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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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  • Reading to Lighten Up on Election Day

    Book Lists

    I take Election Day seriously. I study newspaper editorials, check the candidates’ flyers for endorsements, read the League of Women Voters’ guides, talk with friends about ballot initiatives. Even when there isn’t a presidency at stake.

    I don’t know about you, but this election has me as nervous as a fourth grader giving an oral book report. I need to lighten up. But I’ve been doing some phone banking, and occasionally I reach an 18-year-old who isn’t planning to vote.

    Not vote? Seriously?!

    Young adults who have developed that too-cool attitude should be teleported back to middle school, before ennui and cynicism creep in. (Unfortunately, it’s not just young people—only about 61% of the population votes.) Then they can hear again why voting matters.

    My instinct is to speak passionately about suffragettes and disenfranchisement. Fortunately, plenty of authors know that humor is a better way to teach children about voting rights.

    My favorite is So You Want to be President? Yes, I know it’s a picture book, but long after my daughters had graduated to novels, they would re-read this classic. It’s just funny, with the inevitable Taft in the bathtub, the number of Jameses who have held office, and cool facts about who could dance and who went to college. You find out what’s good about the job (living in the White House) and bad (“the President has to be polite to everyone”).

    For the slightly older reader, there’s the ever popular Babymouse, who runs for President in the 16th book in the series. She finds out about making campaign promises (“cupcakes in every locker!”), fighting the opposition’s meangirl coalition, and learning what it takes to win.

    And winning the Sid Fleischman Humor award is Donna Gephart’s As If Being 12 3/4 Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running For President! Vanessa has to cope with a high-profile mother, the Democratic National Convention, and the pitfalls of crushing on the cute guy. This is just right for the preteen who wants romance mixed in with her introduction to the political process.

    I can’t resist suggesting a few nonfiction titles for those kids ready for a serious conversation. There’s a new book about the founding fathers, a biography of Elizabeth Stanton, and a collection by Ellen Levine of children’s voices during the civil rights movement. It includes memories of marching for the right to vote.

    By the time you read this column, it could be all over for this election cycle. The outcome of 2012 will mean a big difference for the future of our country. Through story, let’s make sure children value democracy so when it’s their turn, they won’t ever miss the chance to vote.

    On the lighter side

    • As If Being 12 3/4 Isn’t Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running For President! by Donna Gephart (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2008)
    • Babymouse for President by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House, 2012)
    • The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems About the Presidents by Susan Katz (Clarion, 2012)
    • So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small (Philomel, 2004)

    More serious

    • Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley (Scholastic, 2012)
    • You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton? by Jean Fritz (Putnam, 1995)
    • Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories  by Ellen S. Levine (Puffin, 2000)

    Have your own favorite? Leave a comment!

    Jennifer Gennari voted. She is the author of My Mixed-Up Berry Blue Summer (Houghton Mifflin 2012). Learn more at jengennari.com or follow her @JenGenn.

    6 Comments

    4 Comments

    1. Madelyn Rosenberg  •  Nov 5, 2012 @7:21 am

      Tom Angleberger’s Fake Mustache is a great middle-grade read about a kid trying to take over his town (and the world). This would fall under “lighter side.”

    2. Janet Smart  •  Nov 5, 2012 @10:06 am

      These sound like good books to read. I write picture books, So You Want to be President? is one I need to check out. And yes, I am voting tomorrow!

    3. Joan Y. Edwards  •  Nov 5, 2012 @7:58 pm

      You gave us a great selection of books about the presidency. The election does make me nervous, too. Making a vote after studying the issues and the candidates, is being a responsible voter. I am proud of you.

      Thank you.

      Jen Reply:

      @Joan Y. Edwards, Thanks! Today is an exciting day, and it is a big responsibility.

    4. Donna Gephart  •  Nov 6, 2012 @12:54 pm

      Thanks for including my novel in this great list. May I add the terrific picture book, GRACE FOR PRESIDENT to the rolls? Kelly DiPucchio hits it out of the park with this one.

      Jen Reply:

      @Donna Gephart, yes!