Kate DePalma

Kate DePalma

A native of the South, Managing Editor Kate DePalma moved north in 2010 to join the Barefoot Books team. Since then, she has had the pleasure of helping to create hit titles like Lola’s Fandango, The Snow Queen and The Shape Song Swingalong. She likes reading, writing, teaching, traveling, hip-hop and fixing big Sunday dinners. Kate is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans and The University of Texas at Austin, and was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Art by Sara M. Lyons (www.saramlyons.com)

Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author | Barefoot BooksLike many small children, my three-year-old daughter has a big imagination. She excels at thinking outside the box. For instance, playing with her dolls includes pretending to fix the robots my scientist husband works with – and then putting them to bed with her dollies!

Thinking outside the box and promoting imagination and innovation are some of the goals of STEM learning (science, technology, engineering and math). STEM is all about combining ideas and skills that are as different as dolls and robots to come up with something new! It’s a popular topic right now among kids, educators, and caregivers. So when we at Barefoot Books were looking for a subject for our next singalong, I took my inspiration — like so many authors before me — from my daily life!

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to our upcoming singalong My Friend Robot! It’s about a girl who loves robots — but also about so much more. Let’s peel back some of the layers together!

We’re always looking for new topics and subjects to cover in our books, so we packed My Friend Robot! with STEM concepts for kids to learn. This book teaches these topics by following a project step by step — building a treehouse with a robot!

The book covers:

  • Simple machines: The robot and children use one of each of the six simple machines to build the treehouse together. Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author | Barefoot Books

  • Carpentry: As the treehouse comes together, readers are introduced to different tools, safety equipment and the critical skill of following instructions in a sequence.

  • Programming: When the singalong ends, kids can dive deep into six pages of educational notes to learn more about simple machines, robotics and programming. It even includes a fun game that teaches basic programming principles without a computer! Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author | Barefoot Books

Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author

But if I’ve learned anything from being surrounded by robots, it’s this — there’s more to robotics than gears and sensors and code. My husband studies how robots and humans can work as a team, which inspired us to bring a social-emotional angle to the story as well. I wanted to explore what the robot can teach the children, and in turn what the children can teach the robot. So My Friend Robot! can also start conversations about:

  • Independence: Our clever main character builds her robot herself, and comes up with the idea to build a treehouse with her friends. We hope this book empowers children to imagine their own projects. Caregivers and educators can ask: What would you build with a robot friend?

  • Community: Kids and grown-ups alike will be inspired by this diverse group of neighborhood kids collaborating on a treehouse that they can all share.

  • Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author | Barefoot Books

  • Teamwork: The robot helps the children by sharing what it is good at, like using tools and building, and then the kids get a chance to help the robot by sharing what they’re good at, like…

  • Empathy: When the puppy is nervous about climbing up in the treehouse, the children teach the robot how to empathize with the worried puppy and comfort him.

Who would have thought that a picture book about a robot could be a tool for teaching so many different topics? That’s what you get from carefully crafted, high-quality picture books like the ones we make here at Barefoot Books. It has been such a pleasure to work on this book both as author and editor, to create something that will inspire children like my daughter to innovative, out-of-the-box thinking!

Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author | Barefoot Books

But there is so much more to this amazing project than what I’ve told you here! Stay tuned to learn more about My Friend Robot!, including its fun illustrations, music, and animation, as we count down to the book’s release this autumn. I can’t wait to tell you all about it! In the meantime, visit our website to learn more about this exciting new book and discover more of our fun STEM stories!

Introducing My Friend Robot!: See inside the must-have STEM book with the award-winning author | Barefoot Books

About the Author

Kate DePalma, Senior Editor | Barefoot Books

Kate DePalma, Senior Editor | Barefoot Books

Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Author, My Friend Robot! (as Sunny Scribens)

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books. She co-authored The Barefoot Book of Children, which has won four awards, including the Nautilus GOLD Award and Foreword INDIES Silver Award for Juvenile Nonfiction. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.

