• 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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  • Authors Visiting Schools: thinking outside the box


    There are some good resources online about the basics of an author school visit and here are two of them.

    ABCs of Author visits


    scbwi resources


    Rather than restate what’s already available, I’d like to look at the variety of school visit experiences an author might try or a school might ask for.

    1. The whole school presentation

    When most people think of authors visiting schools the image of an auditorium full of kids listening to an author tell the tale of how a story became a book is what comes to mind. Usually the author brings a power point presentation and sometimes, interesting objects for students to look at. Often there is reading aloud and almost always some time for Q & A.

    2. The large group writers’ workshop

    Here an author teaches a full classroom of students a writing lesson. It usually draws on an element from the author’s books and involves a writing exercise from the students. It usually works best to have a topic you’ve discussed with the teachers ahead of time and a writing activity every child in the room can feel successful with. Poetry often works particularly well, but any writing topic can succeed if it’s well taught.

    3. Small group writers’ workshop

    A more in-depth and longer writing workshop works best with a smaller group of students who either volunteer or are chosen for the experience because of their avid interest in writing.

    4. The demonstration lesson

    This works well with small and large groups and has the advantage of not requiring the students to bring their own pencil and paper and produce individual writing. A demonstration might show how an illustrator creates a character, or how a writer maps a plot using audience participation and usually a white board, smart board or document camera.

    5. The author interview

    This format allows more participation from students who plan the interview ahead of time and take turns asking questions. It works well with Skype. In a very large school, recording a video of the author reading and students interviewing the author for later viewing may be the most practical way to use an author’s time.

    6. The author luncheon

    Some schools have a tradition of inviting a small group of students to have lunch with the author and interact in a much less formal way. It can be a great place to run a few story ideas by them or get immediate feedback on a scene the author is working on. Often the children chosen are avid writers so it’s also a perfect venue to ask them to tell you their favorite stories.

    7. The non-writing workshop

    Sometimes authors will offer a workshop on a subject that pertains to their book and suits a school’s curriculum. It might be anything from drama to history. I know an author who has considerable expertise in historical costuming who brings in clothing from the historical era of her book and talks about how what people wear informs us about the way they live. Fascinating!

    8. Family Literacy Night

    Another option is an evening event for students and parents that highlights the authors books and the student’s writing. It can be an opportunity for promoting read aloud at home, family story telling, the writing and collecting of letters, or the keeping of diaries. Sometimes this involves author Q&A, snacks, games, or an art activity.

    9. The author-in-residence

    This is an ambitious and very time-consuming project both for a school and for an author, but it can be the most rewarding experience of all. With a daily visit over one week or one day visits stretched over a few weeks, you have the opportunity to develop the kind of trust with young writers that makes real writing growth possible. Solid teaching experience and an enthusiastic school is essential.

    10. The personal visit

    The best place for beginning writers to start out is with a single classroom visit where the teacher is a personal friend. The format varies from a simple reading plus a little Q&A to a writing lesson, organized by the teacher and assisted by the author. Here’s a place an author can learn the ropes of working with children and get honest and kind feedback from a trusted source.

    I hope this gives you some idea of the range of possibilities. I’ll be following this post up in a few weeks with specific things an author can do to prepare for a school visit and then one more post on how schools can gain the most from their visiting author. I’ll also like to do a round-up of school visit questions, so if there’s something you’ve always wanted to know about school visits, leave me a comment and I’ll follow up later today or over the weekend.



    1. Tami Lewis Brown  •  Jan 28, 2011 @11:26 am

      I love the author luncheon idea– as long as it’s planned in advance, not imposed on the author as a “since you won’t be doing anything but eating” extra.

      I’ve also “donated” lunch and a trip to a bookstore to an elementary school auction. Along with another adult (in this case the school librarian) we hosted the winner, a wonderful middle grade reader, to banana splits then browsing the children’s section at our neighborhood bookstore, with a signed book thrown in. The child loved it, the parents loved it, the school loved it and the bookstore loved it. And I had a great time and got lots of publicity for me and my book at the auction.

      Lately I’ve been doing lots of Skype school visits. They’re great!

      Michael Gettel-Gilmartin Reply:

      @Tami Lewis Brown, what a great idea! And our school has an auction coming up, and several great writers in the vicinity. Thanks for the “lightbulb” moment.

      Rosanne, great information, wonderfully presented as always!

    2. Joanne Prushing Johnson  •  Jan 28, 2011 @7:03 pm

      I enjoyed this post. Lots of good ideas for both authors and schools. Thanks!

    3. Natalie Aguirre  •  Jan 28, 2011 @7:44 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions. I have to admit the thought of school visits is kind of scary. Any tips would help about what works well.

    4. sheelachari  •  Jan 28, 2011 @8:41 pm

      Wow, wonderful information here, Rosanne! Thanks so much.

      If I could ask a question, I’d ask, how do you get started? How do you get schools to hear about you and be interested in having you come? How do you get the word out? :)

      Thanks for sharing this range of possibilities. I do like Tami’s idea about auctioning off an author!

    5. Wendy S  •  Jan 29, 2011 @10:02 am

      This is a great breakdown of different types of school visits. Sheela – I got my first gig by mentioning my book to my child’s school librarian. And she has put me on the countywide listserv for school librarians. Talk to other moms, too – you never know who is a PTA prez, or has a connection somewhere.

    6. Kathryn Jankowski  •  Jan 29, 2011 @4:03 pm

      Great ideas, all. I’ve got former peers at school waiting for me to be published, so I’ll be keeping this for reference. Thanks!

    7. Rosanne Parry  •  Jan 29, 2011 @9:33 pm

      Natalie- getting up in front of a group of children can be very daunting and I’d never recommend an author do it cold. I volunteered in my local schools for 15 years before my first book came out. That gave me ample experience and great contacts. If your public school doesn’t need volunteers, try the local library, scouts, etc. to get a feel for your readers and what they need. Ask at your local SCBWI if there’s anyone doing a school visit that you could observe. That would give you an idea if school visits are something you even want to pursue.

      Wendy–great advice about plugging into the local school list serve, and local moms who are active in their schools.

      Sheela–I’ll get into promotion of yourself as a visiting author in lots of detail next time I post. But one thing I’ve done is put together a nice flier that I don’t print but send out in email to schools who contact me that gives a brief summery of the types of workshops I’m able to present and a blurb on each of the books. If the school is interested then they can print out a handful of them to generate interest among teachers and funding from the PTO.

      I also keep track, by region, of every note I get at my website from a teacher or librarian and then if I am traveling to their area, I drop them a quick email saying, I’ll be in your area. Can I interest you in a school visit. That way you know you are approaching a genuine fan. You don’t have to sell them on the book, just on your ability to offer something valuable to their students.

      Great Questions! Keep them coming!

    8. Cathe Olson  •  Jan 30, 2011 @1:21 pm

      I’m on the other end of the school visit . . . I’m an elementary school library tech hosting my first author visit next month . . . Lee Wardlaw. She is doing a primary and upper assembly and in the afternoon we are having a tea where winners of a school wide writing competition can visit with her. I’m very excited. My students love her books.

      Still, there was some helpful advice in this post for me and I’m happy to know about all these different options for the future.

    9. Rosanne Parry  •  Jan 30, 2011 @8:02 pm

      Hey, good luck with your school visit Cathe!

      Stay tuned. I’ll follow up this post in a month with some tips for authors to prepare for their visit and things a school can do to get the most out of the visit.