• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Book Lists > Favorite Titles for Black History Month
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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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Favorite Titles for Black History Month

Book Lists

What do you get when you ask members of the Mixed-Up Files for some of their favorite books for Black History Month? A much longer, can’t-wait-to-get-my-hands-on-them reading list, that’s what! In addition to freshly-awarded titles, such as One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia and Zora and Me by Victoria Bond, and Jacqueline Woodson’s classic Feathers, we’ve got favorites from childhood, a memoir, award-winning non-fiction, stories torn from the headlines and more!

Favorites from Childhood: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is Mildred D. Taylor’s Newbery-Medal winning account of the Logan family’s fight to persevere in the 1930′s American South in the face of racism, poverty and betrayal. Philip Hall Likes Me, I Reckon Maybe, by Bette Greene, humorously depicts Beth Lambert’s struggle to reconcile her own competitive spirit with her romantic feelings for the slightly infuriating Philip Hall.

Torn from the Headlines: Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes refers to the hardest hit area of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Lanesha, who has the gift of seeing the dead (including her mother), must use all her strength to survive when her caretaker Mama Ya-Ya envisions a powerful storm with an ominous outcome. Drita, My Homegirl follows the friendship of Maxie, an African-American girl who is mourning the loss of her mother, and Drita, an Albanian-Muslim refugee from Kosovo.

It Happened One Summer: In The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis Curtis’ amazing debut novel marries the very funny voice of tortured younger brother Kenny with the tragic 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four girls.  In the summer of 1976, the titular character of The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going needs to be liberated from his various fears and his friend Frita Wilson is the one to do it; Frita knows something about being brave as she is the  only black student in a town with an active Ku Klux Klan.

Memoir and Meaning: Jacqueline Woodson and Walter Dean Myers have many beloved books to choose from; our members pointed out Show Way by Woodson and Bad Boy by Myers.  Show Way introduces readers to the idea of a quilt pattern with secret meaning, and its significance for an African-American family through many generations.  Clocking in at 48 pages, it’s a great Newbery Honor-winning choice for a younger reader.  Fans of Myers will enjoy his memoir of growing up in 1940′s Harlem and his ensuing adventures.

Contemporary Favorite: The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake garnered many nods from Files members.  Maleeka is taunted by her classmates about her homemade clothes and the fact that her skin is too black.  When a new teacher, Ms. Saunders, comes on the scene with a startling white patch on her face, Maleeka thinks it’s more trouble, but instead, learns a lesson about self-acceptance.

Non-Fiction Treasure: It’s hard to imagine any child being able to resist Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, the true story of a former slave who escaped to the Indian Territories, and then went on to become the most successful deputy U.S. marshal in the Old West.

Share your favorite book to celebrate Black History Month in the comments below.



  1. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Feb 17, 2011 @8:07 am

    My daughter’s absolutely favorite book for a while was the Scholastic NF publication Ruby Bridges Goes to School about the brave Ruby – who was the little girl immortalized by Norman Rockwell on that first, frightening day US Marshalls escorted her into a previously all white school. My 6yo is fascinated with the little Ruby’s bravery and the fact that she was a real first grader, like her! I wrote about it a while back: http://storiesaregoodmedicine.blogspot.com/2010/09/story-rx-reading-about-racism.html

  2. Lisa Rogers  •  Feb 17, 2011 @10:25 am

    I just enthralled two hard-to-crack fourth grade classes with Vaunda Nelson’s Bad News for Outlaws. It has everything a child wants in a book: action, excitement, danger, social justice, and reality in one extremely well-told narrative that’s always moving forward. Show Way and The Liberation of Gabriel King are two other favorites that always are hits in the classroom.

  3. writerperson  •  Feb 17, 2011 @11:04 am
  4. writerperson  •  Feb 17, 2011 @11:05 am

    Mr. Touchdown by Lyda Phillips

  5. Sydney Salter  •  Feb 17, 2011 @11:17 am

    I loved Christopher Paul Curtis’ novel ELIJAH OF BUXTON (a humorous, historical novel about an ex-slave colony in Canada).

    A wonderful African immigrant story is HOME OF THE BRAVE by Katherine Applegate (it’s also told in verse–so great for reluctant readers).

  6. Karen Schwartz  •  Feb 17, 2011 @12:35 pm

    Thanks for this great list!

  7. Donna Gephart  •  Feb 17, 2011 @1:03 pm

    Fantastic post. I loved Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
    A fantastic book is Day of Tears by Julius Lester, a heartbreakingly beautiful account of a slave auction.

  8. Cathe Olson  •  Feb 17, 2011 @6:29 pm

    Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson are amazing!

  9. Jennifer Can Quilt  •  Feb 17, 2011 @8:34 pm

    THE SKIN I’M IN is a very hot book around my classroom right now. It’s been loaned to several girls in my classes already. They love it!