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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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A Book Club for Teachers

Inspiration, Interviews, Teachers, Uncategorized

Barbara Bosworth is the Reading Teacher at Haycock Elementary, a bustling school of over 800 students in Falls Church, Virginia.  In addition to her many duties at Haycock, Ms. Bosworth took it upon herself to initiate a Children’s Literature Interest Group at Haycock – in short, a children’s book club for teachers!  How can a reading children’s literature fit into a busy teacher’s schedule?  In a word – beautifully.  Welcome, Barbara, to the Mixed-Up Files!

When and how did the children’s literature interest group come about?

This is our third year for the group.  Several years ago, I attended a Greater Washington Reading Council Conference with author and educator Shelley Harwayne.  She said that,

“Teachers should be reading great children’s literature on Sunday afternoons instead of writing lesson plans.”

That comment resonated in me as I would reflect on what really makes a difference—whether it’s creating lifelong readers, being passionate about a nonfiction curriculum topic, or conferencing with children about their reading or writing. Good literature can be used to teach and inspire in all curriculum areas. So bringing this idea in a very practical way to teachers in my school was always a goal.

How often do you meet?  Who decides what kind of books you read?

We meet monthly during the school year.  Our librarian Sue Sugarbaker and I discuss the genre and plausible books together.   We are always glad for suggestions as well from teachers!

What factors go into book selection?

Our book group includes teachers in grades K-6, so our selections have to be appropriate for all the range of age levels.  Therefore, we frequently have two books going, one for primary and one for upper elementary in the same genre or by the same author.  Another factor is cost.  To keep costs within range, we usually select paperbacks.  This may mean that books are not current best sellers or that sometimes we are unable to discuss a book we would have selected.  We usually have two months when we select from among Virginia Readers’ Choice titles, since we want to encourage our students to read these books.  When it is a particularly busy month, such as the start of the school year, we will choose a quicker read.  As it happened, we have selected one highly popular best seller each year so far.  We read Wimpy Kid two years ago and The Lightning Thief last year, which simply delighted many of our students to see teachers carrying around a book most of them were carrying as well.    Once, we wanted teachers to learn about a nonfiction data base and utilized that for individual selections.  Another time, we had teachers select from a multitude of poetry books and then shared individually during our discussion.

In what ways is your group similar to a book club, and in what ways does your group approach books differently because  of its educational standpoint?

My first intent is that we are more similar to structuring of an informal book club and I want to create that friendly and relaxed feeling at our discussions.  I bring snacks and a welcoming ambiance for our teachers to speak and comment.  However, we also want to discuss instructional implications for various texts, appropriateness for various ages/interests and may want to show teachers either an instructional strategy or even an author web site.  So ultimately the focus is how the book could be utilized in the classroom.

How is the program funded?

We are fortunate at Haycock Elementary that our principal encourages the program and supports it financially.  Support comes from a combination of text book funds as well as PTA donations.  In addition, principals could offer teachers recertification credits.  Fairfax County Public Schools has a “Professional Learning and Training” web site where our children’s literature interest group is listed, and if teachers sign up and attend, they could earn recertification credits.  That is an additional incentive to teachers to participate.

Do all teachers participate?

Not all the teachers participate, however we have representatives from every grade level and nearly every discipline.  Frequently,  I will invite a particular teacher who may be interested in the particular book.  For example, when we read Vinnie and Abraham, last year’s Virginia Readers’ Choice selection, I invited our art teacher to attend to give us insight into aspects of sculpture, as the book was about the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln now in the Capitol.

What kind of feedback have you gotten from the teachers?   What has this program meant for their teaching?  Have there been any unexpected results or benefits?

Meg Monfett, a second grade teacher at Haycock said, “It is such a comfortable literature group where staff can come together and are given the chance to speak their mind about wonderfully chosen books… Having a comfortable “book group” helps staff come together to share a commonality they  may not have shared outside the group. “

Donna Bertsch, a third grade teacher at Haycock stated, “The Children’s Literature Interest Group gives me the incentive to read new children’s literature that I would not otherwise make time for.  I really enjoy the discussions because I always appreciate a book more by talking through it, and the group of teachers  has really insightful and interesting observations to share.”

Meredith Reid, a fourth grade teacher at Haycock said, “When we get together, the meeting turns into informal planning because teachers are always sharing creative ideas of what we could do with our students.  We are always looking for ways to enhance novels we read, so this time allows us to explore new ideas, while we enjoy discussions!”

For anyone who is interested in replicating your program, what advice can you offer?

I would say to definitely try it!  The interest created with a shared book, the acknowledgement for children when, as a group, we commit to reading more to support their learning and lifelong reading is invaluable.  Talk with your principal and/or PTA about funding books for teachers, which is a nice touch and also increases their classroom libraries, which is so critical.  If you do start a children’s literature group, write to me and share

Several members of the Children's Literature Interest Group, including Barbara Bosworth (back row, 4th from right).

your book selections and ideas at bybosworth (at) fcps (dot) edu.  I haven’t tried it yet, however would love to Skype with an author or invite an author for a shared discussion.   So, what are we doing on Sunday afternoons?  Well, we might be reading good children’s literature, as Shelley Harwayne suggests.

Wendy Shang’s first book, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, debuts January 1, 2011.



  1. Rosanne Parry  •  Nov 28, 2010 @1:45 am

    Barbara, this is such a great idea! I hear over and over from teachers how much kids want to hear what their teacher is reading and enjoying! But it’s so hard to keep up with all the new books. A club is a great solution. I’ll definitely be sharing it wherever I go.

  2. Amie Kaufman  •  Nov 28, 2010 @2:01 am

    What a fantastic group! You guys sound like the best of the teachers I had as a kid!

  3. Caroline Starr Rose  •  Nov 28, 2010 @9:29 pm

    This is so encouraging!

  4. Madelyn  •  Nov 29, 2010 @1:09 pm

    Encouraging is just the right word, Caroline! I LOVE that teachers are reading the books their students are reading. I’m sure great ideas come out of that group.

  5. Okie  •  Dec 3, 2010 @2:57 pm

    What a fabulous idea. I’m not personally in a book club, but my wife is and they meet each month and she loves it.

    Only a few of the people I work with are big readers. We’ll chat books sometimes but haven’t done anything regularly. Maybe I’ll try to set up an @work book club.

    I do have aspirations to eventually be a teacher…of English. Once that happens, I’d love to try and participate/organize a book club at whatever school I’m at. Sounds like a great idea.