General Motors, Candlewick Press, and the American Booksellers Association have announced a new partnership to encourage young readers to develop an interest in STEM subjects through engagement with science fiction and fantasy novels. Funded by General Motors, the #STEMReads initiative will give away 20,000 copies of Christina Soontornvat’s The Last Mapmaker (Candlewick, Apr. 12).
A free box of paperback editions of The Last Mapmaker will be made available to independent booksellers to give away in underserved communities, particularly for readers between the ages of 8 and 12. Stores that participate in the giveaway will also receive a marketing stipend and will be invited to enter to win an in-person or virtual visit from Soontornvat, giving young readers the opportunity to speak to the author herself.
Hina Baloch, executive director of diversity equity and inclusion, sustainability, data analytics and STEM education communications at GM, said in a statement, “We recognize that interest and immersion in science fiction media transcends to all students, regardless of their education, gender, or race, and seeing themselves reflected in it can help encourage them to explore their own voice in this space.”
“Independent bookstores and the American Booksellers Association have witnessed first-hand how books can change lives,” said ABA CEO Allison K. Hill. “ABA is proud to participate with General Motors and Candlewick to support indies as they inspire future readers, scientists, tech explorers, engineers, and mathematicians.”
Soontornvat’s Thai-inspired fantasy earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. A Newbery Honoree (A Wish in the Dark; All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys' Soccer Team) with a master’s in science education, Soontornvat aims in her books to encourage kids’ curiosity about STEM.