

From the start we were determined not to silo the children’s division within Greystone. This was in part out of necessity, since the imprint could not support a full contingent of staff at the beginning and needed the support of existing staff, but also because one of our core values is collaboration across all departments. Everyone from interns to the CEO is invited to contribute and to provide feedback at acquisitions and editorial concept meetings. This ensures our decisions take into account a wide range of perspectives from a pool of passionate readers. Our staff enjoy this inclusivity and being involved in both imprints. And we benefit from a much broader range of creative ideas because of it.

Another advantage of integrating our children’s and adult teams is the potential for cross-collaboration. For almost every adult book we sign, we take a moment to consider whether there could also be a potential picture book, middle-grade, or YA book on the topic, or by the same author. And it works the opposite way as well. The topics that enchant a 12-year-old are often just as interesting to an adult reader—the writing style and format simply need to be tailored to readers of different ages.

The integration of our kids’ and adult programs allows us to make offers that incorporate an adult and kids’ version of the same book. While not every author of adult nonfiction can or wants to write for children, it is surprising how many do. Writing for younger readers is a great way for authors to finesse their writing—if you can explain a complex topic to a 12-year-old, you can explain it to an adult reader even more elegantly.

We have learned a lot from each program that informs how we acquire and promote books and authors for both imprints. For instance, we now get many of our adult books leveled for reading ability and have seen an increase in school and school library sales. We include our adult books with YA crossover interest in advertising for kids’ books. And we can market kids’ books to our adult social media and newsletter subscribers, many of whom are parents and love that their favorite Greystone topics are explored in books that will engage their children.

While it is not unusual for a publisher to publish both adult and kids’ books, in our experience the two endeavors are usually kept separate, at least at the creative level. At Greystone we have embraced the benefits of cross-pollinating our adult and kids’ imprints, and our authors, books, and staff are all better off for it.

Jen Gauthier is publisher at Greystone Books and Lara LeMoal is publishing director at Greystone Kids.