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    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 ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...


    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...


    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories,


    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...


    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...


    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…


    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...


    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...


    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...


    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...


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Parenting Tips I Learned From Reading Middle-Grade Literature

Book Lists, Inspiration, Op-Ed, Parents
Flick’r photo by sean dreilinger

Confession: I read a LOT of middle-grade fiction.  It’s true.  In fact, I haven’t yet been in the young adult or adult section of my local public library.  I see no problem with this, except for one thing: I want to talk about the books I read with my friends.

This is a problem because none of my friends read middle-grade books.  Their kids read middle-grade books—lately I’ve had more book conversations with those kids than I’ve had with their parents (sad, but true)–and though my friends and I have plenty of other topics to discuss, I can’t help feeling they are missing out on something by only reading books for adults (and the occasional YA).

Lately I’ve been asking myself why I’ve been concerned about this.  Granted, I like middle-grade books because I write them.  But the more I read them, the more I realize there is a wealth of knowledge for parents in those stories, too.  And that might be part of the reason why I feel like my friends are missing out.  It’s a delicious secret I want to share with them, and with any other parent who will listen.

And since I have a captive audience today, I am going to do just that.  The following are three parenting tips I learned from reading middle-grade literature.  They may not be earth-shattering, or particularly exciting, or even new, but I’m glad for them anyway.

Parenting Tip #1: Kids need family. 

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In the opening chapters of Brian Selznick’s WONDERSTRUCK, one of the main characters, Ben, has lost his mother and doesn’t know where his father is.  As I followed along on his journey to find his dad, I realized how important family is.  And I also realized how often I take mine for granted.

As a parent, I need to nurture those connections, especially with my children.  I need to carve out time to play with my kids, I need to listen to them as they share their (often random) thoughts with me, I need to encourage them and praise them and just be with them.  And I need to help them nurture close relationships with their father and siblings, too.  Family is important.

Parenting Tip #2: Kids need choices. 

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In Ingrid Law’s SCUMBLE, main character Ledger comes from a family where each member inherits a savvy, a magical power.  His family line is full of unique and interesting powers, but none are more intriguing to me (as a parent, anyway) than the one Ledger’s mom has been given; she has the power to make people do what she says.

And she does it with a smile.

Now, I don’t know any parent who wouldn’t love to have that kind of power over their children!  But as I read Ledger’s story and watched him stew when his mom made him do what she wanted him to, I realized that children are much happier and more likely to succeed when they are given choices.  It was a powerful reminder to me that it’s my job to inspire my kids to find their own greatness, not to require them to do what I think would be good for them.

Yes, I still need to guide them in their decisions, and I must set rules for them to follow, but I need to remember that, if possible, I need to let them choose for themselves.  And I must allow them to experience the consequences of their actions, no matter how much those consequences may hurt.

Parenting Tip #3: Kids need love. 

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The middle-grade literature world is full of books about orphans who hope for someone to take them in and love them. One of those kinds of books, THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY by Trenton Lee Stewart, introduces Reynie, an incredibly intelligent orphan, and his tutor, Miss Perumal.  At the beginning of the book, no other adult loves Reynie except for Miss Perumal, and her love influences Reynie’s decisions later when he is in the most dire of circumstances.

As a parent, it’s nice to be reminded every once in a while that my love for my children can be more influential than I realize.   In fact, it’s quite possible that someday my love could save the world.


It might not surprise you to learn that there are plenty of other parenting tips hidden in a middle-grade book near you.  Parents, I encourage you to pick up a title and read.  You won’t be disappointed.  And please share any additional tips you find with us here.  I’m still hoping to have this conversation with my friends someday.

Besides, I could use all the parenting help I can get.

Elissa Cruz has lots of children.  Five, to be exact.  You’d think she’d be a parenting expert with that many running around the house, but she’s not.  Unfortunately.  She writes middle-grade fiction for her children, but she also writes it for herself, and for anyone else brave enough to read it.  You can learn more about her writing journey on her blog, elissacruz.blogspot.com.  And if you, too, want to talk about middle-grade books, join her on Twitter every Thursday 9pm Eastern for #MGlitchat.

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