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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, read more...

     

    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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Middle-grade Book Club Guide

Activities, For Kids

So, you want to start a book club! Cool! But, how do you begin?

I asked my pal and librarian extraordinaire, Deb Marshall, about what goes into making a successful middle-grade book club. She and her Backroom Kids Book Club members came up with some awesome advice to get you started:

Deb’s report on the kids’ thoughts as she went around the table :

SNACKS: since we meet right after school, the kids are hungry and have had NO FOOD since lunch. They really like having a chance to just sit around and chat about ‘whatever’ while they eat. In other words, we start with fifteen minutes or so of eating and chatting. 

FIRST GRABS: the book clubbers LOVE getting first dibs on new books that come into the library. It’s like Christmas every Thursday!  Some call this “first grabs”.  They also like that they get to read Advance Review Copies and do reviews on them.

NEW RELEASES ‘HEADS UP’: they get to find out what new releases are coming out. We decided to make this a weekly feature of our book club.

NEW FRIENDS:  You never know who you will meet, but you all have one thing in common: you love to read! They really like that the book club feels like a social event. (Deb: this one surprised me, actually. That is one of the reasons I love book clubs too!)

OPEN REGISTRATION: they like the open registration and that they don’t have to come to every meeting (although they DO come to every one, lol). They like that we don’t have ‘required reading’ right now…we just go around the table and talk about what we are reading and why we like it. It’s like ’show and tell’ for books!

Deb’s thoughts on book clubs:
 
OPEN DOOR POLICY: it’s important to make everyone feel welcome and on equal ground.  Book clubs are about a love of books and if you are reading the same book over and over again, that’s okay. I had a girl in a previous club who did just that; in fact she told me she didn’t really like to read. I told her that was okay–she could still come and join in–we’d find her something else she liked. And we did! She became one or our most voracious readers!

START SMALL AND GROW FROM THERE: if you start with small numbers, don’t get discouraged. Just keep going if your time and budget allows. Both book clubs I’ve been a part of started really small. In both cases, 2 kids. We ran all summer with just two kids, then fall arrived and they brought friends and so on–until that club was running with at least 10 kids per week.

Same with the one I have now–we started with two, now we’re up to 12! The key here (I think) was letting the kids know it is a social event. We get together and talk about books, laugh and have fun.  Even if you’re not a speed reader, have only read one book in your life but love that book to death—join us!

Wow! Thanks so much to Deb and the Backroom Kids Book Club for all these great tips! I  totally want to join your book club now (especially if you have SNACKS! ;-))

In fact, I’ll be joining them via SKYPE in the next little while and can’t wait. :-)

Your turn: Are you part of a middle-grade book club? Are you planning to start one? Please share your tips for success in the comments!

Hélène Boudreau is the author of the upper middle-grade novel, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky).  She offers FREE 30-minute Q & A sessions via SKYPE with REAL MERMAIDS book clubs. You can visit her at www.heleneboudreau.com

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Karen Scott  •  Feb 25, 2011 @7:10 am

    One of the things a middle grade book club my daugher and I belonged to did– We took turns “choosing” three books to recommend, then we gave a description to the group. The whole group voted on which one to read for the next month. It worked out pretty well.

  2. Deb Marshall  •  Feb 25, 2011 @8:52 am

    Helene! You are so welcome, thanks for asking us to share our passion!

  3. Karen Schwartz  •  Feb 25, 2011 @12:48 pm

    Sounds like a fun club. Wish they had something like that when I was a kid!

  4. Cathe Olson  •  Feb 25, 2011 @7:48 pm

    I really like the idea that the kids don’t have to all read the same book to discuss it. I love that they just share about what they are reading. I think that opens it up to so many more kids.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  5. Sayantani DasGupta  •  Feb 25, 2011 @7:50 pm

    Such a fantastic post – because it makes me realize, exactly like Cathe – that book club can be just kids talking about what books they are reading… fantastic…

  6. Diana Greenwood  •  Feb 25, 2011 @8:17 pm

    This makes me miss our old mother-daughter book club so much now that my girl is all grown up (and still an avid reader). Many good memories. LOVE the idea of talking about what books kids are reading. That could have really worked for ours when there was disagreement on choices and the reading felt forced. Didn’t happen often but once in a while.

    Thanks for a great post!

  7. Mindy Alyse Weiss  •  Feb 25, 2011 @10:45 pm

    Thanks so much for the great post, Deb and Helene! I’m part of several critique groups and we often discuss books we’re reading, but I’m not involved in an actual book club. Wow–wish I could be a part of yours, Deb! I’ve always thought that book clubs had participants read the same book–I love the thought of a more show and tell approach! I bet it helps a lot of your readers find wonderful new books!

  8. Pragmatic Mom  •  Feb 27, 2011 @5:12 pm

    Thank you for great ideas for middle grade book clubs! I run a book club for my kids (5th and 3rd grade) so it is great to know what is up head. I wanted to share my posts on Book Clubs for Kids at http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?category_name=book-club-for-kids

    I have some book and project ideas that might be helpful on this post: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=120

  9. Megan  •  Mar 2, 2011 @8:20 pm

    This is a great idea! I am a writer, but, ironically, getting my daughter to read has been a struggle. I mentioned a book club, and she is excited. I think this will be the perfect thing to get her reading. Thanks!

  10. Deb  •  Mar 3, 2011 @12:44 pm

    Thanks for commenting, everyone! I must say I love my book club kids. They are amazing. Hard to believe it’s my job, lol. And yes on joining a book club, Megan. Maybe she could suggest it to her library, help organize it. When we started there was just 2-3 at a time, one of the boys really said he didn’t like reading, but he loved taking part in the planning and talking about the books he did like (many of which are graphic novels, so I told him it was great to have a graphic novel reader on board, I’d don’t get time to read as many as I want, so he is our go to guy, he’s been coming weekly since…Sept.) I think the key is to fit the club to the kids and recognize we are different kinds of readers. Some are good with reading one book a month, sometimes the same one over, some read a book a day. If we mold to them, though, I think we create the ground work for building non readers into readers, little bit of reading readers into more readers and voracious readers into kids who are willing to explore a wide variety of genre’s and take a role in creating a love of reading among their peers without being all “well I can read a book a day and you are only reading one a month?!?” (yeah started with a couple of those too, lol!) Anyhow, am still talking! Will stop. Thanks again for reading and commenting!