Browsing the archives for the Industry News category.


  • OhMG! News

    New-Oh-MG-critter



    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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  • A Tour of Our Website/Blog

    Industry News

    A little-known fact: in college, my scholarship required me to give campus tours to anyone who called the school and wanted to take a look around.  I had to memorize a map of the campus as well as facts about each building and other information potential attendees might find interesting.

    This means I’m highly qualified as a tour guide.  So, today I’d like to take you on a tour of all the features our site has to offer.  You can think of this post as a guide to everything you may or may not know about From the Mixed-Up Files…of Middle-Grade Authors.  I’ve even included a map, of sorts.

    You may want to grab a chocolate bar and some comfy clothes, because this tour is going to take you awhile. Fair warning.

    Alrighty, let’s go!

    When you first visit our site, you are met with our homepage, which looks like this:

    mainpage

    It’s a thing of beauty.  (I’m biased, of course.)

    As you may have noticed from the title of this post, we are a blog and a website.  We have both blog posts that change our main page almost daily as well as pages and pages of resources that are static (so you won’t ever have to scroll through old posts to find the information on them). Think of us as one of those cool hybrids that everyone wishes they had.

    Yeah, that’s us.

    The template was chosen and customized by our first webmaster, Wendy Martin. She spent countless hours sending me her favorite themes, and then adding all the bells and whistles once we had decided on one.  If you look closely, you’ll notice tiny icons of our original artwork (the MG creature and paperclips in particular) as bullet points for our sidebars and near the date on each post.  Also, look closely again and you’ll notice subtle hints of color along the inside edges of the sidebars, with breaks of white to show you where a widget begins and ends. Cool beans.

    Now, follow me to the banner.

    bannermap

    Let’s take a closer look at all the neat stuff located on our banner:

    1. The Blog/Website Title

    When we first came together, we brainstormed what to name this blog.  Our members came up with over two dozen names, and we voted on our favorites (I remember a few rounds of votes to narrow down the large list).  The majority of the group loved From the Mixed-Up Files, but OhMG! was a close second.  So, we named the blog our #1 choice, and titled our news sidebar with the #2 pick.

    Then we started the same thing over again for a subtitle.  In the end, we settled on “…of Middle-Grade Authors” because we couldn’t narrow down a focus for the blog other than the fact that we were all MG authors who wanted to talk about all things middle-grade.

    SHORTCUT HELP: If you click on the title, it will take you back to our main page from wherever you are on our site.

    2. Our Blog Posts

    Down the middle of our main page you’ll find our blog posts.  We post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (and often the other days of the week as well). We work off a rotation system, so each member (all 25-30 of us) gets a turn to post once about every 2-3 months. We often also snag an open day (a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday) when we have something extra to share before our next turn comes around, such as giveaway winner announcements and interview requests we are hoping to squeeze in. We rarely have guests posts because it takes us so long to get through one rotation as it is.

    As a quick rundown of what you’ll find further down on the blog posts, under the title you’ll find the date of the post, the author, and the categories the post is listed under (at this time, we aren’t very accurate or disciplined with our category use). At the bottom of the post proper, our authors usually list a short bio, found in italics. Under that, you can find the Share buttons, where you can share the post through various social media outlets.  At the very bottom will be the tags the author has attributed to the post, if any, and the comments.

    3. Contact Us

    Did you know you can click on the envelope and send us an email? We’d love to hear from you. We especially love getting suggestions about book lists you’d love to see on our blog, as well as questions we can answer on the blog for others who may be interested in our reply (we always ask your permission first before posting anything you send).

    4. Subscribe!

    You can subscribe to our blog by clicking on the subscribe button. Please do subscribe. We have all sorts of awesome things to help you fill your already overflowing inboxes.

    5-9. Popular Web Page Tabs

    Along the top of the main page you’ll notice some tabs. These are quick links to our most popular static pages.  Here’s a little more information about each of the tabs:

    5. About Us

    The About Us page tells you about who we are, as well as information about how to join, how to donate books, or how to add your book to our monthly new releases post. It also lists other contact information and banners you can use on your own social networking platforms to link back to us.  (Thank you to those who share our site with others!)

    The BIO BIO: When we started compiling author bios to add to our bio page, which is found inside our About Us page, we thought it would be fun to have a nod to the book, From the Mixed-UP Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, in each bio.  See if you can find the Mixed-Up references as you learn about our Mixed-Up Authors.  You may need to read (or reread) the book to understand some, but that’s okay by us. (NOTE: one or two of our newest members haven’t added a Mixed-Up reference to their bios yet, so don’t look too hard if one or two don’t seem to have one.)

