Scholastic Focus: Change the Way You Read Your World

Episode 82 · February 21st, 2019 · 37 mins 11 secs

About this Episode

This week, we're discussing narrative nonfiction and its power to help turn young readers into critical thinkers and global citizens. 

Last year, we launched the Scholastic Focus imprint, dedicated to presenting young readers with true and moving stories to help them better understand themselves and the world around them. 

Today, we're talking with editorial director Lisa Sandell as well as four Scholastic Focus authors: Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Deborah Hopkinson, Robert Edsel, and Lawrence Goldstone. Listen as they tell us about their compelling new books and what they hope readers will take away.

Additional resources:


  • Lisa Sandell is the editorial director of Scholastic Focus.
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is one of the premier U.S. scholars of African-American literature and history. Gates is the head of Harvard’s African-American Studies department. He is an acclaimed author and critic who has unearthed an array of literary gems; he has also hosted PBS programs such as Africa’s Great Civilizations; Finding Your Roots; Black in Latin America; and the Emmy Award-winning series, The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Gates is the recipient of more than 50 honorary degrees and numerous prizes. He was one of the first recipients of the MacArthur genius grant in 1981. He was the first African-American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal, was named to Time’s 25 Most Influential Americans list in 1997, selected for Ebony’s Power 150 list in 2009, and to Ebony’s Power 100 list in 2010 and 2012.
  • Deborah Hopkinson is an award-winning author of picture books, fiction, and nonfiction. Her nonfiction titles include Shutting out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880-1924, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book and Jane Addams Peace Award Honor Book; Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, a Sibert Medal Honor Book and YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction finalist; Courage & Defiance, Stories of Spies, Saboteurs and Survivors in World War II Denmark, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book, NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, and a winner of the Oregon Book Award and Oregon Spirit Award; and  Dive! World War II Stories of Sailors & Submarines in the Pacific, which was named an NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book and Oregon Spirit Award honor book. Deborah lives with her family near Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at, and follow her on Twitter at @Deborahopkinson.
  • Robert Edsel is the author of three books about the Monuments Men including the #1 New York Times bestseller The Monuments Men, which Academy Award winner George Clooney adapted into a feature film in 2014, and Saving Italy, also a New York Times bestseller. In 2007 he founded the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, which was a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the United States’ highest honor for work in the humanities. He lives with his family in Dallas, Texas. Please visit him online at and on Twitter at @RobertEdsel.
  • Lawrence Goldstone is the author of more than twenty books for adults, including three on Constitutional Law. His first book for young readers, Higher, Steeper, FasterThe Daredevils Who Conquered the Skies, received three starred reviews and was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2017. Goldstone’s writing has been featured in The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Visit his website at

Special thanks:

  • Music composed by Lucas Elliot Eberl
  • Sound mix and recording by Daniel Jordan
  • Edited by Mackenzie Cutruzzula
  • Produced by Emily Morrow