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The Lerner Podcast

Author: Lerner Books

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Join us for author interviews, book chat, and more!Lerner Publishing Group creates nonfiction and fiction books that educate, empower and entertain readers. Whether you are looking for engaging picture books, high-quality supplemental nonfiction, graphic novels, or boundary-pushing young adult novels, you will find what your readers need to grow and learn. Visit our website at credits:"Farm" Kevin MacLeod ( under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
36 Episodes
Today on The Lerner Podcast, we talk with Nina Crews, illustrator of A Girl Like Me. Nina is a critically acclaimed children's book author and illustrator. She uses photographs and photocollages to create energetic stories about young children. In this book, she uses her signature style to illustrate Angela Brown's empowering poem, "A Girl Like Me". “Once I dreamed I swam / the ocean / and saw everything deep, cool / and was part of the waves. / I swam on by the people / onshore / hollering, / ‘A girl like you needs to / stay out of the water / and be dry / like everyone else.’”Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book celebrates girls of color.Nina discusses how the book came to be, her hopes for young readers to continue making the world a better place, and artists whose children's books she loves. Show notesNina's Recommended ArtistsCharles R. Smith Jr.’s My People: Pulley Sayre: Wick: and an in-progress sketch can be viewed on the Lerner Blog. Read a transcript of the interview here. Visit Nina Crews' website. Music credits:"Farm" Kevin MacLeod ( under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
"Father, is all of the world a refugee camp?"Young Kalia has never known life beyond the fences of the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp. The Thai camp holds many thousands of Hmong families who fled in the aftermath of the little-known Secret War in Laos that was waged during America's Vietnam War. For Kalia and her cousins, life isn't always easy, but they still find ways to play, racing with chickens and riding a beloved pet dog.Just four years old, Kalia is still figuring out her place in the world. When she asks what is beyond the fence, at first her father has no answers for her. But on the following day, he leads her to the tallest tree in the camp and, secure in her father's arms, Kalia sees the spread of a world beyond.Kao Kalia Yang's sensitive prose and Rachel Wada's evocative illustrations bring to life this tender true story of the love between a father and a daughter.Learn more at
How do you make a picture book? Well, you need an author, an illustrator, and . . . a dog?!Acclaimed author Chris Barton and his trusty pooch Ernie talk about how to make a nonfiction picture book . . . about Ernie! From coming up with ideas, researching, and writing a first draft to finding the perfect illustrator, deciding what goes on the cover, and getting every last wrod—er, word just right, you'll see how a book is made from beginning to end.From acquisitions and editing to graphic design and dog treats, find out what's required to bring a book to life. This title perfectly blends how-to and humor for an informative look at book publishing. And look, this is part of the marketing step!Chris Barton shares why and how he researched this book (and whether Ernie helped!). Learn more at
"This book is a gift to the culture." —Amy Schumer, writer, actor, and activistAfter her brother's death from a congenital heart defect, twelve-year-old Lucy is not prepared to be the new kid at school—especially in a grade full of survivors of a shooting that happened four years ago. Without the shared past that both unites and divides her classmates, Lucy feels isolated and unable to share her family's own loss, which is profoundly different from the trauma of her peers.Lucy clings to her love of math, which provides the absolute answers she craves. But through budding friendships and an after-school mime class, Lucy discovers that while grief can take many shapes and sadness may feel infinite, love is just as powerful.Learn more at
In this new series, examine hard topics facing our society—from gun violence to immigration. Learn how problems developed and hear from underrepresented persons involved in these struggles. Reflection questions help readers challenge their perspectives, while an activism toolkit and a Read Woke reading list empower readers to make a difference.Read Woke™ Books are created in partnership with Cicely Lewis, the Read Woke librarian. Inspired by a belief that knowledge is power, Read Woke Books seek to challenge social norms, give voice to the silenced, provide information about groups that have been disenfranchised, disrupt the status quo, and share perspectives from underrepresented or oppressed groups.Issues in Action includes:- Gun Violence and the Fight for Public Safety: Among similar countries, the United States has a unique problem with gun violence. Gun-related deaths and injuries happen at high rates every year. Debates over how to reduce gun violence wrestle with defining Second Amendment rights, different ideas of freedom, and which reforms to enact. Learn how organizations and governments are working to stop gun violence; which laws, regulations, and technology could effect change; and how young activists are fighting for public safety.