Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson
Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson is a 3-Time AALBC.com Bestselling Author
Raising their two children in Northern NJ, parents Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson found it difficult to find quality Black-interest books for children outside of Black History month. The couple decided to fill the void themselves, and went to work developing their own children’s books. But publisher after publisher turned the couple down, some outwardly doubting the viability of the Black children’s book market. So the Hudsons, in 1988, founded their own publishing company: Just Us Books and their signature brand AFRO-BETSR and the company’s success quickly proved doubters wrong.
In 1992 Scholastic Inc. tapped the independent publisher’s experience for a book production partnership, which resulted in more than a dozen books. Publishers Wade and Cheryl Hudson cultivated parallel careers as authors. Each has written nearly 20 books for children, published by their own Just Us Books, and other publishers including Scholastic, Candlewick, Newbridge, Abrams, and Abingdon Press. Just Us Books has also given a number of talented Black writers, illustrators and other professionals their first opportunity in children’s publishing industry.
In 2004, the company launched its first imprint, Sankofa Books, to bring previously out-of-print Black classic books back to the marketplace. Through the new imprint, the publisher welcomed into its family of book creators literary legends such as Camille Yarbrough,and the late Rosa Guy. In 2006, Just Us Books was named "Haki Madhubuti Publisher of the Year," by the African American Pavilion at BEA. January 2008 marked a great milestone, as one of Just Us Books’ new picture books, The Secret Olivia Told Me, was named a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Illustration. And just months later, in March 2008, company founders Wade and Cheryl Hudson were honored for their contributions to literature with the Ida B. Wells Institutional Builders Award presented by the National Black Writers Conference.
In addition to their roles as publishers, both Wade and Cheryl have cultivated dual careers as children’s book authors. Wade’s books include Jamal’s Busy Day; Book of Black Heroes from A to Z; and Powerful Words. Cheryl’s titles include Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Hands Can, and My Friend Maya Loves to Dance.
The Hudsons are also partners, with their children Katura and Stephan, in Hudson Publishing LLC, which recently founded Marimba Books, a new multicultural children’s book imprint.