• 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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  • Early Chapter Books: what’s on my chicklets’ bookshelf?

    Book Lists, Early Chapter Books, For Kids

    With a seven and a nine year-old, our house is filled with piles of books ranging from picture books and early chapter books to middle-grade novels. Naturally, my seven year-old still loves the instant gratification and charm of picture books, while my nine year-old is getting into longer novels.        

    What they have in common, though, is their voracious appetite for Early Chapter Books. I’m talking teetering stacks of MAGIC TREE HOUSE and JUNIE B JONES as well as onesies and twosies of other ECB series titles and stand-alones.        

    Tip of the iceberg...

    Early Chapter Books are perfect for those making the switch from early readers or picture books to longer middle-grade novels. These books are targeted to lower middle grade readers (7-9 year-olds); the reading level is usually controlled to a Grade 2-3 level, the chapters are short, the storylines are often linear and there are usually line-drawn pictures to complement the text.        

    These ‘bridging’ books are often a newly-minted reader’s first foray into reading books broken into chapters and are designed to help kids gain reading confidence.        

    So, what’s on my chicklet’s bookshelf? (and on their nightstands, and the foot of their beds, and on the coffee table…) Take a look!        

    Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene and Macky Pamintuan: Nancy, Bess and George may only be eight but they’re old pros at solving mysteries. A new spin on an old classic.  

    Description from Indiebound: River Heights, here she comes! Eight-year-old Nancy Drew has never considered herself a detective before. But while solving her first case with her friends Bess and George, Nancy realizes this mystery stuff is fun. The girls decide to start the Clue Crew to solve cases. Young readers will enjoy the simple chapter book language and deductive reasoning in the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series. And once they read the Clue Crew, they’ll be hooked on Nancy Drew.  

     Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall: Two unlikely friends are up to some friendly mischief.   

    Description from Indiebound: The moment they saw each other, Bean and Ivy knew they wouldn’t be friends. But when Bean plays a joke on her sister, Nancy, and has to hide quick Ivy comes to the rescue, proving that sometimes the best of friends are people never meant to like each other. Vibrant characters and lots of humor make this a charming and addictive introduction to Ivy and Bean.  

    Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne: Jack and Annie are up for any kind of adventure, who knows where that treehouse is going to end up next?  

    Description from Indiebound: Morgan le Fay will make Jack and Annie masters of the tree house if only they can solve four riddles — which will take four books, of course! Dolphins at Daybreak begins the third set of four books in this magical (and increasingly popular) series!  Jack and Annie are off in the Magic Tree House again, this time to a whole new world under the ocean.  Complete with a giant octopus, a hungry shark, and dolphins to the rescue, this Magic Tree House book delivers an underwater adventure kids can dream about.    

    Junie B Jones by Barbara Park: Junie with a B, and don’t you forget it!  

    Description from Indiebound: What’s the bestest job ever? A beauty shop guy, that’s what! And Junie B. Jones is going to be one when she grows up. But first she needs a little practice. And a few volunteers. Like her bunny slippers. And her dog. And maybe even…herself?  Is Junie B. on her way to a great new career? Or is she about to have the worst hair day ever?  

    Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton: How can a mouse be such a scaredy-cat?  

    Description from Indiebound: The internationally bestselling book series that stars a mouse who runs the newspaper on Mouse Island–but whose true passion is writing tales of adventure–now comes to the United States. The first four titles in the series feature full-color illustrations on each page.

    Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe and Alan Daniel: The scariest bunny on the block.  

    Description from Indiebound: This book is written by Harold. His fulltime occupation is dog. He lives with Mr. and Mrs. Monroe and their sons Toby and Pete. Also sharing the home are a cat named Chester and a rabbit named Bunnicula. It is because of Bunnicula that Harold turned to writing. Someone had to tell the full story of what happened in the Monroe household after the rabbit arrived.   

    Jigsaw Jones by James Preller: Pull up a chair and have a glass of grape juice; Jigsaw Jones is on the case!  

    Description from Indiebound: Athena Parker has been slimed! And she doesn’t think it’s funny. Someone in Ms. Gleason’s class is playing practical jokes. And it’s up to Jigsaw and Mila to catch the clown. This could be their stickiest case yet.  

    Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobold: Which case will Encyclopedia crack next?  

    Description from Indiebound: A Civil War sword…A watermelon stabbing…Missing roller skates…A trapeze artist’s inheritance…And an eyewitness who’s legally blind! These are just some of the ten brain-twisting mysteries that Encyclopedia Brown must solve by using his famous computerlike brain.   

    Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish and Lynn Sweat: She may shower a new mother with the garden hose or run all the way home from a baseball game but fresh cake and pie from the oven always smooth things over. 

    Description from Indiebound: Amelia Bedelia brings her niece — and her literal-minded zaniness — to Miss Emma’s house for a day of work. It’s a good thing Miss Emma likes to laugh because Amelia Bedelia makes her usual merry mess! 

    Dear Dumb Diary by Jim Benton: By the power vested in me, you’ll get lost in these diary’s pages. If you dare. 

