• OhMG! News


    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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  • My Pal Book

    Learning Differences

    My son has a toy dog that knows his name and sings little song. “I’d like a [giraffe] please… it’s my favorite animal. I’d like it to be [purple]. That’s my favorite color!” You program it so it knows your kid’s interests.

    Byron and Scout

    Byron and his pal Scout

    I found Scout the same weekend I did a presentation on books and best friends, and I had selected a passage by Betsy Byars, from her book The TV Kid, in which its hapless hero imagines a friend he could buy at the store. He’s imagining it as a commerical: “To help that lonely feeling… buy Friend! The doll that’s as big and real as you are.” Scout was Friend for the baby set!

    I used that passage in my presentation because I feel that books fill exactly that void, a temporary, artificial best friend for when you’re feeling lonely… and I think that’s especially true of kids between eight and twelve, that precarious period we call “the middle grades.”

    Talk to any agent or editor of middle grade books, and they’ll tell you the main thing they want is a strong connection to the main character. Their instincts are correct–if they feel that connection, so will kids, and if kids feel that connection, the book will fill the void. They’ll have found a friend, at least for a few hours.

    My Pal Scout is an engaging toy for an infant. Byron barely knows what it’s saying, but he likes the songs and he laughs when Scout talks. For older kids, I think Scout would be a bore. So you figured out my favorite food is pizza. Good for you. I see authors making that mistake, thinking they can win kids over by citing the right opinions: homework is a drag! Video games are awesome! I think grown-ups finding books for kids make that mistake, too, supposing a reluctant reader will be taken in just because a book is about his or her interests: you like baseball. The kids in this book play baseball!

    I didn’t have much in common with Harriet Welsch of Harriet the Spy — she’s a rich kid in New York, I was middle class and lived in North Dakota — but the connection was there. Victor, of Lizard Music, likes Walter Cronkite and jazz music, two interests I didn’t even take up after reading that book to tatters. Mrs. Frisby is a middle aged woman… and a mouse. Every one of those characters feels like a dear old friend. I remember other books, vaguely, that threw out a few necessary and time-sensitive characteristics so kids could “identify,” but those books aren’t the ones who turned me into an ardent reader and writer.

    I feel like the newer classics play by the same rules. A kid doesn’t have to be either a girl or a genius to connect to Millicent Min, nor a mouse to like Despereaux. American muggles feel plenty connected to Harry Potter and his pals. Real friends require a deeper connection than a few similar tastes, and so do the kinds of books that turn kids into readers. The right book will be different for different kids, but chances are if you feel a connection to the character, kids will too.

    Kurtis Scaletta has written books about baseball, snakes, and fungi for young readers. He hopes you will read those books whether you like those things or not.

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