• 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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  • An Interview with Carol Rasco from Reading Is Fundamental

    Learning Differences

    Like nearly everyone from my generation who watched Saturday morning cartoons, I remember those old PSAs RIF did with Ed Asner and Carol Burnett. The message that every kid deserves a book of their own really resonated with me even when I was 8 years old. All the more so now that I have made my life in the field of education and children’s literature. It was a great honor to meet Carol Rasco the president and CEO of RIF last fall ath the Kidlit Bloggers Conference in Seattle, Washington and an even greater honor to work in some of her RIF supported schools in Washington DC last month. Here I am with one of the wonderful librarians I met on that trip!










    I’m delighted to welcome Carol to the Mixed Up Files as a part of our ongoing series highlighting literacy programs.

    RIF has been a smashing success for decades on the simple premise that kids in need ought to have a few books of their own choosing to keep forever, delivered in an environment that celebrates literacy, and supports the adults in the community who are raising up young readers. Last year in support of that goal RIF provided 14 million books to 4 million children.

    Can you speak a little bit more about RIFs newer programs, Care to Read and Family of Readers?


    RIF recognized a number of years ago that the books were an ingredient around which we should build additional services in order to further our mission “To motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.”  Our primary population to be served is that of children at highest risk of failure to learn to read which in truth the majority of the time means children in poverty. 

    Two training courses for “train the trainers” were developed: Care to Read for those who care for young children as well as the parents and Family of Readers for parents of school age children and others who work with this age group. Both courses are built on the importance of talking and reading with children, making reading an enjoyable activity…with a sensitivity as well to the fact many of the parents of children in RIF’s primary population served are parents who do not feel they read well, do not read in English, are not comfortable reading with their children. Through corporate funding and fee for service contracts RIF conducts these courses across the country with the demand outstripping the funding available, particularly as schools seek to cover all bases in striving to increase achievement levels. 

    Research shows the critical role parental engagement plays in achievement and help in involving parents is welcomed by most organizations. As part of this effort we are also helping local communities discover the power of parent/child reading nights or activities that bring communities or subsets of communities together to share in the excitement of reading together!


    One of the most inspiring things about my time working in RIF schools last month was hearing from the women on your staff about why they came to RIF and how much the mission of RIF has meant in their lives. How did you come to be involved with RIF and how long have you been with the organization?

    As I left my time in overall domestic policy at the state and federal levels of government, I knew I wanted to focus on children’s programming and policy either in health, child welfare, disability issues and/or education.  The RIF opening seemed and has been a wonderful place over the last ten years (since November 2001) from which to work on all of these to some extent with the emphasis in education and literacy of course.  From my time as a teacher and elementary counselor 40 years ago as well as my role as a parent to a child with special learning needs, I came away with a passion to insure all children and their families have the tools and background needed to have children ready to enter school to learn to read and then supports as needed upon entering school to insure the ability to read well and independently by the end of third/fourth grade. To do less means our nation has failed the child.  

    My favorite thing about being a teacher is the collection of victory stories accumulated over the years about children who have succeeded against great odds or who came to you a closed shell of resentment and defeat and then with the right touch, blossomed into an amazing young learner. Do you have a favorite victory story or two from your time with RIF?

    It never fails. Anytime I go to speak or simply to be present for RIF at an outside event, someone comes up to me to tell me her/his “RIF story” and often holding the first or the most memorable RIF book received.  It is usually encased in plastic wrap or a sandwich bag and has often been in “Mom’s attic” where the heat has hardened the glue along the spine and the book is falling apart.  There are frequently tears of gratitude that are shed…it is most humbling and is matched by the twinkles in eyes of children selecting a RIF book or the wonder present in first time RIF kids when they realize they “really, really” get to have the book to keep. 

    This video of Dr. Dale Allender tells in brief one such story; he contacted us when he learned of the funding problems we were facing in Congress, he wanted to help by telling his RIF story.  One piece not in the video is the fact his doctoral dissertation was based in part on mythology first brought to his attention and activating his interest in reading by way of that first RIF book! 


    Given the importance of the mission and the long-track record of success, I was simply gob-smacked to hear that RIF was subjected to a major cut in funding last year. How is RIF moving forward in spite of this financial set back?

    Federal fiscal year 2013 will mark the first time in 34+ years that RIF has not had a federal grant with which to assist local communities in purchasing new paperback books from which children can select and own books as their own.  The President recommended this cut for RIF along with numerous other literacy groups in order to make the funds competitive in a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (which has not occurred, is not yet even a process underway in Congress).  

    At RIF we know the need is great and while we will continue to work hard to have funds reinstated in the federal budget, we are moving ahead to downsize our operation, to increase our corporate and private fundraising, to assist our local programs in doing the same.   We are fortunate that we have not lost funders due to this grant loss and many of those funders are seeking to increase their efforts as well.  However, let’s not kid ourselves, we in no way can make up the amount of that grant per year on a sustained basis which provided 15 million books annually to more than four million children. We are also continuing to develop apps and other new programs that were underway as we know it takes an array of tools and methods to meet the needs of all children.

    We are also excited about a brand refresh project that was well underway before the loss of the federal grant. This past fall we unveiled a bold new look and logo which marked the beginning of an awareness campaign designed to honor RIF’s iconic brand and spark a widespread movement in support of reading. The new logo is a modern formation of an open book—its openness symbolizes a voice for underserved communities and the world of possibilities opened to children through reading.

    • Today we are launching the awareness campaign aptly named, Book People Unite. The campaign aims to focus national attention on the children’s literacy crisis in America and calls on anyone who believes in the power of books to transform lives to stand with RIF and help get book in the hands of kids that need them most. (see initial video on home page, www.rif.org )
    • The campaign will be formally announced April 16th and will extend well beyond 2012. At the center of the campaign will be the release of a new, history-making PSA showcasing for the first time several of America’s most beloved book characters—including Pinocchio, Babar, Clifford, Madeline, and many others coming together for the love of reading. 
    • This initiative was funded by the generous support of Macy’s, a long time RIF partner, contributing over $21 million to RIF since 2004. Additional funding and support has been provided by the Ad Council, Library of Congress, and creative agency, Mother New York. 

    The Mixed Up Files readers are a community of people dedicated to literacy and I’m sure many would like to know how they can best help RIF at this critical time and also how they might bring RIF services their own community. What do you suggest?

    We welcome the Mixed Up Files readers, we know you are all Book People and hope you will become involved in the campaign!  Join us in taking the Book People pledge - declaring your belief in the transformative power of books for children.

    Don’t forget a lovely gift for someone is to give to RIF in the person’s honor.  For each $2.50 given a new paperback book can be given to a child, cost inclusive of handling!

    If your local community is seeking to build a greater literacy learning environment, do not hesitate to write us at contactus@rif.org, we are eager to visit with you! (put to ATTN: Carol Rasco so I can make sure I see your request!) 

    And don’t forget to explore and refer others to our award winning website where there are many great activities for children and for families.

    Thank you for sharing your time with us, Carol. In the comments today I’d love to hear from our readers about the difference that book ownership made in your life or that one pivotal book that spoke deeply to you. Let’s hear YOUR stories!

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