Selling the States Their Own Stories

April 2003
by Jami Parkison

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Acorn Books produces The Great Heartlanders Series, a collection of biographies for children about regional heroes who have made a significant contribution to their state and the nation, as well as posters, “Factoid” bookmarks, laminated desktop maps, Celebration Kits, and cross-curriculum activities books.

Before launching Acorn Books in 1997, I wrote for other publishers. My work included regional histories for adults and illustrated books for children. One afternoon, while gathering images for a book about the Santa Fe Trail, I chatted with an archivist at the Nebraska State Historical Society. He asked if I had ever considered writing a children’s book about Nebraska’s history. Almost every week, he received requests from elementary teachers for such a book, he said, adding that fourth graders were required to study their state’s history. Precious little state-specific material existed, however–a chapter here and there, a pamphlet from the state government, or a vertical file in the school’s library. Nothing substantial.

I knew that my own state, Missouri, also had such a mandate, as did many other states. An untapped market clearly existed for a series of children’s history books.


Spotlighting People

From the beginning, my idea was to develop a biographical series, rather than standard history titles, for each state. As one teacher said, “Kids like to read about people more than…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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