• 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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  • Service – It Builds Character


    In August of this year, Hurricane Irene tore through upstate New York completely devastating a large region, including many small, quintessential towns. Part of this area included the Catskill Mountains, home to the setting of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” and “Sleepy Hollow.” Although Irving’s writings are quite descriptive, I think he would agree that no words could ever truly depict the beauty of the area.

    Irving couldn’t have selected a more idyllic setting for those stories. The beauty of the Catskills is majestic and yet somewhat mysterious, with rolling mountains and trees as far as the eye can see. No other place could have evoked the same enigmatic emotions as the Catskills.

    The Catskill Mountains hold a special place in my heart, for they are part of my childhood. I grew up there and still bring my own children to enjoy the beauty of the region each and every summer. When pictures of the devastation circulated the web –

    homes swallowed up in the depths of water,

    bridges swept away in raging rapids or buried beneath layers of driftwood,


    and entire towns and homes destroyed beyond repair


    – something swelled within me.

    I wanted to help.

    So, in a very unlikely character trait of spontaneity, I packed my bags and made the eight hour drive from my home in Virginia to the small towns of upstate New York – many of which were still without power. I wasn’t sure how I could help or if I would even be put to work, but it didn’t take long to find ways to serve. From mucking knee-deep mud out of basements to shoveling and sweeping dirt off of sidewalks to removing debris and destroyed belongings onto large trash piles, there was always something to keep me busy. Even a simple act of delivering homemade cookies to workers brought a sense of overwhelming joy. A reward of knowing I’d served someone in their time of need.

    Over a week later, when I arrived home, my middle-grade children greeted me with smiles. “We’re proud of you, Mom,” they all said. When I went to New York, all I wanted was to help others. What I didn’t know is that my efforts would have a profound effect on my children.

    While I don’t write this post for praise, I do write it in hopes that the readers will come to understand how service can impact not only those in need, but the innocent eyes of our children, eagerly anticipating our example.

    And believe me, middle-graders notice. While we think they’re too busy with homework, friends and afterschool activities, they’re quietly (or not so quietly) absorbing the information that’s provided to them. They’re observing everything about the world around them. They are perceptive.

    So as adults – parents, teachers and leaders – we need to be cautious in our words as well as in our actions. We also need to remember that middle-grade children are capable. They can serve in the community, too. Their efforts can make a difference. The best part about serving is that you don’t have to travel out of state, there are plenty of opportunities right in your own community.

    A few years ago, when my middle daughter was in second grade, her entire class made blankets for Project Linus. This organization takes handmade fleece blankets and delivers them to local hospitals, specifically for children in need or with long term illnesses. It is, in fact, perfectly reasonable for a roomful of eight year olds to make these blankets with adult supervision and assistance.

    Middle-grade children can write letters to soldiers and missionaries. Cheerios and the USO has teamed together to provide free postcards on the front of marked boxes. They’re easy enough for a middle-grader to fill out, stick on a stamp and send off to a military family. It’s a simple and fun way to say thanks!

    Tree Musketeers is an organization founded by kids, run by kids and lead by kids. They encourage other children to care for the environment. The Arbor Day Foundation also has programs for children and adults to help plant trees and gardens at your school or in your community.

    photo courtesy of photobucket

    There are countless other ways to get involved. Assemble care packages for our service men and women, collect canned goods for a food drive and donate clothes, toys and other items to shelters. The list is endless. Or for literacy based service, be a reading buddy to younger children, create bookmarks then donate them to school and local libraries, and form a monthly book club.

    Studies have shown that serving strengthens families, provides a greater sense of community and boosts self-esteem. There is also evidence that it improves health as well as helps students earn better grades in school. It teaches children job skills, gives them a sense of responsibility and aids in their realization that even one person can make a difference.

    At Service Leader one study showed that children under the age of fourteen who participated in service projects were less likely to be involved in at-risk behaviors. And at the National Service website their study provided interesting statistics as well. “When compared to a youth with no family members who volunteer, a youth from a family where at least one parent volunteers is almost two times more likely to volunteer, and nearly three times more likely to volunteer on a regular basis.”

    Service provides just as much to the recipient as it does to the volunteer. It truly is an act of selflessness, a path to learning to think beyond yourself. We live in a world of instant gratification, but service provides an opportunity to learn patience and perseverance. In the spirit of giving this holiday season, I hope you will find ways to serve within your community. I hope you’ll encourage the middle-graders in your life to participate and grow with you through these endeavors. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll build character!

    If you’ve created a volunteer organization within your community, and encouraged middle-grade children to take part in it, please tell us about your experience. If you have additional ideas for serving, particularly with middle-graders, we’d love to hear them!

    Amie Borst writes humorous fairy tales with a twist. She’d love to have you visit her at her little slice of fairy tale heaven. www.amie-borst.com

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