- We believe that all children can learn, no matter what challenges they face.
- We believe that ALL children can be positive contributors to their family, their community, and to society.
It is with these beliefs in mind that we focus our efforts on publishing books for ages 4 to 9 that help children make good decisions and feel confident in their social-emotional development.
Keith Garton, President of Red Chair Press is one of those two passionate people. He is joining us today for the second in our Publisher Profile series celebrating companies who, like BigUniverse.com, are dedicated to literacy in all its forms.
Terry: How did you come to be involved in the children's publishing industry? What is your role within the industry?
Keith: While I never envisioned myself in children’s publishing, I always knew from a very early age that I was going to be a publisher (even before I really knew what one did). I majored in advertising and journalism in college at Oklahoma State planning to work for a newspaper; but my first big job out of college was with an educational publishing company.
I never left the industry and have spent 30 years in marketing and editorial development for companies such as Prentice Hall, Scholastic, Weekly Reader, and TIME For Kids. I have also served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Educational Publishers and the Vermont Center for the Book. Publishing is a dream job and the challenges of the digital age just make it even more exciting.
Terry: We would love to hear more about what you're doing at Red Chair Press. What are some of the most popular items that you've published in the last three years?
Keith: Well, we’ve only been in business for three years – but we’ve been fortunate to have several of our series and titles recognized as among the best in children’s books. Awards just validate the hard work and we love them.
What I’m really proud of is seeing how children react to certain titles. SPACE CAT, for example, has been our biggest selling title. We’ve even had moms send us letters from their kids that are written to Space Cat and one mom posted a video on YouTube of her 3-year-old son shouting “Blast Off” when asked what Space Cat does. Now that warms your heart!
Terry: In looking at the current front list and the upcoming season, are there any specific themes that you've focused on in the catalog?
Keith: Our current list is all focused on character education and themes and making good decisions for younger readers. But we do have some exciting new books for ages 6 to 9 coming soon – and several new nonfiction series. We’re particularly excited about a new series that is an introduction to financial literacy: making wise decisions about earning, saving, spending and sharing.
Terry: Do you have a personal favorite from the current catalog that isn't getting lots of 'buzz'? What is it about that book that sets it apart for you?
Keith: I think my favorite books right now are BUN’S NEW HATS from the Problem Solved! Readers series and BEST IN SHOW from Funny Bone Readers. Both of these books are just so charming and they teach such enduring and important lessons about respecting others and celebrating differences.
I can hardly read through either one of these with kids without my voice cracking!
Terry: I just discovered Best in Show, myself. In fact, I'll be reviewing it on Thursday! It is a wonderful read, and I really liked how it gave kids unique words for their word banks. Okay, going in a different direction ... what is the book that has been the biggest surprise to you?
Keith: A LESSON FOR BAILEY was a bit of a surprise.
It has sold extremely well and I think probably because of Dental Health Month in schools. The book is quite popular.
Terry: When I visited your website I noticed that you have interactive eBooks and digital learning, so what's next for Red Chair Press? Do you have any new series or product lines on the horizon?
Keith: We’re introducing two new nonfiction series in the next 12 months as well as a beautifully illustrated and retold series of folk tales and myths from around the world. We also plan to continue the trend of high-quality illustrations as we publish concept books for the very young.
Terry: Given your interest in journalism and publishing as a child, I'm betting that there is someone who lit that spark and a love of books? Am I right?
Keith. The short answer is yes, you're right. I think I’ve always been a reader. I can’t remember NOT wanting to go to the library and check out as many books as I could carry, but it was my 3rd grade teacher in Oklahoma who turned me into a publisher!
She encouraged me to write as much as I could – and in any format that was comfortable for me. That year I began writing and publishing my very own typewritten, map-pencil drawn newspaper. It taught me to really appreciate writing and telling a good story.
I thank Miss Little every single day when I sit down at my computer ... I’ve given up the typewriter!
Terry: I think we've all given up the typewriter! Thanks so much for stopping by Keith, and sharing the Red Chair Press story.
Red Chair Press
PO Box 333
South Egremont, MA 01258-0333
Keith Garton, President/Publisher
Follow Red Chair Press on Twitter