2 Dystopian Nonfiction Books YA Students Need this Fall

By Domenica Di Piazza, Editorial Director of Twenty-First Century Books

I love when my fiction and nonfiction reading converge thematically, and it just happened again for me this week, when I finished Ben Winters’s astonishing 2016 novel Underground Airlines. 

In all honesty, I almost put it down three times. I was already familiar with his Raymond Chandler-esque voice from The Last Policeman (fun, but gets old), and I struggled a little with the proselytizing about race in particular.

(IMO, the protagonist would be smarter about these things, even though I get that the noir hero wants to be duped or at least has a blind side.) However, I plugged away, practicing patience, and boy oh boy was I rewarded. The end is quite a surprise, and one you don’t see coming.

I won’t give it away, but let’s just say that, as a novel about deep racial injustice set within a technologically advanced dystopian America, it is a perfect pairing for nonfiction works that tackle racial profiling and our very real fears of losing our humanity, both literally and figuratively.

Stephanie Sammartino McPherson Artificial Intelligence Book

Alison Marie Behnke's Racial Profiling Book

If your YA students are interested in alternative-history fiction books–and especially if they’re looking for something to read after finishing Winter’s Underground Airlines–you’ll want to hand them a copy of Alison Marie Behnke’s Racial Profiling and Stephanie Sammartino McPherson’s Artificial Intelligence. Both pub this fall with Twenty-First Century Books and both touch on similar themes.

After reading, here are some discussion questions you could ask your students:

1. Can they make the thematic connections between the fiction and the nonfiction titles?
2. Ask them about Winters’s vision. Is he onto something or not?
3. Can they expand the reading list to include other fiction and nonfiction titles–and movies–about similar topics?
4. And is this future (or present) fearful or promising?

These are the questions I see us all struggling with in the twenty-first century. Fortunately, fiction and nonfiction books are here to help us.

Celebrate Pride Month with Award-Winning eBooks and Audio books

Special thanks to digital intern Amy Richardson for the following post!
On June 28th 1969, protests carried out by the gay community against police raids in New York City started a nationwide conversation about LGBTQ rights. The Stonewall Riots made history by serving as a catalyst for future activism within the LGBTQ movement. As a result, June is now recognized as “Pride Month” — a month dedicated to celebrating and spreading awareness for the LGBTQ community.
This June, you can participate in LGBTQ Pride Month by checking out some of Lerner’s eBooks which feature LGBTQ protagonists, informative facts about the progression of the LGBTQ movement, and both fiction and nonfiction narratives from the LGBTQ community.
Nonfiction titles from Twenty-First Century Books provide an informative and in-depth look at the real lives of those who identify as LGBTQ and are perfect for anyone looking to learn more and gain a better understanding about the LGBTQ community.


·         In LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality, Kirstin Cronn-Mills highlights athletic achievements of well-known members of the LGBTQ community and explores the struggles that LGBTQ athletes have faced during their sports-related careers.
·         Kirstin Cronn-Mills tells the inspiring stories of seven transgender individuals in Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex Voices. Readers will better understand the lives of transgender people in America, including the challenges they face before, during, and after their transitions.
·         Prom: The Big Night Out by Jill S. Zimmerman Rutledge includes a detailed chapter discussing the evolution of high school proms, from strictly heterosexual events to eventually becoming inclusive to LGBTQ students.
Darby Creek’s high/low chapter books are engaging for even the most reluctant readers. Titles such as On Guard by Patrick Jones, Archenemy by Paul Hoblin (available as an Audisee eBook with audio), and The Alliance by Gabriel Goodman (available as an Audisee eBook with audio) feature strong and relatable LGBTQ protagonists and true-to-life storylines that young adult readers will love.
Finally, Lerner’s picture books provide an opportunity for younger readers to join in during Pride Month as well. The Flower Girl Wore Celery by Meryl G. Gordon centers on a little girl that is the flower girl for a wedding with two brides. My Family, Your Family by Lisa Bullard follows Makayla as she learns love is what makes a family, as she visits a diverse families including one with two dads and her neighbors, a lesbian couple. Both of these titles celebrate our differences in families and as individuals, as well as reveal our commonalities. They are a great way to introduce children to an understanding of the LGBTQ community.
Readers of all ages can utilize Lerner’s digital collection this June to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.

Goodreads YA Novel Giveaway: Truthers by Geoffrey Girard

It’s finally Friday, and we’ve got a giveaway to make your day even better! Here’s how you can enter to win an ARC of Geoffrey Girard’s YA novel Truthers:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Truthers by Geoffrey Girard


by Geoffrey Girard

Giveaway ends June 23, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Katie Wallace has never given much thought to 9/11. She was only a year old when terrorists struck American soil. But now her dad has landed in a mental institution after claiming to know what really happened. He insists the attacks were part of a government conspiracy. And he claims that Katie is living proof: the lone survivor of a massive cover-up. Hoping to free her dad, Katie sets out to investigate his bizarre claims. Soon she’s drawn into the strange and secretive world of 9/11 conspiracy theorists known as the Truthers. What is fact and what is fiction? Katie no longer knows what to believe.

“With compelling characters and non-stop action, Truthers will leave you thinking.”—Mindy McGinnis, Edgar-winning author of A Madness So Discreet and The Female of the Species 

“Girard is a skilled storyteller, weaving history and conspiracy into a thriller that’s bold, smart, and impossible to put down.”—Natalie D. Richards, author of Six Months Later and One Was Lost 

Good luck!

Celebrate June Holidays with Books

By Sara Hoffmann, School & Library Series Managing Editor

Happy June, everyone! There’s a lot to celebrate this month. In addition to marking the first full month of summer break for most kids, did you know June also brings many holidays and special days? And with summer stretching out before us, it’s a great time to celebrate those days with awesome books. Here’s what’s on tap for June, and what you can read to mark each day:

June 2: If you live north of the Panama Canal, it’s Yell Fudge at the Cobras in North America Day. This is the day to yell fudge at noon at the top of your lungs. It’s said to scare cobra snakes away. Plus, yelling fudge just sounds kind of fun. Or, if you’d rather not terrify everyone within a fifty-foot radius (in addition to scaring off snakes), you can just read about cobras and other venomous animals in this book:

June 7: It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day! Celebrate by reading this book (shameless plug—it’s by yours truly), which includes a recipe for homemade ice cream:

You can also learn how milk turns into ice cream here:

June 8: This is Best Friends’ Day! If you ask me, few things in life are more celebration-worthy than friendship. Read up on how to be good to your bestie here:

June 14: Today is Flag Day—and gosh, I really love seeing those stars and stripes everywhere. It’s so summery and festive. Read about why we celebrate in this book:

June 18: Time to celebrate those dads and guys who make a difference! It’s Father’s Day. Meet some great dads and other important family members as Makayla visits friends and gets to know their families here. Some families have lots of kids, and others have none. Some families are headed up by grandparents, and others have two dads or have parents who are divorced. Learn about them all while Makayla makes her rounds:

June 19: It’s Juneteenth, a time to celebrate the end of slavery. On June 19, 1865, a message arrived to slaves in Texas as they labored in the fields and homes of the white people who owned them: Slavery was abolished! They were finally free. The Civil War had ended in April, but it took two months for word to reach Texas. Every year, people throughout the United States set aside June 19 to remember and honor freedom for all people. Learn more in this book:

Also check out this selection.

June 21: It’s the first day of summer! Make some s’mores and give this title a read:

June 25: Today marks Eid al-Fitr, the last day of Ramadan, when the ninth month in the Muslim calendar ends. This breaks the Ramadan fast, a time period when Muslims don’t eat or drink until after sunset. On Eid, people eat big meals in celebration. They also have festivals, and some give gifts. Learn more about Eid—as well as Ramadan—here:

Have fun celebrating June with books—and let me know what special days you’re most looking forward to this summer! The comments section is wide open, and I’m all ears!

Meet a Lerner: Lam Lai, New Marketing Intern

Meet marketing intern Lam Lai!

What brings you to Lerner?

I graduated from Macalester College last year, majoring in Creative Writing and Chinese. A professor told me about Lerner and encouraged me to go for it – and now I’m here! It turns out that another professor of mine from Macalester used to be an intern here back in the day, so we have that legacy going on.

I’m headed to New York in the fall for my MFA in Creative Writing. Afterward I want to work in academia, or a place like Lerner.

Describe a day in the life of a marketing intern.
After clocking in, I check my emails and respond to them. Then I become unsure whether or not I have really clocked in, so I go back to double check on that. Then the real work begins.
The tasks vary from day to day. Doing comp requests and mailing out books are extremely popular tasks. If it is catalog season, I will do a lot of proofreading and indexing as well. Making promo newsletters and writing copies for books are my favorite tasks, however. I love watching ads, and getting to “sell” the books in 35 words or less makes me feel alive.
When I have some spare time, I retrieve some of the books I have seen coming up in the catalogs and read them. Afterward I put them right back where they were.

What are you reading now?
I have been reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass from Lerner’s First Avenue Classics collection, and 13 Reasons Why, which Jill, our marketing director, gave me.
What’s your best source for finding new book recommendations?
My friends will tell me when they are reading a great book. I keep an eye on literary events that happen in the Twin Cities as well, and take note of the books I see mentioned.

Name your top five books!
King Lear. Wuthering Heights. The Great Gatsby. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. To Kill a Mockingbird.

Name some of your icons. Who do you admire, living or dead, and why?
William Shakespeare and Albert Einstein. And whoever invented the lightbulbs.
What is your ideal vacation?
The Nintendo Store, New York City.
Thanks, Lam!