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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 comic book steps up as an aid to literacy

    Miscellaneous

    Back in the 50s and 60s, the comic book was in its heyday. Super heroes and super villains thrilled young boys. Younger children would spend their pocket money on the newsprint serials of Richie Rich and Archie comics. However, woe to the child who snuck one into class only to be caught.

    I age myself when I say I remember buying Archie and Jughead comics at the corner Five & Dime. I spent my allowance on a 15-cent comic once a week. What I had left bought a nickel’s worth of gum and a dime candy bar. Sometimes the gum wound up on the end of my nose if, in the depths of the comic hidden in the pages my math book, I became too excited about the story and forget not to blow bubbles with my Bazooka! (Teachers frowned upon chewing gum during class, as well.)

    This is a front cover of the Japanese manga Dash! Yonkuro Volume 1. This manga was originally published by Shogakukan in the late 1980's.

    As all things do, comic books cycled out of style as children found other diversions. Publishers issued fewer new adventures and cover prices climbed. In the mid 80s, the comic book experienced rejuvenation. A new genre made an appearance in the West with the invasion of manga. These Japanese comic books took the comic book community by storm. They differed from the physical make up to the comic books of the 50s and 60s by being novel length series. Pages bound between covers with a spine instead of saddle stitched with a few staples, these comics featured highly stylized art and required reading from right to left. Most of the manga to arrive in the West remained written in kanji.

    Artists and writers are innovative folks. It wasn’t long before home-grown versions of manga made an appearance. The books themselves still had the stigma of not being ‘real’ literature and remained banned from classrooms. It’s this image of comic book as contraband since the 1950s, when the Senate Judiciary Committee investigated the comic book’s sinister influence and potential to inspire juvenile delinquency, that prevailed for a long time.

    This is no longer the case. No longer called comic books but going by a new moniker of graphic novels, they have become an essential component of public and school library collections for both children and teenagers, and they have enormous potential for classroom use. For the reluctant reader, they are absorbing and entertaining. For a struggling reader or the reader learning English as a second language, they offer a bridge with pictures for context, and hopefully a different path into classroom discussions for higher-level texts. They expand vocabulary, and introduce the ideas of plot, pacing, and sequence. According to a 1993 study published in The Journal of Child Language, comic books or graphic novels “introduce children to nearly twice as many new words as the average children’s book and more than five times as many as the average child-adult conversation.” That’s a lot of vocabulary words.

    Comic books allow children to develop the same skills as reading a more traditional book:

    • connecting narratives to children’s own experiences
    • predicting what will happen next
    • inferring what happens between individual panels
    • tracking left to right and top to bottom
    • interpreting symbols
    • following the sequence of events in a story

    I was able to speak briefly with Chris Wilson, the guiding force behind comic book and graphic novel review site: http://graphicclassroom.blogspot.com/

    Chris Wilson declares that all reading is good reading. Anything that gets a person into reading is a substantial thing. The duality of the text and image helps to convey more info of the story. A novel can be very daunting for a struggling reader. A comic will encourage a struggling reader as a bridge to reading novels by making reading engaging.

    Students learn to trust the teacher’s advice on reading material because of enjoyment of a GN. A short novel or chapter book is the next step. Once a student is hooked, bigger pieces of literature are a given, because the student learns the love of reading. Comics should be savored and can teach good readers to slow down and experience all the nuances of the story.

    He suggests the proper way to introduce the graphic novel into classroom learning by:

    1. Responsible use
    2. Effective use
    3. Study by subject not by form (i.e. study World War II using graphic novel, book, newspaper and video)
    4. Combine GN and text book study for a richness of given subject

    Not everyone is as big a fan of dangling the comics as bait to lure new campus library patrons and foster a love of books. In an article available here: http://legacy.signonsandiego.com/news/education/20040530-1252-comix.html, Carol Jago, literacy specialist for the National Council of Teachers of English is quoted as saying she worries that schools will have lower-level classes and English learners reading the graphic novel of ‘Frankenstein’ and honors students reading the real thing. She is concerned such practices will further widen the gap between high and low achievers.

    The detractors are by far in the minority, however. According to an article by the Canadian Council on Learning, comics have become a pervasive and undeniable aspect of popular culture. The CCL comments on findings in studies about comics, that such reading choices appeal a great deal to middle-grade boys, especially those who are often reluctant to ‘waste’ time reading.


    Graphic novels are in huge demand and publishers are scrambling to feed the cry. Books of all kinds are now available, from original story lines like The Magic Pickle by Scott Morse and Ellie McDoodle by Ruth McNally, to remakes of such story classics as Shakespeare’s plays and The Little Prince, to reworked versions of popular current day novels such as The Twilight Saga. Old favorites like the Bone series by Jeff Smith are being rereleased.

    As with any new media craze, sometimes choosing what is age appropriate is a challenge. This is especially true for the middle-grade reader. As the genre matures, this is becoming less of an issue as publishers are filling in gaps between the very young reader and the more mature reader.  Mr. Wilson’s site is a great resource in choosing what’s appropriate for middle grade readers. Reviews are broken down into recommendation by age group. http://graphicclassroom.blogspot.com/p/best-comics-for-your-classroom-list-for.html

    Wendy Martin spends her days drawing fantastical worlds. In the evenings she writes about them, then she visits them at night during her dreams.

