• 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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  • Can do in the world of “how-to”


    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.



    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!