penguin young readers group

Nancy Mercado Named Associate Publisher and Editorial Director, Dial Books for Young Readers

Lauri Hornik, President and Publisher of Dial Books for Young Readers, has announced that Nancy Mercado will join Dial as Associate Publisher and Editorial Director, reporting to her effective April 9, 2018.  Ms. Mercado will work closely with Ms. Hornik in overseeing the acquisition and development of Dial’s list in addition to editing her own projects and supervising Dial editors.  Ms. Mercado was previously Editorial Director at Scholastic, where she managed a team of editors and oversaw and edited chapter books, middle grade and YA novels. Over the years Nancy’s had the good fortune of editing books by Paul Acampora, Cecil Castellucci, Veronica Chambers, Tommy Greenwald, Paul Griffin, Steve Kluger, Diana López, Jennifer Mathieu, Caragh O’Brien, Peter Raymundo, Kevin Sherry, Isabel Quintero, Lauren Tarshis, Taeeun Yoo, and many others. 

[caption id="attachment_10221" align="alignright" width="238"] Nancy Mercado[/caption] Lauri Hornik said, “I'm so happy to welcome Nancy back to Dial. Her earlier contributions influenced our list and our office culture in a meaningful and enduring way, and I'm excited to have the chance to work with her again and to partner with her in fulfilling Dial’s mission to publish children’s books that are heartwarming beauties, conversation starters, and much-needed mirrors.” Nancy Mercado said, “I’m thrilled to return to Penguin and join forces with Lauri Hornik, Lily Malcom, and the dynamic team of editors and designers at Dial Books for Young Readers. I learned most everything I know about editing and publishing from my early years at Dial, and it’s a true delight to come back and to support and continue their long tradition of making books that will have a lasting impact on the canon of children’s literature.” Dial Books for Young Readers, established in 1961, is a hardcover division publishing approximately 65 titles a year for children of all ages. One of the first houses to publish high-quality board books and an early leader in multicultural publishing, Dial continues to focus on books that combine artistic excellence and kid-relevance. Its list of acclaimed authors and illustrators includes Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Newbery Honor-winning author of The War That Saved My Life), Victoria Jamieson (Newbery Honor-winning author of Roller Girl), Jandy Nelson (Printz Award-winning author of I'll Give You the Sun), Marilyn Nelson (Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author of How I Discovered Poetry), Jerry Pinkney (six-time Caldecott Medal- and Honor-winner), B.J. Novak (New York Times bestselling author of The Book With No Pictures), Junot Diaz and Leo Espinoza (award-winning creators of Islandborn), and Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri (New York Times bestselling creators of Dragons Love Tacos).

Junot Díaz Celebrates Diversity, Immigration and Imagination

Our new Igloo Book Buzz selection is ISLANDBORN (Dial Books for Young Readers), a debut picture book from Junot Díaz, the New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer prize-winning author of THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO and THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE HER.  Illustrated by Leo Espinosa, ISLANDBORN celebrates cultural diversity in America and our imagination’s boundless ability to connect us – to our families, to our past and to ourselves. LOLA, a Spanish-language edition of ISLANDBORN, is being published simultaneously in the U.S. and Canada. 

[caption id="attachment_9933" align="alignright" width="202"] Junot Díaz Photo: © Nina Subin[/caption] “Every kid in Lola's school was from somewhere else. Hers was a school of faraway places.” So when Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of where their families immigrated from, all the kids are excited. Except Lola. She can't remember The Island – she left when she was just a baby. But with the help of her family and friends, and their memories – joyous, fantastical, heartbreaking, and frightening – Lola's imagination takes her on an extraordinary journey back to The Island.  As she draws closer to the heart of her family's story, Lola comes to understand the truth of her abuela's words: "Just because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it's not in you." [caption id="attachment_9934" align="alignleft" width="213"] Namrata Tripathi[/caption] “Immigrant communities don’t get enough books and they certainly don’t get enough love and I hope ISLANDBORN will be both,” says Junot Díaz.  “On the face ISLANDBORN tells of a girl’s journey of discovery but it's also a celebration of the kind of imaginaries that we immigrants have often needed to makehomes for ourselves where previously there were none.  When your life is scattered over multiple worlds a strong imagination is a straight-up necessity.”   “All readers deserve to see their stories reflected on the page,” says Namrata Tripathi, Editorial Director, Dial Books for Young Readers. “Junot Díaz’s debut picture book is a gift to the many readers whose lives cross borders and Leo Espinosa’s exuberant art reflects how ISLANDBORN is truly a celebration of their stories. Dial is incredibly proud to publish this book and I hope it will be cherished across many generations in many families.” Junot discusses the book in this video, filmed at a recent visit to P.S./I.S. 218 Rafael Hernandez Dual Language School in the Bronx: There is a tremendous buzz and excitement around ISLANDBORN. The book has already received three starred reviews. Publishers Weekly raves, “Beautifully nuanced and instantly comprehensible… With his tenacious, curious heroine and a voice that’s chatty, passionate, wise, and loving, Díaz entices readers to think about a fundamental human question: what does it mean to belong?” School Library Journal  calls the book “A sensitive and beautiful story of culture, identity, and belonging—a superb picture book outing for Díaz and one to be shared broadly in a variety of settings.” Junot will visit schools, bookstores and libraries across the country this March and April as part of an 18-city national tour to promote ISLANDBORN. Media attention includes appearances on NPR Morning Edition, CBS This Morning,  The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and NPR Latino. The book will also be featured in People, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, People en Espanol, Parents Latina, and The Boston Globe, among other outlets.

