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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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  • Avid Writing Kids

    Learning Differences, Teachers

    Although I’m relatively new to being a published author, I’ve done dozens of school visits already. They are often long days, but I find them energizing and they really motivate me to finish the next book. Often a teacher catches my eye during a visit and wants to have a word with me about a student. Almost every time it’s an avid writer who produces volumes of stories or poems—finished, unfinished, skillfully written or simple, wildly creative or somewhat familiar. And what they want to know is what to do with all that writing.  Because teachers are great at teaching children who can’t write or won’t write or need lots of support to write; I am routinely impressed by the dedication of teachers I meet. They can see that the avid writer needs guidance, too, but they are often at a loss about where to begin. Parents of these kids are often equally in the dark—proud, but unsure of how to best support a budding author. I have four school-aged children myself, some of whom are avid writers so it’s a topic I’ve given a lot of thought. Here are three things you can do to nurture the young writer in your life.

    avid writer

    1. Help them save and safely store their work.

    I’m bad at this myself. I love my stories but I don’t take very good care of them.  One of the most helpful things a teacher or parent can do is set up a file to keep stories both those finished and those abandoned. Most working writers begin as many as a dozen stories for every story they finish. So it isn’t important for your avid writer to finish every project they begin. Learning when to set aside a story that isn’t working is an important skill, too. But many times a writer will return to an old idea with a fresh insight and make a new story from one that wasn’t working before. Sometimes a character that didn’t work on a first try is exactly what you need in a different story. So having those files accessible is a gold mine. If your students write on a computer, getting them in the habit of a daily back up to a disc or thumb drive helps. Because thumb drives are easily lost, it’s also good to email a file and store it at the email account.

    2. Help them find with a time and place for writing.

    When writers get together, one of the most common topics of conversation is the struggle of finding a time and place to write. Some young writers are great at tuning out their surroundings and writing wherever they are—school bus, dinner table, math class. This of course has problems of it’s own.  But students who need a little privacy to write may need help finding a quiet corner of the classroom or an undisturbed nook in the house, and a few free afternoons a week.

    I know a 4th grader who came to school one day on fire with a great idea for a screenplay. She begged her teacher for time to write it and he agreed, letting her use the class computer through all the lessons, recess and even lunch that day. In five hours this girl wrote the first three and a half acts of a screenplay. In the last half an hour of the day the teacher asked her if she could show at least a part of her work to the class so they could see what a screenplay looks like. She chose a scene she wanted feedback on and got the class to read the roles out loud. As a result a half dozen other kids got the screenwriting bug for a few weeks. A gift of time like that is a rare and precious gift for a young writer and went a long way to helping this child believe she could be a professional writer some day.

    Instructional time is precious and extra curricular activities are valuable, too, but for the avid writing child nothing is so enriching as simply the time and place to create something new.

    writing space

    3. Help them find a writing community.

    I don’t know a single author who works alone. Most of us have critique groups or at least a writing partner. They are people who help us work out all the many details of writing well. It means the world to me that if I’m stuck I can call on my neighbors Heather Vogel-Frederick, author of the Mother Daughter Book Club series, or Susan Blackaby, author of Nest, Nook and Cranny, and go out for coffee and just talk through a writing problem.

    For young people community can be hard to find. A teacher who is aware of two or more avid writers might encourage them to join the newspaper staff or school literary magazine. Younger students might find kindred spirits in a Newbery Club or on a Battle of the Books team.

    The connection need not be formal and organized. I met two eighth grade cousins on a school visit who have an ice cream date every Sunday after church to work on the YA novel they are writing together. Some kids enjoy fan fiction websites because they create a sense of community and offer a place to share work.

    Some communities are wonderful about offering writing opportunities for children and teens. I’m going to list three of the best children’s writing communities here in Portland, Oregon and I hope you will add your local resources in the comments.

    Young Writers Workshop at Powells.

    Every Second Friday from 4:30 to 5:30 at the Powells Bookstore on Cedar Hills Blvd. in Beaverton.

    Come meet your fellow writers, learn the craft of writing from amazingly talented and friendly authors, bring your own work to share and get feedback. Anyone ages 10-18 is welcome.

