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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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  • 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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