    15 Comments

    15 Comments

    1. Jemi Fraser  •  Aug 4, 2010 @9:31 am

      I have several dozen graphic novels in my classroom. They get passed around by the kids like wildfire. Love ‘em! :)

      I have a lot of historical graphic books that the kids love. They’re short, based on historical events and the kids can’t get enough of them.

    2. Karen Schwartz  •  Aug 4, 2010 @11:12 am

      My son loves the graphic novels coming out for middle-grade readers. Some favorites: Magic Pickle, the Lunch Lady series, The Adventures of Ook and Gluk. He also likes to read the graphic novel of some classics like The Wizard of Oz.

    3. Elissa Cruz  •  Aug 4, 2010 @11:52 am

      My boys also love graphic novels. They are partial to the Star Wars and Spongebob Squarepants GNs, I think mostly because they are familiar. But I’m hoping they will branch out soon.

      My personal favorite graphic novel is Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale. Also, though I haven’t read it yet, I’m certain the sequel, Calamity Jack, is just as amazing.

    4. John Rozum  •  Aug 4, 2010 @5:14 pm

      As a long time writer of comics, particularly for kids, I’ve been welcomed into many classrooms where teachers and their students have embraced comic books for a number of reasons, including as another way to tell a story.

      Growing from these school visits, I’ve begun a blog aimed at kids interested in comics beyond just reading them. I recommend it for teachers and parents as well. It’s meant to be interactive. Kids can ask any questions in the comments section.

      Here is the address:

      http://johnrozumforkids.blogspot.com/2010/08/special-guest-robert-pope-on-drawing.html

    5. Tracy Abell  •  Aug 4, 2010 @10:37 pm

      Thanks for all this info, Wendy. And the memories. I loved reading comic books when I was younger and remember reading some of them over and over, wishing I had new issues.

      My sons went through a graphic novel stage and really enjoyed them. I think it’s good having that format available for young readers.

    6. Laurie Schneider  •  Aug 4, 2010 @11:50 pm

      This couldn’t be more timely as my husband (a grown up boy) walked out of Powell’s today with a grocery bag full of graphic novels.

    7. sheelachari  •  Aug 5, 2010 @6:44 am

      It’s a huge cry from the days I read Archie comics and all the amazing options I see now. Last month, my 7-year-old and I read A STORM IN THE BARN (about the dust bowl of Oklahoma, set during the Depression)…and trust me, this isn’t a topic she could have handled without the graphic novel aspect.

      I find it fascinating that “graphic novel” can mean a wide variety of things now, from comic book to history lesson to everything in between. I think it’s a great and versatile format.

    8. Robyn Gioia  •  Aug 5, 2010 @7:22 am

      If you want to know how popular illustrations are, sit in the classroom and watch when a kid says there’s a picture in my book. They all go running. Even me.

    9. Wendy Martin  •  Aug 5, 2010 @8:46 am

      Thanks for all the wonderful comments, everybody. Sheela, if you head over to my personal blog, I have an interview with the author/illustrator of The Storm in the Barn. It was posted near the release date of the book.

    10. Joanne Prushing Johnson  •  Aug 5, 2010 @9:52 am

      Great and relevant topic about something I don’t know as much about as I should. I’ll check out some of these recommendations and the ones noted in the comments thread. Thanks!

    11. brian_ohio  •  Aug 5, 2010 @3:06 pm

      I’m not a fan of Manga, it goes back to the old Speed Racer cartoon… I’d rather not talk about it, Wendy. Okay. So drop it.

      Otherwise, I thrilled that so many of the books I’ve loved and lost are being made into graphic novels. Stephen King’s ‘The Talisman’ and his ‘Dark Tower’ series to mention a few.

      Great Post!

    12. Mike Jung  •  Aug 6, 2010 @5:54 am

      I grew up reading the old-school DC and Marvel comic books – my brother was a collector, and I was constantly raiding his collection and reading stuff I wasn’t supposed to. Did it have a deleterious effect on my reading habits? Doubtful – not reading THE SILVER SURFER or THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA wouldn’t have raised my level of enthusiasm for the work of Thomas Hardy. What comic books did was become an ingrained part of my creative DNA, and eventually become one of the prime sources of inspiration for my first middle-grade manuscript, THE CAPTAIN STUPENDOUS FAN CLUB.

      The contemporary graphic novel has become an amazing and powerful art form, far beyond the sort of stuff I read back in the 1970s – Shaun Tan’s THE ARRIVAL is a stunning literary experience, for example. Art Spiegelman’s MAUS was a groundbreaking piece of work. and Marjane Sartapri’s PERSEPOLIS is funny, sad, profound and heartbreaking all at once.

    13. Kristi Bernard  •  Aug 6, 2010 @7:47 am

      This is great news. I always loved graphic novels and the demand for them is a good idea. Reading a book can have a message, but I just want the kids reading and having fun. Graphic novels with boys in mind as a major focus is wonderful.

    14. Pragmatic Mom  •  Aug 6, 2010 @7:51 pm

      Thanks for this great post on the importance of graphic novels. I want to repost on it as a link if that is ok.

      Pragmatic Mom
      Type A Parenting for the Modern World

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

    15. Wendy Martin  •  Aug 11, 2010 @8:59 pm

      Please post a teaser of it to your blog with a link back here to read the full article. Thanks for reading!