• 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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  • Taking a Stand for Freedom

    Book Lists
    Declaration of Independence
    July 4, 1776

    As we cherish our freedom
    we believe in freedom for others.
    ~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Every year, I try to step back and reflect on the promise of freedom that this nation celebrates today.   Throughout my long teaching career, this “mission question” has guided me:  How can we as educators help children and youth live with courage and hope in an imperfect world?  Learning to advocate for yourself and others is, for me, central to successfully navigating this imperfect world.  Today reminds me of the importance of speaking out for freedom.

    Sometimes it feels like we’re not making much progress.  But then I always seem to come across a book that throws out a lifeline of hope, introducing young readers to people — both real and imagined — who take great risks, go to extraordinary lengths, and overcome tremendous obstacles to stand up for themselves and others.

    In honor of this national birthday, I’ve selected six books that explore different ways that people of courage have worked for freedom.  Rather than more traditional links with Independence Day, these stories introduce people who have taken stands for freedom in a variety of ways and across times and places both near and far.

      Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom by Tim Tingle; ill. by Jeanne Rorex Bridges.  Coming out of the Choctaw oral tradition, this story shows how small, personal acts of courage can result in powerful opportunities for freedom.  In the 1800′s, the Choctaw people lived as a sovereign nation across Mississippi’s Bok Chitto River from the lands of plantation owners and their enslaved workers.  The river formed a formidable border between bondage and freedom.  Any slave who crossed it would remain free by law, but the river was a dangerous obstacle.  The Choctaw had bridged the Bok Chitto with a series of stepping stones hidden just below the water’s surface and unknown to others.  When a young girl crosses the river from the Choctaw side, she sets in motion a series of events that lead to an enduring friendship and a daring escape for a slave family facing devastation.

     As Good As Anybody: Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom by Richard Michelson; ill. by Raul Colón. Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel grew up on different sides of the world, yet both suffered the agonies of bigotry: King, in the segregated South of the US; and Heschel, in Europe during the Holocaust.  Each willingly shouldered the responsibility to promote peace, freedom, and social justice despite the challenges and dangers they faced.  Their journeys intersected in Selma, Alabama on March 21, 1965 when Heschel answered King’s call for people to support the Civil Rights movement.  This book brings to life a lesser-known story of allies such as Rabbi Heschel who joined the fight for voting rights for African Americans.

    Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull; ill. by Yuyi Morales. In the same year that Dr. King and Rabbi Heschel marched for voting rights, many others worked for social justice in all corners of this country.  This biography of Cesar Chavez focuses on the struggle of farmworkers in California to earn better pay, conditions, and respect for their hard work.  Central to Chavez’s legacy as a fighter for social and economic freedom is his determination to accomplish goals nonviolently, even though he and his colleagues were targets of violence.

    Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice for Burma by Whitney Stewart.  The subtitle of this biography of a remarkable woman says it all — the power of speaking out for what is right in spite of the great cost.  Aung San Suu Kyi joined Burma’s democracy movement with no idea that she would become a leader of her people, spend many years under house arrest, win a Nobel Peace Prize and wait for 21 years to receive it — all because she raised her voice for justice.  We are currently living the epilogue, as last month Suu Kyi was finally able to go to Norway to accept the Peace Prize.  She continues to work for her country as a member of Parliament and tireless advocate for freedom.

    Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki; ill. by Dom Lee.  There are many familiar stories of people who took great risks to help others during the Holocaust.  Among the most moving to me is that of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara, who defied the Nazis and even his own government to hand-write visas allowing thousands of Jews to escape Lithuania and make their way to freedom. The story is told through the eyes of Sugihara’s young son, Hiroki.  In the afterword, the real Hiroki Sugihara gives us a glimpse into both the enormity of the impact this man had on those he saved and the immense cost he and his family paid for reaching out to strangers with such great courage.

    Dear Benjamin Banneker by Andrea Davis Pinkney; ill. by Brian Pinkney. Finally, let’s circle back to our consideration of the true meaning of Independence Day.  Benjamin Banneker stands out as an early advocate for freedom and equality, yet many young readers have never heard his name.  He was a tobacco farmer in the late 1700′s whose mind was filled with questions about the workings of the natural world and the skies above his head.  He taught himself astronomy to explore answers to his questions, and he wrote an almanac based on his calculations of the cycles of the moon and sun — all remarkable accomplishments.  But as a black man, Banneker faced many obstacles in his efforts to get the almanac published.  He knew that other black people who were not free like he was wouldn’t be able to benefit from his work. He was moved to write a letter to Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and at the time of the letter, Secretary of State.  In the letter, Banneker critiqued Jefferson’s call for freedom for the American colonies while also owning slaves who were not — and would never be — free.  Although it took nearly another century for slavery to end, Banneker established himself as an articulate voice for justice.

    I hope you celebrate this important holiday by reading one of these books — and please share other titles in the comments below.  Happy Independence Day!

    Katherine Schlick Noe teaches beginning and experienced teachers at Seattle University. Her debut novel, Something to Hold, was published by Clarion Books in December, 2011.  Visit her at http://katherineschlicknoe.com.

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