• 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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  • Tips for Running a Book Club for Kids


    I wrote previously about books that hit and miss with boys book groups, but books are only a part of what makes a book club successful, and not even the most important aspect.

    What’s most important? The kids. I mean quantity kids. What makes or breaks the club on the first day is the presence of other kids. Seriously, I’ve seen the light flicker out in the eyes of an excited boy when he realized nobody else was coming. It doesn’t matter if the weather is terrible, or too lovely to compete with, or if it’s a weekend everybody ends up going out of town on vacation. Your fault or not, that book club is a bust if you don’t have a room full of squirming, shouting young readers.

    Getting kids in the room is the toughest part. I’ve always had the help of librarians in that regard, but it’s still a lottery. Days and times are important but hard to figure out. And you really need to remind kids to come (and their parents to bring them). Make calls, fire off emails or even send postcards as reminders. When you send your message, remind the kids that finishing the book isn’t a requirement for participating. Tell them they can come even if they haven’t read the book.

    Having kids show up is a great start, but if you’re not ready with questions and prompts, they sure won’t be. I recommend having a white board and markers around. I start off by asking kids to name all the characters they can think of, and the key scenes in the book, writing them down as I go. It’s a good way to get kids talking and it puts everything out in front of them so they can remember what to say when you ask questions like, “which character do you want to hang out with,” or “did any of the scenes seem fake to you,” or whatever the book compels you to ask.

    Write your own questions in advance, and make them good ones. “What part did you like?” is a fine place to start, but from there you can make it more personal to the kids. “The hero of the book did something really brave but maybe a little stupid. Did you ever do anything like that?” Kids like to talk about themselves, and finding connections to the book still counts as book talk. Furthermore, the participants forge connections to one another, which what it’s all about.

    Of course you might have other activities inspired by the book. For example, if the hero of the book has to tie knots, you might demo some knot tying. I also make crosswords and word search puzzles (you can find free and low-cost software to help), but I just have those available for kids who show up early and are waiting, or for kids to do during the conversation. Kids like having something to do with their hands while they talk. I never do complicated demos or activities, but you might be more intrepid than me and make that clay volcano erupt.

    Finally, you must have the all-important treats. Treats are the difference between a classroom atmosphere and a party atmosphere. Most book clubs have them. I always gave them out at the beginning, but recently was a guest at a book club that took a “treat break” in the middle. That’s a simple enough idea, but I thought it was a good one. It gave us all a little break in the middle of the discussion and re-energized the group. It also kept the crackling of wrappers and crunching of chips to a minimum during the first part of the meeting, when the more focused discussion occurs (usually all book club discussions derail towards the end, whatever the age of its participants). I would do that from now on: take a treat break instead of just doling out treats before we start. Incidentally, I don’t think it works to give treats as ‘rewards’ for asking questions or making comments. Let genuine curiosity and interest drive the discussion.

    So to recap, obviously the book club selection matters, but only if you have kids, some good questions that help the kids forge connections to the book and each other, some activities to break up the monotony, and a bowl of “fun-sized” candy bars. If you have all of those things, the time will be fun for everyone no matter what they all thought of the book.



    1. Karen Scott  •  Nov 8, 2010 @6:59 am

      I’m one of a few adult members of a predominantly kids’ book club. We’ve had only 2 meetings…but the kids involved seem to really enjoy and want to be there, which makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the tips! I’ll forward this along to the other adults in the group!

    2. Caroline Starr Rose  •  Nov 8, 2010 @7:41 am

      I’ve led after-school book clubs and have found it helpful to have the kids come with questions, too. Often everyone had so much to say, I’d end up passing around an object — pencil, Kleenex box — that was a visual reminder as to who got to speak. The kids had fun passing it around, and it helped them not talk over each other.

    3. Karen Schwartz  •  Nov 8, 2010 @9:05 am

      Great tips, Kurtis. And I’d say everything is applicable to adult book clubs too.

    4. Elissa Cruz  •  Nov 8, 2010 @10:00 am

      I agree completely with the quantity part! I’ve done my fair share of boy book clubs, and I’m telling you, it is much much easier when there are a dozen boys as opposed to two or three.

      For the groups I ran, we chose to read fictional biographies, because the boys liked learning about famous people from history, and we were more likely to capture that non-fiction reader’s attention. And we also combined our discussion with an activity inspired by the book, because those boys liked the hand-on aspect of it.

      For example, once we read a biography about the Wright brothers, then we went outside and measured the distance of the first flight, then raced to see if we could beat the time. The boys were amazed to see that they could outrun the Wright Brothers first flight!

    5. Kyle  •  Nov 10, 2010 @6:40 am

      Thank you for a great post. I started a boys book club 4 years ago. We meet once a month afterschool for a fun time. I am lucky becasue I get grants to pay for the books. Free books brings in many. Last month there were 25 3rd to 5th grade boys in my room. Can you say “I need a martini when I get home?” Over the years we have read many books and by far the most popular titles they pick are fantasy and adventrue. I have tried non-fiction and other “popular” boy books but no go.

      My goal has always been to have a place where boys have fun with books. Our book club is VERY similar to adult book clubs. Yes, you are right. there is always food. Two boys sign up to be hosts each month and they provide the treats. there is a lot of visiting and then a lttle chatting about the book. I have really thought about this part. I don’t want the book club to seem like school. I realized that the boys were talking about the books all day every dall all month. Truthfully many had talked the book to death before we met.

      My way might not be the best, but even though 25 showed up 5 more came looking for the book for next month. They ended up borrowing books from friends.
      Many got thier dads to read the new book.