Sourcebooks Kids announced today a three-book deal with musicians Tommy Soulati Shepherd and Kaitlin McGaw, also known as Alphabet Rockers, to develop children’s books that follow their mission of making change—creating brave spaces for children and families to stand up to hate and be their courageous, beautiful selves.
“Alphabet Rockers are exactly what this world needs,” said Kelly Barrales-Saylor, editorial director for Sourcebooks Explore, the bestselling children’s nonfiction imprint of Sourcebooks Kids. “Their passion, their message, and their dedication to making music that makes change are inspiring and revolutionary. The opportunity to bring their brand of activism to the book world is not only an honor, it’s essential.”
“Writing this collection for Sourcebooks is an opportunity for us as artists to invite families into an intergenerational commitment for doing better, for being better. Books and children’s media can reflect the world we are building together and illuminate the ways it doesn’t include us all,” said McGaw.
Founded by Shepherd and McGaw in 2007, Alphabet Rockers has quickly become an important voice for today’s youth, curating content centered on children’s voices and creating conversations around social justice issues such as racism and gender inclusion. Alphabet Rockers’ Grammy-nominated album, Rise Shine #Woke, has reached more than 300,000 kids and families, inspiring American kids to stand up to hate. Their second Grammy-nominated album, The Love (2019), lifts up voices of the trans, two-spirit, and gender nonconforming communities.
The first book to be released, You Are Not Alone (January 2022), is inspired by their song “Not Alone.” It is an empathetic and inclusive picture book that will empower kids to love themselves, stand up to hate, and support one another.
When I say something is unfair to me, but it’s fair for you, what does that make it?
When I meditate, it all gets clear.
And if you listen, you will really hear.
I am not alone.
I am enough.
Sourcebooks signed artist Ashley Evans as illustrator on the project. Evans most recently illustrated Gabrielle Union’s picture book, Welcome to the Party (2020).
“I was drawn to this project because something I seek to do with my art is create representation and give a voice to those of us who have been without it for so long,” said Evans. “I also know that, even now, well-crafted stories by, for, and about those of us who are underrepresented are few and far between in children’s publishing. I felt very excited about the chance to be a part of bringing a story like this to life!”
“Ashley’s fresh portrait style combined with the way she can seamlessly incorporate words into her illustrations is everything we were imagining for this book—and more!” added Jordan Kost, creative director for children’s books at Sourcebooks.
A December 2 feature on CBS This Morning showcased Alphabet Rockers and their mission through the lens of doing work for gender-diverse kids and how children can stand up to hate. Alphabet Rockers recently released an anti-racism curriculum for families and classrooms called WE GOT WORK TO DO, which is available now through their website.
“Part of diversifying our bookshelves is the essential conversations we have with our children with every book, song, and experience. This is how we expand our worldviews, together,” said Shepherd. “Critical thinking can start at any age. You Are Not Alone and the media we create reflects our complete lives, helping all of us to see others for who they are. We all have work to do in this lifelong process of anti-racism.”