Jacqueline Woodson Named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

The Children’s Book Council, Every Child a Reader, and the Library of Congress has announced the appointment of Jacqueline Woodson as the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Our Penguin Random House author is a four-time Newbery Honor Medalist, Coretta Scott King Book Award-winner, former Young People’s Poet Laureate and National Book Award Winner for her memoir-in-verse BROWN GIRL DREAMING  (Nancy Paulsen Books).

Woodson will travel nationwide over the course of her two-year term promoting her platform, READING = HOPE x CHANGE (What’s Your Equation?), which encourages young people to think about – and beyond – the moment they’re living in, the power they possess, and the impact reading can have on showing them ways in which they can create the hope and the change they want to see in the world. The inauguration ceremony, presided by the 14th Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden, will take place on Tuesday, January 9 at the Library of Congress, in Washington D.C. “I think the work ahead of me is challenging,” says Jacqueline Woodson, “I don’t believe there are ‘struggling’ readers, ‘advanced’ readers or ‘non’ readers. I’d love to walk away from my two years as Ambassador with the qualifiers gone and young people able to see themselves beyond stigma or oft-times debilitating praise. Martin Luther King Jr. said people should not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. In that regard, I think young people should not be judged by the level of their reading but by the way a book makes them think and feel. By the way it gives them hope. By the way it opens them up to new perspectives and changes them. I’m excited to have these conversations with some of the best conversationalists in our country – our young people.” “We are delighted that Jacqueline Woodson has agreed to be the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “I have admired Jacqueline Woodson’s work for years, especially her dedication to children and young-adult literature. The Library of Congress looks forward to Jacqueline’s tenure of encouraging young readers to embrace reading as a means to improve the world.” Nancy Paulsen, President and Publisher of Nancy Paulsen Books, says: “We think Jacqueline Woodson is the perfect Ambassador for our time because of her commitment to making sure all children have access to all kinds of books, and are sure to see themselves portrayed in those books. This is exactly what’s needed to appeal to today’s readers and to grow the next generation of book lovers.” Carl Lennertz, Executive Director of Every Child a Reader and the Children’s Book Council, added, “We couldn’t be more pleased with the selection of Jacqueline Woodson as the next ambassador. She embodies everything that we look for in this position and we can’t think of a more passionate advocate for young people and for reading over the next two years.” The National Ambassador is selected for his or her contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering children’s literacy in all forms. The selection, made by the Librarian of Congress, is based on recommendations from an independent committee comprising educators, librarians, booksellers, and children’s literature experts. Woodson succeeds authors Jon Scieszka (2008–2009), Katherine Paterson (2010–2011), Walter Dean Myers (2012–2013), Kate DiCamillo (2014–2015), and Gene Luen Yang (2016-2017) in the position. You can read more about Jacqueline’s award-winning books here.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden Visits Penguin Random House to Talk Books, Diversity and Inclusion

It was an honor to welcome Dr. Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, to Penguin Random House for a special event presented by the Penguin Young Readers Marketing & Publicity Diversity Committee, with Penguin Young Readers Brand Coordinator Chloe Goodhart producing, at 345 Hudson Street on

