TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Benjamin Alire Sáenz on Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

In this post, we feature author Benjamin Alire Sáenz, whose beloved, acclaimed titles include Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, a Printz Honor Book and winner of the Stonewall Award and the Pura Belpré Award, among many other honors. You can hear him speak about his new novel, Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, and try his “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!


Benjamin Alire Sáenz and the cover of Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World.

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

  • Written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Release date: October 12, 2021

In Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, two boys in a border town fell in love. Now, they must discover what it means to stay in love and build a relationship in a world that seems to challenge their very existence. Ari has spent all of high school burying who he really is, staying silent and invisible. He expected his senior year to be the same. But something in him cracked open when he fell in love with Dante, and he can’t go back. Suddenly, he finds himself reaching out to new friends, standing up to bullies of all kinds, and making his voice heard. And, always, there is Dante, dreamy, witty Dante, who can get on Ari’s nerves and fill him with desire all at once. The boys are determined to forge a path for themselves in a world that doesn’t understand them. But when Ari is faced with a shocking loss, he’ll have to fight like never before to create a life that is truthfully, joyfully his own.

From Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

I wondered if Dante and I would ever be allowed to write our names on the map of the world.

Read a longer excerpt from Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World, written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Explore Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

Listen to Benjamin Alire Sáenz talking with TeachingBooks about creating Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.


Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Imagination Activity with Benjamin Alire Sáenz

This is a very different kind of writing prompt because it isn’t exactly that. But I have found that this exercise has not only been useful for me but for my students. I’ve asked my students, and have often asked myself as well as those who’ve asked me for advice over the years to do this simple exercise: write the date. And then simply write one sentence. So, if I were to do that today, this is what I would write:

Friday, October 22, 2021

I was perusing through the internet and discovered two things that made me happy:  1) Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World comes in at No. 6 in Canada’s bestseller list; 2) The New Indian Express which covers the southern states of India has this headline: EVA LONGORIA AND EUGENIO DERBEZ JOIN ARISTOTLE AND DANTE FILM ADAPTION.

My entry for the day is newsy. Sometimes that will happen. But if I wasn’t obsessed with my book right now, I might have written this:

The October air was dry and cool and I shivered as I sat on the patio drinking my morning cup as I waited for the sun to rise.

So I ask my students to write one sentence every day for 21 days. You may ask what the point is: 1) You actually write something every day; 2) when you read your sentences in one sitting, it is amazing what you will find there. At that point, each student will write a reflection on what they found in the sentences after reading them as one piece of writing. I actually did this for six months, and it inspired my most recent book of poems.


Finish This Sentence . . . with Benjamin Alire Sáenz

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s response.

“You may not know that I can…”

You may not know that I paint. By that I mean that I am a serious painter. It’s not just a hobby or something I do on the side. I have been painting for a longer time than I have been writing. Painting is almost as necessary to me as my writing. By necessary, I mean that I need it to live. Though I love writing more than painting, they are such different arts. When I write, I need absolute quiet, but when I paint, I love to listen to music and somehow the music helps me to paint.


Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Benjamin Alire Sáenz for signing a book for all of us.

The title page of Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

More Connections to Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World


Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Simon & Schuster and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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