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    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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  • Books that Shaped Middle-Grade

    Book Lists, Op-Ed

    I live near Washington, DC, and like many people who live in this area, a frequent lament of mine is that I don’t take enough advantage of the wonderful talks, exhibits and concerts that happen here. So, it was with great pleasure that I went to the Library of Congress with two writer friends, Sara Lewis Holmes and Madelyn Rosenberg, to view the exhibit, Books That Shaped America. It was a lovingly-arranged and thoughtfully laid out exhibit of 88 books, ranging from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, to Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, to Dr. Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care.  The exhibit has since closed, but you can view the online exhibit here.

    (If you’ve never been to the Library of Congress, you must visit on your next visit to Washington, DC. It is truly a place meant to ennoble the soul, with heavy marble floors and stairs, and grand painted ceilings. If you have no need to do any research yourself, there is a special place just for watching those who are. You will be on the same level of the likes of Shakespeare, Bacon and Beethoven, looking down into what seems like a well of knowledge.)

    Many children’s books were on the list, many known and beloved: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Charlotte’s Web, The Snowy Day, The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon. There were also ones which are perhaps more talked-about than read by children these days: Horatio Alger’s Ragged Dick series, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. A few children’s books had been left to history, including A Curious Heiroglyphick Bible and Peter Parley’s Universal History. Of the latter, the exhibit dryly notes, “[Author Samuel] Goodrich believed that fairy tales and fantasy were not useful and possibly dangerous to children. He entertained them instead with engaging tales from history and geography. His low regard for fiction is ironic in that his accounts of other places and cultures were often misleading and stereotypical, if not completely incorrect.”

    In his introduction of the exhibit, Librarian of Congress (awesome title, right?) James H. Billington says, “This list is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.” And that is what I’d like to start here, a conversation of the most influential books that have shaped middle-grade books as we know them today. As one person, I am nothing but full of bias, but I believe each of the books I’ve listed below exploded a myth about children’s books and change the way we thought about them. I know there are more. Please contribute to the conversation in the comments!

    You can’t talk about that!

    Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume: Human sexuality was a hands-off topic for children – at least in any kind of accessible form – but Blume answered the questions that kids really had, all without embarrassment or condescension.

    Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson: I recently met someone who was interested in writing children’s books and had not heard of Katherine Paterson. I struggled to find the words to describe Paterson’s place in children’s literature; I think I used the word “pillar” and it still felt inadequate. For 1998-2000, Bridge to Terabithia was one of the most frequently challenged books because of its theme of death, but of course, that’s exactly what makes it extraordinary.

    That’s too complicated for kids!

    A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time was famously rejected 26 times, with many editors complaining that the depth and complexity of the scientific and philosophical ideas presented in the book were too daunting for children. The popularity of A Wrinkle in Time proved that such ideas are exactly what kids love. (See also, The Phantom Tollbooth, kids don’t get wordplay.)

    Children’s books should talk about how things should be, not how they actually are.

    Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh: Fitzhugh was willing to go where few children’s book at that time had been willing to go: the dark underbelly of childhood with ugly feelings, unusual behaviors and positively cruel social dynamics. Harriet is also frequently cited as one of the first really strong and independent female heroines of children’s literature.

    Children don’t read super-long books; and oh, adults don’t read children’s books.

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling: You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Rowling showed that millions of children would happily read 500+ page books if properly written, and their parents would come along for the ride.

     

     

    2 Comments

    2 Comments

    1. Deb A. Marshall  •  Nov 27, 2012 @7:54 am

      Excellent article! And a great history of never say never…

    2. Jen Swanson  •  Nov 27, 2012 @8:06 am

      Loved this piece! Thanks for highlighting all these great books. And for reminding me of the Library of Congress. That is a must visit on my next trip to D.C.