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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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NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program


NaNoWriMo Logo

(Note: This is the first of a five-part series about NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program.  Click the following links to read Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 of the series.)

Twenty kids at my elementary school have taken on the challenge of writing an entire book in one month!  November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, and you can learn more about it here: www.nanowrimo.org.  Last year, 35,000 kids around the country participated.

Here’s how it works: The Office of Letters and Light has put together what they call a “100% Awesome, NON-LAME workbook” and this workbook, which really is awesome, can be downloaded from the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program website.  There are also detailed lesson plans to download.  Having never taught kids as young as five years old how to write a book, these guides have made teaching a lot easier!

A co-worker, whom I’ve nicknamed WigMo, and I started prepping our brave writers at the beginning of October.  Since our project is an extra-curricular activity, we were asked not to use school class time for our NaNo instruction, so we faced a bit of an obstacle there.  Plus, space for twenty writers in a busy school is often hard to find.  But our dedicated writers helped us find a way to make it work.  Three days a week they arrive a full forty-five minutes before school even starts and we meet at the back of the library, the auditorium, or, if those spaces aren’t available to us, we sit on the floor in the hallway.  When there’s a will to write, there’s a way to get ‘er done!

On our first day, we discussed our “inner editor” and how sometimes criticism can stop us cold dead in the middle of a sentence.  To write a book in a month, the kids agreed that they needed to temporarily feel free of punctuation and spelling rules.  So, they each made a cut-out paper doll of their inner-editor and WigMo gathered them up and locked them away.  They will be allowed to come out in December for the revision, but until then, they stay quiet in a box, high on a shelf.

We’ve warmed the kids up with discussions and exercises on developing really cool and interesting main characters.  As a group, they created Cleopatra, a faceless goddess of work who lives inside a whale and invents toys that she distributes through the whale’s blow hole.  What Cleopatra wants more than anything in the world is to get out of the whale.  There’s more to the story, but I probably shouldn’t spoil it for you because our youngest authors from Kindergarten through second grade, will be working on this story as a collaborative effort in November.  WigMo and I will scribe the book for them and I can’t wait to find out how Cleo will get out of the whale!

Our older authors will be writing independently.  We’ll all still meet at the same time and same places during the month of November, but they’ll be doing their own writing while getting some help and encouragement from WigMo, me, and the other authors.  Yesterday we had our kick-off party.  Parents came for juice and pastries while their kids signed the NaNo contract, agreeing that they intended to write a book and meet their designated word count (most chose to write 3000 words) during November.

Wish them luck!  And if you’d like to follow their progress, check back here every Thursday during November.

Jennifer Duddy Gill has the privilege of working with truly amazing kids in an elementary school in Denver. She also writes humorous middle-grade novels and is represented by Wendy Schmalz.



  1. Chris Angotti  •  Oct 28, 2010 @12:17 pm

    Thanks for the post and the compliments on the YWP workbooks. Just wanted to share the link in case folks want to find them directly: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/workbooks

    Thanks again!

  2. Jennifer Duddy Gill  •  Oct 28, 2010 @12:39 pm

    Hi Chris! Thanks for dropping by and for making the YWP possible and so easily accessible. I hope you’ll follow our progress. Good luck with your own book.

    For those of you who don’t know, Chris Angotti is the Director of the Young Writers Program. You can read an interview with Chris at the NaNoWriMo blog here: http://blog.nanowrimo.org/node/429


  3. Joanne Prushing Johnson  •  Oct 28, 2010 @4:34 pm

    What a great program. I can’t wait to see the updates and hear how your group is doing!

  4. Sheela Chari  •  Oct 28, 2010 @4:55 pm

    this sounds fantastic! I will be sure to keep up with the updates!

  5. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Oct 28, 2010 @5:33 pm

    Wow! I can’t wait to hear how it goes. Wish I had something like this when I was a kid.

  6. Tracy Abell  •  Oct 28, 2010 @7:13 pm

    You and WigMo are awesome for helping the kids this way, Jennifer. I look forward to reading the updates throughout November.

  7. Cathe Olson  •  Oct 28, 2010 @9:20 pm

    Oh, that’s great. I will try to get it going at my elementary school next year!

  8. Laurie Schneider  •  Oct 28, 2010 @10:15 pm

    Such a great idea. I’m looking forward to next Thursday…and now I’m off to make my own inner editor doll!

  9. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Oct 29, 2010 @9:36 am

    Fantastic, Jennifer and Chris! And good luck to the students. What a very cool project.

  10. Virginia  •  Oct 29, 2010 @1:01 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I’d like to do a NaNo group with my high schoolers next year. I wish I had had my act together this year! Good luck to them!

  11. Stephanie  •  Oct 29, 2010 @10:48 pm

    Our entire fourth grade is working on NaNoWriMo this year. We’ve worked on elements of writing stories during library lessons as well as their language arts classes. Each student received a “mini notebook” to use for NaNo. 174 students working towards their goals!