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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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  • Trends in Nonfiction

    Authors, Industry News, Librarians, Nonfiction, Parents, Teachers

    lake

    Back in November, I was lucky enough to attend the Falling Leaves Master Retreat for nonfiction writers. It was FABULOUS!   Located at a YMCA camp nestled in the mountains of the Adirondacks and overlooking beautiful Silver Lake Bay, it was picture perfect for a weekend of learning about writing. The leaves on the trees were decked out in bright oranges and reds and there was just a nip of chilly weather in the air to brighten your cheeks. This Florida girl was in heaven!

    Aside from the wonderfully peaceful environment, the weekend just hummed with energy. The mix of new and established writers and as well 5 valued editors from major publishing houses had my creative senses in a whirl.

    All of the editor talks were extremely interesting and informative. Listening to them, I managed to take away a few notes on upcoming trends in nonfiction. Naturally, a fair amount of talk centered around the Common Core and how all newly published nonfiction books need provide teachers with the necessary tools for teaching. The editors made a big deal about this:

    According to the guidelines for the Common Core:

    50% of classroom reading in elementary and middle schools will use nonfiction books

    70% of classroom reading in high school will use nonfiction books

     

    In response for the increased demand, publishers will be providing many different types of nonfiction books. One editor introduced a new term for a type of nonfiction. She called it “Browsable nonfiction”.

    So, what is Browsable Nonfiction?

     

    These books are examples of browsable nonfiction:
                                  

     

    But so are these:
                               

    So, I guess you could say that browsable books are books that have short bites of information. They can be lists, like the books in the first section above. Or they can have chapters filled with interesting snippets of history or art. They can also deal with many different topics all in one book.

    The advantage of browsable books?

    Perfect for the reluctant reader or maybe just one that needs a book to keep their attention, they are chock full of fun and exciting fun facts!  These books usually contain many vivid and visually entertaining photos – the better to catch a reader’s eye and interest. These diverse and unique books are filled with  fascinating information presented in easy to read snippets and chapters. In this world where readers are deluged with information and images 24 hours a day, these books not only capture and hold a reader’s attention, but also make for great resources for tiny bits of trivia to share with your friends.

    As far as the Common Core goes, they can be great starter books for a research project. Or for even finding a topic. Have to do write a biography but not sure what interests you? Then pick up the How They Croaked Book, and page through the chapters. Surely reading about the dramatic endings of some of these people will liven up the most boring of biography topics.

    Browsable books often contain interactive features like For Further Reading and Original text from other sources, hands-on reference material, and easy connections a reader can make. Hopefully, a small nugget of information will turn into a large thirst for knowledge.

     

    Narrative Nonfiction books are also making a surge according to the publishers. Narrative nonfiction, like the word narrative implies, has a storyline to it.

    For example:

     

           School Library Journal awards Larry Dane Brimner’s Birmingham Sunday with a starred review.

    “The author successfully blends the facts of the event with the intense emotions of the period in order to bring it to life. …The book is beautifully designed, with good-quality, black-and-white photos, informative captions, and pertinent pull quotes. A worthy addition to any collection.”

     

    The book contains informational sidebars to augment the highly engaging text. These provides opportunities for classroom discussions using Common Core relative questions and topics.

     

    But narrative nonfiction is not only for history and biographies, it can also be used very successfully in science books as well.

    This introduction to black holes takes readers from simple to complex by dropping definitions and information slowly and clearly into the lively narrative. Dramatic and amazing illustrations help to impart the sense of the vast distances in space, of how atomic nuclei meld in the intense interaction  called fusion, and how the areas of a black hole–the event boundary, the extreme gravity zone, and the singularity–are defined. … ” –School Library Journal, starred review

    The author provides additional information on her website and an extensive glossary to make this book very user-friendly.

     

    What did I come away with from my fantastic weekend in the Adirondacks?  Upcoming nonfiction books are interesting, exciting and ready to grab the imagination of any child – from 1  to 101!  Check them out!!

     

    So tell me, what nonfiction books are you excited about this year? Put them in the comments below so we can all know. I am always looking for great books to add to my “to-read” list.

    —-

    Jennifer Swanson is a self-professed science geek and author of 9 nonfiction books for kids. When not writing she can be found searching for cool science facts to share with her students. You can find more about Jennifer at her website http://jenniferswansonbooks.com/

     

    9 Comments

    9 Comments

    1. Linda Andersen  •  Jan 11, 2013 @8:20 am

      Jennifer,

      Great post. I love the term “browsable books.”

      Heather Montgomery has a new book out: Wild Discoveries: Wacky New Animals. It will be available at Scholastic book fairs and Amazon, etc. I’m fortunate to know Heather because she is in my writing group. She has other nonfiction titles too. Check them out. She makes learning fun!

    2. Jen Swanson  •  Jan 11, 2013 @9:07 am

      Thanks Linda! Yes, I met Heather at the above conference. Can’t wait to get her book!

    3. Melissa Stewart  •  Jan 11, 2013 @9:20 am

      I think they key to something being narrative nonficiton is the interplay of scenes and summary text, such as We’ve Got a Job, Bomb, or just about any biography. I wouldn’t classify A Black Hole Is Not a Hole as narrative. To me, it’s direct nonfiction with a very strong, wonderful voice.

      “Browsable” is a good descriptor for National Geographic Readers, which is what Jennifer Emmett was discussing at Falling Leaves. Other terms I’ve heard are “dip in” nonfiction, just-the-facts nonfiction, and even non-narrative nonficiton. But I like “direct” because the facts are delivered straight to the reader rather than embedded in a story.

    4. Jen Swanson  •  Jan 11, 2013 @10:01 am

      Thanks for the clarifications, Melissa! And for all the other types of nonfiction. There are plenty of different terms to choose from, that’s for sure. :) The one thing that I think is is so exciting is how publishers are embracing it!

    5. Annette Pimentel  •  Jan 11, 2013 @11:15 am

      I loved Marching to the Mountaintop by Ann Bausum (which I won at the conference!). It’s definitely narrative non-fiction, with a clear narrative voice, but has fascinating browsable elements worked into the book design–compelling captioned photos and highlighted quotes. I’ve noticed that even kids who haven’t started reading the book pick it up and get involved with those more browsable elements.

    6. Jen Swanson  •  Jan 11, 2013 @1:42 pm

      That book sounds cool, Annette! I’m going to have to check it out.

    7. Brenda  •  Jan 11, 2013 @4:56 pm

      Lincoln’s Grave Robbers seems like it would be an interesting book.

    8. PragmaticMom  •  Jan 13, 2013 @3:59 pm

      Browsable non-fiction books are my secret weapon for reluctant boy readers. I just match up their interest and it really does work!

    9. Hillary Homzie  •  Jan 14, 2013 @2:18 pm

      I hadn’t heard the term browsable non-fiction, but I agree it’s perfect for the reluctant reader or quick entertainment read. Thanks for the post!