- Immigration, Refugees, and the Fight for a Better Life: Throughout history and into the modern day, people have moved from place to place to flee danger and seek out better lives. But immigrants and refugees often meet harsh realities on their journeys. Learn about immigration and refugee resettlement within the United States and throughout the world. Follow both historical and recent large migrations, understand the challenges of life in a new country, and see how activists fight for immigrants' and refugees' rights.- Income Inequality and the Fight over Wealth Distribution: In America, the amount of money people earn for doing the same job isn't always equal. The United States only recently made it illegal to pay men more than women for the same job, and the country's history of racism has created big wealth gaps between white and Black people that persist in the twenty-first century. Learn how income inequality originated, why it is a problem, and the ways people are fighting for an equal playing field.- Mass Incarceration, Black Men, and the Fight for Justice: In the United States, Black men are almost six times more likely to be imprisoned than white men. This disproportionate impact can be traced back to slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the criminalization of Black people into the modern day. With growing awareness about unfair treatment in the justice system, more and more people are calling for change. Read more about the history and causes of mass incarceration and how activists are reforming and rethinking justice.- The Opioid Epidemic and the Addiction Crisis: The US has seen an alarming rise in the numbers of people addicted to and overdosing on opioid drugs, including oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, and heroin. Learn about history of the opioid crisis, the science behind addiction, and how people help those in danger.- Use of Force and the Fight against Police Brutality: In the spring and summer of 2020, several high-profile cases put a renewed spotlight on law enforcement's use of force in the United States, especially against Black people. Activist groups such as Black Lives Matter demanded accountability for police and justice for victims of police violence. Read about the history of police brutality in the US, the role of technology in police accountability, and community movements calling for changes to police training, equipment, and funding.Learn more at and
"History" sounds really official. Like it's all fact. Like it's definitely what happened. But that's not necessarily true. History was crafted by the people who recorded it. And sometimes, those historians were biased against, didn't see, or couldn't even imagine anyone different from themselves.That means that history has often left out the stories of LGBTQIA+ people: men who loved men, women who loved women, people who loved without regard to gender, and people who lived outside gender boundaries. Historians have even censored the lives and loves of some of the world's most famous people, from William Shakespeare and Pharaoh Hatshepsut to Cary Grant and Eleanor Roosevelt.In No Way, They Were Gay?, author Lee Wind takes readers on a fascinating journey through primary sources—poetry, memoir, news clippings, and images of ancient artwork—to explore the hidden (and often surprising) Queer lives and loves of two dozen historical figures.Learn more and download a discussion guide at 
Some parents want their children to turn out just like them. Only a few secretly turn their kids into elite special operatives.Josie Black can infiltrate any building, speak a dozen languages, and fight like a martial arts master. But no one told her that. After J.B. detects gaps in her memory, her mom reveals the truth: she works for a covert agency, and she's given J.B. the skills of a super spy. After J.B. freaks out, runs off, and tries to escape the weird world of espionage, she'll have to decide who she wants to be.Learn more at
Miranda Paul shares the inspiration for her new picture book, Beyond: Discoveries from the Outer Reaches of Space. Journey far beyond our solar system and explore the marvels of interstellar space. A wonder-filled poem and spectacular illustrations bring readers across the observable universe to encounter dwarf planets, black holes, brand-new stars, and other incredible phenomena. Award-winning author Miranda Paul and illustrator Sija Hong present a fresh and fascinating journey to the outer reaches of outer space.Learn more at
"Books like this one help lead the way to a better climate future for all inhabitants of Mother Earth. We are all in this together!" — Jeff Bridges, Academy Award winner and environmentalistA little more than 70 percent of Planet Earth is ocean. So wouldn’t a better name for our global home be Planet Ocean?You may be surprised at just how closely YOU are connected to the ocean. Regardless of where you live, every breath you take and every drop of water you drink links you to the ocean. And because of this connection, the ocean’s health affects all of us.Dive in with author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley—visit the Coral Triangle near Indonesia, the Salish Sea in the Pacific Northwest, and the Arctic Ocean at the top of the world. Find out about problems including climate change, ocean acidification, and plastic pollution, and meet inspiring local people who are leading the way to reverse the ways in which humans have harmed the ocean.Planet Ocean shows us how to stop thinking of ourselves as existing separate from the ocean and how to start taking better care of this precious resource.
Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.Cherokee author Traci Sorell and Métis illustrator Natasha Donovan trace Ross's journey from being the only girl in a high school math class to becoming a teacher to pursuing an engineering degree, joining the top-secret Skunk Works division of Lockheed, and being a mentor for Native Americans and young women interested in engineering. In addition, the narrative highlights Cherokee values including education, working cooperatively, remaining humble, and helping ensure equal opportunity and education for all. Learn more at
Celebrated author Carole Boston Weatherford provides a powerful look at the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community. News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.Learn more and download an educator's guide at 
Award-winning illustrator Floyd Cooper brings to life the Tulsa Race Massacre, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our nation's history. The book traces the history of African Americans in Tulsa's Greenwood district and chronicles the devastation that occurred in 1921 when a white mob attacked the Black community. News of what happened was largely suppressed, and no official investigation occurred for seventy-five years. This picture book sensitively introduces young readers to this tragedy and concludes with a call for a better future.Learn more and download an educator's guide at
Today I chat with Ginger Garrett, author of Name Tags and Other Sixth-Grade Disasters, about inspiration, bullying, and selfies, and how to start a teen writer's club in your school or library. Twelve-year-old Lizbeth always has a plan, and those plans have usually worked—until now. No matter what she tries, she can't get rid of her dad's new girlfriend, Claire. And when she and her mom move, Lizbeth has to join a sixth-grade class already in progress, where her teacher makes her wear a name tag and she's seated with three notorious "weirdos."When faced with mandatory participation in a school talent show, Lizbeth and the Weirdos decide to create self portraits. Reluctantly, Lizbeth finds herself becoming friends with people she thought she had nothing in common with—and coming to terms with the things she can't control.Praise for Name Tags and Other Sixth-Grade Disasters"Disasters averted in this realistic yet amusing take on sixth grade life."—Kirkus Reviews"Fun, funny, and fully heartfelt. Everyone needs true-blue friends like Lizbeth's. SuperChicken for life." —Kristin L. Gray, author of The Amelia Six and Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge"One of those books that explores difficult topics—divorce, a new school, being dubbed a "weirdo"—with grace and good humor." —Rebecca Petruck, author of Boy Bites Bug and Steering Toward Normal"This hilarious and heartfelt gem is moving straight to my "favorites" shelf." —Lisa Lewis Tyre, author of Last in a Long Line of Rebels and Hope in the HollerYou can find Ginger online at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and don't miss her resources on Pinterest.Here's a link to the Google Classroom collection of selfies that we discussed, as well as the awesome Calculus Roundtable that Ginger is involved with.  Music credits"Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License 
Today on the Lerner Podcast, I’m pleased to welcome Whitney Stewart, a science author, and Hans Andersson, a clinical geneticist, who together wrote Genomics. Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, the field of genetic studies has transitioned into an era of discovery. Whitney and Hans explore the scientific breakthroughs in genetic research that currently inform our understanding of ancestry, inheritance, epigenetics, health, and medicine. Through fascinating case studies, the authors explain how DNA mutations pass from parents to children and how genetic disorders affect real people’s well-being. The authors’ case-based approach makes this topic accessible to readers and encourages student interest in the burgeoning fields of genomics research and healthcare. Praise for Genomics"An excellent bridge between real-world technology applications of biotechnology and what students learn in their biology classrooms."—starred, School Library Journal"High-quality, curiosity-sparking brain fuel."—Kirkus Reviews"A clear, understandable, and well-sourced look at how advances in genomic medicine alter the treatment of diseases, with thought-provoking ideas to consider regarding the ethics of human genetic modification."—BooklistYou can find Whitney online at her website, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  Music credits"Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License 
