Bernette Ford, who made children's books more diverse, dies at 70

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Bernette Ford, who made children's books more diverse, dies at 70

Jul 15 2021

Bernette G. Ford, who as an author and editor was a leading advocate of making children’s books more diverse and making sure that people of color had opportunities to write and illustrate them, died on June 20 at her home in Brooklyn. She was 70.

Ms. Ford, whose résumé included vice presidencies at Grosset & Dunlap and then at Scholastic Books, where she founded the Cartwheel imprint in 1991, was among the first Black executives at a major children’s book publisher. In 2002 she formed her own company, Color-Bridge Books, which consulted on and packaged a range of books for young people.

She also wrote or collaborated on a variety of children’s books, including “Bright Eyes, Brown Skin,” written with Cheryl Willis Hudson and illustrated by Ms. Ford’s husband, George Ford...

...Not all of Ms. Ford’s work was devoted to books emphasizing diversity. As head of Cartwheel she was responsible for mass-market hits like the Clifford the Big Red Dog books and the “I Spy” series, and her own writing included books for the very young that used animal characters — “No More Pacifier for Piggy!” (2008), for instance, and “No More Blanket for Lambkin!” (2009). But with Color-Bridge Books, she was particularly interested in books with diverse characters that were written and illustrated by people of color.

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