 


Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

By now we all know that #WeNeedDiverseBooks — both that children benefit tremendously from being exposed to diversity through literature, and that the statistics about diversity in picture books remain pretty grim.

The solution to this problem is simple: we as publishers just need to make books that feature children of all different shapes, sizes, races, abilities, cultures, lifestyles and backgrounds. Brandon Taylor observed in a recent article that “There Is No Secret to Writing about People Who Do Not Look Like You” and in many ways this wisdom relates to many parts of creating a book — illustration, art direction and editing.

In other words, talking about the need to represent all children in books is easy; actually doing so is another matter entirely!

Diversity in Barefoot Books’ Picture Books

Introducing children to other people and places and ways of life has been part of the mission at Barefoot Books since we started making books nearly 25 years ago. For us, diversity means creating versions of classic tales from various cultures to add to our collection of global picture books. It means creating stories with main characters of color, whether they’re from countries or cultures that might be foreign to Western readers, like Chandra’s Magic Light (US), Lin Yi’s Lantern (US/CA) and Girl with a Brave Heart (US/CA), or from places that might look familiar to Western readers, like Sand Sister (US/CA) and Shopping with Dad (US/CA) and the Ruby books (US/CA), to name a few (Find more here!).

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From Ruby's Baby Brother

Diversity means featuring strong, substantial female characters in our books, and including children with a range of different disabilities in our books — particularly in our line of singalong stories, which often feature diverse groups of kids going on adventures together and bopping to the beat. It means representing diverse lifestyles — different family structures, different socioeconomic statuses, and even choices like breastfeeding.

And it means always looking for new ways to make our list and our company even more diverse and inclusive. We’ve learned that being a publisher that prioritizes diversity is an active process — and I’d love to tell you more about it!

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words

Diversity in our books starts with diversity in the humans who create them. We search for authors and artists (and home office staff!) of all different cultures and backgrounds. We’ve learned that we can’t just sit back and wait for a diverse range of contributors to cross our paths, so we’re trying to actively seek out contributors who bring those diverse points of view to our books, which includes communicating our need for diverse contributors to agents, who are often critical gatekeepers to the publishing process.

The Wonderful Diversity of Wonderful Words

Visual representations of human diversity are a huge part of diversity in picture books. When we decided to create My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words (US/CA) — a big, busy word book full of scenes with crowds of people — we knew we had an opportunity to include lots of different kinds of people.

Making Diverse Picture Books: An Inside Look from The Barefoot Book of Children Co-Author Kate DePalma

From My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words

So we worked with a group called Inclusive Minds in the UK as we developed the illustrations to help us out. Inclusive Minds helped check that our representation of people, particularly those with disabilities, was accurate and positive. For example, we discussed at length the best way to represent a child who might be on the autism spectrum, and decided to include a child on the playground who is happily absorbed in playing alone (see above) — an image that readers can interpret as they wish.

But inclusivity in picture books doesn’t start and end with people! In the illustrations on the left, you’ll see that we also added accessible equipment to the playground, a hearing aid loop sign to the library and textured pavement to the sidewalks (used at intersections as an aide for people with visual impairments).

There’s Still Work to be Done

Despite all the talk about diverse books, there’s still SO far for us to go before the books on offer catch up with the narrative. As creator of books for children, I feel a tremendous responsibility as someone who has an amazing platform to reach children to create the diverse books that the industry and the world so desperately needs.

But more importantly, as a mother, I want to get my daughter off on the right foot. Children start building their concrete ideas about the world long, long before they can understand the abstract notions of diversity and inclusivity. I want to normalize diverse and inclusive depictions of the world so that they are a part of my daughter’s schema, part of her world from the beginning.

I’m sure many of you parents, educators and caregivers can relate! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? I’d love to hear from you on social media! Use the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!

And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, our new book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!

