Award Winning Author
Government, Youth Activism, Environment, Science
Travels from: Portland, Oregon

“A nail-biting account of a still-unresolved landmark case.” — Kirkus, Starred Review

In June 2023, a district court judge in Helena, Montana, ruled in favor of sixteen youth plaintiffs (ages 5 to 22) who sued the state over climate change. It was the first time in U.S. history that young people won a constitutional claim against their government on climate. It will not be the last. In fact, while Lahaina burned to ground from a deadly fire whose flames were fanned by climate change, fourteen youths (ages 9 to 18) in Hawaii, including two from West Maui, continued preparing for a climate trial scheduled for June 2024 that challenges the state to decarbonize its transportation system, the sector responsible for the biggest portion of state’s greenhouse gas emissions. And earlier this year, a constitutional climate case filed eight years ago by twenty-one youths ages 8 to 18 from across country against the federal government rose from the ashes of an earlier dismissal and is back on track toward trial.

Author, magazine writer, and speaker Elizabeth Rusch has been closely following these three cases and more around the United States and world.  She is the author of The Twenty-One: The True Story of the Youth Who Sued the U.S. Government Over Climate Change, which received starred reviews from Kirkus, who called it “moving and absorbing” and Booklist, who described it as “action-packed,” “vivid,” and “inspiring.” Peoplemagazine listed it as a “Must-Read.” A New York Public Library best book of 2023, The Twenty-One has won the prestigious Golden Kit Award and is a finalist for the Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World.

Rusch is the award-winning author of more than 24 other books, which have received multiple starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Horn Book, Booklist, School Library Journal, and the BCCB, among others. Other environmental books include: The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans and Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved our Planet. 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, Kirkus, 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’s newest talk, “Do We Have a Constitutional Right to a Stable Climate?” gives audiences a clear and deep understanding of the youth-led, rights-based climate lawsuits that are transforming the legal landscape on the environment and offering real hope for our planet.

Elizabeth's Featured Titles

A Greater Goal: The Epic Battle for Equal Pay in Women’s Soccer-and Beyond

Greenwillow Books |

More than 250 women have played on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, and most contributed to the battle for equal pay. This narrative nonfiction book by the award-winning author and journalist Elizabeth Rusch traces the evolution of that fight, bringing this important rights issue in sports and in our culture to the attention of young readers. Features extensive backmatter.

With the passage of Title IX in 1972, the doors opened for young women to play sports at a higher level. But for the women on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, being able to compete at an international level didn’t mean fair treatment and fair compensation.

From economy-class airplane seats and inadequate lodging to minimal marketing and slashed wages, the women representing the United States at the Olympics, the World Cup, and other tournaments had reason to be fed up. They were expected to—and did—win, but they weren’t compensated for their talent and dedication. With the help of their union and in collaboration with the men’s team, they secured an equitable contract in 2022 that ultimately benefited both national teams as well as athletes of the future.

Elizabeth Rusch’s A Greater Goal chronicles how members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team fought to receive fair treatment and equal pay despite the intense pushback they received from U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States. With a narrative that includes player profiles and vignettes framed from team member perspectives, A Greater Goal illuminates the work, support, and grit needed to be treated with equality in a world that often undervalues the contributions of women.

Features extensive backmatter, including a, call to action, additional resources, and an index.

All About Color

Charlesbridge |

A fresh picture book of simple but surprising exploration of the art, science, and emotion of color. This mindful meditation encourages children to see the world differently.

Colors don’t exist. The sky is not blue. The grass is not green. A violet is not even violet. But color still plays an important role in our lives. Color can be a signal, as in a traffic light. It can be a call for help, like a life jacket. It can help us stand out or blend in, or feel like part of a team. Colors even affect our mood: red can make us angry, blue can make us sad, and yellow can brighten our day. Young readers will never look at color the same way again.

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.

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

Greenwillow Books |
Young Adult & Adult


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!

Impact!: Asteroids and the Science of Saving the World (Scientists in the Field)

Clarion Books |
Children’s Non-Fiction

In this this thrilling entry into The Scientists in the Field series, follow scientists as they search for dangerous asteroids in space, study asteroids that have crashed into the ground, and strive to prevent an asteroid strike if one ever threatens our planet.

Asteroids bombard our atmosphere all the time. Some are harmless, burning up in a flash of light. But others explode with a great sonic boom, smashing windows and throwing people to the ground. Worst of all, some asteroids strike our planet, blasting out massive craters and destroying everything nearby on impact.

Follow the award-winning author Elizabeth Rusch into the field with scientists as they search for dangerous asteroids in space, study asteroids that have smashed into the ground, and make plans to prevent an asteroid strike if one ever threatens our planet.

The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field)

Clarion Books |
Children’s Non-Fiction

Journey to the wave-battered coast of the Pacific Northwest to meet some of the engineers and scientists working to harness the punishing force of our oceans, one of the nature’s powerful and renewable energy sources. With an array of amazing devices that cling to the bottom of the sea floor and surf on the crests of waves, these explorers are using a combination of science, imagination, and innovation to try to capture wave energy in the hopes of someday powering our lives in a cleaner, more sustainable way.


Do We Have a 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. Young people are asking the courts: 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 wildfires threaten our homes and health? Youth will live with these dangerous climate impacts longer than adults, so they are leaning into powerful governing documents such as the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions 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, which just may change how you think about climate change – and what can be done about it.

In addition to this dramatic, one-hour presentation, which will change the way you think about climate change, Rusch offers extended Q&A sessions with discussions about the role of the judicial system in our democracy, the obstacles to progress on climate change and how to overcome them, the science behind the climate chaos we experience, and how exactly we get off fossil fuels while meeting all our energy needs. She can delve into the research, writing, and revising process she used to write her award-winning book and can also lead workshops to help attendees tell their climate stories for publication, to educate others, and to lobby representatives for change.


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?


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.


How To Research Anything

For writers in the research phase of a substantial project, this interactive presentation uses audience members 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.

Elizabeth’s Discussion Guide Link

Elizabeth’s Articles Link

Elizabeth’s Editing Link

Elizabeth’s Creative Retreats Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

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)

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

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

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

PNBA Bestseller
Amazon #1 and #2 Hot New Release


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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