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    July 11, 2014: Apply for a Thurber House residency!

    Thurber House has a Children’s Writer-in-Residence program for middle-grade authors each year and  guidelines and application form for the 2015 residency were just released.

    This unique residency has been in existence since 2001, offering  an opportunity for authors to have time to work on their writing in a fully furnished apartment, in the historic boyhood home of author and humorist, James Thurber. Deadline is October 31, 2014. For details, go to READ MORE

    July 10, 2014:

    Spread MG books in unexpected places 7/19
    Drop a copy of your own book or of another middle-grade favorite in a public place on July 19 -- and some lucky reader will stumble upon it.
    Ginger Lee Malacko is spearheading this Middle Grade Bookbomb (use the hashtag #mgbookbomb in social media) -- much in the spirit of Operation Teen Book Drop.  Read more ...

June 16, 2014:
Fizz, Boom, Read: Summer reading 2014

Hundreds of public libraries across the U.S. are celebrating reading this summer with  the theme Fizz, Boom, Read! Find out more about this year's collaborative summer reading program and check out suggested booklists and activities. Read more ...
 

April 30, 2014:
Join the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign and help change the world

The conversation on diversity in children's books has grown beyond book creators and gate keepers to readers and book buyers. What can you do? Take part in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign May 1 though 3 on Tumblr and Twitter and in whatever creative ways you can help spread the word to take action. Read more ….

April 11, 2014:
Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

April 9, 2014:
How many Newbery winners have you read?
You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

March 28, 2014:
Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

February 14, 2014:
Cybils Awards announced
Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

November 12, 2013:
Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

November 9, 2013:
Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

October 14, 2013:
Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
Read more ...

September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

September 16, 2013:
National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

August 21, 2013:
Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

August 19, 2013:
S&S and BN reach a deal
Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

August 6, 2013:
NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

 
July 2, 2013:
Penguin & Random House Merger

The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

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  • The Care and Feeding of Young Library Patrons

    Interviews

    Photo credit: The Consortium via Flickr

    Fairfax County, a heavily-populated Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., could arguably be the epicenter of young reader-dom. When Amazon held its “Harry-est” city in the country contest to celebrate the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, two cities in Fairfax County were in the top five spots.

    Georgia Chirieleison is responsible for keeping these young readers well-supplied. As the Children’s Selector for the Fairfax County Public Library system, Georgia selects all titles for patrons from birth to age 18 at 22 branches. She has also worked as the head of information at the Centreville Library and was a children’s librarian for 20 years.

    Like libraries across the country, the library here is facing cutbacks in staff, hours and materials. However, it is still in the business of buying books, and Georgia was gracious enough to spend some time with Mixed-Up Files and answer some questions about the behind-the-scenes workings of the largest public library system in Virginia and what makes her buy a middle-grade book.

    Q: Since your job consists of buying books, how has your work been affected by budget cuts?
    A: We are buying fewer titles, all across the board. We have also raised our hold-to-copy ratio. It used to be that we would by an additional copy of a book when there were more than 4 holds on the title; now it’s been changed to 6. It’s harder to spend money. We spend a lot of time being careful.

    Q: So, out of all the middle-grade titles you’re looking at right now, what percentage, roughly, would you say do you purchase?
    A: It’s hard to say – probably 25-40%.

    Q: Approximately how many new titles do you acquire each year (as opposed to copies of each title)?
    A: In 2009, for titles labeled “JFIC,” we purchased 667 titles. This excludes Young Adult and Picture Books, but may include different formats of the same title, such as the same book in a different language or on CD. (Interviewer’s note: Just as an example of why it might be important to distinguish between copies of a title and different formats of a title, I checked on the blockbuster Diary of Wimpy Kid. The library alone had 179 copies of the original English language version, in addition to 4 copies in Korean and 8 audio copies!)

    Q: My 10-year-old son recently read his first e-book, thanks to the FCPL system. How do you see e-books fitting in with the needs of your middle-grade readers?
    A: I expect the demand for e-books among middle-graders to go up. We are seeing more holds showing up in our system for e-books all the time. The advantage to us is that e-books take up no shelf space. It’s an interesting time.

    Q: How do you decide to acquire a new middle-grade fiction title?
    A: We order based on reviews. Looking at preview copies is prohibitive because of the sheer volume and workload involved in handling them. We order from companies such as Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and BWI. They provide lists of genres I’m interested in, and they provide links to interviews to the titles. Patrons and branches can also suggest a title, and we will respond based on reviews and availability.

    Q: If there’s a book with mixed reviews, what factors would push you to buy the book?
    A: The author’s reputation would make a difference. We would consider customer demand, the setting and the subject of the book – if it were something customers would find interesting or relevant in some way.

    Q: You mentioned earlier that you purchase your book through book companies. What do these companies do? Why do you choose to go through these book companies instead of book stores?
    A: Companies like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and BWI are book wholesalers that provide many time-saving services to libraries. They provide discounts and we can request certain processing, such as a barcode, specific jacketing or heavier binding to stand up to circulation. They carefully monitor what is published and provide alerts, suggested titles lists, and powerful selection software. We also have the ability to go outside the book companies if there is a book we want. In addition, we have standing orders with certain titles or series.

