Whether at home, school, or out in the world, all kids face challenges in their lives. No matter how many choices, changes, and opportunities young people encounter, Free Spirit has had the same mission for more than 30 years: to provide children and teens—and the adults who care for and about them—with the tools they need to think for themselves, overcome challenges, and make a difference in the world.
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Free Spirit Publishing is known for its unique understanding of what kids want and need to navigate life successfully. Our reputation as the leading publisher of Self-Help for Kids® and Self-Help for Teens® is grounded in books and other learning materials that are practical, positive, pro-kid, and solution focused. We’re not afraid to tackle tough topics such as teen depression, kids and anxiety, grief and loss, juvenile justice, and conflict resolution. Free Spirit also offers sound advice with a sense of humor on relevant issues including stress management, character building, puberty, school success, self-esteem, service learning, and more. We aim to meet all kids—toddlers, teens, and everyone in between—where they are (not where we wish they were), and support them to develop their talents, build resiliency, and foster a positive outlook on life so they can reach their goals. In early 2007, Free Spirit formed an Advisory Board of Educators—a diverse group of K–12 teachers, counselors, librarians, administrators, and social workers—who provide us with valuable feedback about our products. In early 2008, Free Spirit added the Teen Advisory Council, whose members contribute opinions on design, art, and content. This is just one of the ways our books stay current, credible, and truly helpful.
A former classroom teacher and gifted-education specialist, Free Spirit founder Judy Galbraith remembers looking in vain for kid-friendly information that addressed the real-life issues her students faced. In 1983, she made a decision to begin filling that void, starting her own company to offer accessible, contemporary books to help young people develop socially, emotionally, and intellectually. More than three decades later, Free Spirit Publishing continues to be the leader in social-emotional learning, building its list from just a few titles to over 300 award-winning books and products, with new titles being published every year.
Free Spirit pushes boundaries on behalf of young people. For example, we pioneered use of the term learning differences to replace learning disabilities, because we know that kids with LD are eager and able to learn—just in a different way. Free Spirit is also a recognized leader in meeting the needs of another special population—gifted and talented kids. Judy Galbraith’s groundbreaking The Survival Guide for Gifted Kids: For Ages 10 & Under and The Gifted Teen Survival Guide, first published in 1984, have remained perennial best sellers (over 300,000 copies in print) through several updates and revisions. One of Free Spirit’s newest ventures is in expanding our early childhood offerings, by adding bilingual editions of our classic titles from the Best Behavior® series and the Learning to Get Along® social skills series and adding to our line of professional development resources for educators.
As our book inventory has grown, so has our need for office space. In 2000, Free Spirit moved from its beloved-but-cramped single-story offices to a century-old building in the downtown Minneapolis Warehouse District. In the fall of 2015, Free Spirit moved again—this time to a comfortable, efficient, and bustling space where our staff can keep developing books that strengthen kids and teens, while providing quality and service to our customers.
These days, Free Spirit has nearly 13 million books in circulation around the world. Over 140 Free Spirit titles have been translated into 30 languages including Croatian, Japanese, and Icelandic. Our books have received recognition from esteemed institutions including the American Library Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, YALSA (Young Adult Library Society of America), National Mental Health Association, Mensa Association, Autism National Committee, Chicago Public Library, Girl Scouts of the USA, and many others. Free Spirit’s expert authors have been critically hailed on broadcast outlets including CNN, NPR, and the BBC, and have been written about in every publication from Education Week and School Library Journal to USA Today and The Washington Post.
More impressive than all these accolades, Free Spirit books are the trusted, dog-eared companions of parents, teachers, counselors, youth workers, and kids everywhere. We look forward to continuing our mission of supporting young people for years to come!
Free Spirit Publishing is a WBENC-certified Women’s Business Enterprise. WBENC certification affirms that Free Spirit is woman owned, operated, and controlled. This certification enables us to help our business partners foster diversity and continue to develop their diversity programs.