A Critical Conversation with Author Ruta Sepetys - National Council of Teachers of English


Join us for a critical conversation with hidden history author, Ruta Sepetys, as she discusses the power of historical fiction to unearth the past and give context to the present. Ruta is author of numerous historical fiction texts including Between Shades of GraySalt to the Sea, and the new I Must Betray You.

Between Shades of Gray shares about the Russian invasion, occupation, and destruction of many nations.

Salt to the Sea describes the refugee evacuation amidst war in Europe, very similar to what we are seeing now.

I Must Betray You illustrates communism and the sharp parallels of a dictator who grabs hold of a country, abuses its people, and believes his own propaganda.

Sunday, March 20

This event is open to all literacy educators. This is a live event and will not be recorded.


Ruta Sepetys is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a “crossover” novelist as her books are read by both students and adults worldwide. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it.  Her books have won or been shortlisted for over forty book prizes, are included on over thirty state reading lists, and are currently in development for film and television.

Ruta is the daughter of a Lithuanian refugee. Born in Michigan, she was raised in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. Ruta is passionate about the power of history and story to foster global dialogue and connectivity. She has been invited to present at NATO, European Parliament, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and Embassies worldwide. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Fellowship for her studies on human resilience. The New York Times Book Review declared, “Ruta Sepetys acts as champion of the interstitial people so often ignored—whole populations lost in the cracks of history.”

Ruta was bestowed the Cross of the Knight of the Order by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation and was recently honored with a postage stamp containing her image. She is extremely proud to be of Baltic heritage, even if that means she has a name no one can pronounce.

Ruta lives with her family in the hills of Tennessee.




Antero Garcia is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. His work explores how technology and gaming shape learning, literacy practices, and civic identities. Prior to completing his PhD, Antero was an English teacher at a public high school in South Central Los Angeles.

Nicole Mirra is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She previously taught high school English language arts in Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles, California. Her research explores the intersections of critical literacy and civic engagement with youth and teachers across classroom, community, and digital learning environments. Central to her research and teaching agenda is a commitment to honoring and amplifying the literacy practices and linguistic resources that students from minoritized communities use to challenge and reimagine civic life. Her most recent book is Educating for Empathy: Literacy Learning and Civic Engagement (Teachers College Press, 2018) and she is a coauthor (with Antero Garcia and Ernest Morrell) of Doing Youth Participatory Action Research: Transforming Inquiry with Researchers, Educators, and Students (Routledge, 2015).