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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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  • The Care and Feeding of Your Visiting Author: tips for a successful classroom visit

    Uncategorized

    Authors love writing. They love seeing the stories they’ve spent endless hours, days, months and even years slaving over come to print. But what authors–particularly of children’s books–really love is meeting their readers! School visits are a great way for authors and students to get to know each other and to foster a love of books and reading.

    To ensure the kids and the author get the most of their time together, there are some things you, as a teacher or librarian, can do to maximize the event.

    Preparation:

    • Once you decide on which author you want to invite to your classroom, communication is key. Contact her as far in advance as possible! When authors plan, they often have to plan many months ahead. If you’re working directly with the author (rather than their publicist, if they have one), be very clear on the date and time, and what your expectations are: assembly, writing workshop, multiple class visits?
    • As I talked with authors about their classroom visit experiences, the number one thing they all emphasized was make sure the students have read at least one of the authors books! Several weeks before the author’s visit, read something of theirs together as a class. Send out notices to parents several weeks before too, and encourage them to read a book of the author’s with their child. Issue a special invitation to the parents to attend the author’s visit. The more the students know about the author, the more comfortable they will be asking questions and really interacting. Incorporate different aspects of the author’s work (subject, setting) as part of your curriculum.
    • The week before the classroom visit, reconfirm everything with the author. Find out their technology needs. Do they need a remote? What kind of mic do they prefer? If they are doing a laptop-assisted presentation, what kind of laptop do they have? Very often Macs are not compatible with school equipment! Also, let the author know the procedure is for getting paid. Do they need to bring their own invoice or does the school provide their own? Who sends in the invoice and in what time frame should the author expect to be paid? Let the author know where to meet you on the day of the classroom or library visit!
    • If a book signing is planned after the visit, make up an order form for the books. If you’ve set this up with an area bookstore, reconfirm everything with them.

    V-Day:

    • Be sure you or someone else meets the author at the front office, and that the office staff is aware of the author coming. Nothing gets a visiting author more rattled than checking in at the school office, only to be met with blank stares. The person escorting the author to their destination should point out where the bathroom is. Little things mean a lot!
    • If the author is to be there for multiple classroom visits or for the better part of the day, let him know you’ve scheduled “down time” (and hopefully lunch!) for them. Show them where they can go during these breaks to catch their breath and a bite to eat.
    • The teacher or librarian should settle and focus the kids and then introduce the author. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but authors have told me horror stories of being shown to the classroom (or gym or library) and then–poof!–the teacher disappears! It’s the teacher or librarian’s job to keep the kids respectful yet excited about their guest.

    Author Sydney Salter is ready!

    • Always have a bottle of water handy for the author. Again, little courtesies mean a lot!
    • If a book signing is planned, have a pad of yellow sticky notes handy. The signing helper can write down the name the book is being signed for and put it in the book. This expedites the signing process and eliminates the embarrassment of the author misspelling the name in the book!
    • Follow up! Remember how your mother always told you to write thank you notes for Christmas and birthday presents you received? Have your class make a thank you card for the author. If that’s too mundane, have them make a video, or send the author photos of art work centered around the author’s visit and book. I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to an author. Also, be sure to follow up on the author being paid. Which brings us to the next facet of an author visit…

    The “M” Word:

    Yes, authors do need to be paid for their visit. Although authors understand schools are facing tough economic constraints now, the bottom line is authors are professionals. In order to visit your school or library, they not only take time away from writing to be there but also in their preparation for the visit. That said, most authors are willing to negotiate price.

    If your school or department or district has cut (or eliminated) funds for author visits, there are some ways you can raise money:

    • Ask local service groups such as Kiwannis, Rotary, and regional or state arts and humanities organizations to sponsor all or part of the visit.
    • Research grant opportunities in your area. Many cities, counties, and states have annual arts and literary grants.
    • Don’t forget your school PTA/PTO home and school organizations. Be clear when you will need the money and how much.
    • Consider splitting the author’s visit between two schools, within easy driving distance, of course. Many authors will give a reduced “group price” for doing multiple schools or classes.
    • See if you can partner with your local public library or bookstore.
    • Never underestimate the power of a grass-roots effort! Hold bake sales, used book sales, special food sales at school events such as concerts, plays, and sporting events. It’s amazing how much money hot chocolate, hot cider, and soft pretzels can do!

    Author visits are an exciting experience for kids and go a long way towards fostering a love of reading. With advance preparation, clear communication, courtesy and creativity, you can provide an enriching and meaningful experience for the kids and the author.

    Author Becky Hall and fans

    Bobbie Pyron and her shelties, Teddy and Sherlock, are looking forward to school visits after her next book, A Dog’s Way Home (HarperCollins), comes out March 1st.

    8 Comments

    8 Comments

    1. sheelachari  •  Nov 10, 2010 @2:57 pm

      I think this is a great primer for authors and what we would like to expect. I’m sure I will be returning to this post over the next year. :)

    2. Elissa Cruz  •  Nov 10, 2010 @4:41 pm

      This post is so helpful for both authors and schools alike! Thank you for putting this all together in one easy place, Bobbie!

    3. Sherrie Petersen  •  Nov 10, 2010 @7:35 pm

      Thank you for this post! I am trying to plan some author events for my school so this is very helpful!

    4. Joanne  •  Nov 10, 2010 @7:58 pm

      Great and informative post, Bobbie!

    5. Cathe Olson  •  Nov 10, 2010 @9:55 pm

      Thanks for all the advice. Author Lee Wardlaw will be coming to my elementary school in the spring and this will help me to make sure she has a great visit. We were able to afford it because of a PTA donation and matching grant.

    6. Diana Greenwood  •  Nov 11, 2010 @5:45 pm

      Great tips here for authors and teachers! I’ll be visiting this post again, Bobbie.

    7. M. T. Anderson  •  Nov 13, 2010 @7:50 am

      Thanks so much for posting this! As someone who does author visits, I just wish that schools took your advice to heart! School visits can either be tremendously exciting and renewing, or exhausting and dull (both for the kids and for the author) — and a lot of that is determined by exactly the kind of details you discuss here.

      Great post!

    8. Kate Coombs  •  Nov 13, 2010 @9:31 am

      Great tips! I just did a school visit that went really well, but the lunch they fed me gave me a nasty case of food poisoning that night. Tip #17–Try not to make your author sick! :)