What's an Indie Groundbreaking Publisher?

For the 26 years of this publication's existance, our mission has been "to recognize and encourage the work of publishers who exhibit the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society, our environment, and our collective spirit." Independent publishers set themselves apart from the corporate publishing world of mergers, multi-media conglomeration, and profit as the bottom line, by dedicating themselves to higher values such as serving community, improved communication and understanding between cultures, and creative writing and publishing techniques. We're dedicating this new feature to publishers that demonstrate this "groundbreaking" spirit and style, and we'll spotlight one publisher each month. If you're a publisher or work with a publisher who deserves the groundbreaking indie spotlight, contact Jim Barnes, Editor, at editor@independentpublisher.com


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Indie Groundbreaking Publisher: Dawn Publications

Sharing the Joy of Nature with Children for 30 Years
In these days of global environmental concern, with every evening news broadcast detailing another ecological crisis, nearly all of us agree we need to increase our efforts to protect the Earth. What better way to do so than to instill in our children an appreciation for the natural world?

This has been the task of Dawn Publications, the Nevada City, California-based independent publisher, for 30 years. With the mission statement, “To help children bond with the Earth in a relationship of love, respect, and intelligent cooperation,” Dawn’s books accomplish this feat with compelling but approachable writing and vivid, colorful illustrations.

It all began with Joseph Cornell and his dedication to sharing nature with children. With the publication of his book Sharing Nature with Children in 1979, Cornell began a career of connecting families with nature, and his concept of "nature games" – learning about nature with hands-on experiences -- produced a revolution in nature education. The book sold over 500,000 copies in English, was translated into 15 foreign languages, and later developed into a popular four-book series. In 1999, the book was revised and expanded into a 20th Anniversary edition.

J. Baldwin, editor of Whole Earth Review, wrote, “This is absolutely the best awareness-of-nature book I’ve ever seen. Sharing Nature with Children has become justly famous because it works.”

Vance Martin, executive director of World Wilderness Congress, said about the second book in the series, Listening to Nature, “We too seldom take time to appreciate the essence of nature itself—its beauty, wonder, and inspiration. Listening to Nature takes us back to this essence, showing us a pathway to becoming a better person and ultimately a more effective conservationist.”

“Long before ‘nature deficit disorder’ in children was identified as a problem, Cornell had the answers,” says Glenn Hovemann, editor and co-publisher at Dawn since 1993.

“Usually the tagline with our logo says, ‘Dawn Publications is dedicated to inspiring in children a deeper understanding and appreciation for all life on Earth.’ You might notice that the ‘Dawn style’ is always to capitalize the reference to our planet -- we think Earth deserves at least as much respect as Mars or Jupiter!” quips Hovemann.

In 1992 Dawn launched a series of “creative non-fiction” books designed to educate as well as entertain about nature. Appropriately, the first title sprang from a manuscript submitted by an unusually talented 14 year-old junior high school student. Her name was Kristin Joy Pratt, and A Walk in the Rainforest (1992) and then A Swim through the Sea (1994), began the decades-long process of bringing beautiful, inspiring books directly to children.

By appreciating nature, Dawn believes, children “discover that they are part of something greater than themselves. With support, this positive relationship to nature is easily transferable to a positive appreciation of all humanity as well.”

Today, Dawn has established one of the most unique and important list of nature appreciation titles available, with authors and illustrators – and composers and performers -- from all over the U.S. Dawn is also proud to present a series books based on the songs of John Denver, and published River Song, by Steve Van Zandt, that won a gold medal for Book with Music in the first Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards sponsored by this publication. River Song, by Van Zandt and his Banana Slug Band, epitomizes the spirit of joy in nature that runs through the entire Dawn Publications line.

Celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, Dawn is releasing three great new books, one of which is part of an exciting new biographical series.

Earth Heroes: Champions of the Wilderness, by Carol Malnor and Bruce Malnor; illustrated by Anisa Claire Hovemann (ISBN 978-1-58469-116-7) is the first release in the "Earth Heroes" series that will feature the youth and careers of the world's greatest environmentalists, including the likes of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Theodore Roosevelt. Their lives show how they shared their scientific skills and knowledge with the public to make lasting contributions to the world. The second and third in the series will be about environmental heroes that preserved the oceans and wildlife.

In the Trees, Honeybees, by Lori Mortensen; illustrated by Cris Arbo (ISBN 978-1-58469-115-0)
Just in time to help explain to children about the global decline in honey bee population, this inside-the-hive view of a wild colony of honey bees offers close-up views of the queen, the cells, even bee eggs. The reader is left with admiration for the remarkable lives of honey bees, whether in the hive or in the field.

There's a Babirusa in My Bathtub: Fact and Fancy About Curious Creatures, by Maxine Rose Schur; illustrated by Michael S. Maydak (ISBN 978-1-58469-118-1)

On a more whimsical note, this book offers humorous rhymes and magical illustrations that illuminate the lives and careers of little-known animals. A sample:

“There’s a loris in your chorus? He’s quite a singer! Care to play bingo with a dingo? Watch out, he’s a sharp one. A babirusa in your bathtub? Better leave him there - he loves water!”

Many of Dawn’s books have companion teaching and activity guides available to assist teachers to share nature in the classroom, “to help future generations to cherish the Earth and live appreciatively on it.”

Located in an oak and pine forest in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, Dawn’s offices are close to nature, helping feed their passion is to “assist parents and educators to open the minds and hearts of children to the transforming influence of nature.”

Muffy Weaver is company manager and co-publisher, working side by side with Glenn as a husband and wife team. Part of her role is as art director, selecting and guiding the illustrators. Muffy brings to Dawn both the mind of a manager and the heart of a mother, lovingly overseeing the development and birth of each new product.

“Our books not only seek to inform, but also to inspire,” says Weaver. “In other words, we try to reach the heart as well as the mind, for the heart is the impulse that will motivate children to a lifelong relationship of respect, stewardship and intelligent cooperation with our Earth home and Mother Nature.”

Check out the latest edition of Dawn Publications' newsletter, The Dawn Buzz.

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Prometheus Books:
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