    Description from Indiebound: Dear Dumb Diary,  Here’s the thing about Angeline. I know that she shouldn’t really bother me that much. I mean, Angeline has even done nice things for me in the past, although I have come to believe that these were probably accidental. There’s just something so infuriating about perfect people. When she’s nice, it makes me mad. When she’s pretty, it makes me mad. It never changes. I guess the only good thing about Angeline is that she can never bother me more than she does right now. Perfect people make me perfectly ill. 

     Franny K. Stein by Jim Benton: Girl genius. Explosions. Plans to rule the world. What’s not to love? 

    Description from Indiebound: Franny K. Stein is not your average girl — she’s a mad scientist. She prefers poison ivy to daisies and piranha to goldfish, and when Franny jumps rope, she uses her pet snake. 

    Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry and Middy Thomas: A story about storytelling: brainwarmers included. 

    Description from Indiebound: There’s never been anyone like Gooney Bird Greene at Watertower Elementary School. What other new kid comes to school wearing pajamas and cowboy boots one day and a polka-dot t-shirt and tutu on another? Gooney Bird has to sit right smack in the middle of the class because she likes to be in the middle of everything. She is the star of story time and keeps her teacher and classmates on the edge of their seats with her “absolutely true” stories. But what about her classmates? Do they have stories good enough to share?

    Rainbow Magic Fairies by *koff* Daisy Meadows: These fairies are like mini-winged rockstars to the 7/8 year-old set. 

    Description from Indiebound:

    A big bash for King Oberon and Queen Titania is underway in Fairyland. The Party Fairies keep everything running smoothly, until Jack Frost’s goblins steal their magic party bags.
    Bailey School Kids by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones: Unicorns, ogres, monsters, vampires–roaming the school, serving you lunch and teaching you math. Yikes!       

    Description from Indiebound: There are some pretty weird grown-ups living in Bailey City, but could the new gymnastics teacher really be a witch? 

    And here are others, which we’ve read and enjoyed:        


    Your turn! Do you have a favorite early chapter book; series or otherwise? Please add your picks in the comments.    

    Hélène Boudreau writes fiction and non-fiction for kids and teens. Her eco-mystery early chapter book series ‘Red Dune Adventures’ debuted with its first volume this past spring (KEEP OUT!) with the second (WATER HAZARD), forthcoming in spring/2011. You can visit her at www.heleneboudreau.com  



    1. Heather Jeanne  •  Nov 22, 2010 @8:16 am

      My Weird School and My Weird School Daze are huge at my library. The entire collection is out every couple of weeks.

    2. Wendy  •  Nov 22, 2010 @9:45 am

      When my daughter was little, she was a huge fan of the Animorphs series. Lucky for me, the local used book store had an ample supply so we could buy books AND food every week.

    3. Collette  •  Nov 22, 2010 @9:50 am

      THANK YOU!! This gives me some more places to look!

    4. Laurie Schneider  •  Nov 22, 2010 @11:02 am

      I love early ch. books. Here are a few more to add to the list:

      My daughter loves Peggy Gifford’s “Moxy Maxwell” series (Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little; Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-you Notes; etc.)

      When my son was chapter book age he would’ve read a hundred “Zach Files” books if only Dan Greenburg had written that many.

      Patricia Hermes has an ongoing series about “Emma Dilemma” and there’s also Kimberly Willis Holt’s wonderful books about Navy brat Piper Reed and her family.

    5. Helene Boudreau  •  Nov 22, 2010 @11:29 am

      Thanks so much for the awesome suggestions! Someone also mentioned CLEMENTINE by Sara Pennypacker. I’m putting these ALL on our TBR list. :-)

    6. Karen Schwartz  •  Nov 22, 2010 @12:46 pm

      We love Clementine. My Weird School is extremely popular with my 8 y.o. too.

    7. Sheela Chari  •  Nov 22, 2010 @12:58 pm

      My 7 year old also loves the rainbow fairy books, as well as Clementine and the Gooney Bird books by Lois Lowry. The Just Grace series by Charise Harper are also good early reader books.

      Thanks for the list! There are a few here we haven’t tried yet that we will.

    8. Sarah  •  Nov 22, 2010 @1:31 pm

      Thank you!

      This post brought back such good reading days. Both my children LOVED many of these books, with our all time favorite being BUNNICULA. And the Magic Tree House.

      One of the reasons the kids loved the Tree HOuse was because they were so interested in learning history…and facts! My son remains a fact man. Back then, I remember he actually asked me to read encyclopedia entries to him.

      Books like MTH– and the many pb and chapter book biographies we could not get enough of–were the start of a wonderful foundation of knowledge (and entertainment)!

    9. Liesl  •  Nov 22, 2010 @1:31 pm

      Thanks for the ideas! I’m having a hard time keeping up with my 7-year-old. She cruised through all the Junie B. Jones books, Ivy and Bean and a lot of Magic Tree House. Time for some new stuff!

    10. Natalie Hyde  •  Nov 22, 2010 @2:18 pm

      I adored Encyclopedia Brown when I was younger. Great books!

