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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 Reluctant Gardener

    Librarians, Op-Ed

    My name is Laurie Schneider and I love books. I love reading books, sharing books, browsing books, talking about books, and, yes, buying books. Whether you call me a bibliophile—or a bookaholic—the fact is I have a problem: my appetite for the latest Lois Lowery, Jerry Spinelli, Gary Schmidt, and Jennifer Holm far exceeds my shelf space.

    A bigger house is out of the question, and our family room is already wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling books. So what’s a booklover to do?  Give up buying books cold turkey? Not a chance. I’m powerless in the face of a starred review.

    The cold, hard, merciless truth—unless I want to turn up in a future episode of Hoarders—is that something has to go, and that something is books. If I want to add, I have to subtract. I have to weed.

    It’s the same at the public library where I work. We’re blessed with a community of voracious readers and a healthy budget for new materials, but cursed with a small building on a small lot, with no room to expand. The librarians are under constant pressure to weed, to make space for all the new books, movies, music, and audiobooks the public expects.

    I spoke recently about weeding with Cathy Ensley, our newly retired youth services librarian, and here’s what she had to say about the process:

    “Library shelves are finite. When I was first weeding the collection eleven years ago, the district’s book budget was much smaller. The shelves were full of very old, weed-able books with negligible literary merit, which meant they also didn’t need to be replaced. Then, the book budget inflated, which was wonderful, but suddenly there wasn’t as much shelf space. So I weeded single books by forgotten authors that had not created an oeuvre. Then I started weeding by the total number of checkouts each year. Then I actually had to start cutting into an author’s body of work, pulling out the less popular books, which really pained me.

    “It makes me sad to lose perfectly good books, sometimes wonderful books, because we need the shelf space for newer books that might very well not be as good, but are in demand because of their subject matter. Case in point: Not too long ago, I weeded about a dozen YA historical novels that dealt with slavery. Excellent books, but most of them hadn’t been checked out in years. They were discarded in order to make shelf space for books about vampires.”

    Short of launching a capital campaign to build a bigger library, there really doesn’t seem to be another solution. Like me, the county can’t just go out and buy a bigger house, and we need to provide the books people want to read. It pains me, though, to see some of my favorite titles removed from the catalog and put out to pasture at the Friends of the Library book sale. On the other hand, some of those titles have found their way to my house where they are now cozying up to Lois Lowry and Jerry Spinelli, Gary Schmidt and Jennifer Holm.

    If there’s been any benefit to weeding my personal collection it’s this: my collection may not have grown larger, but it has grown more interesting, more focused, more quirky, more “me” – a collection of desert-island books I won’t mind spending a lifetime with.

    # # #

    Laurie Schneider can be found writing, reading, and weeding in Moscow, Idaho. She tweets her favorite reads at https://twitter.com/Idaho_Laurie.


    12 Comments

    7 Comments

    1. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 10, 2012 @6:28 am

      What’s a library to do? I know they’re adding more and more ebooks to their collection. Glad to hear you added a few weeded ones to your home bookcase.

      Laurie Beth Schneider Reply:

      I should have mentioned e-books, Linda. Our library does have a growing collection of both e-books and downloadable audiobooks. They’re beginning to catch on with users — new titles are in demand — but they still account for a very small percentage of our checkouts.

    2. Tracy Abell  •  Dec 10, 2012 @9:19 am

      This is the eternal dilemma, isn’t it? I’m in need of a weeding because I’m now stacking books horizontally on top of the vertically shelved books. Messy, messy. But I agree that the weeding results in a more me-library.

      Laurie Beth Schneider Reply:

      I confess I have shelves like this too, Tracy. Also a to-be-read shelf that is two rows deep. *hangs head in shame*

    3. Kim  •  Dec 10, 2012 @6:38 pm

      I hate weeding books from my collection! It’s heart-breaking. I generally try to give the books I’ve weeded out to friends whom I know will enjoy reading them, and that makes it more bearable.

      Even though it’s sad that the public library that your children’s librarian friend mentioned had to weed out historical fiction in favor of vampire novels, I’m glad to hear that the library is catering to their readership. If they ignored what books were being checked out and kept their shelves full of books that were never read, library-goers would soon give up visiting the library. I have very fond memories of visiting my hometown public library to check out every volume of “The Baby-sitters Club” and “Sweet Valley Twins” series that I could get my hands on. My tastes have grown as I’ve gotten older, and now I love to read those historical novels that I ignored during my teenaged years. I will admit, however, that when I want to read a book but don’t want to buy it, I check it out from the library. So I’m one of those people who contributes to a popular novel’s check-out numbers! I’ll keep this in mind the next time I go to the library, and I’ll check out a Newbery or twelve. :)

    4. Laurie Beth Schneider  •  Dec 10, 2012 @8:48 pm

      You make some good points, Kim. Reading should be a joy. If we want kids to read it’s important that they find the books they want to read in the library — not necessarily the ones we wish they’d read. Books are expensive and there are so many people who can’t afford to buy them. Most of the books I’ve been buying I actually read first at the library.

    5. Pat Wooldridge  •  Dec 11, 2012 @12:18 pm

      Laurie, I so identify/sympathize with you. We share this quandry. Books that become friends, are the ones that make us think and feel constructively. The ones you’ve had since middle grade—doesn’t each one just take you back to the first time you discovered it, and how you felt then, just discovering your favorite subjects, and learning about life? (I don’t know whether you kept all your most favorite middle grade books, but in spite of many moves, mine still have a place in my favorite bookcase). There are other bookcases with equally loved (adult) books in other favorite genres. Laurie, thank you for this appealing post.

      Laurie Beth Schneider Reply:

      I wish I’d kept them, Pat. I do have some old picture books that were mine as a child, and I’m always on the lookout for old favorites at used bookstores.

    6. Mary  •  Dec 11, 2012 @11:55 pm

      Laurie, it’s too bad the library doesn’t have more room. We have little free libraries popping up all over Spokane. Maybe some of those would help. Not sure if this link to Rachel’s will show up. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4396753689344&set=a.1262706980135.2038152.1603533509&type=1&theater
      I, too, have over-loaded shelves, a second row hiding the row in back, horizontal on top of vertical, plus piles “to be read” on every end table. It’s a lovely mess! Usually I read one novel at a time, but currently I’m listening to one on audio, in the middle of three different writing books and at least two other non-fiction books.

      Laurie Schneider Reply:

      Little Free Libraries — three glorious words. Also, I will try to look at my two-deep, two-layered bookshelves and think, “lovely mess.” :)

    7. Ms. Yingling  •  Dec 12, 2012 @5:19 am

      Weeding is so hard, but so necessary! Luckily, I am able to weed mostly on the basis of condition. If a book is falling to pieces but no longer circulates, it’s easier to get rid of than something that looks brand new but has an inch of dust on it! I imagine that the vampire books will need to be weeded in ten years, but a lot of historical fiction will circulate steadily!

      Laurie Schneider Reply:

      I’m guessing a massive dystopia purge will be coming, too….