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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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Holiday Traditions and Gift-Giving

Book Lists, Holiday, Miscellaneous

When my eldest daughter was about three years old and my middle daughter just an infant, I started a Christmas tradition.  Book giving.  But it couldn’t be just any book.  No.  It had to be special

So every year I went to the bookstore and thoughtfully selected a book for each child that portrayed the spirit of Christmas, reflected something special we had done during the year (vacation, milestone, celebration, etc), or effectively expressed my feelings for them.  Then I would inscribe the inside cover of the book.  It has always been the last gift of the day – one that, even now, my children anticipate and receive with joy.

In the past, some of the titles I chose for my children were:   Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo, You’re All My Favorites by Sam McBratney, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe, You Are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (to name a few).

This year, however, has been a struggle to find the appropriate book because my small children who once adored picture books have somehow managed to grow into big middle-grade kids.  You could probably imagine the look I’d get if they were given a picture book!  *Rolls eyes, dramatically*

In my hunt for the perfect book, I compiled a list to share with you.  Whether you’re inspired by my post and want to start this tradition for your own family, or are just looking for holiday book ideas, the list below should satisfy your gift-giving needs!


* The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Robinson 

* A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck

From IndieBound:

The return of one of children’s literature’s most memorable characters is a gift indeed.

The eccentric, forceful, big-hearted Grandma Dowdel is the star of the Newbery Medal-winning A Year Down Yonder and Newbery Honor-winning A Long Way from Chicago. And it turns out that her story isn’t over–not even close.

It is now 1958, and a new family has moved in next door to Mrs. Dowdel: a Methodist minister and his wife and kids. Soon Mrs. Dowdel will work her particular brand of charm–or medicine, depending on who you’re asking–on all of them: ten-yearold Bob, who is shy on courage in a town full of bullies; his two fascinating sisters; and even Bob’s two parents, who are amazed to discover that the last house in town might also be the most vital.

As Christmas rolls around, the Barnhart family realizes that they’ve found a true home–and a neighbor who gives gifts that will last a lifetime.


Historical fiction:

* Christmas After All:  The Great Depression Diaries by Kathryn Lasky

* The Bells of Christmas by Virginia Hamilton

Twelve-year-old Jason Bell waits impatiently for Christmas 1890. Set against the carefully researched background life of a middle-class black family in Ohio a century ago, “Hamilton’s story moves along at an elegant pace, giving readers time to savor the holiday preparations.”–School Library Journal 


For Girls:

* A Holiday Memory by Lauren Brooke

* Rainbow Magic: Paige The Christmas Play Fairy by Daisy Meadows 

* Holiday Princess by Meg Cabot

From IndieBound:

A princess always knows how to celebrate the holidays. There’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Chinese New Year, Saturnalia…….to name just a few.

Then there’s gift giving, the royal Genovian Faberge advent calendar, hot chocolate with marshmallows — oh, and all those fabulous holiday movies. How will YOU celebrate this holiday season? Mia and her subjects have a few ideas.





For Boys:

* The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements

* The Dog Who Thought He Was Santa by Bill Wallace

* Kringle by Tony Abbott 

From IndieBound:

A coming-of-age story about an orphan who becomes a force for good in a dark and violent time. It is a tale of fantasy; of goblins, elves, and flying reindeer; and of a boy from the humblest beginnings who fulfills his destiny. Illustrations.



* Christmas in Camelot (Magic Tree House #29) by Mary Pope Osborne

* A Katie Kazoo Christmas:  Super, Super Special by Nancy E. Krulik

* How The Pops Stole Christmas by Nancy E Krulik 

* The Adventures of Santa Paws by Nicholas Edwards

From IndieBound:

From homeless puppy to hometown hero!Santa Paws comes to the rescue in these two holiday stories. In Santa Paws, a lonely puppy wants one thing more than anything else this Christmas-a home to call his very own! When he rescues a family from a burning building and saves a boy from drowning, his heroics earn him the nickname Santa Paws and captivate an entire town. In The Return of Santa Paws, it’s Christmastime again. Santa Paws and his new owners are flying to a celebration in New England. Disaster strikes when their plane crashes in the snowy woods!  



* The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum

* The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

* The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

* Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

* The Birds Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

 From IndieBound:

This classic Christmas story by the author of REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM features a child as memorable and charitable as Dickens’s Tiny Tim. Born on Christmas Day, Carol is the Bird family’s special Christmas baby. As her tenth birthday approaches, declining health threatens young Carol’s life. Her only wish, however, is to plan an unforgettable Christmas celebration for the poor Ruggles children next door. Few characters have embodied the spirit of Christmas more fully than Carol Bird in this bittersweet holiday classic, which generations of readers have cherished for more than a hundred years.



