• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Op-Ed > Yes?!? To E-readers
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    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 ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...


    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...


    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories,


    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...


    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...


    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…


    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...


    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...


    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...


    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...


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Yes?!? To E-readers


I’ve said no to Nintendo DS, GameBoy, Xbox, Wii, iPod Touch… I want my kids to spend their spare hours reading, not attached to a machine.

I’ve loved watching them live in the stories they love, running around in costumes creating their own Secrets Of Droon script, or building unique spacecraft and imagining whole new worlds. Books inspire that kind of creativity, not machines.

I’m a proud bookworm: every spare wall in my house contains an overstuffed bookshelf–and I love my books with a fierce passion. My daughters love their books too.

But this summer books turned electronic: my ten-year-old bought a Nook with her own saved birthday and holiday money. I couldn’t say no to a book, right?!?!

As an author I have complicated feelings about E-readers. Mainly, I hate that I’ve transformed from a writer to a “content creator.” Where’s the romance in that?

Dutifully, I took my daughter to the free Nook class. About a dozen people, representing just about every decade of life–the oldest man was 80–learned how to read free sample chapters, download books, change font size, etc.

I sat nearby with my laptop, trying to create content, with one ear listening to the B&N employee boast about the glowing future of electronic books. I didn’t get many words written.

My daughter brought her Nook home, drew and colored a picture for her E-reader cover, and snuggled into the sofa and read. She read for hours. More than she’d read all summer.

Something about reading electronically makes my reluctant reader feel edgy and cool. And no matter what happens to her poor content creating mother, I know that an E-reader will always be part of my daughter’s life. She’s hooked!

Sydney Salter, author of JUNGLE CROSSING, a middle-grade novel with a glossy cover and thick, creamy pages, lives and writes in Utah. She’s never read a book electronically, but she did download her work-in-progress onto her daughter’s Nook for feedback.



  1. Deva Fagan  •  Sep 6, 2010 @5:27 am

    How interesting that your daughter is reading more with the Nook! Good for her, for saving up the money for something she wanted.

    I’ve been thinking of getting one myself, but I plan to wait another year at least. It would be very nice for traveling!

  2. Sydney Salter  •  Sep 6, 2010 @9:55 am

    I do love that we can load several titles onto the Nook for travel–but I’ll kind of miss those emergency road-trip bookstore visits (I always manage to find something for myself as well!). And I’m not sure I’ll ever want a book I have to turn off during takeoff and landing :)

  3. Laurie McBride  •  Sep 6, 2010 @2:33 pm

    I’m curious about how electronic readers will change the way writers work. Do any of the writers on this site have any thoughts about how it will shape and change the way they tell stories in the (very near) future?

  4. Cathe Olson  •  Sep 6, 2010 @6:23 pm

    Nice story — and shows that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to books. Traditional books, audio books, e-books–they all have their place in the reading world. (And BTW — my 11-yo daughter and I loved Jungle Crossing.)

  5. Laurie Schneider  •  Sep 6, 2010 @11:55 pm

    The tide is rising…. My 11-year-old daughter is obsessed with the Nook display at our local B&N. Guess what’s on the top of her Christmas list?

  6. Dede Perkins  •  Sep 7, 2010 @6:47 am

    Thanks for the post. I love my Nook though I still buy the occasional traditional book now and then…:)

    I’m interested in your comment about downloading your manuscript to your daughter’s Nook…is there any easy way to do this?


  7. Robert Gould  •  Sep 7, 2010 @12:13 pm

    As a children’s literacy advocate and author/”content creator”, I think this is a great opportunity to get kids reading more. Especially “reluctant readers” – those boys that wouldn’t pick up a book to read for pleasure without some serious bribing on the part of the parent. Those of you with young boys will know exactly what I’m talking about.

    Even though I love the experience of sitting back with a good “book” in my hands, it’s just not the way our kids feel these days. We’re in a paradigm shift, and as parents and educators we need to embrace it…with an emphasis on finding and providing great “content”. Kids LOVE being connected with a digital device. We should take that as a green light to support them in the habit of reading, then, hopefully, get them to experience the deliciousness of reading a great printed book by the fireplace as they get a little older.

  8. Wendy S  •  Sep 7, 2010 @9:26 pm

    I think we’re going to hit the tipping point a lot sooner than we thought, and young readers are a major part of that shift. Could the music industry be a bellwether? How many young adults and teens are buying CDs versus downloads?

  9. Sydney Salter  •  Sep 8, 2010 @11:55 am

    Thanks for all the comments. Dede–manuscripts can be downloaded as PDF files onto E-readers. And I agree kids love everything digital. It looks like books are a lot like music–my kids have never bought a physical CD, but they “buy” songs all the time online.

  10. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Sep 8, 2010 @3:51 pm

    I LOVE that picture of your daughter reading from her Nook! Thanks for sharing and I love the anecdotes and feelings about real kids and teens.

  11. Karen Scott  •  Sep 12, 2010 @6:37 pm

    I, too, have been reluctant to try any of the e-readers. Although…a good friend showed me her Kindle last week, and now I’ve been letting the idea bounce around in my head some more. I have bookshelves overflowing in every room of my house. I cant’ quite seem to get the idea of replacing my beloved stacks and piles of real, live books with files on a slim plastic screen. Just doesn’t sound…comfy…to snuggle down under the quilt at night with a “e-reader” somehow. But maybe…