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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 Future of ebooks… and the Middle-Grade Reader

    Uncategorized

    Photo credit: verbeeldingskr8 via Flickr

    With Apple’s new iPad sales already exceeding two million and the launch of iBooks, the blogosphere and publishing world is abuzz. What does this portend for the future of books? Is this the end of the publishing world as we know it? What is this so-called agency model? And where did I put my keys, anyway?

    The answer to these burning questions (besides the obvious, in your pocket, stupid!), run the gamut from… Cool! Ebooks! So shiny! Paper books are going the way of the Dodo bird and the eight-track! Bwahahahahaha!!!

    All the way to … Help, no! Say it isn’t so! Lock the doors and hide the kids – the ebooks are coming!

    While I do find this debate endlessly fascinating (and think the truth hopefully lies somewhere in the middle), I have been most intrigued to learn what the evolution of ebooks means to readers – particularly of the middle-grade variety. And what I’ve discovered is that ebooks provide some really exciting opportunities for kids – especially those who may not have the access or inclination to read in the first place.

    Reaching The Reluctant Reader
    Plenty of hand-wringing goes on about this hard-to-please subspecies of reader. Pegged (rightly or wrongly) as primarily boys, the conventional wisdom says the reluctant reader rapidly loses interest in books as more “exciting” pursuits compete for his time. Want to get a ten-year-old boy to read? Well, you may just have to pry the baseball bat or the Nintendo DS from his hands first.

    Or, maybe not.

    The popular handheld gaming system is now available in a larger dual-screen format that is also being touted as an ereader. Limited content is available in game cartridge form and consists mainly of classics and fairy tales – probably not the biggest draw for the reluctant reader.

    But a new line called FLIPS – which is available via download on DSiWare – most likely will. For example, take the More Bloody Horowitz titles by bestselling author Anthony Horowitz (the man behind the popular Alex Rider series). This ebook’s format could be best described as an interactive graphic novel – featuring text, graphics and the opportunity to make decisions for the main character.

    And also in development for the FLIPS line-up – Percy Jackson.

    I would think these would be a huge hit among reluctant readers. And, sure – they aren’t “traditional” books. But if they engage kids in the written word, does it really matter?

    You also don’t have to look far to find a number of ereader applications and interactive ebooks available for the iPod Touch. And one of the iPhone’s most popular applications is Cathy’s Story, an interactive ebook geared at kids aged 12-14.

    And even without all the bells and whistles, there’s this fascinating Kansas State University study that shows reluctant middle-grade readers may became more motivated to read when given a Kindle.

    Reaching The Remote Reader
    Certainly, not everyone can afford an iPhone, an iPad or a Kindle. And heck, not everyone wants to entrust their expensive electronics to a sticky-fingered kid who might leave it sitting on a playground bench. But what if there was a low-cost, difficult to break tablet computer that was designed with kids in mind?

    It may sound like a pie-in-the-sky idea, but that’s just what the folks at One Laptop Per Child aim to do. Already successful distributing their XO laptops around the world, the non-profit organization has now teamed up with Marvell Technologies to create an inexpensive, kid-friendly tablet computer.

    The projected price point: $75.

    The objective is to get computers into the hands of as many kids worldwide as possible. While the organization has been criticized and questioned at times about their lofty goals, I think what they hope to achieve is quite admirable. After all, information is power – and access to information is a great equalizer.

    Not to mention, for kids without easy access to a bookstore or library, an ereader opens a whole new world of possibilities. Just ask agent Nathan Bransford (and the dirt clods that fell victim to his childhood boredom).

    As for the rest of us…
    The truth is, I don’t see the appeal of ebooks limited just to the readers listed above. While at a Little League game last month, I watched two kindergarten-aged girls happily reading a Dr. Seuss book on an iPad. They were totally engaged – laughing and pointing out their favorite parts – just like they would with a “traditional” book.

    Because when it all comes down to it, it’s all about the story, right? I know when I was a kid, I read just about anything I could get my hands on – even cereal boxes and shampoo bottles (hmmm, maybe that’s why my characters always want lustrous locks and a breakfast fortified with 14 vitamins and minerals…).

    But all kidding aside, it was always about the words – the way they worked together like pieces of a puzzle, the way I found a kindred spirit in Margaret or went on an adventure with Nancy Drew. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if those words were printed on paper, a box of tissues, post-it notes – or an ereader. And face it, today’s kids are used to technology. Those girls reading Dr. Seuss on an iPad won’t suddenly dislike ereaders when they are eight… or nine… or ten. In fact, they’ll probably seek them out.

    Because once again: it’s all about the story.

    And hopefully, it always will be.

    So what do you think? What does the future hold for ebooks and the middle-grade reader? Have any creative ideas of your own?

    Tell me in the comments below. And don’t forget to check out our nine-book giveaway here. Today’s the last day to enter, since tomorrow we’ll be picking a winner.