    6. Book Lists

    This is one of the most popular projects on our site! Our members often post unique book lists as blog posts, and here we compile all of them into easy-to-peruse (but hard-to-define) categories.

    TIP: if you know of a book that should be on one of our lists but isn’t, please add it as a comment to the post. In this respect, they become living, changing book lists, which is much cooler than an old, static list.

    ANOTHER TIP: The vast majority of our blog posts are also walking bookstores.  If you click on the image of a book cover, more often than not it will take you to the book on Indiebound.  Our site receives a small percentage of any books purchased this way, so if you’d like to help this blog/website stay in business, please think about purchasing books you click on through our site. Thank you!

    7. For Kids

    We’ve compiled lots of resources for our 8-12-year-old readers, such as homework tips, original games, and writing ideas. It’s also where you’ll be introduced to M.G., the creature you see on our OhMG! News sidebar. He has found a permanent home here at From the Mixed-Up Files (you can read more info about his creation at stop #12 on this tour).

    8. For Parents

    Parents, we haven’t forgotten you! Listed in your website pages are resources to help you help your kids. We share ways to kick-start your child’s love of reading, how to create a home library, ways to get involved in reading as a family, and many more.

    9. For Teachers/Librarians

    The unsung heroes, our teachers and librarians, have now been given a place all their own. On our For Teachers/Librarians pages, we focus on helping them find ways to bring reading into their classrooms and libraries. We have information on school visits, useful blogs and websites, resources for those starting book clubs, and so much more.

    10. Original Artwork

    Our site is full of original artwork by past members.  These adorable file cabinet kids were illustrated by Wendy Martin.  She also created the swoosh of books behind the title.

     Moving on!

    Let’s take a look at the left sidebar next. This is one of my favorite places on the site:

    leftsidebarmap

    11. Breadcrumb Navigation

    Supposedly so named because it shows you the path back to the main page (think Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumbs they left through the forest). If you look at this information, you can see exactly where you are on the site, and if you click on the red hyperlinks, it will take you to that page or post. I’m not sure how often anyone needs this information, but it’s there just in case.

    12. OhMG! News

    You’ll notice that the vast majority of the left sidebar is dedicated to MG news.  We peruse the internet for news about things of importance in the middle-grade world, so you don’t have to.  We provide a short blurb with a link to the entire article, blog post, or website where you can read more.

    Since we love our news, once our sidebar gets too full, we move our blurbs to the OhMG! News Archives, which you can find here.

    NOTE: We also accept submissions for the news sidebar. If you have any news related to middle-grade literature that you’d like to see featured, please send us an email at news@fromthemixedupfiles.com with a short description and a link to the entire article.

    LEGAL-ISH NOTICE: We DO NOT post information about book releases or things of a personal writing or illustrating nature (signing with an agent, selling a book, etc.) on our news sidebar. We are happy to link to MG-focused blogs, share conference info, post articles that address MG topics, or add anything of a significant nature that affects the MG literary or educational industry.  We reserve the right to decide if any submission meets our definition of MG news, so we make no guarantees that any submission will be accepted and posted. Also, we do not reply to any submissions sent to this email address, but we do have an auto-reply feature, so you’ll know that your news has been received by us.

    CREATURE FEATURE: Our creature, whom we’ve dubbed M.G. (since we couldn’t think of a better name), was originally created and illustrated by Rose Cooper.  Her creature was a little, adorable fuzzball with eyes.  But M.G. grew a little and metamorphosed  into our current M.G., illustrated by Bonnie Adamson.

    13. Email Updates

    Want to receive updates via email? Scroll clear to the bottom of our left sidebar and enter your email address. Easy peasy.

     

    Let’s take a right turn and head to the other side of the site now.  Our right sidebar is so full of goodness that you’ll want to spend plenty of time here.

    Since we tend to move things around on this side of the page, I’ve broken this part of the tour into individual widgets instead of the entire column at once. That way I won’t have to recreate the entire right sidebar map each time we change something.

    search

    14. Search

    For those who are searching for something specific, you can do so here.

    WhatisMGquotes15. What Is Middle-Grade?

    As we were preparing to launch From the Mixed-Up Files back in 2010, all of our members decided to contact their middle-grade author friends and ask for a short quote about what makes middle-grade special to them. Some of the most well-beloved middle-grade authors graciously contributed to this nod to what makes MG great.

    We’ll keep adding more as well, so we hope you spend some time being inspired by them.  Stick around long enough and you’ll be able to read them all. We guarantee you won’t find a better collection of quotes about MG anywhere else.

