• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Inspiration > Getting the Grant
  • OhMG! News


    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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Getting the Grant


button, buttons, computerIf the words “grant application” make you want to bang your head against the keyboard, take heart.  You’re not alone!  I’m right there with you, key imprints in my forehead as proof.

Having morphed from a scientist into a middle grade author, I assumed I’d left grant writing behind in the dust.  Not true.  Grant writing is everywhere!  Starting a manuscript, finishing a work-in-progress, attending educational events, funding author visits, supplying libraries with books, sending your child to summer camp… you name it, there is probably a grant for it.

But really – why bother?  Like any busy author, teacher, or librarian you already spend lots of time in front of the computer.  Add parenting to the mix and, well – forget it.

Plus, writers deal with a lot of rejection already.  Who needs it?

Well, as time consuming and frustrating as grant writing can be, for me it’s a bit like buying a lottery ticket.  Someone is going to win that grant.  And it won’t be me – unless I apply.

Thanks to this stubborn perseverance (the same quality that got me published in the first place) I am pleased to announce that I am this year’s recipient of the Martha Weston Grant!  Which means that as you read this post, I will be attending the SCBWI annual summer conference in LA.


On the wings of this success (and at the risk of upping my future competition) I encourage you to give grant writing a try.  Here are a couple of tips to increase your chance of success;

1. Apply, Apply, Apply…

… and then apply again.  In addition to enhancing your grant writing skills, grant committees will start to recognize your name if you apply for the same award year after year and hopefully give you points for dedication and perseverance.

2. Pay attention to feedback

Use feedback from grant committees to decide whether to submit the exact same application next year (if they’d reached their quota your type of project), make improvements (if they point out something specific), or give it a future pass (if your idea does not fit their mandate.)

3. Who did get the grant?

And why?  This will give you a better idea of what the committee is looking for and help you improve your application for next year (or make the decision to apply for something else.)

4. Details, details, details…

Like agents and publishers, grant committees read thousands of applications and they’re looking for an easy way to make the pile smaller.  Font and word count matter, as do deadlines.  Don’t have your application rejected because you missed the “received by” or “post-marked by” date.

5. What do they want?

Does the application come with a thick set of guidelines and a ten page form covered with blank boxes?  If so, they are looking for very something very specific (and someone who can follow instructions.)   Or do they just want you to send a letter of interest?  If so, they are probably more flexible and may be looking for someone with creativity.

6. Specific and Professional

Whether you are filling out forms or writing a creative letter, grant committees want applications to be specific and professional.  They are often looking for catch phrases, which you can find by looking at their mandate or examining the questions they ask.  They are also looking for recipients who will follow through, which is why they want to see the outline of a step by step action plan and not a broad, vague, or overly general idea.

Because readers of this website are so diverse in terms of profession, area of expertise, and regional location, it is difficult to include a comprehensive list of where to find grants.  But trust me – they are everywhere.  If you look, you will find.  Professional organizations often have grants (the Martha Weston Grant came to me through membership in the SCBWI.)  Most states and provinces have grants to fund author visits.  Governmental organizations have grants to support the arts.

Generally speaking, if a grant is well known it probably receives a lot of applications (ie. more competition!)  If you are keeping up with what is happening in your genre of writing or in your region’s education system, you will come across smaller, lesser known grants, that are more likely to support the specific work or program you are doing, which will greatly increase your chances of success.

Good luck!

Yolanda Ridge is the author of Trouble in the Trees and Road Block, two middle grade novels about the irrepressible Bree who has fought a bylaw against tree-climbing and battled the development of a highway through her grandmother’s farmland but has never written a grant application (yet!)



  1. Linda Johns  •  Aug 3, 2012 @10:19 am

    Congrats on winning the Martha Weston Grant! Great tips on looking at how specific to be in the application, based on the grantor’s tone and level of detail. (You must be at the SCBWI LA conference right now; have a terrific time!)

  2. Ruth Donnelly  •  Aug 3, 2012 @8:35 pm

    Congratulations! I hope you are having a fabulous time at the conference.

  3. Yolanda Ridge  •  Aug 4, 2012 @2:33 pm

    Thanks, Linda and Ruth. I am having a fabulous time!