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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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  • In recognition

    Inspiration

    Last week, on the Mixed Up Files blog, we celebrated this year’s literary award winners.  Today, I’d like to add my congratulations.  I was delighted to see some of my favorite books of the year honored.  If a sticker helps more readers find these books, then we are all better off.

    Awards seasons are also fun.  I love it when a book that I loved wins.  I love it when a book that a friend wrote wins.  I smile when a book that I have professionally reviewed gets a sticker.

    (That last one has happened four times.)

    My mother would tell you that none of this is surprising.  I have always been sort of an awards season junkie.  When I was young, I would watch the Oscars, even though I hadn’t seen the movies.  My friends and I often pretended to be famous actresses, accepting our statuettes.  Now, the announcements make me tear up.  I have given up wearing mascara to banquets and ceremonies.  When I watched my dear friend, Tanya Lee Stone, accept the Silbert medal, a woman (who did not know me) patted me on the back, and comforted me with a “There, there…” I was crying THAT hard.  When I go to any play, I get very emotional during the applause.

    My son, Elliot, who is 16,  hates the very idea of stickers.  He hates awards.  He thinks “subjective competition” is never fair.  He complains, “How do they know what book is the best?”  Maybe it’s because HIS favorite books do not have stickers.

    It’s also a way of thinking.  Ever since he was a very tiny boy, he has refused to cite “a favorite” anything!  In his world: picking a favorite means denouncing all the other things (in that category) that he likes.  He worries that non winners will feel like losers.

    He asks me: Why do we care about favorites?  Does everything have to be a competition?  Why can’t EVERY book get a great review?  Why does our society insist on naming winners?  Don’t the writers of the other books feel bad when they don’t get recognition?

    Good questions.

    Luckily, we have a great community.  In the world of children’s literature, we recognize our craft.  We support each other.  We recognize the hard work and dedication that goes into every book.  Many of us read hundreds of books every year.  We blog about them.  We discuss them.  We celebrate the authors.  We work hard to help our readers find our books.

    So, in honor of all the books published in 2010,  I would like to offer a rally.  A rally of mutual appreciation, a cheer for every book published this past year.  Sometimes Elliot is right.  When we celebrate the winners,  we forget just how important every book is to someone.

    And that’s not all.

    Let’s honor the process, the steps it takes to turn blank pages into story. Writing books for kids is a privilege.  It is a huge responsibility to accept: to inspire and entertain and give hope to readers.  And although I am not suggesting that a sticker is anything less than life changing, the REAL reward will always be a letter from a reader—someone out there got what you were trying to say.

    So while we’re at it, let’s honor our readers, too.  Let’s celebrate their preferences.

    We need all kinds of books, because there are all kinds of readers.  Whatever we write, we need to understand and connect to the reader who is waiting for our books.

    Are you inspired?

    I hope so.

    Today, let’s celebrate.

    No…let’s REALLY celebrate.

    Let’s celebrate our favorite books.

    Let’s celebrate if we took steps toward writing a book.

    Let’s celebrate if you took steps toward finding an editor or agent.

    If you wrote a few words, or had an idea, or signed up for a conference, or sent your book into the world and someone, somewhere enjoyed it….

    Celebrate!

    It is so important not just to wait for the recognition that comes when the book is done: celebrate the steps.  Each page.  Each plot turn.  Each new character.  Our readers depend on us to be hopeful and ambitious.  They depend on us to create the most authentic characters and exciting plots possible.  YOUR reader, the one who loves what you write, is waiting.

    Awards season is for all of us.  For ALL our work and ALL our favorites.  Let us work toward celebrating more milestones next year!

    Tell me: did you have a favorite book that won…one that needs recognition?  Tell us about that book.  Let us know why you loved it!

    19 Comments

    10 Comments

    1. Bev  •  Jan 24, 2011 @8:23 am

      Speaking as an author with a book that made several “mock” newbery lists and was on the ballot for an ala notable, I do admit to feeling like a bit of a ‘loser’ when my book did not ‘win’ anything in the end. Can you believe it? Instead of being thrilled to have gotten that ‘far’ I was focused on not getting the sticker! Now, several weeks later, I have a better perspective and am back to writing for the reader, not the reviewer! Because all readers care about is a fabulous story – whether it has a shiny sticker on the cover or not:)
      So, yes. Celebrate it all!

