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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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  • E-Readers: Replacement or Complement for Traditional Books?

    Learning Differences

    We all know that the e in e-reader stands for electronic, but for some it might mean educational, entertaining, or even eek! E-reader use is definitely becoming more popular among kids according to this news story. On the other hand, a school in Silicon Valley does not allow technology in the classroom and also discourages it at home.

    Curious about how others feel about this hot topic, I asked a half dozen questions to a dozen or so of my friends and associates. A compilation of their answers follows. In order to respect privacy, only first names are used for respondents who are not members of  the From The Mixed Up Files blog.

    photo courtesy of Sheri Goad

    (Photo courtesy of Sheri Goad)

    1. Do your children have access to or own their own e-reader?  The number of children with personal e-readers tallied just over half of those who shared a device with other family members. One respondent’s family did not use e-readers at all.

    2. What do your children primarily use the device for?  Pleasure reading was the most common use for e-readers, schoolwork was a close second, and game playing came in third.

    3. What do you think are the major pros/cons of e-readers?  The respondents cited portability, space saving capability, and easy accessibility to reading material as the most common pros of owning e-readers.

     Milli explained that the issue of space was the primary reason she bought her eleven-year-old son an e-reader. Her book-loving son was running out of room to store his growing collection. Milli states, “I do think he has more access to books because he is able to browse them on his own and is not dependent on me to take him to the library or store.”

    Laurie Schneider, a Mixed Up Files member and mom to an e-reading thirteen-year-old girl, says, “It’s great if you’re reading a series book and finish a volume late at night. A few clicks and you can be onto the next volume.”

    Ester, mom of three, says, “A really big plus to the e-reader is that with all the apps available, it makes it easy to download books to your computer, iPhone, or Kindle. Therefore, you can always have your books available. While one child reads on the Kindle, the other can read on your computer or phone.

    Another Mixed Up Files member, Sayantani DasGupta, who does not currently own an e-reader, states, “E-readers cross my mind every time we travel because our luggage is always so weighed down by books.

    Keri, mom to one son,  says that she likes the fact that e-readers are “green,” and that books cost less. However, she also points out that “new authors and titles will be harder to find.” Like Sayantani, Keri points out the portability of an e-reader. Her son, an only child, reads most while traveling to visit his father. “Books offer great company,” Keri says. “He uses his imagination more.”

    Another common con sited was breakability.  According to Laurie’s daughter, “If you drop it, it breaks!” On the other hand, Keri states that her “typical boy” is prone to losing or damaging stuff, but “that doesn’t happen with an e-reader.” Apparently, damage control varies per kid, but the cost and fragile nature of e-readers are definitely points to consider.

    A variety of drawbacks to e-reader use were also noted. Jan, mom to a twelve year old daughter, says her daughter “misses the ability to tell how far along she is in the book. With the Nook, there is no warning that the end is coming.”

    Both Amanda, mom to Marijke, and Doreen, mom to Jack, listed lack of Internet filtering as a shortcoming for e-readers. Doreen wishes that there were a color version of an e-reader without internet access.

    Although a few parents listed the cool factor as a plus, Sayantani thinks it could also be a minus. She states concerns about “privilege and consumer culture,”  and feels that an e-reader may be “one more expensive thing to own and measure your wealth/privilege by with another child.

    When asked to list the disadvantages of e-readers, Sheri, mom to three sons, says “They aren’t real books.You can’t put the pages in your fingers, or decorate your book shelves. If your battery dies you are out of luck. You can’t pass along a book to a friend, and it is certainly not the same when you are reading them to a group of kids.

    4. Do you think e-readers will replace traditional books? How do you feel about that? The general consensus among the group was that traditional books would indeed survive. However, the opinions as to why varied greatly, and some respondents brought up some unique issues.

    Amanda says, “I don’t think they (e-readers) will completely replace traditional books because the reading experience is different, and some stories just need to be read in a traditional manner.

    Kim, mom to Brandon age ten, says, “We still love books in print. Nothing can replace the smell and feel of a book. There will always be a place for them, although I do think with ebook players going down in price, more and more kids will be using them.”

    Jan thinks that traditional books will last because, “With a normal book, I can own it, give it away, sell it at a used booked store, turn it into a work of art if I want to. With an e-book, I can read it. Period. And if any licensing issues pop up, the bookstore can ‘take it back,’ something they don’t really have the option of doing with a book on my bookshelf.

