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Elizabeth
Award Winning Fiction & Non-Fiction Author
Children’s, Middle Grade and Young Adult Writer
Travels from: Portland, Oregon

“Rusch unites a passion for democracy with a belief in the power of young people to help restore it. A riveting must-read.” — Kirkus, Starred Review

Author, magazine writer, and speaker Elizabeth Rusch tackles vital, high-interest topics such as young people suing over climate change, pioneering space exploration, life-saving science, the battle for equal pay, and the state of our democracy. Her work for young readers offers cutting-edge information and fresh approaches. Her longer narrative nonfiction, which can read like fiction, often blurs the boundary between current events and history, covering important recent moments that have the potential to change the future in surprising ways.

Rusch is the award-winning author of more than 24 books, including fiction, nonfiction, and a graphic novel, which have received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Horn Book, Booklist, School Library Journal, and the BCCB, among others. Her work has won the Golden Kite Award, the Subaru Prize, the Cook Prize, the Green Earth Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and has landed on many notable and best of the year lists produced by ALA, NCTE, NSTA, Bank Street College of Education, Kirkus, SLJ, NBC News and the New York and Chicago Public Libraries. Rusch also the author of more than a hundred articles in publications such as The New York Times, Smithsonian, Harper’s, Backpacker, American Craft, Mother Jones, and Portland Monthly, among many others.

Liz visits schools, colleges and groups across the country and speaks widely about the joy of writing, youth activism, science heroes, climate change, and the state of our democracy.

She also offers creative retreats from her beach house on the Oregon Coast.

The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change

Greenwillow Books |
Young Adult & Adult

Compelling and timely, award-winning author Elizabeth Rusch’s The Twenty-One tells the gripping inside story of the ongoing landmark federal climate change lawsuit, Juliana vs. United States of AmericaThe Twenty-One is for readers of Christina Soontornvat’s All Thirteen, fans of Steve Sheinkin’s books, and anyone interested in the environment and climate change, as well as youth activism, politics and government, and the law.

From severe flooding in Louisiana to wildfires in the Pacific Northwest to melting permafrost in Alaska, catastrophic climate events are occurring more frequently—and severely—than ever. And these events are having a direct impact on the lives (and futures) of young people and their families.

In the ongoing landmark case Juliana vs. United States, twenty-one young plaintiffs claim that the government’s support of the fossil-fuel industry is actively contributing to climate change, and that all citizens have a constitutional right to a stable climate—especially children and young adults, because they cannot vote and will inherit the problems of the future.

Elizabeth Rusch’s The Twenty-One is a gripping legal and environmental thriller that tells the story of twenty-one young people and their ongoing case against the U.S. government for denying their constitutional right to life and liberty. A rich, informative, and multifaceted read, The Twenty-One stars the young plaintiffs and their attorneys; illuminates the workings of the United States’s judicial system and the relationship between government, citizens’ rights, and the environment; and asks readers to think deeply about the future of our planet.

Features extensive backmatter, including a timeline, glossary, call to action, additional resources, and photographs.

All About Nothing (All About Noticing)

Charlesbridge |
Children’s

An artful picture book exploration of negative space and the beauty of nothingness. This mindful meditation encourages children to see the world differently.

Nothing is really something! What might be hidden in the space around things, and how is that space important? In art, this is known as negative space, but “nothing” can be thought of more broadly—as free time during the day or the space between people. When we allow ourselves a moment of nothingness, we make room for creativity and so much more.

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People

Greenwillow Books |
Young Adult & Adult

A 2021 YALSA EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION FINALIST

America is the greatest democracy in the world . . . isn’t it? Author Elizabeth Rusch examines some of the more problematic aspects of our government but, more importantly, offers ways for young people to fix them.

The political landscape has never been so tumultuous: issues with the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a lack of representation in the polls and in our leadership have led to Americans of all ages asking, How did we get here?

The power to change lies with the citizens of this great country—especially teens! Rather than pointing fingers at people and political parties, You Call This Democracy? looks at flaws in the system—and offers a real way out of the mess we are in. Each chapter breaks down a different problem plaguing American democracy, exploring how it’s undemocratic, offering possible solutions (with examples of real-life teens who have already started working toward them), and suggesting ways to effect change—starting NOW!

Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet

Charlesbridge |
Children’s

Mexican American Mario Molina is a modern-day hero who helped solve the ozone crisis of the 1980s. Growing up in Mexico City, Mario was a curious boy who studied hidden worlds through a microscope. As a young man in California, he discovered that CFCs, used in millions of refrigerators and spray cans, were tearing a hole in the earth’s protective ozone layer. Mario knew the world had to be warned–and quickly. Today Mario is a Nobel laureate and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His inspiring story gives hope in the fight against global warming.

K-12 Life of a Writer Interactive Auditorium Presentation

A lively, storytelling-style auditorium slide-show on Elizabeth Rusch’s life as a writer, where she gets ideas, how she researches and develops her books and articles, her writing and revision process, and some funny and scary adventures she’s had along the way. Liz’s picture books, middle grade, and YA books span many topics and age groups and her talks are tailored to grade level. (Suggested groupings: K-2; 3-5; 6-8; 9-12) By tailoring presentations to meet the needs and interests of your students and teachers, Liz brings your school insights and excitement about both the writing process – and about the many subjects she loves.

