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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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Successful School Visits—what an author can do to prepare

Learning Differences

My favorite part of being an author besides the actual writing of the books is meeting and teaching students at schools. I do about a dozen of them a year, some as short as a few hours and some stretching over a week. Each time I’ve found that the more I did to prepare, the better my visit went. Here are nine things I’ve learned about preparing for a school visit.


1. Remember you are there to serve the students not to sell books.

Because of recent budget cuts to schools and lean times for families, you might consider not asking a school to sell your book as a part of the visit.  Sometimes a local bookstore will give the school library credit based on the number of books students buy, which is a win for everyone. But that’s often not possible.  Best to keep the focus on what you can do to enrich the curriculum at the school you’re serving.

2. Think about what you have to offer and where your talents are best used.

In an earlier post, I talked about the many different options available for school visits. Pick one that plays to your strengths. If teenagers intimidate you, don’t offer to speak to kids older than 6th grade. If you’ve never structured a lesson and don’t have happy memories of writing in school, teaching a writer’s workshop is probably not for you.  On the other hand, if the idea of addressing several hundred students at once gives you hives, don’t offer a large group presentation. Kids get squirrelly when you are uncomfortable and teachers know good teaching—make sure you are confident in what you have to offer.

3. Learn something about the school you are going to attend.

Ask the teacher or librarian what they are hoping to gain from the visit. Do they hope to inspire students to stick with revision? Is there a state writing test coming up? Do they want students to feel confident that they have something in their life worth writing about? Are they looking for specific skills in plotting or characterization?

4. Be clear about what you are willing to do and make an agreement.

Spell out the schedule for the day in advance. Make sure it includes the length of each presentation, number of students at each one, technology available to support you, and the amount the school is going to pay you. Even if you are doing a pro-bono visit, please let the school know what you would ordinarily charge for the service. It helps support all the other authors who must ask for pay to come to a school.

There is a sample author visit contract I use in the educators section of the website. Feel free to use it and adapt is as needed.

5. Come early, with back up to your technology.

Try to arrive a half hour before speaking. If you’re using a power point, bring the slides on a thumb drive but also keep your computer on hand with an extra connector. Sometimes it takes several tries to get the technology piece to work. And ALWAYS have a back up plan in case no technology is available on that particular day.

6. Change your presentation based on the age of your listeners.

Make sure your presentations are right for the age you are addressing. No matter how good you are, kindergarteners will not sit still longer than about 20 minutes or be able to write you a paragraph about their favorite story character. You can ask the teacher at the very start if the group is chatty and likely to have many questions, or if they are a hands-on group that will want a project and not just passive listening. As a rule of thumb: K-2nd graders do well for 20-30 minutes, 3rd -5th are fine with 30-45 minutes, 6th and up can manage 60-75 minute presentations.

7. Remember that you are disrupting the schedule. Be flexible.

School thrives on routine. It’s not that people aren’t delighted to have you, but you are probably changing the normal routine, which is extra work for everyone involved. The more flexible and understanding you can be, the better.

8. Give them something to take home.

Think about the dinner tables your students are going home to that night. What do you want them to say about your presentation? For me, I want kids to know that they don’t have to be the “smart” or “bookish” one to have a great story to tell. If they are taking a writing workshop from me, I want them to have the start of a story they feel proud of.

9. Listen and learn.

The most valuable part of the visit by far is the chance to meet my readers and learn a little about what they love in the books they read. Whenever I talk to kids they carry on enthusiastically about some author who is much more famous than me. And when I swallow my pride and ask them to explain what they love about a particular book, I always learn something valuable that I can use in my work in progress. It’s a humbling thing to work in schools but one of the reasons I stick with it, is the insight I get into the lives of my readers.

Do you have a tip to share with readers? How do you prepare for a school visit?

Author Kimberley Griffiths Little brought fun prizes to this school visit.

There were lots of smiles during a visit with author Sydney Salter.



Rosanne Parry is the author of Second Fiddle, a story about an avid violin player who finds friendship and adventure in some unexpected places as she travels with her friends from Berlin to Paris.

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