Just out this month, Like Spilled Water is a gripping tale of a young woman in modern-day China. Nineteen-year-old Na has always lived in the shadow of her younger brother, Bao-bao, her parents' cherished son. Years ago, Na's parents left her in the countryside and went to work in the city, bringing Bao-bao along and committing everything to his education.But when Bao-bao dies suddenly, Na realizes how little she knew him. Did he really kill himself because of a low score on China's all-important college entrance exam? Na learns that Bao-bao had many secrets and that his death may not be what it seems. Na's parents expect her to quit her vocational school and go to work, forcing Na to confront traditional expectations for and pressures on young women.Today, we hear from Jennie Liu, author of Like Spilled Water and Girls on the Line, about her inspiration and process for writing her novels. Praise for Like Spilled Water"[A] powerful tale of a brave young woman who dares to question when others simply accept."—starred, Booklist"[F]ilters detailed depictions of filial piety, funeral rites, grief, romantic relationships, and parental support through a modern teenager's perspective. . . . Will lead readers through a quiet revolution."—Kirkus ReviewsPraise for Girls on the Line"[E]xplores a moment of contemporary history and a culture that is underrepresented in YA realistic fiction. . . . Recommended purchase, especially for YA collections serving older teens or new adults."—starred, School Library Journal"Both poignant and agonizing, Girls on the Line is a must read."—starred, Foreword Reviews"[A] much-needed look at the people who produce the goods we rely on worldwide and the hardships they face. . . . Readers will learn much from this absorbing and realistic tale."—Booklist"An affecting and original thrill ride . . ."—Kirkus ReviewsCatch up with Jennie on the web, on her website or on Twitter.  Music credits"Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License 
Today on the Lerner podcast, I am joined by Connie Goldsmith, a retired registered nurse with a master's degree in health who writes books about history, health, and science for older children. Her most recent book has just come out: Kiyo Sato: From a WWII Japanese Internment Camp to a Life of Service. In 1941 Kiyo Sato and her eight younger siblings lived with their parents on a small farm near Sacramento, California. The Satos were an ordinary American family. Until they weren’t. On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, US president Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan and the United States officially entered World War II. Soon after, in February and March 1942, Roosevelt signed two executive orders that paved the way for the military to round up all Japanese Americans living on the West Coast and incarcerate them in isolated internment camps for the duration of the war. Kiyo and her family were among the nearly 120,000 internees. In this moving account, Sato and Goldsmith tell the story of the internment years, describing why the internment happened and how it impacted Kiyo and her family. They also discuss the ways in which Kiyo has used her experience to educate other Americans about their history, to promote inclusion, and to fight against similar injustices.Get a sneak peek of the foreword to the book. This informative biography sheds light on a dark chapter in American history."—BooklistA moving, insightful portrait."—Kirkus ReviewsYou can learn more about Connie on her website. Below are links to some videos of Kiyo. Sacramento Bee video of the official apology regarding internment from the state of California in January 2020. Kiyo is seen at minute 1.56; 2.41; 3.10-3.37. She is front and center, literally, at the front of the seating and close to the action.Kiyo receiving a "home-town hero" award last year at a Sacramento Kings basketball game. StoryCorps: Injustice Endured for the Sake of the Children. Cia Vancil, Kiyo Sato’s daughter, briefly interviews her mother about her internment on Capital Public Radio (December 2015). “Kiyo Sato Author ‘Dandelion through the Crack'," A C-Span interview with Kiyo Sato is sprinkled with archival film footage and reporting of the internment (September 2015). “Internment—Time of Remembrance—Kiyo Sato.”This interview, Posted by SECCEducationalTV, covers much of Kiyo's life, including recent years.Music credits: "Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License 
Chris Monroe is back on the Lerner Podcast! We last spoke in April, about how Chico Bon Bon's book and Netflix series came to be. Now she's back, talking about the latest picture book, Monkey with a Tool Belt Blasts Off, out this month. Oh no, the Moon Malt machine at the Superstar Space Station and Snack Bar is broken! The ever-resourceful Chico Bon Bon and his trusty sidekick Clark the elephant ZOOM to the rescue. While working on the malfunctioning Moon Malt machine, they discover myriad other things in need of fixing, including a hatch and a latch and a droid's underwear. And then—FWHOOSH! KA-BOING!—what was that? It's the cutest alien in the universe, and she's stranded at the space station due to a broken down spaceship!Thanks to Chico's know-how and his extensive tool collection there's a fix for every problem under the sun—and beyond!"[L]ighthearted and silly but has enough heart to merit space on the shelves of space lovers, handy kids, and anyone looking for a giggle and a smile. . . . A fun and satisfying journey." —Kirkus ReviewsYou can find Chris on the web, follow her official fan club on Facebook, get a sneak peek of Monkey with a Tool Belt Blasts Off on the Lerner website, see the Chico Bon Bon trailer on YouTube, and watch the whole series on Netflix.Music credits: "Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License 
