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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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  • Using Trade Books in the Classroom!

    Book Lists, Inspiration, Interviews, Teachers, Uncategorized

    “How do you fit time into your school day to read trade books when you teach in a test-preparation environment?”



    by Kimberley Griffiths Little with her amazing sister Kirsten Werk, a teacher in the Bay Area of California.

    Let’s face it; teachers are feeling pressure to bring up test scores more than ever before. In some districts, the curriculum you have to teach is scripted every moment of your day. How do you possibly fit in trade books? Here are a few very easy ideas:

    1.  SSR/DEAR Time: Students should have time to choose what they want to read-even if it’s only for 10 minutes a day. Here are some ideas to help teach reading strategies while they’re reading.

    a. Have your students fill out a chart for every book they read giving the title, genre, problem, solution, and theme. For non-fiction books, they can write down the main idea and a few of their favorite details. This is an easy way to practice the very same concepts students need to identify on standardized tests.

    b. Students are always more excited about a trade book when the teacher recommends it. Highlight a Book of the Week and take 10 minutes to introduce a new book.

    c. Can’t find 10 minutes? Use the last 10 minutes of class while you pass out homework. Students can be quietly reading during this time. Or tighten up your transition times using a timer to gain an extra 10 minutes a day.

    2.      Read aloud every day to your students. Here are ways to make it more productive:

    a.  Never read aloud without asking something from your students in return. Children can listen for a purpose and respond in a “Reading Response” journal. Have the students write about the main idea, three things they learned about a character or the setting or problem, make an inference, compare and contrast, or write about the author’s purpose. Mix it up! Have them draw pictures in their Journals instead of writing.

    b.  Read from a variety of genres. Track the books you read aloud (and the books they read on their own) on a classroom chart that shows the title of each book, the genre, the characters, problem, solution, and setting, theme, author’s purpose and/or point of view. Each of these is a skill needed on standardized tests.

    c.  Look at your grade level standards for the reading strategies that students will be tested on. Then pick books that have one of those reading strategies strongly identified in the book. Make their response be one where they practice your pre-determined reading strategy. Here are some examples:


    USING INFERENCES: Read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Palocco. On a “Character Study Chart” have the headings: Character’s Name, What he/she says, What he/she does, What I can Tell. Identify a character, such as the grandmother. From a page in the story, write down in the boxes on the chart what the grandmother says and does, and then ask the students how they think the grandmother feels or what she thinks.
    AUTHOR’S VIEWPOINT: In the book Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, the author has a clear viewpoint about whether living forever is a good thing or not. Similar to the “Character Study Chart”, have the students identify the author’s point of view and back it up with examples from the book. Then have them share/write their own opinion and back it up with evidence/examples.
    COMPARE/CONTRAST: In My Teacher for President, by Kay Winters, have the students make a Venn diagram of the similarities and differences between teachers’ and presidents’ jobs. Depending on the age, you could even go beyond the book and ask the students to compare and contrast students and citizens in the same way.
    MAIN IDEA and SUPPORTING DETAILS: Any non-fiction book will have a clear main idea and supporting details. Pick books that go with your Social Studies or Science curriculum. Have students draw a simple four-legged table with the Main Idea written on top of the table. Then on each of the four legs underneath, the students list a supporting detail from the book with either words or pictures or both.

    Using trade books is easy when you know what you need to teach. Start with a read aloud of your favorite book tomorrow!

    Kirsten Werk has taught for more than twenty years in both Washington and California, second-language learners, students in poverty, as well as students in affluent, private schools. Her current third grade class is at a Title I school and includes 60% ELD students, 95% free and reduced lunch, and over 90% minority students. Since Kirsten has been there, her school has raised their API score nearly 300 points. In 2005, the Touchmath Company awarded her a $1,000 grant for helping low-achieving students raise their math proficiency. In 2007, she was awarded Teacher of the Year.

    Kirsten Werk also creates Teacher and Book Club Guides for Authors: Teacher Guide for The Healing Spell and Mother/Daughter Book Club Guide.

    So do we look like sisters?


    Kimberley Griffiths Little just finished her 9th book event for The Healing Spell (Scholastic Press). Her next Middle-Grade novel is scheduled for release October, 2011, also with Scholastic. Currently, she’s crashing with a stack of books, a box of chocolates, the remote–AND listening to the totally cool music written for her book trailer, which Scholastic negotiated for FREE DOWNLOAD from Nua Music (bottom of the page).

    5 Comments

    5 Comments

    1. Sherrie Petersen  •  Oct 8, 2010 @12:44 am

      I wish every teacher was like this! You two make quite the impressive pair of sisters :)

    2. sheelachari  •  Oct 8, 2010 @7:58 am

      Fascinating and informative. Thanks so much! I’m not a teacher, but this post did shed light on the kind of work I see my daughter doing in her second grade class. I’m happy to see that in her classroom, they are doing many of the things outlined above – the teacher readaloud time is the most popular activity in her class!

    3. June Morgan (chorkie)  •  Oct 8, 2010 @9:33 am

      Yes! Yes! Yes! If only teachers would realize that students need to know that they are readers, too. Even in my small arena of homework support and tutoring, I have spent my own money to set up a library and I am reading as fast as I can. When a student comes to the “library,” they will look at me and ask if I have read the book that they have picked up. I am always honest. Chances are if I say that I haven’t had time to read that one, they are more likely to put it back and get something I have read. I realize teachers can’t read everything, but they can be creative and work together, read different books, and take 30 minutes one afternoon and share.

    4. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Oct 8, 2010 @4:48 pm

      My son’s teacher does a lot of these things. Still, he just wants to read and not write about it at all. On the bright side, trade books in the classroom have exposed him to books he normally wouldn’t check out of the library on his own.

    5. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Oct 11, 2010 @7:08 am

      I’m glad that my girls have reading time each day during school, and I always encourage them to read at home, too. Great tips for teachers who don’t feel they have enough time for the children to read during class!