      My daughter also enjoyed the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ early chapter books. She already loved the characters and stories from the picture book set, so it was a nice easy step for her to ‘graduate’ to the early chapter books. Now she’s just about ready to read the real thing. :)

    11. Liz Straw  •  Nov 22, 2010 @3:28 pm

      The Hank Zipzer series by Henry Winkler and ?

      There about a boy who has dyslexia…

      This is a funny series and when you live in a family that dyslexia is prevalent it makes it all the more relevant.

      My grandmother maiden name: Zipser and yes she had dyslexia.

    12. teachergirl  •  Nov 22, 2010 @4:05 pm

      I’m getting some good ideas for my class library.

      I’d add these:
      The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
      The Julian books (ie. The Stories Julian Tells) by Ann Cameron
      Donovan’s Word Jar by Monalisa Degross (my second graders really enjoyed this one)
      Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech

    13. Julie Hedlund  •  Nov 22, 2010 @4:43 pm

      Great list! Right now my daughter is loving Laurie Halse Anderson’s Vet Volunteers series. Also, Gloria Whelan has some wonderful historical fiction early readers.

    14. Cathe Olson  •  Nov 22, 2010 @5:55 pm

      I’m always looking for a new chapter book series for my elementary school library. The kids just eat them up. There seem to be many more geared toward girls out (Ivy and Bean and Judy Moody and anything to do with fairies are especially popular) so I’m constantly looking for ones that boys will like. Magic Tree House, Weird School, Stink and Geronimo Stilton are favorites–and of course Captain Underpants. I just got in Wendelin Van Draanen’s Gecko and Sticky series. I haven’t had a chance to read one yet but my students tell me they are great–both the girls and the boys like it.

    15. Helene Boudreau  •  Nov 22, 2010 @6:09 pm

      I’m loving all of your suggestions! I’ll compile them all in the original post in a few days and this post will be included with all of our other ‘Lists’ from our Mixed-Up Authors. Thanks for contributing!


      Keep ‘em coming!

    16. Natalie Aguirre  •  Nov 22, 2010 @7:29 pm

      We used to enjoy many of your suggestions when my daughter was younger–Junie B. Jones, Amelia Bedelia, Magic Tree House, Frannie K. Stein, all of the Jim Benton books.

    17. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Nov 22, 2010 @7:57 pm

      Along with most of these delicious titles listed here, my son loved The Magic School Bus series, also the Secrets of Droon, and Hank the Cowdog. Now my daughter is getting up to reading these books and I’m just delighted to find the series that gets her ‘hooked’ as a reader – for my son, it was the Magic Treehouse – but he’s a ‘fact man.’ I’m going to try some of these other series – thanks so much!

    18. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Nov 22, 2010 @7:58 pm

      OO and Bailey School kids! Can’t forget teachers who are Vampires and Werewolves!

    19. Pragmatic Mom  •  Nov 23, 2010 @7:45 am

      Some more favorites:
      The Cobble Street Cousins by Cynthia Rylant
      My Father’s Dragon series
      The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume (my middle daughter’s favorite as she has a younger brother also who is a pain to her)


      What a great list and this is a genre that one must search to find a great series to match the child! and it’s such a critical time period in literacy when kids are on the fence about loving to read independently! Thanks for such a great post! I just tweeted about it too!

    20. Stephenie Hovland  •  Nov 23, 2010 @2:08 pm

      My Father’s Dragon was my first chapter book. Very sentimental.

      I’ve been planning to study early chapter books and have quite a few, so this is perfect to round out my study list.

      There’s a new series that just came out this month, called Circle C Beginnings: http://www.andiandtaffy.com/

    21. Olugbemisola  •  Nov 23, 2010 @4:37 pm

      great post! my daughter’s a big Clue Crew fan too, and loves Dragonslayer’s Academy and Cobble Street Cousins. She’s also recently enjoyed the Ruby Lu books, Abby Hayes, Ellie McDoodle, Third Grade Detectives, and The Lighthouse Family. We have friends who are big fans of the Vet Volunteers and Adirondack Kids series too.

    22. deniz  •  Nov 27, 2010 @1:26 pm

      What a great collection! I remember the Bunnicula book and especially Amelia Bedelia – we used to get a kick out of her adventures, my sister and I. And I enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown a lot too.
      Hmm, other ideas… Anything by Margaret Buffie, for one [s]
      The trouble is I don’t even know if all the MG I read back then is still available. I read quite a few ghost ones, for some reason like A Ghost in the Window by Meg… something. Or The Ghost in the Picture by Ben Schneider. Not very helpful, huh? Will go take a look on my bookshelves…

    23. Amber Keyser  •  Nov 28, 2010 @11:12 pm

      Alvin Ho
      The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda
      How to Train Your Dragon

      All winners with my 9 year old son!

    24. Ruth  •  Jan 25, 2011 @9:11 pm

      Ann Cameron’s Julian books (More Stories Julian Tells, etc.) are wonderful.