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    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, read more...

     

    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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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.
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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!