Writing for Kids

My first of two books for Bonnier Books UK/Templar, illustrated by Xuan Le, is here! Inside you’ll find details about all kinds of species that thrive at different times of day and night — and lots of glow-in-the-dark pages, which an early review calls “a real highlight.” Don’t forget to charge these pages for a few minutes in the sun so they really glow. Order your copy here.

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There’s so much exciting book news to share for 2022 and beyond.


And there’s also this:


And of course, please stay tuned for more announcements!

Earlier this year, I published a series of six books about Earth’s biomes, with Jump! Ever wondered about desert, forest, freshwater, marine, grassland, and tundra biomes? Elementary age kids can learn all about them on these pages. Get your copies here.


Out now! The Book of Bees takes a long, deep look at some of the over 20,000 known wild bee species out there in the world, all accompanied by amazing photographs. You can get a copy here.

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It’s finally here! everything you ever wanted to know about the small Asian elephant herd that lives at the Smithsonian National Zoo, published by Capstone/Smithsonian. Don’t forget to buy a copy for the elephant loving kids in your life.

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Published in Fall 2020: Capstone’s Mysteries of Space series, featuring three super-fun titles by me: on the constellations; the planets, stars and galaxies; and the universe.

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Karl’s New Beak is a California Reading Association Eureka honoree! It’s also been named a best STEM book of 2020 by the National Science Teaching Association & the Children’s Book Council; it made Betsy Bird’s 2019 School Library Journal list of best science and nature books, and The Nonfiction Detective’s 2019 roundup, too. The story of an Abyssinian ground hornbill in the Smithsonian’s National Zoo who’s got a 3-D printed beak, it merges science, craft, and amazing animal facts.

Kirkus hails it for focusing on the behind-the-scenes process of building a new beak. Booklist calls it “uplifting,” “accessible,” and “fascinating.” According to The Horn Book, Karl is a “lighthearted and informative account [that]demonstrates how engineering and science can be combined to solve problems in animal conservation.

Actress and Audubon board member Lili Taylor wrote the book’s lovely blurb: “The Hornbill is a living treasure. And so is this spectacular book Karl’s New Beak. Lela Nargi knows that the way to get kids…to care about birds is through storytelling. A true story with depth and complexity that doesn’t talk down to kids. Karl’s New Beak shows kids that anything is possible through friendship, imagination, and STEM.”

Check out its awesome trailer here, and be sure to order your copy from your local bookstore today.


For National Geographic, I wrote two science-rich middle grade books: Absolute Expert: Volcanoes and Absolute Expert: Dinosaurs, both of which published in August 2018. They’re filled with fun facts and all the latest research about these super-cool topics; AE: Volcanoes is also an ALA Booklist starred title!


 A Heart Just Like My Mother’s  was published in January 2018 by Kar-Ben/Lerner and illustrated by Valeria Cis. It’s the story of a young girl’s search for her place in the world, which she discovers through an act of kindness. The Jewish Book Council calls it a story that is sure to open up discussions with kids about how to help people in need, and the importance of food in family rituals.

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The Honeybee Man (Schwartz & Wade) follows several days in the life of Fred, a beekeeper who makes his home, and harvests his honey, in Brooklyn, NY. It was written by me, and illustrated by the amazing Kyrsten Brooker. Since its publication in 2011, it’s been a Junior Library Guild selection, a Kirkus starred review, a National Science Teaching Association “Outstanding Book,” a Bank Street “Best Book of the Year,” a 2012 Cook Prize honoree, a Bank Street Child Study Children’s Book Award Nominee, a Cornell University Agricultural Literacy Week 2013, 2015, and 2018 read-aloud pick, a National Agriculture in the Classroom Companion Resource, and a First Book.

I’ve had so much fun discovering how much bees—and the book—mean to so many people! I love to read it aloud and to talk about all the things I’ve learned about bees. And with pollinators in steady decline, this is a subject that becomes more and more important and relevant with the passage of time. Please contact me for your next school, library, or book event!


For my magazine writing for kids, check out Washington Post‘s KidsPost, Science News for StudentsMuse, Ask, Odyssey, HighlightsAppleseeds, PittMed, MSN Kids, and Storyworks magazines. You’ll find the full (but ever-expanding) list on my SCBWI member profile page. For more fun science for kids, visit my City Science Kids video page on SchoolTube to learn about a boat powered by french fry grease, how trees grow on concrete sidewalks, pickle science, and much more!

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