About the Author


Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.


How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

Do you struggle to find books that represent the children in your life? If so, the statistics about diversity in picture books show that you’re not alone. That’s why we created our one-of-a-kind new book, The Barefoot Book of Children - for families, classrooms and daycares just like yours. As a mother of a young child and one of the co-authors of the book, I’d love to tell you all about how we at Barefoot Books made this beautiful book for all children.

The Making of The Barefoot Book of Children

We assembled an entire team of specialists to work on The Barefoot Book of Children: our own Stefanie Paige Grossman, M.S.Ed, Child Development Specialist; Maria-Veronica Barnes, Director of Education at Lexington Montessori School in Massachusetts; and Beth Cox and Alexandra Strick at Inclusive Minds. A book of this scope and magnitude called for bringing in lots of knowledgeable people.

These specialists helped us make sure that our book was truly achieving its goal of being inclusive and accessible to all readers, and that it was depicting the rich diversity of the human experience in the best way we could in 64 pages.

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

From The Barefoot Book of Children

With their help, we made small but important changes to the text, like asking readers not what they can “hear and see and smell” from where they are but instead asking what they “hear or see or smell” (emphasis mine) so as to not assume that the reader has full use of all 5 senses. It took input from the entire team to decide the best and most age-appropriate way to address the idea that people can be transgender or experience gender dysphoria in the endmatter section for our Bodies spread. We decided on the following wording: “Some people feel comfortable in the bodies they were born in. Some people don’t.” Readers can interpret this a number of ways.

The result of our hard work on the details of The Barefoot Book of Children is something incredible to behold. David Dean’s illustrations not only introduce readers to a huge range of different ways of life, but also specifically seeks to represent children in ways that defy stereotypes that young readers might have already absorbed. We think images like artistic Darnell (see image on left) and the adventurous hijabi girl photographing the Kuwait Towers (whose hijab is made of the bojagi quilt the Korean children are sewing, see image below) are significant and essential to the book.

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children

From The Barefoot Book of Children

Join the conversation!

Children’s publishing has a serious diversity problem, and I feel a tremendous responsibility as a creator of children’s books to be a vocal part of the solution. I consider diversity and inclusion every single day as I do my job as an editor and author, and I’m so proud to work for a company that has prioritized creating diverse books for decades. Starting conversations about diversity cannot be the sole responsibility of those who are underrepresented. But conversations about diversity must include a diverse range of voices.

So I’d love to hear from you! How has the issue of diversity in children’s publishing impacted your family and your life? Share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #AllChildren to join the conversation!

And be sure to check out The Barefoot Book of Children, a book that tackles issues of human diversity head-on with inviting artwork and an accessible text. We consider it the culmination of Barefoot’s mission to open hearts and minds. Share it with a child today, and do your part to change the world for the better!

About the Author

How do you make a book for all children? Co-Author Kate DePalma on The Barefoot Book of Children


Kate DePalma
Senior Editor, Barefoot Books
Co-Author of The Barefoot Book of Children

As Senior Editor at Barefoot Books, Kate DePalma has helped develop dozens of picture books; Kate also writes picture books under her pseudonym, Sunny Scribens. She holds an M.A. in Classics from the University of Texas and is also a published poet and scholar.

 


After a long, cold winter, I’m ready to curl up with some summery reading. I’m sure you are too! So I’m very pleased to introduce you to our latest title for the season, Daddy Island (US|UK).

Daddy Island, originally published by Barefoot Books in 2001, is back in a gorgeous paperback edition due to popular demand from our community. The text invites young ones to pretend their daddy is an island, while they imagine themselves to be a noisy storm, a tall tree, the quiet sand and more. This book is more than a story to share together — it’s an invitation for physical play between parent and child. Children love to pretend to be a crab scuttling across the sand or a bird soaring high above Daddy Island. My family really loves enjoying it all together — I read the text while my husband and daughter act out each scene together. 