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      @Bev, I can believe it, but I am soooooo glad you are enjoying the thrill of being read. When my first book came out, I could not believe there would be even 100 people (who didn’t love me) who would find and read the book. It has been such a journey. The letters I have received have been the most amazing rewarding experience. What we do is important and wonderful! To have readers…it really is something to celebrate!

      xo

    2. Wendy S  •  Jan 24, 2011 @8:49 am

      Great post! I just learned about Ranganathan’s 5 laws of library science – and celebrating all reader preferences reminded me of rule #3: Every book has a reader.

      I’d like to recognize The Chicken Dance by Jacques Couvillon. This story about a boy on Horse Island who seeks something beyond his mean family life through chicken judging is beautifully written in a very unique setting.

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      I love that! Yes, every book does have a reader. I haven’t read The Chicken Dance. Now I will!!! Thanks!

    3. Karen B. Schwartz  •  Jan 24, 2011 @9:06 am

      totally agree with celebrating each step along the way.

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      Thanks! It is such an important part of the process….that…and chocolate!!

      :-)

    4. sheelachari  •  Jan 24, 2011 @9:58 am

      I love the spirit of this post. The writer and the reader are the most important parts of the story. :)

    5. Sarah Aronson  •  Jan 24, 2011 @10:35 am

      Thanks! Really, the published book changes hands. In draft form, it belongs to the writer. But once it is in readers’ hands, it belongs to them. They make the book even better. They give it power and strength. It really is the most amazing thing!!!

    6. Kimberley Griffiths Little  •  Jan 24, 2011 @10:46 am

      It’s been an up and down year for me and The Healing Spell, but the emails and letters from people who wrote to tell me the book impacted them in such a personal way, the wonderful bloggers who reviewed my book (found through Google Alerts – ha!) and said it made them cry – well, those letters made ME cry. It’s a surreal, but wonderful thing to know your book has changed people’s lives. What you said is so true, Sarah. Your book belongs to the readers once it’s released into the world. They give it power and strength. Oh, geeze, now I’m getting weepy just writing this comment . . . I had someone tell me last week that they were feeling down about life and their family and decided to read my book a second time because it gave them such hope and then they felt better and ready to tackle another week. Sorry to go on and on but this has never happened to me before! Books are POWERFUL. They were definitely powerful and life-changing to me as a kid and that never goes away.

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      You are making ME cry!!!

    7. brian_ohio  •  Jan 24, 2011 @11:35 am

      Yes. We must remember to not only celebrate our own small steps in the publishing world, but the release of new books as well as the books that receive critical acclaim.

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      Every step…that way, we don’t take it for granted!

    8. kellye crocker  •  Jan 24, 2011 @2:30 pm

      Great post, Sarah! I love how you always bring it back to the process, which is the only thing that we as writers can control. I appreciate your honesty, Bev, and I’m sure that even being on those lists helped bring your book to new readers, which is cool, too. That’s the thing I see that is so hard: Helping readers find their books.
      Celebrating every step,
      Kellye

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      Thanks, Kellye! For once, I didn’t sound bossy!! Yes, getting books into our readers’ hands is the challenge!

      Every step!

    9. Tricia Springstubb  •  Jan 24, 2011 @2:38 pm

      I recently visited a school, and was telling the class about how many rejections I got before my first acceptance. I always hope this will inspire kids not to give up, but one little girl raised her hand and asked me, “Couldn’t they just accept it anyway? Just to be nice?” And another child said, “Whew! I’m glad we don’t reject each other’s work here in OUR writing workshops!” I’ll tell you, they almost made me wish I was ten years old again.

      Sarah Aronson Reply:

      Hi Tricia,

      What a sweet story! A while back, I did a job fair, and I swear, I convinced all my students to find a day job!!!

    10. Margaret Nevinski  •  Jan 24, 2011 @6:03 pm

      Sarah, great post. Let’s celebrate blogs! You’re right, it’s so important to celebrate each step in the writing process, from getting that first idea to sending the MS to an editor or agent. It’s easy to forget that writing the first sentence or finishing a chapter are accomplishments. So yeah, let’s celebrate.

      sarah aronson Reply:

      Hi Margaret!!! Thanks! When I quit my day job (and stopped getting a paycheck), I realized that I would have to provide my own recognition for work well done. So I created a list of incentives for myself. My favorite(!!): when I hit 100 pages (which is still a thrill for me), I make my family Thai Seafood soup. When the kids smell the lemongrass, they know it’s time for a “100 page party!”

      LG Reply:

      @sarah aronson, That’s great! Often we have to be our own cheerleaders and setting goals/incentives just like anything else is really a great idea! I think I’ll start thinking of some for myself too! Thanks for such a motivational post :)