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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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  • SOME BOOKS ARE NOT EASY

    Learning Differences


    Week before last the National Book Award For Young People’s Literature was announced. Prior to the award ceremony, Liz Burns reviewed nominee Debbie Dahl Edwardson’s MY NAME IS NOT EASY in her excellent SLJ blog A Chair, A Fireplace & A Teacozy, observing “There is a difference between a depressing book and a book where sad things happen; this is not a depressing book. Yes, things are lost; Luke’s name is not easy, and neither is his time at the school. There is also love, friendship, kindness, and survival. Not just survival, but triumph.”

    Burns comment got me wondering—what role do sad books play for middle grade readers? Is there a “cheerfulness quota” when we consider whether books are appropriate for eight to twelve year olds?

    Adults instinctively protect children. Most parents try to shield their children from pain and hardship. That can go for “real life” experiences but it can also apply to books. Almost every elementary school librarian has stories of parents who’ve demanded their child be guided to “happy” or “uplifting” books. In fact, some children’s librarian feel books for young people should stay squarely on the bright side of life. I disagree.

    Middle grade readers are trying on new experiences and new emotions for the first time. Books are a safe porthole into the world beyond one reader’s home or classroom. When reading a book like (2009 National Book Award nominee) THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt, a middle grade reader can experience outrage about animal abuse and neglect. He can also probe the power of self-less love… and ponder how sometimes selfishness and even obsession can disguise itself as love.

    These are HUGE topics. Too big for a middle grade reader? I don’t think so.

    Not every child is the same. Any parent who has two children of their own knows this. Every teacher is reminded of the fact every single day. Some kids wake up grumpy, some love school, some pick up their rooms without being asked, some can’t seem to remember a homework assignment.

    And some children love – and need—sad books. These are children who feel deeply. They are thinkers. Sometimes they’re referred to as “old souls”… but you don’t have to be old in years to be moved by a poignant story. Kimberly Willis Holt’s WHEN ZACHARY BEAVER CAME TO TOWN (winner of the National Book Award in 1999) mixes humor, bizarre characters, and real life and death questions. At almost the same moment thirteen year old Toby Wilson’s mother leaves her family to pursue a career in Nashville, Zachary Beaver, the world’s fattest boy, is stranded by his unscrupulous promoter in an RV he’s nearly too large to leave. The boys don’t seem to have much in common, other than the trouble they have with adults in their lives.But when repercussions from the Viet Nam war make a direct hit on their small town both children must come to personal terms with love, loss and acceptance. ZACHARY BEAVER is a hopeful book… even if it’s not an especially happy one.

    As suggested by the title of Debbie Edwardson’s wonderful exploration of culture, loss and redemption… some books aren’t easy. Some present the hard facts of life. Some force deep thoughts and soul searching. But those books are ideal for the some middle grade readers.

    HOORAY FOR HARD BOOKS! AND HOORAY FOR THE GROWN UPS WHO GUIDE YOUNG READERS TOWARD THESE TREASURES!!

    Tami Lewis Brown’s new novel THE MAP OF ME is one part sad and two parts funny… just the kind of book she loved as a middle grade reader.

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