On Variety and Barefoot Running

[From Anna Cavallo, associate editor]

I recently did something I can’t claim all that often: I finished a nonfiction book that I was reading for fun. (I pick up nonfiction titles from the library all the time, but I have a much better track record of finishing novels.)

I knew of Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run as the barefoot running book—referenced in several NY Times articles (see here, here…) that have followed up on the science of barefoot running vs. wearing running shoes. I’m relatively new to distance running, but I’m a big fan of my shoes, so I needed to know what all the fuss was about. Cut to two-thirds of the way through the book: I was repeatedly interrupting the peace of a weekend in a cabin with friends, reading certain parts aloud, so fascinated that I just had to share.

So what set this book apart? I’m not sure what the magic formula is, or if there is one. But I know it had two key factors: my interest in the topic and engaging text with a nice story arc.

Those seem obvious, I know. But I’m happy that Lerner realizes kids’ interests are incredibly broad, and that getting students hooked on reading may be as simple as providing quality books on the topics they care about. (And for K-12 books, consider an engaging design as part of the “quality” package.) A sampling of our newest titles demonstrates the wide variety of subjects we’re tackling these days:

clip_image002 The Early Bird Astronomy series features six new Spring 2010 titles—The Moon, Meteors and Comets, The Milky Way, The Solar System, Stars, and The Sun. With impressive photos and accessible discussion of science concepts, these books are a great introduction for elementary students fascinated by outer space.

For young dog lovers, the Best Dogs Ever series offers clip_image004new titles devoted to bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Golden retrievers, miniature schnauzers, and poodles.

Middle-grade fans of pop culture who followed the Michael Jackson media buzz last sumclip_image006mer can get more of his whole story in a new biography. One of this spring’s additions to the Gateway Biographies series is a title on the king of pop.

And for curious trivia lovers (i.e. most kids I know), the new series Is That a Fact? educates anclip_image008d entertains with the truth about popular myths. Books include sayings about animals, the weather, health, outer space, and more.

And these are all just within the Lerner Publications imprint. Among LPG’s other imprints are new titles on too many cool, diverse topics to name here, so I won’t try. But I will hope that each book someday finds its way to young readers who are so amazed, they’ll just have to repeat part of it to their friends.