• OhMG! News


    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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  • Out Loud by Tricia Springstubb


    When I was a children’s librarian, no question got me more excited than, “Do you know a book I can read aloud with my ten-year-old?”

    It took all my meager impulse control not to bust out the dance of joy.  Then to babble about how much I’d loved reading aloud to my own kids at that age, and then how hard it was going to be to choose from all the amazing possibilities, and then…

    Still working on that self-control issue.

    Some parents were looking to build their kids’ reading skills.  Others longed for the cozy delights of reading together, even though their child now read independently.   None of them was going to be disappointed.

    My own childhood reading was completely anarchic–I more or less leaped from Nancy Drew to Jane Eyre.  Equally amazing women, but a lot of classics got left out in between.  With my daughters I discovered Narnia, the wild horses of Chincoteague, and the land of Half Magic. When I came to the end of Where the Red Fern Grows, Zoe had to take the book and carry on, since I got too choked up to read.  The same thing happened, a year or two later, with My Antonia.  

    Telling stories aloud has always been a deeply human pleasure.  And since humans are pleasure-seeking beings, there’s no better way to convey the joy and power of reading. Many studies bear out the value of reading aloud for language and grammar acquisition.  Kids can enjoy stories far more sophisticated than they’re capable of reading on their own. 

    Our guru here is Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook.  Oral reading, he says, has never been more needed than now, when school curriculums are dictated by standardized testing, causing too many students to associate reading with “dry-boned textbooks, boredom, pain, and the threat of failure”. 

    The list of books just begging to be shared aloud is endless.  Below, a few tried and true classics.

    Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters and The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural,  both by Patricia McKissack

    Collections of original tales, these are perfect for when you want something short.  Both draw on African American oral tradition, mixing humor, spine-tingling creepiness, and a word to the wise. McKissack is a master of idiom, and her voice leaps off the page. “Some folk believe the story; some don’t. You decide for yourself.”  Pour the lemonade and grab a rocker.

    Jim Ugly and Bandit’s Moon, both by Sid Fleischman

    These exciting Westerns define “page turner”.  Part mystery, part adventure, and bone-tickling funny, both books read fast, but their underlying themes of injustice and discrimination make them discussion worthy. Anyone who’s ever longed to saddle up will love reading the dialogue aloud.  

    A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder, both by Richard Peck

    These rollicking books tell their stories in linked, stand-alone chapters.  Anybody any age will alternately belly laugh and tear up over the doings of the irascible Grandma Dowdel. Peck is that rare thing—a born storyteller.  Even if you’re sitting all alone, read these books out loud!

    Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert O’Brien

    “There’s something very strange about the rats living under the rosebush at the Fitzgibbon farm.”  Who’s going to solve the mystery, avert the danger, and lead everyone to utopia?  Mom, of course!  Full of suspense, this one will make everyone squeal, “Don’t stop!” when it’s time for bed.  Again, besides a terrific story, families will find plenty  to discuss and debate.    

    Two more recent books deserve mention for their compelling voices:

    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly

    Here’s one to take your time over.  With its old-fashioned but accessible cadence, the language deserves to linger on the air.  It’s about a girl, but Calpurnia’s sly sense of humor and her hunger to understand the natural world should appeal to boys, too.

    Keeper, by Kathi Appelt

    Reading this enchanted, coming-of-age story aloud will bring out the actor in young and old alike.  Some chapters are only one sentence long, so everyone can chime in.

     Sure, you can listen on CD or iPod—that’s fun, too.  But nothing beats snuggling in as  someone you know and love begins, “Chapter One…”

    Tricia has a renewed respect for reading aloud, after taping a podcast for her newly released MG novel, What Happened on Fox Street.  You can listen to it here.  www.triciaspringstubb.com



    1. Caroline Starr Rose  •  Aug 30, 2010 @8:09 am

      Reading aloud is so essential, especially when most parents are ready to stop (when kids are reading independently). We read Watership Down as a family last summer. It was my husband’s suggestion, and I was worried my boys might not get everything, but they loved it. I even overheard them adding rabbits Fiver, Hazel, and BigWig into their playtime.