* The Very Best Hanukkah Gift by Joanne Rocklin

* The Magic Menorah:  A Modern Chanukah Tale by Jane Breskin ZalbenThe Magic Menorah

12 year old Stanley Green isn’t looking forward to  Chanukah and lots of chaos from relatives.  But when Stanley goes to the attic he finds an old menorah. When he cleans it up, he is greeted by a genie named Fishel who grants him three wishes.  As his wishes are “granted” he learns that he’s really had the happiness he was seeking all along.  Lots of details about the Chanukah holiday fill this story that is suitable as a read aloud or readers theater. ***


* Hereville:  How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry DeutschHereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Eleven year old Mirka lives in Hereville - an Orthodox Jewish Community.  She’s strong-willed and not the least bit interested in knitting.  What she really wants is to fight dragons!

Filled with witches, trolls, bullies and a pig, Hereville is a captivating story that readers will love. ***

* Candlelight for Rebecca (American Girls Collection) by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

* Penina Levine is a Potato Pancake by Rebecca O’Connell

* How I saved Hanukkah by Amy Goldman Koss 



* Kwanza:  Why We Celebrate it the Way We Do by Martin Hintz

* Seven Spools of Thread by Angela Shelf Medearis 


From IndieBound:

In an African village live seven brothers who make family life miserable with their constant fighting. When their father dies, he leaves an unusual will: by sundown, the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread. If they fail, they will be turned out as beggars.


I hope you find a wonderful book on this list perfect for sharing with the middle-grade readers you know!  Happy Holidays!

Amie Borst is the mother of three daughters who are all growing up too quickly.  When she’s not spending time with them, she’s writing stories for them and other middle-grade readers.  She also eats way too much chocolate.  Visit her at http://amie-borst.com



  1. Ciara Knight  •  Dec 10, 2010 @8:30 am

    Wow, so many great choices. I was just trying to think of a book to give as a gift. Perfect post for me today. :)

  2. Kyle  •  Dec 10, 2010 @10:08 am

    I love your list. During read aloud my class is enjoying “When Santa Fell to Earth” by Cornellia Funke. It is wonderful novel about kids believing in Santas, overcoming and dealing with bullies and disfuntional familes. You know life!

    Happy Holidays!

  3. Laura Marcella  •  Dec 10, 2010 @11:07 am

    These are terrific suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to put together this list!

  4. Rosanne Parry  •  Dec 10, 2010 @12:37 pm

    Great list Amie! Here are two of my favorites:

    Herhsel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman

    The Bakers Dozen: a St. Nicholas Tale by Aaron Shepard.

  5. Sydney Salter  •  Dec 10, 2010 @1:50 pm

    What a lovely tradition! Christmas isn’t Christmas without books under the tree!

  6. Karen Scott  •  Dec 10, 2010 @2:31 pm

    thanks for the list! Some great titles here, and some I know I need to add to my TBR list for myself if not for my kids!

  7. Amie Borst  •  Dec 10, 2010 @3:21 pm

    thanks all! glad you liked the list! and i hope you find something great to share with the middle-graders you know….or for yourself ;)

    roseanne- i almost added Hershel….but i thought it was more a chapter book…so i didn’t include it in the list….it looks like a great story!

    i also desperately wanted to include my all time favorite movie – A Christmas Story…but it was based on a collection of short stories entitled In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd and not a middle-grade book. bummer.

  8. JayBorst  •  Dec 10, 2010 @4:53 pm

    Wow! Great post. It is obvious a lot of time and research went into this. The best part is there is something for everybody regardless of background and you provide people an opportunity to start/add Christmas traditions to their family. Love you!

  9. Karen Schwartz  •  Dec 10, 2010 @5:35 pm

    I love your family tradition, Amie. I don’t know if this is too young for MG, but my 8 y.o. and I are reading Junie B. Jones Jingle Bells, Batman Smells (P.S. So Does May) and are hysterically laughing.

  10. Kenda  •  Dec 10, 2010 @8:52 pm

    What treasures these all seem to be–a few are familiar, but many are not–and I’d love to peek into the pages myself. Thanks so much for sharing such a great list. We, too, have a tradition of giving books at Christmas and now I have a new source to draw from. You’ve made my job easier :-)

  11. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Dec 11, 2010 @12:55 am

    Thanks for sharing this great list! I love how you included other holidays in addition to Christmas.

    Books definitely make great gifts. :)

  12. Amie Kaufman  •  Dec 12, 2010 @4:58 am

    What a beautiful tradition! I really look forward to being able to start traditions like that when I have my own family.

    For now… click. Click. Click. Lucky I read books like this myself!

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