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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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  • No Access:Barriers to Reading Pt. 2

    Learning Differences

    When my sons were small, I would often find them playing in the middle of a pile of books. Sometimes the books were used as ramps for their Matchbox cars or walls to a house for their action figures.  But many times, I would find the boys lying in the middle of the pile, looking at the pictures, making up their own stories and eventually reading.

    Not everyone is so lucky to grow up surrounded by books.  In some homes, books aren’t around because reading isn’t something that was modeled for the parents, so it’s not a value they bring to their own parenting. That’s a skill can be learned. But when gas and food eat up a tiny budget, books can seem like luxury items and that is another problem all together.

    My last post introduced a short series on Barriers to Reading by discussing the difficulties some readers have along with some suggestions to help them over their internal hurdles. Today’s post is about an external barrier–no access.

    I work between several school and home locations in a lower income area and am continuously surprised at how seldom I see buses go by. Library options are not convenient. There are no big box stores or bookstores around. If I lived there and wanted to buy a book for my child, I’d be hard pressed to find one even if I had the money to spare. When I do home visits, sometimes there’s not a book to be seen. Studies show that the presence of books in the home has a direct relationship with school success. Not having books is a huge obstacle.

    The problem is far worse in many other countries. Even the poorest communities in the United States are rich compared to the poverty overseas. Where does reading fall into the pyramid of life choices when you are struggling to survive? But books open a door to literacy that provides increased job opportunities, ability to participate in elections and ability to understand health and education services wherever one lives. 

    Almost Effortless Ways You Can Make a Difference

    1. Donate new books to your local school. We do this with my children’s school or classroom libraries at typical gift-giving times.  We also buy extra books at the Scholastic Book Fair to donate to their classrooms or library. For some kids, school is their only link to books.
    2. In the same vein, donate your gently used children’s books to your local school for them to use or give away to children who need them.
    3. Give a brand new hardback book to a school counselor to give to a child who could use an extra special boost. Write a short, encouraging note inside about your favorite book-related memory, a related quote or what you hope the gift will represent to make the gift more personal.   
    4. Take the above suggestions a step further and find a school in a low income neighborhood. Do steps 1-3.

     **When interacting with schools, you should call first to make the appropriate arrangements.  Nice, up-to-date books or classics are generally welcome. Don’t give away books that have out-lived their usefulness. Remember to also look for books with multcultural characters. If you aren’t sure what’s appropriate, contact the school’s librarian.

     

    For bigger scale ideas, check out these links.

    First Book:  Supports children in need by providing access to new books.

    Book Bus: A Books by the Busload event held in Omaha last February took books to the people who need them.

    Book Drive Toolkit: Tips from United We Serve for starting a book distribution team.

    Books by Elephant: One man’s mission to bring books to rural Laos.

    Successful reading is the first key to open doors of opportunities. But this door remains firmly closed for many people with serious ramifications.  How else can we connect books with readers who have difficulty getting them? Share your ideas and your books!

    Photos compliments of www.morguefile.com

    Joanne Prushing Johnson is a middle- grade writer, middle- grade mother, middle- grade occupational therapist (and middle-aged woman but we aren’t going there!). Take a lucky guess at her birth order and you’ll see she’s spent her entire life firmly planted in the middle. She lives in the middle of the U.S. in the state of Nebraska in the middle of four boys, one husband and double-sized dog. Joanne is represented by Quinlan Lee of Adams Literary.  

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