    Jan Gangsei writes this post while surrounded by stacks of boxes in preparation for a rather daunting overseas move. Sadly, most of her cherished book collection has to go into storage. But she’s happy to report her extensive ebook library will be coming with her. You can follow Jan’s tweets at twitter.com/JanGangsei.

    25 Comments

    25 Comments

    1. Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford  •  Jun 21, 2010 @6:12 am

      This is the most informative post I have read on the topic of new technology as it pertains to children’s books. Thank you so much! My kids (3 and 5) will be all over the tablet reader someday soon, I’m sure.

    2. Jemi Fraser  •  Jun 21, 2010 @6:26 am

      I agree. Boys in my classroom do enjoy reading – and they love gadgets. They love graphic novels, nonfiction and fiction. Putting the books on personal game systems is a great idea :)

    3. June Morgan (chorkie)  •  Jun 21, 2010 @6:33 am

      I have had a Kindle for two years. But, when Amazon developed an app for the Iphone and PC, I haven’t used my Kindle. I love being able to read on my Iphone. I always have it with me. A Kindle or an Ipad is just something else to keep up with – like a book. However, I am an adult and avid reader.
      I think MG kids will want, but the newness may wear off quickly. But, as the prices come down, I can see textbooks being the first to make the transfer. MG texts are so heavy that it is ridiculous for them to carry. After transition of textbooks will come other books.

    4. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jun 21, 2010 @7:55 am

      Interesting topic. For my own 8 y.o. son, if I handed him a Nintendo DS XL and said there were books on there, he would still use it for games. It would have to be a dedicated e-reader to hold his attention. However, he’ll happily curl up with a stack of books. Sigh. I still love the paper books.

    5. Karen M. Krueger  •  Jun 21, 2010 @9:08 am

      I’m one of those who thinks it will be a little sad when physical book aren’t as prevalent. I love the smell of books, the feel of books…but I think that the upcoming generation of kids will embrace ereaders and I agree–it may help the reluctant reader to read. Though I do see what Karen B. Schwartz is saying, too. Will the games still distract them from the books? Maybe. But they will have both games and books right at their fingertips. It’s possible that they will be more inclined to do both.
      Thanks for this post! I hadn’t quite thought about it from this angle before & I think I’m warming up to the ereader idea a little more. :)

    6. Amie Borst  •  Jun 21, 2010 @9:09 am

      While I still love the smell of my local bookstore and the feel of a book in my hands, the crisp sound of the pages as I turn them, I believe you’ve addressed an excellent reason for e-readers. Reading starts early and is a life-long love. If e-readers is a way to get reluctant readers to enjoy the art of reading, then I say press on! Thanks for an informative post, Jan!

    7. Robyn Gioia  •  Jun 21, 2010 @9:37 am

      Very Informative. Jan summed it all up in her bio when she said, “But she’s happy to report her extensive ebook library will be coming with her.”

    8. Susan Quinn  •  Jun 21, 2010 @11:46 am

      This is a fantastic post! I blogged about e-books for kids just recently as well, with the release of Magic Tree House on e-book! I think it is coming faster than anyone thinks!

      p.s. I love the idea about enticing reluctant readers – I’ll link to this post, if you don’t mind!

    9. Elissa Cruz  •  Jun 21, 2010 @1:21 pm

      I have some reluctant middle-grade readers in my own home, and I can see the appeal ebooks may have. Especially graphic novels, which are a big hit around here. Thanks for sharing some of the different technology available, too.

      Although, I already feel like I’m combating over-stimulation at my house. Sometimes picking up a real book is the only way to turn off the technology. So I can also see how a traditional book could still be the better choice in some cases.

    10. Laura Pauling  •  Jun 21, 2010 @1:50 pm

      I’m not sure how I feel about trying to give every child a laptop. I mean more screen time is not what they need. And every “educational” electronic gizmo I’ve seen from the Leap Pad to computer games – I only see kids using them for entertainment value – not to learn. A very small percentage of education might happen…but I wonder how much reading would actually done? I don’t know.

    11. Ben Woodard  •  Jun 21, 2010 @1:53 pm

      Loved your comments. As a writer of “boy books” that I’m told are hard to sell, this gives me hope..

    12. shelby mahan  •  Jun 21, 2010 @2:34 pm

      Boys love story the way we all love story. I think this is the point we should all keep close to our hearts, our minds, our fingers as we write….

    13. Sydney Salter  •  Jun 21, 2010 @3:05 pm

      My 14-year-old daughter is saving her babysitting money for an e-reader, and I’m sure once she get it, her younger sister–a MG reader–will want one too. I think that e-books and physical books will coexist. Maybe we’ll see more illustrated MG novels!

    14. Jan Gangsei  •  Jun 21, 2010 @3:20 pm

      Just popping in from the Great Move of 2010 to say thanks for all the insightful comments and links! I will try to pop back in later to comment when I’ve finished disconnecting utilities… if I ever get off of “hold” with the cable company, that is ;-).

      Happy Summer Solstice, everyone!

