"Bernette Ford, Who Made Children’s Books More Diverse, Dies at 70
As a publishing executive and as an author, she sought to make sure that all children saw themselves in what they read."
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.
Her daughter, Olivia G. Ford, said the cause was lung cancer.
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. Published in 1990 by Just Us Books, a company founded by
Ms. Hudson and her husband, Wade, it’s a simple picture book aimed at young children, written in verse and featuring images of four Black children (Olivia Ford was the model for one) doing ordinary things:
Bright eyes, cheeks that glow,
Chubby fingers, ticklish toes,
A playful grin, a perfect nose,
Very special hair and clothes.
With its Black characters and subtle emphasis on Black pride, it was the kind of book that would have been hard to find just a few years earlier....