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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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  • Why It’s Okay to Judge

    Industry News, Inspiration, Librarians, Writing MG Books

                       

    With the ALA Youth Media award announcements just a little under a week away, I can’t help reflect over my own experiences this past year as a part of the Asian-Pacific American Library Association (APALA) Children’s Literary Awards committee, as well as an adjudicator for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. Now while I can’t share the exact details, I’d like to talk about what these activities meant for me as a writer. I’m also hoping that for those of you who might find yourself in the position of being on such a committee, to take the plunge! Not only will you learn so much, but you will be a better writer for it. Here are some of the simple but significant reasons I discovered for myself this year.

    BUILDING YOUR READING MUSCLE

    I’m one of those writers that finds it hard to make time for reading. But I finally decided to do something about it. When I joined APALA, I saw an opportunity to join the 2014 Children’s Literature Awards committee, and I pounced on it. This meant I had read anywhere from 15-20 middle-grade novels with Asian/Pacific-American themes, published in 2013. Not just read, but discuss them with the rest of the committee, to select the award-winning title that held the highest literary merit in depicting the Asian/Pacific-American experience.

    Reading that many books in a short time really forced me to get to the end of a book, no matter what. The more often I did it, the easier it became. It was in short, a mental exercise for my brain.

    As an adjudicator for the Scholastic Awards, I had to read through much shorter pieces (1000-3000 words) – but several over one weekend. That helped to build my reading muscle in a different way – and teach me to recognize patterns of writing from work to work. In fact, reading several works that share an element in common (i.e. the Asian-Pacific-American experience, or works all written by teenagers) taught me to spot similar motifs as well as unique ones. Which brings me to the next section.

    SEEN-THAT-DONE-THAT VERSUS THE TRULY UNIQUE

    There is nothing like reading a high volume of material to train you to recognize story ideas that are repeated – the best friend sidekick, the insatiable zombie, the nagging parent. And when you see these ideas repeated in different ways, you learn to recognize them in your own work – and avoid them.

    On the flip side, you will come across some a startlingly beautiful piece of writing – a premise you might have never quite seen before, and as you keep reading, the best discovery of all – you are surprised. Not only that, you are happy you are surprised, and suddenly you keep reading with your breath held because it’s the same feeling you have if think you’ve discovered something no one else does, that you’ve been let in on some delicious secret. I think we have all experienced this feeling when we read that special book that moves us outside our own experiences, and stays with us even after we close the covers. As an evaluator, this discovery feels especially sweet.

    FALLING IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S WORK

    When you come across that rare piece of beautiful writing, when you find yourself not just surprised and happy, but moved, it’s the greatest feeling in the world –like falling in love. It’s a kind of love that’s loyal and fierce, and that prepares you to champion this piece to the end so it receives the recognition it deserves.

    This type of love – I don’t know if it serves any writerly purpose from a craft perspective. But it’s a love that fills us in other ways, when we love something beautiful and true and authentic, and suddenly the whole purpose of writing becomes brighter for us. At least it did for me. Reading something that sweeps you off your feet is the greatest affirmation that you are doing exactly the kind of vocation you should be doing.

     DISCOVERING THE WRITER YOU WANT TO BE

    At the end of the day, the best part of reading such a wide and varied range of writing – funny or dark, historical or contemporary, high stakes or quiet tension, plot or character – is that you discover or confirm the kind of writing you want to write. You might see yourself aligned with a new group of writers, or you might be nodding quietly to yourself: yes, I really am a fantasy writer after all.

    Most of all, reading many titles at a time is a fantastic way to take yourself out of your own writing, and your own comfort zone. The best part is that you don’t even have to be an evaluator to do this, you just have to be a reader. What gives me satisfaction at the end of my experiences is knowing that not only have I grown as a reader and writer, but that my contribution has been a part of a writer’s recognition, and that I am person along the way to light the journey for them.

    ————————————————————
    Sheela Chari is the author of VANISHED, which was awarded the 2012 Children’s Literature Honor Award by APALA. She served on the APALA’s Children’s Literary Awards committee for 2013. Stay tuned for the announcements of this year’s winners at the end of this month, following the ALA awards announcements. Medal winners for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards will be notified in March, followed by an awards ceremony in June.

    2 Comments

    2 Comments

    1. PragmaticMom  •  Jan 21, 2014 @6:55 pm

      Hi Sheela,
      Nice to see you again! I am judging for the first time (Cybils -graphic novels) and I am having the same experience. I love being forced to read a bunch of books that I would not ordinarily have in such a short period and I find that I think about the books in a different way since I have more to compare/contrast. It’s been a great experience so far though we are still in the reading-the-entries phase. Lots of great graphic novels that don’t necessarily find their way into the libraries has been my experience so far and I’d for them to make it to every library!

    2. Sheela Chari  •  Jan 21, 2014 @8:07 pm

      What a wonderful experience that will be! My heart has really opened up towards graphic novels in the past year as I encounter more of them. I’m so glad you are wearing a judge hat this year. We should compare notes when you’re all done. :)