Wade Hudson is an award-winning author, CEO and co-founder of Just Us Books, one of the nation's leading independent children’s book publishers.
Wade’s career in publishing spans four decades. He has written more than 30 books including: Book of Black Heroes From A to Z; Poetry from the Masters: The Pioneers; Jamal's Busy Day, and Powerful Words: More than Two Hundred Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans. He is co-editor with Cheryl of three anthologies published in partnership with Crown Books for Young Readers, including: The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth and Recognize! An Anthology Honoring and Amplifying Black Life. He wrote a collection of poetry, Journey, which was published by Third World Press and his coming-of-age memoir, Defiant: Growing up in the Jim Crow South, which Kirkus Reviews called a “powerful testimony from a children’s literature legend,” won the 2022 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature. His newest title is the picture book Invincible: Fathers and Mothers of Black America.
In his role as CEO of Just Us Books, Wade leads the company in bringing to market children’s books that reflect the fullness of Black stories, history, culture and experiences, breaking barriers in the industry, and contributing to a more inclusive literary landscape.
As a speaker with the dual roles of publisher and author, Wade offers unique perspectives into the world of children’s literature, education, diversity, and publishing. He speaks at schools, industry conferences, educational institutions, libraries and corporate events across the nation, and has facilitated with his wife Cheryl workshops for Freedom Schools, operated nationwide by the Children’s Defense.
Wade’s contributions to children's literature have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Stephen Crane Literary Award, induction into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, the Harlem Book Fair Phyllis Wheatley Award (2007), the Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award (2008) presented by the Center for Black Literature, the Madame C. J. Walker Legacy Award (2012) given by the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Foundation, and the 2022 Carle Honors award from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a recognition he shares with his wife Cheryl.
Cheryl Wills Hudson is an award-winning author, co-founder and editorial director of Just Us Books.
She got her start in publishing doing textbook design and has gone on to write and lead the editorial and art direction for hundreds of titles. Her AFRO-BETS® Kids characters, featured in titles including the AFRO-BETS ABC Book and the AFRO-BETS 1 2 3 Book helped to launch Just Us Books and demonstrate a need and a market for children’s books that center and celebrate Black people and culture. Cheryl is also the author with Bernette Ford of Bright Eyes, Brown Skin; Hands Can; My Friend Maya Loves to Dance; Brave Black First, 50+ Women Who Changed the World, a collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, and co-editor with her husband Wade of three anthologies, including the award-winning We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices.
A champion for change in the children’s book industry, Cheryl is a member of PEN America and PEN’s Children’s and Young Adult Books Committee, and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Her honors include induction into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, the Harlem Book Fair Phillis Wheatley Award (2007), the Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award (2008) presented by the Center for Black Literature, the Madame C. J. Walker Legacy Award (2012) given by the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Foundation, and the 2022 Carle Honors award from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.
Cheryl also demonstrates her creative talents through fabric art, hand-sewing improvizational story quilts that are threaded with images from Black history and culture. Her work is inspired by the colors and design of indigenous African textiles, African American applique quilts, contemporary quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, and reflects themes of social justice, Black cultural icons and the influences of African American music.
Click here for more information about booking Wade Hudson and/or Cheryl Willis Hudson for speaking engagements and school visit.
Cheryl Willis Hudson and Wade Hudson at the Just Us Books offices in 2003.