Dawn in cahoots with kids to publish diverse books

Dawn McLaughlin Featured on One-on-One with Steve Adubato

Positively Publishing Kids

Photos and story by Dawn McLaughlin

When my son was young, I fell in love with kids books. I loved the time we spent reading together. I also loved watching the way the stories sparked his imagination. I was fascinated by his questions and the connections he made from letters and pictures on a page.

Positively Publishing KidsWhen he was two, I started writing my own stories. I took writing classes and learned everything I could about publishing. Life went on and I continued to write. I had two more children, got divorced, changed jobs, moved several times and got remarried. Over that twenty year span of time, I kept writing, submitting and receiving rejection letters.

In 2013 after twenty years submitting my work to publishers, I received a rejection letter. I had sent the story to them ten months prior! It was the last straw! I was so angry and frustrated! I decided it was the last rejection letter for me. It was now up to me and not publishers to make my stories into books. I had been patient, persistent, professional and got no where (kind of like my career)! I was done following the rules. This was the birth of Positively Publishing Kids.

Positively Publishing KidsI started to do some research and learned that 93% of kids books lack diversity. After all of the books I had read to my kids, I had never really noticed this. Then I realized, that is the subtle and sometimes not so subtle message we have been conditioned to receive. This message doesn't sit well with me. At all. The world is a beautiful place with all kinds of amazing people. Literature should reflect this. All kids deserve to see themselves in books. All kids deserve an accurate view of the world. Yet to date, this has not happened. I wanted to help change this.

I have always loved kids and connecting with them has always come naturally. When I received my final rejection letter, I was working at Big Brothers Big Sisters in Newark. I had the opportunity to meet so many amazing kids. I saw how they were impacted by lack of opportunities and resources. Here I was with these stories and no illustrations. What if I have kids illustrate the stories? They will have an opportunity to express themselves artistically, have a voice in kids literature and they will earn income through the royalties of the book sales.

That is how Positively Publishing Kids came about. I took two things I love, kids and books, put them together and created a unique business. Best described as a multicultural book publisher, in cahoots with kids! We are addressing the lack of diversity in kids literature and we are providing kids with artistic and financial opportunities. It really is a new genre of books. Books for kids, created with kids. When someone purchases a book, they are not only diverse book, they are also investing in a kid!


Quick Look
  • Who: For ALL kids!
  • Where: Located in Hudson County, New Jersey and can take place anywhere
  • When: Ongoing
  • How: Diverse books help kids learn about different people. Kids who are exposed to diverse literature are less likely to stereotype, they communicate better, and are more accepting of others.
  • Special Thanks: My family and Rising Tide Capital


Meet Dawn