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Young Palmetto Books

Giving young readers something new to leaf through.

In South Carolina, we are routinely enveloped by the nostalgic surroundings of our humble beginnings as an agricultural society, of our beloved palmetto tree and the strength it symbolizes, and of the heroism and courage of many who brought honor and pride to our state.

The Young Palmetto Books imprint that debuted this May seeks to ensure the significance of these elements of our society are not only taught, but embraced, by the youth of our communities.

The University of South Carolina Press and the South Carolina Center for Children's Books and Literacy (SCCCBL), a program in the School of Library and Information Science, launched this book series with the goal of featuring South Carolina-centric material that aims to enrich literacy efforts for children of all ages.

"One of the things that I have always wanted to do is to find out where the gaps are in good children's literature," said Kim Jeffcoat, SCCCBL executive director.

Through the center's book collection and reading programs conducted around the state, Jeffcoat noticed a lack of material that specifically focused on South Carolina. She discussed the idea of Young Palmetto Books with Jonathan Haupt, director of the USC Press. ypb quote

"This is not something that university presses usually do," Haupt said. "We're really looking for…ways to share South Carolina's history and culture with younger groups of readers and get them excited at an early age, so that they continue to be interested and invested in those topics as adults."

In keeping with the press's mission of enrichment of the state's cultural and natural legacy, Young Palmetto Books focuses not only on material pertaining to South Carolina, but also relies on the talents of writers and artists who have a connection with the state. The first book in the series, "Fragments of the Ark," tells the account of Civil War-era slave Robert Smalls and his daring commandeering of a Confederate vessel.

USC's first lady, Patricia Moore-Pastides, is the author of the second book, one that encourages the use of personal gardens and offers recipes that utilize the produce of those gardens.

The series and its new Young Palmetto Books logo were unveiled at SCCCBL at an April reception. Haupt and Jeffcoat hinted at upcoming projects. Moore- Pastides also spoke about her book and the need she sees for younger generations to have a voice through the medium of literature. Keeping with that mission, two adolescent authors are scheduled for publication.

As the initiative grows, a wider variety of books will be published in 2014, including the graphic novel "AIDS in the End Zone." Lowcountryartist Jonathan Green will illustrate a new edition of Louise Meriwether's "The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls."

"There's a lot of potential for a really great young adult series or children's series to come out of this," said Jeffcoat. "By connecting authors and illustrators in South Carolina we can also provide for them a network…where they can collaborate.

" Haupt also believes in the future opportunities this imprint will present.

"We have a responsibility…to positively impact the lives of South Carolina children with these kinds of books," Haupt said.

He anticipates that the project will foster "good, positive national attention for South Carolina" and will fuel the success of Young Palmetto Books, adding "we certainly wouldn't turn down a book award!"





Reprinted from InterCom, the college alumni magazine
Story By: Kayla Anderson & Design By: James Chamberlain


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