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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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  • Eleven (Books for) Birthdays

    Uncategorized

    In December a video went viral showing a three-year-old throwing a snit because he got books for Christmas… he had plenty of toys, too, but he was outraged by the mere presence of books alongside them. I won’t link to the video, since the recreational outrage of thousands of people has already been expressed all over the Internet. I do want to tale on the main point: do books make good presents?

    One of my author friends said he gave books at random times, but not for Christmas or birthdays, because “books can’t compete” with toys and video games and so forth. I don’t agree. I sure liked books as presents when I was a kid. I think kids will largely adapt to the world you create for them. Since my family of origin and my own family now constantly gives books as presents, I don’t think my baby boy will ever think it’s unusual to get a book as a gift. Indeed, he’ll probably think it’s weird if a birthday passes without books.



    Books can be the perfect birthday present, when the main character is launched into the same year as the child, often with a momentous event. Consider WringerThe Giver, or City of Ember, where children learn their roles in life at a particular age.

    Others involve unexpected presents that lead to adventures. A personal favorite is The Silver Crown, a lesser-known novel by Newbery laureate Robert C. O’Brien, features a spectacular birthday present that turns out to be far more than a girl bargains for, while The Indian in the Cupboard has disappointing birthday presents that turn out to be far more wondrous than a young boy expects.

    A more recent addition to the canon is Wendy Mass’s 11 Birthdays, about a couple of children who share a birthday, mashed up with a Groundhog Day-inspired plot. Double it up with Lauren Myracle’s Eleven for the perfect birthday present for an eleven-year old. Birthday parties figure into the plots of Wendy Shang’s The Great Wall of Lucy Wu and Cynthia Liu’s Paris Pan Takes the Dare.

    If it’s time to kick off a classic series, the first Harry Potter begins with a birthday and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the book that introduced the incorrigible Fudge to the world, ends with a birthday.

    Of course a book doesn’t have to be about a birthday or presents to be the perfect birthday present, but I think a well-chosen one can make the young reader feel a connection to it that they’ll remember long after the flashy, noisy toys are forgotten.


    Kurtis Scaletta is the author of the middle-grade novels Mudville and Mamba Point, and the forthcoming The Tanglewood Terror. All three are published by Knopf Books for Young Readers. Kurtis offers free virtual visits to kids book clubs — see http://www.kurtisscaletta.com/visits for more information.

    8 Comments

    8 Comments

    1. gaylene  •  Feb 11, 2011 @6:34 am

      I agree. My kids have always received books as gifts from me, and now they look forward to them, just like I always did when i was little.

    2. Kelly Polark  •  Feb 11, 2011 @7:24 am

      My kids always receive books along with other gifts at birthdays and Christmas. And they love them! Plus if they go to a kids’ birthday party, I make sure a book is wrapped along with a toy.
      My kids all got Borders gift cards in their stocking, and it was so fun to bring them and have them pick out books this past weekend. They (and I) loved it! (of course I had to buy some for myself as well…)

    3. Wendy S  •  Feb 11, 2011 @8:14 am

      OH, Fudge’s birthday party took on a whole new meaning when my kids started having their own!! I love picking out books as presents, trying to find that “just right” one, whether for a kid or grown-up.

    4. LG  •  Feb 11, 2011 @10:04 am

      Books (or gift cards for book stores) are the best gifts – any time of year or holiday! This past Christmas, my nephew (age 6) got several of the Bone books and was thrilled. For his birthday, which is just a few days later, he tore through his presents and immediately left the room to go read when he unwrapped another Bone book. Goosebumps is another great ‘holiday’ gift – they’re just plain fun!

    5. Sydney Salter  •  Feb 11, 2011 @11:10 am

      I’m kind of cocky about my ability to match the right book to the right person whether it’s a major holiday, a birthday, or just because. And I don’t even want to hang out with those books-aren’t-gifts people. Harrumph!

    6. Tricia Springstubb  •  Feb 11, 2011 @3:48 pm

      Just bought my niece her birthday books. She looks forward to them every year (or else she’s already an accomplished actress).

    7. PragmaticMom  •  Feb 12, 2011 @3:19 pm

      Hi Kurtis,
      Great list but you are TOO MODEST! I insist on including Kurtis Scalatta’s Mudville. Such a great read for boys or girls — a baseball novel with magical realism and a sorta Native American Curse (think Red Sox versus Yankees on a small town scale!).

      But also love so many of your picks especially The Great Wall of Lucy Wu — just read that and LOVED it. The City of Ember also a must read according to my 5th grader.

    8. Natalie Aguirre  •  Feb 13, 2011 @4:06 pm

      Great choices. I love giving books or gift cards to bookstores.