Vice President/Publisher of nonfiction books, scholastic classroom and library group
New York City
When Jackie Carter and her family moved into their all-white neighborhood in Middletown, N.Y., in 1960, they received a disturbing housewarming gift – “a petition to keep them out” — recalls Carter, vice president and publisher of nonfiction books at the Scholastic Classroom and Library Group. “While we were dealing with this overt example of racism, we would have these incredible evenings of discussions at the dinner table,” she says, explaining that her parents often entertained diverse groups of educators and friends who hotly debated issues of the ’60s and ’70s, over dinner and cocktails.
Her most memorable moment occurred in first grade, when the books she read in school featured white characters whose family lives resembled hers — but did not look like her. “ I was confused. And couldn’t figure out why there weren’t any children in the books that looked like me.” Twenty years later, as a first grade teacher, Carter still couldn’t find books that represented the children in her class. That’s when she decided to go into publishing.
Carter graduated from Hampton University with a degree in early childhood education. She spent several years as a teacher before moving into publishing in 1983, when she joined Sesame Street Magazine as an associate editor. Today, she and her team create nonfiction books for middle schoolers in language they understand coupled with content and images that reflect the diverse world in which they live.
“My mantra is to create books that kids want to read, not have to read,” explains Carter. Her big dreams are to write children’s books and to complete her book, The It Girl’s Guide to Chemo, which depicts her 2002 battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the challenges of dealing with chemotherapy. “It’s not a new story, but not many are written for women of color.”