    Deb Marshall, a Mixed Up Files member, answered the questions based on her work with a book club for eight to twelve year olds. “These kids are a generation comfortable with technology but still hooked into hard copy books. They love being able to hold the real book. I think that’s great. They can experience the best of both worlds.

    Laurie, who grew up near three paper mills has mixed feelings about the prospect of e-readers replacing traditional books. “I know what mills do the environment. On the other hand, I’m a book person. I love the look, feel, and even the smell of books. As a teenager, I imagined myself wandering among the book people with Montag at the end of FARENHEIT 451.

    Sheri believes that traditional books will survive. “E-readers offer a great convenience, but let’s face it; they aren’t books. Kids enjoy going to a bookstore and looking through the shelves until the right book jumps off the shelf and demands to go home. E-readers have a place, but I don’t think it’s a “replace.”

    5.  If your child has any particular learning disabilities or special needs, do you find that the e-reader holds an advantage  over traditional books? 

    Kim replies that e-books help her son because “he can make the font larger and also listen to the books.” Jan also mentions that it’s easier to “isolate focus” by making the font larger.

    Doreen’s son likes being able to “look up a word at the touch of a button, instead of skipping it, looking it up in a real dictionary, or asking someone what it means.” However, Doreen feels Jack may also be distracted by other features of the e-readers such as “playing games, searching for and adding apps, and seeing what other things it can do.

    On the other hand, Amanda finds that when her daughter, Marijke reads a traditional book, “she fidgets with the corners of the pages and reads out loud. When she reads from the Kindle, she reads silently, doesn’t fidget as much, and seems more focused.”

    “I have two children with dyslexia,” explains Ester. “For them, I think our e-reader is an advantage. Our e-reader has a text to speech button which allows them to follow along as the e-reader reads the text on the page. It is something I usually do not encourage, but it’s nice to know it is available if they ned it. It allows them to listen to the pronunciation of words that they may be struggling with.”

    Joanne Prushing  Johnson, an occupational therapist and Mixed Up Files member, works with students on the autism spectrum. She hopes that e-books will become “interactive and encourage children to research ideas that the books they are reading inspire, learn strategies to better analyze text for information or concepts like them, and keep reluctant readers motivated to turn the page.”   

    6. Do you have any other comments about children and e-readers you would like to share?

    Marie, mom to two girls, states that her children only use her Kindle for vocabulary work. She’d consider allowing them to read from it; however, she also states, “I really don’t want to skip the experience of bookstores, libraries, and research at this age. I feel those are some essential steps. I am thinking of my experience as a bookkeeper. If the computer went down, I would have to be able to go to paper and record transactions to keep the business going. I am thinking the same concept for the girls. What if these electronic resources were not available? I want them to have the know-how first, and then they can indulge in electronic efficiency.

    Milli adds, “I think that e-readers are great, but it is also nice to be able to hold and smell the pages of a real book. For the love of reading is developed more from example set by parents and time set aside by parents to share a story. All children love to get attention from their parents and what better way to do than with a story.”

    Joanne says, “I think it is normal to feel nostalgic about traditional books, and I think there will be a need for them for many years. But I also think that it is possible that as much as many worry that technology will decrease reading, it could also open a lot of doors for people who don’t relate to reading or who struggle with reading. Although screen time could be viewed as a passive activity, it could also become more interactive than books for kids who find reading boring or hard.”

    You may be wondering what my take on e-readers is, and honestly, I don’t know. But after reading all the responses I received to my questions, I must say I’m leaning more toward purchasing one than I had in the past. I’ve resisted purchasing an e-reader, partly because of the cost and partly because I didn’t want to contribute to a trend that could signal the demise of books. However, from the responses here, you can see that several die hard e-reader users are not predicting the death of the ink and paper book any time soon.

    I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this post. The answers were excellent and certainly got me to thinking. Readers, what would your answers to these six questions be? Let us know in the comment section below.

    Lill Pluta has had numerous short pieces published in the magazine and educational markets, as well as one picture book and a series of board books. She also once won a rather hefty prize for writing a poem about mustard. She is currently living her dream, writing middle grade novels with a magical twist, in a beach town where she resides with her husband, two sons, and trio of cats.

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