Atheneum Books was a New York City publishing house established in 1959 by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn. Simon & Schuster has owned Atheneum properties since its acquisition of Macmillan in 1994 and it created Atheneum Books for Young Readers as an imprint for children's books in the 2000s.
Alfred A. Knopf, Jr. left his family publishing house and created Atheneum Books in 1959 with Simon Michael Bessie (Harpers) and Hiram Haydn (Random House).[a] It became the publisher of Pulitzer Prize winners Edward Albee, Charles Johnson, James Merrill, Mona Van Duyn and Theodore H. White. It also published Ernest Gaines' first book Catherine Carmier (1964). Knopf personally recruited editor Jean E. Karl to establish a Children's Book Department in 1961.
Atheneum merged with Charles Scribner's Sons to become The Scribner Book Company in 1978. The acquisition included Rawson Associates. Scribner was acquired by Macmillan in 1984. Macmillan was purchased by Simon & Schuster in 1994.
In the 2000s, the Simon & Schuster imprint Atheneum Books for Young Readers has published the popular May Bird fantasy series for young adults, inaugurated by May Bird and the Ever After (2005), and the Olivia series of picture books featuring Olivia the pig (from 2000). The Higher Power of Lucky won the 2007 Newbery Medal. In a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery one of its Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children.
- For a detailed, endearing description of how Atheneum Publishers came into existence, read Hiram Haydn's memoir. Words & Faces: an intimate chronicle of book and magazine publishing (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974), pp. 105–40.
- Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (February 16, 2009). "Alfred A. Knopf Jr., Influential Publisher, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2009-02-22. "Alfred A. Knopf Jr., who left the noted publishing house run by his parents to become one of the founders of Atheneum Publishers in 1959, died on Saturday. He was 90, the last of the surviving founders, and lived in New York City."
- Jalowitz, Alan (Summer 2006). "Karl, Jean (Edna)". Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Penn State University. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
- Palmquist, Vicki (July 29 [no year]). "Birthday Bios: Jean E. Karl". Children's literature network. (c) 2002–2008. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
- "Description [Scribner history]". Simon & Schuster. 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2009-02-22. "In 1978 Scribner acquired Atheneum, publishers of Edward Albee, Charles Johnson, and Theodore H. White. The Atheneum acquisition also brought with it the Rawson Associates imprint. And in 1984, the Scribner Book Companies, which by then included a great children's division and a distinguished reference division, merged with Macmillan."
- National Education Association (2007). "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children". Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- Atheneum Books for Young Readers imprint at publisher Simon & Schuster