Lerner Publishing Group marks its 60th anniversary this year, a milestone that the company’s Minneapolis hometown commemorated this week by officially proclaiming May “Lerner Publishing Group Month.”
LPG boasts an impressive growth trajectory since 1959, when Harry Lerner launched the company with four titles published for children to read at doctors’ offices to teach and comfort them about common childhood illnesses. Six decades later, LPG has more than 7,000 titles in print and releases 700-plus new titles annually for both the trade and school and library markets. The group now encompasses 14 imprints, among them Carolrhoda Books, Carolrhoda Lab, Millbrook Press, Twenty-First Century Books, Graphic Universe, Kar-Ben Publishing, Zest Books, and First Avenue Editions.
“This is not only a momentous occasion for me and my family, but for all of the employees, authors, and illustrators who have made our award-winning company what it is today,” said Harry Lerner, now chairman of the board of LPG. “We are proud to remain an independent and family-owned company and have enjoyed supporting librarians and teachers in educating children for 60 years.”
To celebrate this landmark year, and to thank the teachers, librarians, and booksellers who have contributed to LPG’s success, the company is hosting anniversary giveaways at trade shows throughout 2019, including BookExpo later this month in New York City. The company is also featuring “60 Throwback Thursdays,” posting covers and stories pulled from its archives on the Lerner blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Adam Lerner, who is Harry’s son and is publisher and CEO of LPG, noted that the 60th anniversary is an occasion to celebrate its “best-in-class” school and library publishing programs, as well as acclaimed trade output. Award-winning LPG titles released in recent years include a Coretta Scott King Author Award book (Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, from Carolrhoda Books); two Michael L. Printz Award Honors (Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez and I, Claudia by Mary McCoy, both from Carolrhoda Lab); and a National Book Award finalist (What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold, also from Carolrhoda Lab).
A sampling of LPG’s lead fall titles reveals the wide array of genres and topics represented on the imprints’ lists. Due from Graphic Universe is Stage Dreams by Melanie Gillman, a queer Western adventure starring a Latinx outlaw and a trans runaway. New from Carolrhoda Books are Carlyn Beccia’s Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters, examining eight legendary creatures; and Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen by Beth Mills, in which first grader Ella’s reign is threatened when a new kid shows up. And The American Dream? A Journey on Route 66 Discovering Dinosaur Statues, Muffler Men, and the Perfect Breakfast Burrito by Shing Yin Khor, a graphic travelogue about the author’s pilgrimage in search of an ever-shifting definition of America, is due from Zest Books.
Gratified by his company’s past and present accomplishments, Adam Lerner emphasized that LPG is also “looking forward to the future,” adding, “Through strong partnerships, innovative new digital products, and acquisitions such as Zest Books, we plan to make an even bigger impact in the marketplace and on bookshelves across the country in the years to come.”