    15. Joanne Johnson  •  Jun 21, 2010 @3:32 pm

      I think every child a laptop is a great idea especially for underserved populations with limited books in the home. It provides opportunities to access information for homework as well as the potential for e-books that can be downloaded from many libraries for kids who may not have transportation or whose inner city library branch has closed. Also for other countries where books are scarce or dated. I love the idea of reading a book and instead scanning to a footnote, clicking on a link to access more information of about topics of interest–a great way to link fiction and non-fiction for those boys and reluctant readers we hear about.

    16. Heather Kelly  •  Jun 21, 2010 @4:49 pm

      As much as it hurts my heart a little to take away the paper book experience from a child, I love the idea of the easy access to books through an electronic medium, and not all kids like the feeling of paper on their fingers. I think that convenience will win out in the end, but that paper books will always be available to kids as well. Plus, my kids break everything. So, we’ll stick to paper for a while.

    17. Cathi O.  •  Jun 21, 2010 @7:39 pm

      I totally agree – as long as kids are reading, does it really matter what format it’s in? Heck, my hubby gave me a Kindle for Christmas, and I’m so enamored with that little gadget that I’m reading more than I was before! And I’m not a reluctant reader – just a hard-working, tired one!

      Also, think of how many more kids can get their hands on the latest books – no more waiting for the bookstore to get it in stock, or waiting for it to get checked in at the local library. Hooray for ebooks!

    18. Laurie  •  Jun 21, 2010 @11:25 pm

      Put me down as another paper and glue person, but…the future is here. I can see buying an e-reader for travel and my tween daughter has already asked for one for Christmas.

    19. Jacqueline Houtman  •  Jun 22, 2010 @10:24 am

      I was skeptical at first, but I think the key will be added functionality, like layers of text (click to get more info, going as deep as you want) and graphics. I blogged about an example here: http://jjhoutman.livejournal.com/38960.html

      I agree with June Morgan about the heavy textbooks. The weight of kids’ backpacks is crazy! Also, if paper textbooks are replaced with electronic versions, there’s no excuse for “I didn’t finish my homework because I lost my textbook.” Although losing the e-reader would be a bad thing. Not that my kids have ever lost anything. . . ;-)

    20. Tracy Abell  •  Jun 22, 2010 @10:44 am

      I don’t like the idea of electronic reading but it’s a done deal, so I was happy to read about the little girls reading and enjoying Dr. Seuss on an e-reader. Thanks for all your insights on this issue.

    21. brian_ohio  •  Jun 22, 2010 @5:42 pm

      Great information. I haven’t jumped on the ebook band wagon… because I can’t afford the ticket price to get on the danged wagon. But someday I will.

    22. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Jun 23, 2010 @7:52 am

      I’m a hold-out, too, on e-readers, Kindle’s etc, mostly because of the price – and even MORE mostly because I love actual books. But I am understanding their place in the world more and more and the convenience when traveling. I hope books and electronics can co-exist! But when e-readers become more advanced technologically and start looking like an actual book with color and high resolution, I am afraid we might see actual books start going the way of the grave. It’s an interesting time to live, that’s for sure! And when it comes to real books dying off I am kicking against it all.

    23. Pragmatic Mom  •  Jun 23, 2010 @8:50 pm

      What is exciting about ebooks is that they can actually improve a traditional book by creating interactivity. I have seen great interactivity from Dr. Seuss books (Ocean Media Publications) that actually improves literacy by having the reader click on images that then float words from the story to the image.

      Not all the ebook publishers are pursuing interactivity to make the experience more fun or more educational but that is where the opportunity is — both to make the readers more engaged and to give readers a reason to buy both the traditional book and the ebook. They should evolve into two different experiences with neither being worse than the other; just different and useful in different ways.

      Pragmatic Mom
      Type A Parenting for the Modern World

      http://PragmaticMom.com
      I blog on children’s lit, education and parenting

      I have blogged on a small pile of ebooks and iPhone/iPad apps, mostly for preschoolers through elementary school age.

    24. Melina  •  Jun 23, 2010 @10:22 pm

      I am old-fashioned and like real books. Maybe books will come both ways – paper and electronic.

      I do like the idea of interactive books for younger kids though.

    25. Okie  •  Jun 24, 2010 @11:48 am

      I’m a print/paper fan myself and as far as I can tell right now, I’ll always prefer that format over digital. When I traveled a couple of months ago and lugged around 6 books with me, I thought it might have been nice to have an e-reader.

      I just love the feel of a real book, the reading/skimming/scanning method just works better for me there.

      Another part of my problem is I still want the print version of the books and don’t want to have to ‘buy’ them twice just for the convenience of reading them when I travel.

      Interactive books is a cool idea and has some good potential.

      As an added note, I just saw the release of (I think it was called) “100 great books” for the Nintendo DS. It’s a reasonable price point with the reading software built in and provides a ton of great books in a device kids are already using and familiar with. If my kids hadn’t broken my DS recently, I would have my copy ordered already.

      I think e-books can definitely take books to new readers, but in order to really get e-books in the hands of kids, I think a greater shift is still needed.