Liz’s school visit philosophy: “You never know what will spark a student’s interest and feed the flame of learning. For me, all subjects are connected: writing, reading, science, art, music, math, social studies. By presenting myself as a writer with wide ranging passions – for astronomy, volcanology, art, music, history, government, and community service – I hope to inspire not only budding writers but also budding scientists, artists, activists and more.”

Grades 6 to Adult Workshop How to Research Anything!

Best for middle, high school, and college students and adult writers in the research phase of a substantial project, this interactive presentation uses students’ own research questions to model how a real writer attacks a research challenge. This workshop also covers the art and science of finding and interviewing experts.

Grades 3-8 Writing Workshop: Senses to Setting

In this classroom-sized, hands-on writing workshop, students learn how to use all fives senses to make a setting come to life. Lively examples and exercises show students how to see, hear, and feel like a writer. The workshops concludes with a competition that leaves students begging to write more and to share their writing. “Senses to Setting” is my most popular workshop with students and teachers alike. Best taken after seeing the Life of a Writer presentation.

Grade 6 to Adult: How Our Democracy Really Works

An inspiring nonpartisan TED-type talk. If we want to make headway on the seemingly intractable problems we face as nation – with health care, immigration, poverty, gun violence, climate change – we have make sure our democracy truly reflects the ideal of one person, one vote. What keeps us from this ideal and what can people young and old do about it?

Grades 3 to 12: STEM can Save the World

Award-winning science writer Elizabeth Rusch shares dramatic true stories of scientists saving the world and making it a better place to live. She takes the audience on a hunt for asteroids, onto the flanks of dangerous volcanoes, onto snowy mountains and stormy seas and even into quiet laboratories to witness real science in action. Learn what inspired these science heroes and all about their ongoing quest to make this a better, safer world.

Grade 6 to Adult: Our Constitutional Right to a Stable Climate

A slew of youth-led state, federal and international lawsuits are transforming the conversation and outlook on climate change. Can we truly have life, liberty, and property when the seas are rising; torrential floods and extreme hurricanes flood our homes, schools, businesses and streets; drought strangles our land, water and food supply; and fires threaten our homes and health? Youth will live with these dangerous climate impacts longer than adults, so they are leaning into powerful governing documents that protect their rights to try to protect their lives. Learn the exciting inside story of remarkable landmark lawsuits such as Juliana v. United States and Held v. Montana. They just may change how you think about climate change – and what can be done about it.

K-6: Hands-on Science Workshops

Working with teachers and parent volunteers, Rusch leads hands-ons science workshops related to her books with activities that illuminate volcanology, chemistry and the solar system. (Great for family science nights.)

Teachers: Inservice

Elizabeth Rusch enjoys working with teachers (her heroes!) and offers inservice-presentations on creating ways to use nonfiction in the classroom to support learning in multiple areas; on the connection between the narrative arc and the scientific method; and how and why to use controversial issues to inspire learning.

Elizabeth’s Discussion Guide Link

Elizabeth’s Articles Link

Elizabeth’s Editing Link

Elizabeth’s Creative Retreats Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

AWARDS/WINNER
Cook Prize
Golden Kite Award
Green Earth Award
AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books
Gelett Burgess Award for Biography
Washington Reads Pick
Oregon Book Award
Oregon Spirit Award
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection (12 times)

HONOR/NOTABLE
American Library Association Notable
NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor
YALSA Nonfiction Honor
Cook Prize Honor
Best Spanish Picturebook Silver Medal
Eureka! Nonfiction Silver Medal
ILA’s Teachers’ Choice Reading List
Sigurd Olson Award for Nature Writing Honor
Notable Books for a Global Society
PNBA Book Award finalist
IRA Children’s Book Award finalist
Crystal Kite Award finalist

BEST BOOK OF YEAR LISTING
New York Public Library
Chicago Public Library
Kirkus
School Library Journal
Booklist
NBC News
Bank Street
CCBC
Nonfiction Detectives
NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Tradebook
Best STEM Trade Book (NSTA-CBC)
Natural History magazine
Smithsonian magazine
Children’s Bookwatch

AWARDS/STATE LISTS
Texas Topaz Nonfiction Gem
Jefferson Award winner (Virginia Library Association)
Monarch Award finalist (Illinois State Children’s Choice Award)
Grand Canyon Award finalist (Arizona’s children’s choice)
Towner Award nominee (Washington State’s children’s choice)
Young Hoosiers nominee (Indiana’s children’s choice)
Volunteer State Book Award nominee (Tennessee’s children’s choice)
Pennsylvania Readers’ Choice Award nominee
Utah Children’s Choice nominee
South Carolina Children’s Choice nominee
Horned Toad Tales nominee

OTHER
PNBA Bestseller
Amazon #1 and #2 Hot New Release

TRANSLATIONS
Chinese
Korean
Spanish
Turkish

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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