    2. Amie Borst  •  Aug 30, 2010 @9:22 am

      my middle daughter has a central auditory processing disorder, so listening comprehension is extremely frustrating for everyone involved. but i can definately see the benefits in reading aloud. my other two children adore it. and my hope is that if i keep it up, my middle daughter’s deficits might be strengthened one day.

      thanks for this post!

    3. Samantha Rowan  •  Aug 30, 2010 @9:54 am

      I love these suggestions! I’m working on a young adult book but I also love to read these aloud:
      The Mouse and The Motorcycle, Beverly Cleary
      The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

    4. Laura Marcella  •  Aug 30, 2010 @10:19 am

      My parents read aloud to me and my siblings all the time. We loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, Pippi Longstocking, and Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little! Anything by Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl were also favorites. I re-read them all now, too. I have such fond memories of my family and those amazing books!

    5. Karen Schwartz  •  Aug 30, 2010 @10:29 am

      Thanks for the great suggestions. We have read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone outloud many times for my 8 y.o. The 4 y.o. loves the rhyming meter of Dr. Seuss.

    6. Sherrie Petersen  •  Aug 30, 2010 @1:56 pm

      My son is ten and he still loves to snuggle up in bed and listen as I read a book aloud to him and his sister. I guess they are lucky, because the teachers at their school read out loud to them every single day, as well.

    7. Joanne  •  Aug 30, 2010 @7:55 pm

      @ Amie–What if you read aloud a book that your daughter is already familiar with in some other way such as one that has a well-done movie version? Would the familiarity help her auditory processing? Or what aboud a book that has a lot of illustrations (i.e. Diary of a Wimpy Kid) or reading a graphic novel together and also discussing the artwork? Just a couple ideas.

    8. Laurie Schneider  •  Aug 30, 2010 @9:20 pm

      Bud Not Buddy (and other books by Christopher Paul Curtis) are great read alouds, too.

    9. JKB  •  Aug 31, 2010 @10:20 am

      Oh gosh, we’ve started with our six month old and she LOVES it. I’m hoping to be able to introduce her to all my favorites as she grows up!

      I can’t wait to read Keeper. Kathi Appelt is AMAZING!

    10. Cathy Ogren  •  Aug 31, 2010 @11:34 am

      I love reading aloud. One of my recent favorites that’s full of fun is The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming.

    11. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Aug 31, 2010 @12:18 pm

      Great post! At our house, we’re reading “Pippi Longstocking” aloud (I have a 6 and 8 year old) while my voracious reader 8year old and I are also reading “Chasing Vermeer” aloud. (It often helps him “get into” a series he’s not sure about to read it first with me – we did the same for “Harry Potter” and a bunch of Roald Dahl books)

      As a pediatrician and writer, I can’t speak enough to the importance of reading aloud – even to older children. I just blogged on it – asking people to join me in committing to a reading ‘streak’ with their kids (modeled after a father-daughter in the NYT who read every day without fail). Endless benefits – from literacy, to attachment to a love of words to just fun!


    12. L  •  Aug 31, 2010 @1:57 pm

      fun post, and great suggestions. We love reading aloud in our house, and are determined to continue as long as possible. The husband and I take turns with a book (he does better and Tolkien and Lewis than I do). The daughter is 10 presently and sometimes she reads aloud to us, especially in the car–our own audiobook version.
      some of our best conversations have come from having experienced some part of a book together. and reading aloud has noticeably built confidence into her ever-expanding vocabulary.

    13. Susan Quinn  •  Sep 1, 2010 @10:26 am

      Thanks for the reminder that this is PRECISELY what I need to be doing with my middle child (who is nearing 10)!

    14. Melina  •  Sep 1, 2010 @4:26 pm

      I love reading books out loud to my little brother. We like the ones that have won that EB White award for reading out loud.

    15. Elissa Cruz  •  Sep 1, 2010 @11:38 pm

      I LOVE reading out loud with my kids. There is something exciting that happens when we all are invested in the same story.

      I am jotting these titles down for our next bedtime story picks. Thanks for the list, Tricia!