 

South African illustrator Niki Daly brings his signature dreamy style to the watercolor-and-ink artwork. The result is a picture book that is full of movement, life and heart. 

 

With a beautiful matte finish and sturdy flaps, this paperback edition makes a handsome gift. It’s just right for enjoying together as the days grow warmer and longer — perfect for bringing along to the shore. 

 

If you’re looking for more books about fathers, you’ll enjoy the grocery store hijinks in Shopping with Dad (US|UK). For more fun family reading, check out My Big Barefoot Book of Words (US|UK). 

We hope you love this beautiful new edition of Daddy Island (US|UK)! Pick up your copy today.

Spring is upon us! What a perfect season to welcome our latest picture book, Millie’s Chickens (US|UK), into the flock!

The Beeman (US|UK) by Laurie Krebs and Valeria Cis has long been a springtime favorite here at Barefoot, with its engaging combination of lyrical text with in-depth information about beekeeping. So when we started seeing articles a few years ago about the growing popularity of backyard chicken raising, we knew we had the perfect topic for a companion to The Beeman. What could be more Barefoot than following food from the farm (or in this case, the backyard) to the table?

 

We approached Brenda Williams, author of Lin Yi’s Lantern (US|UK) and The Real Princess (US|UK), who dreamed up a young girl called Millie and the brood of chickens she cares for in her backyard in the suburbs. We love how the story emphasizes personal responsibility by showing Millie’s hard work and the rewards she reaps as a result.

 

 

We teamed up with The Beeman‘s Valeria Cis for the illustrations. Her quirky acrylic illustrations are just right for inviting a reader into the story. She did a fantastic job capturing the three chicken breeds we meet in the text and their sweet relationship with Millie. Barefoot super fans might remember this illustration from the beginning of the development of Millie’s Chickens — Valeria created a few different Millies for us to choose from, which we in turn shared with our community for feedback. That’s how Millie became a ginger! 

Budding scientists and animal lovers will especially enjoy the seven pages of facts about chickens and eggs at the end of the book. You can read about chicken breeds, chicken anatomy, and even find recipes for four different egg dishes! 

 

Be sure to pick up your copy of Millie’s Chickens (US|UK) today!

Our busy, beautiful new word book, My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words, offers a beautifully modern depiction of the world our children experience every day. When deciding which scenes to include in the book, we chose not to reprise familiar children’s book settings like a circus or a supermarket, and instead decided to focus on creating settings that are true to the values of our community, like a library and a farmer’s market.


We are so proud and pleased that My Big Barefoot Book of Wonderful Words is finally here! This great big beauty took more than three years to develop — far longer than the typical Barefoot Books title. What took us so long, you ask? Come along and we’ll show you how we created this complex book!


ruby barefoot books new sibling

To celebrate the addition of Ruby’s Baby Brother to our family of books, we asked you, our community, for tips and tricks for helping older children adjust to the addition of a new sibling to their families. We crowdsourced advice from our Facebook page and our Living Barefoot Forums, and got some great advice from you.


Hole in the Bottom of the Sea

Image via farhanazam015

When I signed up to take Tropical Ecology as an undergraduate at Loyola University New Orleans, I had no idea that the final exam would be a two-week trip to Belize. Imagine my surprise on the first day of class as my professor, Dr. Bob, explained that we’d be spending time at a jaguar sanctuary, in a modern Mayan village and on an uninhabited island in the Caribbean to learn first-hand about the flora and fauna of the tropics. I packed up my dad’s old yellow hiking backpack with sunscreen and bathing suits and got ready to explore Belize.


The mission statement that runs in all of our books says, “At Barefoot Books, we celebrate art and story that opens the hearts and minds of children from all walks of life.” Our content team is passionately committed to creating books that are inclusive for children of all races, genders, abilities and backgrounds. So when we saw a call for papers about diversity, inclusion and equality in children’s literature, we were all over it!