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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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What’s Up With Middle Grade Readers and Facebook?

Learning Differences

 

Snuggling in bed with a dog eared copy of Nancy Drew and a flashlight

Tapping away at a laptop keyboard.

At first blush these images don’t seem to have much in common.

Readers don’t “waste” their time on computers- they’re too busy reading “real” books. And as one author recently told me (with great consternation and authority!) middle grade kids aren’t on Facebook.

Right?

Wrong.

Kids are on Facebook. Millions and millions and millions of kids. Earlier this month the School Library Journal published an article called Navigating Facebook: A Guide For Parents. If you write for kids, teach, or work in a library you need to read this article, whether you’re a parent or not. The article quotes a 2010 study that found 37% of 10-12 year olds have Facebook accounts.

And  kids are no casual occasional users. In its study Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-to 18-Year-Olds the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8 to 10 year olds spend an average of 45 minutes a day on the internet. By age 10 to 14 they are up an entire hour, online an average of 1 hour 45 minutes every single day. Kids 8-10 have a total media exposure of 7:51 each day. By age 10-14 it rises to a whopping 11:53 every single day. It makes me wonder how they have time to go to school!

What are we adults who care passionately about children, learning, and reading to do? One thing I believe we must do is take our heads out of the sand (kids ARE there, no matter whether we like it or not) and we must use Facebook as a reading resource rather than let it fester as forbidden fruit.

If you’re a parent or teacher (or concerned adult) struggling with kids and the internet there are great resources to help you foster safe internet use:

Connect Safely has great, realistic articles about kids, teens, and the internet.

Common Sense Media is a powerhouse in the world of children and the media. Their site has thoughtful age defined articles on just about every issue involving kids, the internet, the media, and the world we face today.

Once parents, teachers, librarians and yes even kids are on Facebook there are some engaging sites that promote reading and learning.

Middle grade focused movies based on books have elaborate sites-

Take a look at sites for the Judy Moody MovieDiary of A Wimpy Kid movie, and the Percy Jackson movie. If connecting kids to movies on Facebook is a good idea why not use Facebook to connect kids to books?

But the books that inspired some of these books also have great pages.  Over 384,000 people like the Percy Jackson page.  Is this page “bad” for kids or does it promote reading? I think pages like this invite kids to consider themselves part of a community of readers. In my opinion there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact I think this is the only way to insure reading remains relevant to kids who live on the computer.

Some publishers have gone above and beyond to offer fantastic resources that enhance reading. One standout is Scholastic. They have dedicated pages for all of Scholastic, for teachers, for the Arthur Levine imprint (which has published many excellent middle grade titles including Harry Potter), and even a page dedicated to parents and that’s just the beginning. Want some ideas for some great extracurricular science projects- or even science activities teachers can try in school? Go to Scholastic’s Magic School Bus page. To me this is the internet’s highest and best use- connecting books to kids in real time, giving  something extra, enhancing a reader’s experience. Why is this any better or even different from a traditional website? I’m not suggesting a Facebook page should replace a website. I do think an active Facebook page can be more immediate and interactive and by appearing as Top News Facebook posts can get more direct attention than an item lost in a website.

Some of the most exciting Facebook pages are linked to middle grade authors themselves (although they may be set up by that author’s publisher.) Kate DiCamillo’s official page offers links, videos, interviews and extras on her page. https://www.facebook.com/KateDiCamillo On March 3 she posted about where her stories come from- kids want to know these things. Hearing directly from Kate can make many kids more excited about reading her books- and other middle grade books, too. Kate is meeting her readers where they gather. Her message isn’t just safe for young people. It’s compelling. Connecting with Kate- maybe not one on one but one on 4000+ will make her fans life long readers. Not just for her books. For all books.

You don’t have to be a Newbery award winner to get into the act. My own Facebook page has given me the chance to speak directly to teachers, librarians, scout troop leaders, and moms all over the country.  I offer free activity kit downloads as well as videos and daily updates. This month we’re celebrating women’s history month. It really does feel like a party on my page with dozens of commenters cheering each other every morning with I SOAR badges and tributes. Last week I added a button for scheduling Skype visits automatically, built right into my page. A couple of clicks and any class, book club, or scout troop can talk to me about researching and writing a middle grade book.

The page doesn’t target children and I intentionally keep the conversation grown up centered (okay if you were 9 it might seem a tad boring.) People who “like” my page are almost uniformly women over 30. Moms. Scout Troop Leaders. Teachers. Librarians.

I don’t know that my Facebook page has “sold” books. I do know I’ve made lots of friends, “met” many readers, and promoted ideas like empowering girls and reading for your life that make a difference to me.

What do you think about middle graders and Facebook? Have you run across “kid-reader appropriate” content there? Are your children or students on Facebook?

 

After attending a webinar on authors and Facebook, Tami Lewis Brown has become a social media convert. She’s dedicated a Facebook page to middle grade readers and her biography SOAR, ELINOR! and has Facebook plans for her middle grade novel, THE MAP OF ME, coming to bookstores this August.

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