Small Press Story #11: Bright Ideas for Learning

MaryAnn Faubion Kohl has a passion for children and for their natural creativity through art that first permeated her teaching years, then her parenting years, and now her current daily life. That passion became a publishing company in 1985, Bright Ring Publishing, Inc., with her first book Scribble Cookies: Creative Independent Art Experiences for Children (now Scribble Art). There was nothing on the market like it and it has become a cherished classic for parents, teachers, childcares, homeschools, and libraries around the world.

Bright Ring has progressed from that simple classic to a full color glossy art book for kids, Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters (2009). When asked about independent publishing, Kohl says, “Independent publishing has given me a voice and a crayon-bright-pipeline directly to kids that has changed the face of art for children in this country. What used to be cute kid crafts directed by adults is now true art inspired by children’s own creativity. My mission has been a joy and continues to grow as I bring my passion to the lives and art tables of kids everywhere. One of the side benefits of my independent press is traveling and speaking to large groups of educators and librarians around the country, sharing my passion for creativity and art for children, and best of all, sharing hands-on art experiences with them. After they have been through ten or fifteen art experiences, and they feel the hands-on joy of pure creativity, they are hooked! If I sell a few books in the process, well then, I know I’ve succeeded.”

Bright Ring Publishing, Inc. recently completed a count of all the books in print that Bright Ring has published, those Kohl has written for Gryphon House, Inc. (another independent press), and those translated in numerous foreign countries. The total it is closing in on 2 million copies. Kohl was asked, “How many children has each copy reached?” She replied, “The sheer thought of that number is gloriously staggering and impossible to know. It could be over sixty million, if I do a quick estimate. I think I will just take a moment and stare at the clouds imagining each of those children finding art within themselves. Inspiring doesn’t quite cover it!”