    Young Willamette Writers

    First Tuesdays of the month from 6:30 to 7:30, the young Willamette Writers meet in their own space during the meeting of the adult Willamette Writers. They practice the craft of writing in the company of great writers from all over the region. The meeting is held in the Old Church on SW 11th and Clay in Portland.

    Oregon Writers Festival

    For more than 20 years the Oregon Council of Teachers of English have sponsored a day-long writing festival in the spring for students from all over the state. The festival is held at Portland State University. The next one is Saturday, May 7, 2011.

    How about you? What are your favorite events for young writers? Put them in the comments and I will compile a state-by-state resource page and keep it in our own Mixed Up Files

    Rosanne Parry is the author of the up-coming Second Fiddle, a story about an avid violin player who finds friendship and adventure in some unexpected places as she travels with her friends from Berlin to Paris.

    11 Comments

    11 Comments

    1. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Oct 22, 2010 @11:33 am

      Thanks for the inspiration, Rosanne. Fabulous suggestions and such a great story — the screenwriter and her teacher.

    2. brian_ohio  •  Oct 22, 2010 @11:43 am

      Where was this info when I was a young budding writer? Oh, that’s right… personal computers were the size of my house back then.

      When I was young (post caveman days) I always WANTED to write, but never actually tried until much later. During your school visits, do you ever discuss this with the kids? Just curious.

      Great post!!!

    3. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Oct 22, 2010 @4:19 pm

      This is such an encouraging post, wish I’d known it was even possible to do as a kid. Some wonderful resources in Oregon. I don’t know of any that are local.

    4. Amber Keyser  •  Oct 22, 2010 @6:15 pm

      Just today I was in my son’s class and one of his classmates asked me if I would trade a copy of one my books for one of hers! Love it!

    5. Rosanne Parry  •  Oct 22, 2010 @6:56 pm

      Hi Brian.
      I do talk about this stuff at school visits. I usually show them a picture of my treehouse office and talk about finding a spot where you can really concentrate. And I always talk about my writing buddies in the neighborhood and my Story Helper Jim at Random House.

      They love to see my extremely messy and completely unpunctuated composition books where I hand write first drafts.

      Then I show them what a manuscript looks like after I get it back full of line edits and a 3 page letter of suggestions from Jim.

      And more than anything they like to see the copy edits, where my wonderful Random House copy editors who I have never met but have come to call Violet, Indigo, and Green, have marked up every single page of a 140 page manuscript.

      Amber, Love the book trade! That’s so fun!

    6. Teresa Klepinger  •  Oct 22, 2010 @8:21 pm

      Love this post! My daughter is an avid writer. She started a critique group at her school in 7th grade with 4 friends, and now two years later it has grown to three groups of four students who meet weekly at coffee shops. She has attended Young Willamette Writers for a couple of years and is very energized by it. I’m the guest speaker for November, and we’ll be writing from my upcoming teacher resource book being published by Scholastic next year “Cliffhanger Writing Prompts.” I’m really looking forward to it!

    7. Cathe Olson  •  Oct 22, 2010 @9:50 pm

      The Central Coast Writers’ Conference in San Luis Obispo, CA which takes place every September has a teen writers program. We had a fabulous turnout this year and the teens exchanged emails so they could start their own critique group. The site is http://www.communityprograms.net

    8. Rosanne Parry  •  Oct 23, 2010 @1:45 am

      Thanks for the info on the central coast writers conference, Cathe.

      Good luck with your November Workshop Teresa. I’ll be looking for Cliffhanger Writing Prompts next year.

    9. Michael G-G  •  Oct 23, 2010 @1:14 pm

      Great post, Rosanne! Thank you for being such a champion for writer kids, (and for writer grown-ups too).

    10. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Oct 24, 2010 @9:28 pm

      Thank you so much for the great info, Rosanne! I wish there were places where I was encouraged to write when I was younger. I remember handwriting 100 pages of my first novel when I was in 7th grade. Nobody ever read it.

      The programs for young writers in Oregon sound amazing!

    11. Elissa Cruz  •  Oct 27, 2010 @8:47 am

      Coming in late to this thread, but I would have loved to have had this kind of exposure to places and people to encourage me to write when I was a kid! As a mother of a budding writer, I am so glad to see some solid advice on how I can help him. Thanks for this great post, and welcome to the blog!