    Q: Do you ever look for specific books in a particular genre or with a certain type of character?
    A: We do occasionally scout for books, but generally, it’s what looks good that year. Some years are a bumper crop; not so much other years.

    Q: Are there books you feel are needed but not being published?
    A: Sometimes I can’t find books in some non-fiction areas. Right now there is a lot of demand for fantasy and science fiction. Vampires are still hot, and we are seeing more angel stories, too.

    Q: What is the best part of your job? The worst?
    A: The best part of this job is that I like all kinds of books, especially picture books. I like seeing new books as they come out, knowing people will enjoy them. The hardest part is sitting at a computer for long periods of time – I think part of me never grew up!

    Q: Final question – who are some of your favorite middle-grade authors?
    A: For fantasy, I like C.S. Lewis and Ursula K. LeGuin, J.K. Rowling, Jonathan Stroud, Maryrose Wood, Trenton Stewart and many others. In terms of realistic fiction, I like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Gordon Korman, Andrew Clements and Kimberly Willis Holt’s “Piper Reed” books. I also like Mary Downing Hahn – she’s a local author who writes historical fiction as well as suspense.

    After speaking to Georgia, a quick peek into the library catalogue revealed that for 2009, in addition to the 667 middle-grade titles, Georgia also purchased 693 picture books and 588 young adult titles, bringing the number of titles (and formats) she purchased to 1,948! That’s not including non-fiction titles, or the fact that based on her own estimates, Georgia is probably looking at upwards of six or seven thousand titles to get to her selections. Whew!

    Wendy Shang’s debut novel, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, comes out January 2011.  She is a Ready-to-Read volunteer with Fairfax County Public Library.

    16 Comments

    16 Comments

    1. Madelyn  •  Jun 28, 2010 @7:27 am

      Ach, budget cuts. Nice interview! With the preview copy situation, it really emphasizes the importance of good reviews. Which in turn, I would think, emphasizes the importance of good blogs. Thanks!

    2. Deb  •  Jun 28, 2010 @9:26 am

      Thanks for this. It’s great to see this side of a books journey!

    3. Danette  •  Jun 28, 2010 @9:58 am

      I never thought about the advantages to the library of ebooks–having books that take no shelf space. That has to be a real plus for libraries and bookstores as it brings down the cost of overhead. (Plus no nasty pages with crushed bugs or food particles in them!)

    4. Amie Borst  •  Jun 28, 2010 @10:06 am

      This was quite an informative post, Wendy! I never even considered how books were chosen for the libraries. Now I have something more to share with my children when they complain that their favorite book isn’t available!

    5. Toby Speed  •  Jun 28, 2010 @10:18 am

      Thanks for this great interview. I love your new blog, by the way! You are filling a need that was out there.

    6. Karen Schwartz  •  Jun 28, 2010 @10:44 am

      wow! I had no idea that libraries relied so heavily on reviews. But it makes sense, given the volume of books published. I wonder if there are certain review sources that mean more than others.

    7. Elissa Cruz  •  Jun 28, 2010 @11:40 am

      Fascinating! I’ve never really given much thought to how libraries choose books. I am curious to know if more children’s books or more books for adults are purchased in general (which is kinda off topic, I know). My own library places more emphasis on books for adults, but I wonder if my library is an anomaly.

    8. Bridgette  •  Jun 28, 2010 @12:18 pm

      Great interview and timely information. It is a perspective that I hadn’t considered.

    9. Joanne Johnson  •  Jun 28, 2010 @4:18 pm

      Very interesting, Wendy. I appreciate the fresh perspective. Thanks!

    10. Jemi Fraser  •  Jun 28, 2010 @5:19 pm

      Budget cuts stink! I know our school board doesn’t have much money for equipping libraries anymore. The kids who come into my class are always amazed at my collection & thrilled to be able to read so many new books. :)

    11. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Jun 28, 2010 @6:41 pm

      Thank you Georgia and Wendy for this new perspective. I love what Georgia said about having to spend more time being careful.

      I’d be interested to hear what Georgia has to say about buying commercial titles versus more literary titles that may be harder to find in brick-and-mortar bookstores.

    12. Kathryn Erskine  •  Jun 28, 2010 @8:00 pm

      Thanks for all your hard work, Georgia!

    13. Deborah Freedman  •  Jun 28, 2010 @8:05 pm

      I love hearing this “inside scoop” -

    14. Tracy Abell  •  Jun 29, 2010 @9:34 am

      Thanks so much for these insights. I have to whoop and holler over the 667 new middle-grade titles in 2009!

    15. Susan Kaye Quinn  •  Jun 29, 2010 @12:44 pm

      Libraries (and librarians) rock! Thanks for this insight into the acquisitions process! :)

    16. Melina  •  Jun 30, 2010 @7:38 pm

      I love to visit my local library – I call it my second home. They know me there!