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The gratitude publishing house

Gratitude Verlag was founded by actress, speaker and author Dayan Kodua and stands for “empowerment and diversity” through storytelling. The publishing house wants to show and make visible new role models who are outside the German majority society.

With the foundation in 2014 and the simultaneous publication of the first book “My Black Skin: Black. Successful. Deutsch.”, Gratitude Verlag is one of the first German-language publishing houses founded by a black woman. We are one of the few publishing houses that mainly publishes books with BPOC heroines and heroes.

The protagonists of the books of the publishing house are always black or POC heroines, who usually transport a positive message through the stories.

In addition, Gratitude Verlag BPOC wants to give newcomer authors and illustrators the opportunity to make their voice heard and visible through their stories or illustrations and to reach children to young adults with these. 

The ultimate goal is to use the identification potential between protagonists and readers, to show young people from different backgrounds exactly these empowering protagonists and to promote their self-discovery and freedom within it.

Why the name “Gratitude” publisher? Gratitude, and the expression of it, is often interpreted as submissiveness within a capitalist, patriarchal society. 

We see it differently and would like to “rewrite” this word. Gratitude and appreciation are strengths! Gratitude can become a philosophy of life that leads to discovering the beautiful sides of life. It is not about not being critical or looking at everything only through the “rose-colored glasses”, but about appreciation towards what is, one’s own family, circle of friends, nature and above all appreciation towards one’s self.

And we have a lot to be thankful for every day. Gratitude also wants to express a special gratitude to all the authors and illustrators who publish through the publishing house and share their empowering stories with the world. 

While it is difficult for a person who has lived and grown up in a white majority society since birth to gain a foothold in the literary world and find her own voice, being a Black author means a different kind of struggle, a different kind of courage, an extra commitment to achieve the same goals. Gratitude recognizes this and wants to support those very people who do it anyway and embark on this path, and get their words out there.

Gratitude Publishing wants to contribute to a more diverse literary landscape. In doing so, it is important to consider and, if necessary, change which perspective is taken, which is represented, and whose story is told. Dayan Kodua, through Gratitude, appears not only as an author, but also as a founder of the publishing house, as a manager, as an artist, and especially as a human being. The publishing house thus springs from a diverse perspective and carries it forward.

Authors and illustrators

Susanne Dorn
completed a PR traineeship after studying business administration. Afterwards, the Hamburg native worked for several years as a local reporter for the Hamburger Abendblatt and as an online editor for the Milchstraße publishing group. She has since returned to PR and is responsible for the website, exhibitions and publications of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft selbstständiger Migranten e. V. (ASM). (ASM). Susanne Dorn is the author of the first volume “My Black Skin. Successful. Deutsch”, which Dayan Kodua published in 2014. “I have great respect for the life achievements of those I portrayed. I was enriched by the work on the two volumes, and I am grateful for the openness with which my interview partners met me.”

Britta Schmeis
Born and raised in Hilden near Düsseldorf in 1972, she studied American Studies and Business Administration in Hamburg. She then did a traineeship at the Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Since then, she has worked as a freelance journalist and author specializing in film, literature and society for Die Welt/Welt am Sonntag, Spiegel online and epd Film, among others. She wants to give a voice to people who are otherwise hardly heard and tell of lives that are completely foreign to many, in order to open people’s eyes to the diversity of our world. Britta Schmeis has a daughter and lives with her family in Hamburg.

Michaela Ludwig
worked as an editor for a Hamburg television production company after studying modern German literature and sociology and internships at the Lübecker Nachrichten and the Hamburger Morgenpost. Since a volunteer stay in Uganda, the native of Schleswig-Holstein writes for newspapers, magazines and non-governmental organizations. As a partner at agenda fotografen & journalisten, she researched reports and features in Hamburg and around the world. Today she works mainly in PR and writes about topics from the world of work and education. She is enthusiastic about meeting a wide variety of people and immersing herself in their lives. She wants to give them the opportunity to tell their stories and present their view of the world.

Sean Qualls
Sean Qualls has illustrated many highly acclaimed children’s books, including “Giant Steps to Change the World” by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, “Lullaby” by Langston Hughes, and “Before John was a Jazz Giant” by Carole Boston Weatherford, which was named a “Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book.” Sean also created the art for “Dizzy” by Jonah Winter, which received five stars, and “Freedom Song” by Sally M. Walker. Learn more at seanqualls.com.

Laurie Ann Thompson
Laurie Ann Thompson is the author of Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters, a guide for teens who want to change the world. Laurie is an advocate for social justice and is dedicated to inspiring and empowering young readers. Emmanuel’s Dream is her picture book debut. Visit her at lauriethompson.com.

Nicole Gebel
Nicole Gebel is an illustrator and graphic designer. Born and raised in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, her passion for design brought her to Kiel in 2007. Here she studied at the Muthesius Academy of Art and graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Design. Since then, she has been working from Kiel as a freelance illustrator and designer for a diverse group of clients. Art and illustration have always been a big part of her life. She has been influenced and inspired by everything and everyone in her life. Especially by her childhood at the Baltic Sea. Her illustrations live from their complexity and attention to detail.

Dayan Kodua.
is an actress, speaker, author and founder of Gratitude Publishing. Born in Ghana and raised in Kiel, Germany, Dayan followed her heart after graduating as a business assistant and studied acting in Berlin and Los Angeles. In addition to her work as an actress and speaker, she is passionate about empowering People of Color and making them more visible as role models. In 2014, she therefore published the illustrated book “MyBlack Skin: Black. Successful. German” and launched a traveling exhibition and corresponding workshops. It is particularly important to Dayan to make children aware of their inner strength. She addresses this topic in her picture books “Odo” and “Odo and the Beginning of a Great Journey,” among others, which will be published in 2019 and 2021. With Gratitude Publishing, she wants to give other authors the opportunities to present their diverse stories to the public.

Robby Krüger

After a short time in Berlin, Robby Krüger has already focused on two creative areas: Interior Design and Illustration. The field of illustration has developed very successfully, especially in the last 5 years, and she has already been able to work on some exciting projects, such as a planned American animation series, a 5-volume fantasy book series, the first part of which will be published this year, and of course the first part of “Odo”.
Her love for illustration grew stronger over time and is now the main focus of her creative work.

In 2012, the modern fairy tale “Sternenreiter – Kleine Sterne leuchten ewig” was published as a hardback and audio book edition. Another publication is the modern fairy tale “Traumflieger – Lena schreibt Briefe an Gott”, which has been available as a hardback and audiobook edition since May 2015. In September 2016, “Die Chroniken der Windträume” (The Chronicles of Wind Dreams) was published, a story about parting, mourning, about eternal becoming and passing away, but above all about hope and the irrepressible power of life. The title is also available in hardback and as an audio book.

The world of children is diversity

To me, diversity means that we can all work to tell stories in which a wide variety of people, from different backgrounds, people with physical challenges, people with different sexual orientations, people of all religions, and so on, can also find themselves in books. This is true not only for children’s books, but also for the stories that are written and produced for television. We want a change? Then it is important that we all help to bring about these changes. That we all pitch in! Everyone can do as much as he or she can. Then we have the opportunity to change a lot for the better.