• 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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  • How young is too young? Pushed into chapter books.

    Learning Differences

    photo by David Castillo DominiciI’ve noticed a trend in the last decade or so to push kids into reading at younger and younger ages.

    When I went to school, an independent reader was expected to be late 2nd to early 3rd grade. I don’t remember whether learning to read came easily or was difficult for me. My brother, nearly two years my junior, had an awful time of it when he was learning. I remember him and my mother screaming at each other while she pushed him to figure it out. He just didn’t get it. Then one day a light clicked. After that, his teacher sent notes home because he was showing off in class when students still struggling with the concept were slow to pronounce a word during reading time.

    My daughter (now a senior in HS) was expected to be reading by the end of 1st grade. She was, and is a voracious reader. Reading came naturally to her, and by the middle of second grade she’d read Charlotte’s Web, by herself, seven times. By the time she was in 6th grade she was reading at a college level and I was having a hard time finding age appropriate books.

    Now, I see kids expected to be independent readers in kindergarten. And not the tail end of it either! One child I am acquainted with was shunted into remedial reading classes as soon as she entered kindergarten. Are children who don’t attend nursery school now at a disadvantage because they can’t spell their names and replicate the alphabet on lined sheets?

    As a picture book illustrator for the 5-8 crowd, I wonder if this is a good thing for the kids. I remember being disturbed by reading a book “with no pictures” as an independent reader. As a child, I would read everything I could get my hands on. I loved reading. Even still, I didn’t want to move to “grown-up” books without pictures until I was at least 12 or 13 years old. Emotionally, I just wasn’t in the right place.

    When I asked my writerly friends their opinions on this topic, a variety of answers came back.

    Some folks thought kids should be encouraged to read as soon as possible because they were happier not having to have things other than books read to them. Another person has a number of children, some were reading at age 4, but one wasn’t ready to read until nearly 8 years old. She says that children should be allowed to learn to read when they are developmentally ready. That makes sense to me.

    Children don’t develop all at the same rate. Some kids are ready to read very young. They want to, can’t wait to, are chaffing at the bit to figure it out. Others are just not the least bit interested.

    Still another commenter pointed out kids are expected to score high on standardized tests, which necessitates a certain level of visual language fluency. So, kids are being taught, and assumed to be reading at younger and younger ages so test scores will rise. Don’t even get me started on what I think of standardized testing and scores. It’s not pretty. You don’t want to go there. Trust me.

    One person commented she wished there was more of a focus on socialization and relationship building in kindergarten instead of reading skills. I agree. It seems to me that kids are being short changed on how to interact with peers and adults. Does anyone else find it odd that there are commercials on TV for web sites telling kids how to play outdoor activities? When I grew up, we moved seamlessly from one activity to the next. It was rainy day indoor activities our parents worried about keeping us occupied.

    What do you think? Are kids being pushed into independent reading too quickly?

    Wendy Martin spends her days drawing fantastical worlds. In the evenings she writes about them, then she visits them at night during her dreams. Visit her universe at her web site http://wendymartinillustration.com

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