Dash! Hide! Splash! Ride! Exuberant text celebrates all the different ways animals play, from rhinos taking mud baths and parrots somersaulting through the air to kangaroos boxing and dolphins diving through the surf. Today we chat with Play Like an Animal author Maria Gianferrari about how playing benefits animals and what inspires her to create books. “An inviting choice for animal-lovers.”—Booklist“A lively addition to the animal shelf.”—Kirkus Reviews“A fun way for children to realize that animals play just like them.”—School Library JournalClick below to see three spreads from the book:Spread 1Spread 2Spread 3Here is a link to the video we discussed, of zoo animals playing in the snow, as well as a recent article Maria shared, where researchers taught rats to play hide & seek.Connect with Maria on Instagram, Facebook, or her website where you can also learn about all her other books. Be sure to check out the free STEM cards she created while you’re there!A link to a transcript of this episode is available here.  Music credits"Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License  
Today we are joined by author Caren Stelson who tells the inspiring story of Sachiko Yasui for different age groups in Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor's Story (2016 book for middle grade and up) and A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story (picture book, out today!). Both books share the amazing story of Sachiko Yasui, a six-year-old girl who was half a mile from the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945, 75 years ago this week. Caren adeptly connects Sachiko's story to what children are experiencing today in the COVID-19 pandemic, and Sachiko's story helps share an important story of resiliency for children and young adults in difficult times. A powerful entry point for discussing the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the importance of peace and disarmament. Stunning."—starred, BooklistA heartbreaking but essential perspective on war and survival."—starred, Kirkus Reviews"[A] symbol of survival. . . . Kusaka's illustrations effectively focus on Sachiko's family and the ways they used the bowl to create an orderly family life even in the midst of, and after, a devastating war."—starred, The Horn Book MagazineVisuals from A Bowl Full of Peace and additional words from Caren Stelson are available on the Lerner Blog. Caren would like to thank Carol Hinz, editorial director of Carolrhoda Books, AND Danielle Carnito, art director at Lerner Publishing Group, for their leadership on the book's development, as well as Dr. Takayuki Miyanishi, Professor of Environmental Science at Nagasaki University and President of the Nagasaki-Saint Paul Sister City Committee and Keiko Kawakami, Japanese Senior Teaching Specialist at the University of Minnesota for their hours of translation help as well as the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee with President JoAnn Blatchley for the organization's generous support. If you've been touched by Sachiko's story and would like to share your Bowl Full of Peace with us on social media, please tag us @LernerBooks and use the hashtag #bowlfullofpeace. You can also connect with author Caren Stelson on Facebook, Twitter, or her website. A transcript of this podcast is available here. Music credits: "Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License  
Listen in as Votes of Confidence author Jeff Fleischer covers what teens, young adults, and voters in need of a civics refresher ought to know about government, politics and elections. From the importance of primaries and mid-term elections to how student council can prepare participants for a life in politics to why teens should care about local politics even if they think they’re not interested, Jeff presents a compelling portrait of politics in everyday life. The book goes in-depth with clear explanations about how our election process actually works, why it matters, and how voters can become involved. Using real-world examples and anecdotes, this book provides readers with thorough, nonpartisan explanations about primaries, the electoral college, checks and balances, polls, fundraising, and more. Updated with statistics and details from the 2018 elections, the revised second edition will prepare the next generation of voters for what is sure to be a fascinating 2020 election cycle.“[A] very readable, engaging, and entertaining history of American elections and politics for young people. Highly recommended.”—starred, Booklist“Fleischer presents a potentially didactic subject matter in a digestible and organized manner. Recommended for middle to high school students, educators, and others interested in becoming civically informed and engaged.”—School Library Journal“[A] solid and timely foundation.”—Kirkus ReviewsClick to read the introduction from Votes of Confidence.You can also read an interview between editor Ashley Kuehl and Jeff from earlier this year on the Lerner Blog. Catch up with Jeff Fleischer on his website or on Twitter. A transcript of this episode is available here. Music credits"Farm" Kevin MacLeod (  Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License  
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