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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, read more...

     

    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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Can do in the world of “how-to”

Inspiration

I love books. They are my friends, my confidants, my companions and my secret dream places. They are also my mentors and teachers. While learning from an expert in a field is by far the best way to acquire a new skill or craft, it is not always possible or practical.

I learned about buying my first car out of a book. I also learned how to paint from books. When I want to try a new craft, like quilting, the first place I head is to the library for a pile of books on the subject.

When my daughter was a young child, she received a cookbook. It had a set of brightly colored measuring spoons attached to the spiral binding. The book has long been outgrown, but we still have and use those measuring spoons. Sadly, for me, my daughter is no longer fond of creating yummy concoctions in the kitchen together any longer. Cooking with Mom was great fun when she was little.

We also built tissue paper flowers, jewelry and painted faces. We made God’s Eyes and whirly-gigs, costumes and clay creations. We learned about drawing Manga monsters and Super hero villains. There are needlepoint and cross stitch pillows at Grandma’s house. And the instructions (and sometimes the materials) all came from “how-to” books.

You and your kids can learn to sew, to cook, to fish, to make candy, to create crafts from recycled materials or found objects. There are instructions on how to fold origami creatures and there are even books on how to make books.

Anything you are curious about learning how to do and chances are pretty good there’s a book for that. Want to build a bird house? Sure. Create a birthday cake made with Peeps? Not a problem. Craft a faster derby cart? There’s a book for that. There are also books for making jewelry, for learning to juggle, how to draw, how to throw pottery, how to work with beads, even one on how to build a tree house. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

But the absolute best thing about how to books is the time parents and children spend together. Both the child and the adult expand their horizons with a new skill, and the shared experience cements emotional bonds.

The feeling of accomplishment gained by a middle-grade reader is more than just a bonus. Children at this stage of the game are experimenting with who they are, what they believe and wondering about how they fit into the world around them. Older elementary school children are beginning to try on who they will become in the world of adults. “How-to” books give children a safe environment to experiment.  Really well crafted “how-to” books make learning a new skill easy and enjoyable. As an added bonus, your children may even be able to create a present for every person on their holiday list. What could be better than that?

***

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

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Oct 11, 2010 @7:02 am

    Great list, Wendy. I’ve always loved trying out activity books like these with my girls.

  2. Karen Schwartz  •  Oct 11, 2010 @8:29 am

    My 8 yo loves the World’s Best Paper Airplane book.

  3. BonnieAdamson  •  Oct 11, 2010 @9:17 am

    Hooray for how-to books!

    Whatever phase my daughters were going through: cooking, needework, art, pets–I knew I could find a book to get them started.

  4. Elissa Cruz  •  Oct 11, 2010 @9:33 am

    We love how-to books around my house! I love that it’s an easy way for parents and kids to do something together, something that doesn’t require monumental planning sessions and fourteen trips to the hardware store, that is. ;)

    Great post, Wendy!

  5. Karen Scott  •  Oct 11, 2010 @4:15 pm

    My 7 yo son and I both used a “how to draw superheroes” book and posted our attempts side-by-side on the kitchen pantry door. It was quite a hoot!

  6. Cathe Olson  •  Oct 11, 2010 @6:00 pm

    I love “how to” books as well–and it reminds me of something that happened today in my library. There was a student who just couldn’t find anything that interested him. I tried all kinds of genres and subjects: scary, graphic novels, funny books, animal books, drawing books, origami, joke books, you name it. Finally just after the bell rang, I said, How about magic books. When he found out they could teach him how to do tricks, his eyes lit up. Ah!!! With most kids, there is usually a “how to” book that’ll fit.

  7. joanneprushingjohnson  •  Oct 11, 2010 @8:05 pm

    We have a lot of “how to” books–especially drawing and craft books. My boys love them. I also use them in my day job as an occupational therapist to reinforce reading skills and direction following while doing activities to improve fine motor skills.

  8. Bev  •  Oct 11, 2010 @10:00 pm

    I STILL have my “Betty Crocker’s NEW Boys and Girls Cookbook” from, well, days gone by. I learned how to play a dozen different solitaire games, how to knit, embroider, needlepoint, play cat’s cradle, perform magic tricks and yo yo stunts – all from how-to books.
    I think a great, updated yet old fashioned ‘how to’ books are “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and “The Daring Book for Girls.” I would have loved BOTH of these as a kid!