Adding a Voice to Children’s Literature
Simon & Schuster is one of the top U.S. publishing companies, and according to Kayah Hodge ’21, working there is “low-key kind of a big deal.”
And Hodge, Simon & Schuster’s children’s managing editorial summer intern, has well-earned her position with the company. A creative writing major, she has previously interned for other publishing companies, including Scholastic, and has experience working specifically in children’s editorial. She also has a deep commitment to both learning about publishing and promoting marginalized voices. So, when Hodge met Simon & Schuster representatives through a Career Center event last winter, they took an interest in hiring her.
Working under an associate production editor, Hodge is becoming familiar with the overall editorial and copyediting process as she reviews book materials and acquaints herself with the technical aspects of publishing. In addition, she regularly attends managing editorial, production, and reprint and signing meetings.
Major: Creative writing
Hometown: Brooklyn, N.Y.
High school: Uncommon Collegiate Charter High School
“It’s been really exciting learning different terms for things — the vocabulary that I hadn’t known at all before. I think that’s been my favorite part of learning,” she said.
Hodge said that the most important skill she has practiced is using her voice. On the first day of her internship, Simon & Schuster employees participated in a walkout aimed at centering discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement. Hodge believes that when difficult conversations come up, especially in regard to race and what’s happening right now, it’s important for her to contribute. “I’m not afraid to speak, especially if you’re asking me how I feel about something,” she said. “I’m not afraid to voice my opinion and say things that need to be said.”
Hodge further linked children’s editorial work to the movement. “In the book publishing industry, right now there are more [children’s] books about animals than about people of color, or who feature characters of color. I think it’s really important that we’re having these conversations in boardrooms, so that we can actually change what’s going on,” she said, emphasizing that children’s literature plays a foundational role in educating the next generation.
Reflecting on her experience at Simon & Schuster and her hopes for the future of publishing, Hodge adds, “I’m a strong advocate for fair and equitable representation of authors and writers in such a white-dominated industry, and I think that that starts with who you have at the table, who has access to these opportunities. The interns and I were talking about, statistically speaking, how many people of color are editors, how many people of color are in marketing, things like that, and it’s not a lot.
“I guess my end goal is to just … Get more people, more children of color access to books, more open positions for people of color who think that they want to write or aspire to write or think that they’d be a good editor. I want to leave the door open for other people who look like me,” she said.