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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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  • The Reading Family

    Book Lists, Holiday, Inspiration, Parents

    I recently wrote an article for the Hornbook Magazine for their Books in the Home column. It was about whether or not to allow younger siblings to read YA books alongside their older siblings, and what I’ve learned in the process of raising four avid readers. If you are interested the article is on line here.

    The article was part of a larger conversation I’ve been having with colleagues about the social dimension of reading and how often it gets overlooked in schools that must be curriculum driven in every minute of the day, somewhat to the detriment of developing avid readers in my opinion. But since I can’t change national education policy, I’ve tried to focus on what I can, the reading that happens in my own home. There was an era before screens were the dominant entertainment source in a home, when reading aloud was as common as a sing-along for family entertainment. Sadly it’s not possible to recreate this environment. With ever widening cell phone coverage and ever smarter phones, you can down load a movie or video game to your phone even in the wilderness.
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    When my kids were younger it wasn’t hard to read aloud to them. They were eager to unwind with a book and my undivided attention. But toward the later years of grade school and into middle school, our reading together time seemed to shrink as other pursuits grew. Sports, music, homework, and my own writing deadlines ate into our family time in the evening and finding books we wanted to share became harder as well. And yet I missed it. We all did.
    So just as my oldest was entering high school we started a new tradition, the Christmas read aloud. I’d pick a book I thought we’d all like, and read it aloud over the 12 days of Christmas. Most of the 12 days fell on vacation so the usual distractions were less. Curling up, all six of us with cocoa and popcorn and pillows and blankets was more appealing in the winter. It’s become a holiday tradition we treasure, although picking the holiday book is always tricky given the diverging interests of a house full of teenagers. Here are three books we’ve enjoyed as family reads over the years.
    Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth Jr.
    This is the biography of the Gilbreth  family in the 1920s. Because my husband is also one of twelve children, my kids loved hearing the exploits of this household of fourteen. It was at times side-splittingly funny but also warm and tender as you see two strong willed parents who adore each other struggling to do right but their many and mischievous children.
    cheaperbythedozen-book
    Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    This story has been in so many filmed version that it is easy to forget just how well the original unabridged version was written. Concrete proof that you can marry gorgeous lyrical and leisurly prose with rip roaring action.
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    The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
    It helps to be a fan of British humor but if you’ve got a houseful of Monty Python fans here’s a book that takes all the fun of British television and gives it an interesting, fast-paced and discussion worthy plot. We adored the bad smelling and unapologetically violent Nac Mac Feegle from their tangled red noggins to their grubby blue feet.
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    This coming year we’re going to try something new, the shared reading of a play in which everybody gets a part. It will take a little coordination in highlighting the scripts so everybody can keep track of their part. I’m very much looking forward to it. Our first attempt will be Cyrano de Burgerac by Edmond Rostand. We might even have to pull out the nerf swords for a semi-staged reading.
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    Have you got favorite family read alouds that work with middle grade kids and older? I’d love to get your recommendations in the comments.

     

    6 Comments

    6 Comments

    1. Camille DeBoer  •  Dec 21, 2012 @6:32 am

      Lately we have especially enjoyed the Redwall books (either reading them aloud ourselves or letting Mr. Jacques do the heavy lifting for us), Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester, Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley, and Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

    2. Brenda  •  Dec 21, 2012 @8:56 am

      Love this idea, thanks for sharing.

    3. Sue Cowing  •  Dec 21, 2012 @7:37 pm

      What a wise and wonderful tradition, Roseanne, and thanks for your list of suggestions. What makes Christmas for me is rereading Truman Capote’s A CHRISTMAS MEMORY each year. It’s an all-ages story and would make a great family read-aloud.

    4. Katherine Schlick Noe  •  Dec 22, 2012 @1:25 pm

      Thanks, Rosanne, for this lovely reminder of the power of a read aloud to bring families closer! I have very fond memories of “listening in” at the bottom of the stairs as my husband read aloud to our two sons well into their middle school/high school years. Sitting on the carpet and leaning against the wall just outside their open doorways, Russ read the Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    5. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 23, 2012 @8:29 pm

      Great family tradition. It’s one I bet your children will pass along too.

    6. Rosanne Parry  •  Dec 25, 2012 @2:44 am

      Great suggestions Camille! I once heard that the Redwall books were originally written for students at a school for the blind with the idea that they be read aloud foremost in the authors mind. It certainly comes through in the wonderfully distinct range of British, Welsh, Irish and Scottish accents. Howls Moving Castle is a favorite of my younger girls. We’ll have to give the The Girl Who Could Fly and Sisters Grimm a try. My youngest is quite found of the Tales Dark and Grimm books by Gidwitz.

      Sue, I’ve heard readings of A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas ages ago, but I don’t think I’ve tried a Christmas Memory. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Katherine, How lucky for your boys to have a reading dad! I think my sister and brother read every single Anne McCaffrey book in print.

      Thanks for chiming in Linda and Brenda!

      We read the first act of Cyrano on Christmas eve. It was such fun! We speak among the 6 of us several languages, none of which is French, so the names proved quite challenging. But we decided to channel Inspector Clouseau and make up the pronunciations with Cyrano-like élan and not fret the particulars of accent and phonics.

      Happy Holidays everyone!