Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Made In China

It's hard to explain to people - who have never heard of Kane/Miller - why we don't publish any books about Thanksgiving.

Take a look around our website and you'll quickly discover the fact that our books are a little different. There's a flag on each individual book page to represent which country the book originates from.

Our tagline - Award-winning children's books from around the world - should alert people to the fact that our books are not about U.S. history, U.S. holidays, or U.S. artists, but I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been asked at a trade show if we have books about Native Americans or on President's Day.

And I can't even begin to explain how many times I've had to tell people that our submission policy is unlike any other publisher's guidelines since we work with authors and illustrators that reside outside of the United States.

In a world that is slowly becoming smaller and considering how quickly our children are realizing how accessible it is to reach others in countries on the opposite side of the globe, I'm still somewhat surprised that there are people out there who have not heard of Kane/Miller, or are unsure of what to think about our vision and our goal of opening young minds to the world through literature.

Just recently, there has been a discussion about banning books (perhaps that's the wrong term) that were printed in China. Until this became an issue, Kane/Miller was known for the high quality books that we print, with regard to the paper quality and durability of the books that we publish, along with the book's content.

Parents and educators are in the middle of a frustrating time as toys are being pulled off the shelf and health scares related to these particular toys are presented to us in the media. I feel for the parents of those children who have been effected by the chemicals found in these toys.

What I don't understand is the idea that removing books printed in China from library shelves would help to keep our children safe (or healthy). What our public and our communities are in need of is education regarding safety issues and learning how to reach those inside the corporations which have allowed such items to be sold in the first place.

As a parent, I realize that my argument is emotionally based, but who wouldn't want to protect their child? We wouldn't allow for lead paint to be in our homes or in any products that we bring home for our children and yet, I find it very difficult to believe that books from China could be doing my son any harm.

Kane/Miller is working on providing certifications that show that our books are safe and should hopefully encourage those who might have doubts to continue to purchase books based on the quality of the writing and illustrations, rather than where the product was shipped into the United States from.

Our nation has been purchasing toys "Made in China" for so long now that sadly, we've forgotten that there are companies here who have been making educational, high-quality products for our children as well.

I highly encourage everyone reading this to think outside the (toy) box and pick out toys - and other items - that you feel comfortable with, no matter what that criteria might be. Please don't judge a book by its cover, or the country that produced it.

The media has spoken and while I applaud those who have already been purchasing items for their little ones that don't have batteries or are not made of plastic, I realize that there are those that simply don't have the resources to discover what else might be out there.

Earlier this year, my post entitled Batteries Not Included contained a list of companies who do offer these types of toys. I urge you to check them out, set aside some money to purchase items from them for the holidays or birthdays and spread the word to others.

No comments: