Writing for Kids

My newest picture book,  KARL’S NEW BEAK, from Capstone, is here! It’s the story of an Abyssinian ground hornbill in the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, who’s got a 3-D printed beak—merging science, craft, and amazing animal facts. The reviews are starting to roll in, like this one from KirkusBooklist calls it “uplifting,” “accessible,” and “fascinating.” Actress and Audubon board member Lili Taylor says, “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.

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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!

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 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 will 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 Teacher’s 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 of time. Please contact me for your next school, library, or book event!

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ABOVE AND BEYOND. I recently wrote this middle grade companion book to a very cool traveling exhibit that originated at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC—about the history and the future—of flight.

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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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