Tuesday, November 1. Penguin Young Readers President Jen Loja introduced Dr. Hayden, nominated by President Barack Obama in February 2016, confirmed by the U.S. Senate five months later, and appointed the 14th Librarian of Congress in September 2016, becoming the first African American and the first woman to lead the world’s largest library.    At outset of her talk, Dr. Hayden admitted she was a “fan girl” of National Book Award-winning Penguin Random House author Jacqueline Woodson, who was among the fully engaged colleagues and guests that filled the room to capacity. [caption id="attachment_8689" align="alignright" width="300"] Dr. Carla Hayden and Jacqueline Woodson[/caption] Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Dr. Hayden said she was raised to be “socially conscious.” Recalling when she was an 8-year-old young reader, she pointed to Marguerite De Angeli’s BRIGHT APRIL (initially published by Doubleday in 1946) as “the first book I loved … because I saw myself.  It’s first time I saw a sympathetic portrayal of girls that looked like me.” Dr. Hayden discussed her beginnings as a librarian in the Chicago Public Library system, eventually rising to the post of deputy commissioner and chief librarian. In Chicago, she was keenly aware of the absence of characters of color in children’s books and was determined to “right every wrong.” She also taught Library & Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh. She became head of the Baltimore Library system in 1993, earning praise for her work to ensure that the city’s library system offered a broad array of services to assist citizens from all walks of life.  She received Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year Award in 1995. Amidst the unrest that occurred in Baltimore in 2015 following the arrest of Freddie Gray and his subsequent death, Dr. Hayden said, “Our branch libraries were right at the epicenter on Pennsylvania Avenue.  We offered safe havens. We helped raise money. And a 2-story high mural of an African American girl reading – called ‘Penny’ after a naming contest – was protected and never defaced.” Since shifting from the Baltimore library system to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, she keeps asking herself, “What can I do to make a difference?” She is determined “to open up the Library of Congress’s treasure chest to all, particularly young people.” She shared a story about 8-year-old Adam Coffey who penned a hand-written note to her requesting a Library of Congress “readers card,” which can only be issued to individuals aged 16 and older.  He wrote, “I don’t want to wait eight years.”  So with his parents’ permission, she arranged a visit and a tour. In an effort to further attract interest in the Library of Congress among young readers, Dr. Hayden has been working to expand the new Youth Center – a space dedicated to such areas as comic books, graphic novels and “forensic studies” of original historical manuscripts. “The goal,” she said, “is to create space that will used and inspire a series of ‘pinch me’ moments for visitors to the center.” Before the conclusion of the event, Ms. Goodhart shared a number of questions PRH colleagues had submitted in advance.  Among them: “How is digital technology used in the Library of Congress?” Dr. Hayden responded, “We have respect for young peoples’ intellect, curiosity and digital preferences. There could be a YouTube channel where stories can be shared.  We have a lot of social media content, and traveling exhibits are being planned.  We’re always open to trying something new.” Dr. Hayden reminded everyone, “Books that mirror who we are in real life mean so much. Young people need to see themselves in what they are reading. They need to be able to say, ‘OK. I’m cool, too.’ Diversity and personal identity in what we read is now more important than ever.”

THE SNOWY DAY Forever Stamps to be Issued on October 4

The United States Postal Service is featuring scenes from the beloved classic children’s book, THE SNOWY DAY, on their “forever” stamps. The stamps depict Peter, the main character of Ezra Jack Keats’ famous, award-winning Viking Books for Young Readers title, and will be dedicated at a free ceremony open to the public on October 4 at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. 

THE SNOWY DAY was one of the first prominent 20th-century picture books centered on an African-American child, and went on to win the Caldecott Medal in 1963. There will be four stamps based on the book, and each will feature Peter in his red snowsuit. Antonio Alcala was the art director for the project, and designed the stamps with Keat’s iconic illustrations in mind, including images of Peter forming a snowball, Peter sliding down a mountain of snow, Peter making a snow angel, and Peter leaving footprints in the snow.
[caption id="attachment_7942" align="alignright" width="235"] Credit: United States Postal Service[/caption] Originally published by Viking Books for Young Readers in 1962,  THE SNOWY DAY is about a young boy who wakes up one morning and looks out his window to see everything covered in snow. An adventure-filled snow day ensues! There are currently more than 6 million copies of THE SNOWY DAY in print in North America. The “Snowy Day” stamps are being pre-sold at the USPS website.  Please feel free to attend the Snowy Day Forever Stamps First Day of Issue Dedication Ceremony at the BPL’s Central Library in the Dweck Auditorium on October 4, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p. m.  For more information,  click here.
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Reshma Saujani Brings “Girls Who Code” to Young Readers

Computing skills are the most sought-after realm in the U.S. job market, yet research shows that the share of women in the computing workforce has declined from 37% in 1995 to 24% today. In 2012, Reshma Saujani recognized this growing gender disparity and founded the national non-profit organization Girls Who Code to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.

On Tuesday, August 22, Penguin Young Readers will join forces with Reshma and Girls Who Code to launch a new, multi-format, cross-imprint publishing program with the publication of GIRLS WHO CODE: Learn to Code and Change the World (Viking Books for Young Readers, for ages 10 & up) and THE FRIENDSHIP CODE (Penguin Workshop, for ages 8-12). These books teach girls the fundamental principles of coding and allow budding female coders to see themselves reflected in our cultural narrative. “When I first started Girls Who Code, I realized that there was a need for books that described what it’s like to actually be a girl who codes,” says Reshma Saujani. “I always say, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ And that’s true for books, too. We need to read stories about girls who look like us in order to be inspired to try something new.” Reshma kicks off her national, 8-city book tour on August 22 at 5:00 p.m. with a Women in Tech rally at Union Square, followed by a book launch at 7:00 pm at Barnes & Noble, Union Square, with Reshma and editor Cristina Arreola in conversation. Major national media for the book launch includes interviews with Good Morning America,, The New York Times, TIME for Kids, The Chicago Tribune and CNN, as well as review coverage in Family Circle and Scholastic Teacher.