    At least, we don’t think you will.

    missionstatement

    16. Our Mission

    Two of the very first things we spent time debating were what we were going to write about on this website/blog and who were were talking to when we did.

    Because we had such a large talent pool (nearly 30 members helped put this site together, and membership has remained steady at 25-30 for most of our time online), we decided we could talk about all aspects of middle-grade literature. We also decided our readership could consist of anyone interested in middle-grade literature as well.  There’s room for all here.

    And so, our mission statement was born. We keep it in mind as we write our blog posts or update our static pages. And we keep it on our sidebar so that all can see and know our mission, too.

    indie17. Proud Indie Supporter

    Our members are huge supporters of independent bookstores.  In fact, on the blog each month we post a spotlight of an independent bookstore in the English-speaking world. We highly encourage our readers to support their local indie bookstore by purchasing books through them.  You can also purchase online through Indiebound, which will link you to the closest local independent bookstore’s website.

    Also, as mentioned at stop #6 of our tour, our site receives a small percentage from all books purchased through Indiebound if you have clicked through from our site. You can support us by purchasing through links you’ll find throughout our blog posts (click on the book cover images to be redirected to Indiebound). Thank you for your support!

    tribute

    18. A Tribute

    It seemed appropriate to make a public tribute to the author of our site’s namesake, E.L. Konigsburg.  She was alive when this site launched, so we hope that she may have been aware of us and would have approved. It was always our dream to interview her on this blog.

    Unfortunately this was never to be.  All of us here were deeply saddened when Ms. Konigsburg passed away April 19, 2013. To celebrate her life, a longer tribute was written on our blog by Mixed-Up Author Michele Weber Hurwitz. You can read more about Ms. Konigburg’s life and accomplishments in that tribute here.

    tagcloud19. Tag Cloud

    I will be the first to admit that, with 30 of us, we aren’t exactly on top of remembering to create tags for all our posts.  But when we do, you can see which ones are used more by which ones are largest in our tag cloud. Enjoy the view!

    thefiles20. The Files

    This is the complete list of all static pages on this website.  As you can see, it’s large.  Very large. And it gets larger by the year. Most pages are child pages of our main pages, which you can find in the tabs on our banner, but the Files sidebar widget gives you an at-a-glance look at everything we have that isn’t a blog post.  As a quick overview of the Files, our main pages are:

    About Us (see stop #5 on this tour)

    Book Lists (see stop #6 on this tour)

    For Kids (see stop #7 on this tour)

    For Parents (see stop #8 on this tour)

    For Teachers/Librarians (see stop #9 on this tour)

    For Writers (these pages list resources for those interested in writing middle-grade literature)

    OhMG! News Archives (see stop #12 on this tour)

    Privacy Policy (information on what we do with your information)

    What Should I Read Next? (this a great list of links to other sites that cater to the MG crowd)

    There are a lot of hidden gems in these Files. Trust me. Enjoy the search!

    archiveofposts21. Archived Blog Posts

    Want to read an old blog post? You can find the complete list of all posts on our site here.

    WARNING: As of when this post went live (January 15, 2015), we have 850+ blog posts, and we are adding 20-25 each month.  That’s a lotta posts! We are working on ways to make it easier to find just what you’re looking for, but we apologize if you find it hard to locate something. Feel free to send us an email, and we’ll help you in your search. I do it all the time, as a matter of fact. I’m happy to help!

     

    And that concludes our tour of From the Mixed-Up Files! I hope it helped you understand how best to find and use the resources available here, and I hope the stories entertained and enlightened, too. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

    Elissa Cruz knows more about From the Mixed-Up Files than anyone else on the planet.  As leader of the blog, she has had her hands in every aspect–beginning to end, big picture to minute details. The jury is still out on whether or not that has been a good thing. But she’s perfect in her self-imposed role as official Mixed-Up Tour Guide. She is also founder of #MGlitchat on Twitter, and serves as ARA of the Utah/Southern Idaho region of SCBWI. She writes–yep, you guessed it–middle-grade fiction, and is represented by Josh Getzler of HSG Agency.

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    Book Expo America – Photo Essay & Musings

    Authors, Book Lists, Industry News, Inspiration, Librarians, Teachers

    I just got home from my first ever BEA (Book Expo America) bookseller convention held at the Javits Center in New York City. It’s been nearly 10 years since I visited New York and, though I came very close to canceling the whole thing 3 weeks before, the experience ended up very much worth all the flights from my tiny corner of the world in the Southwest, the Dramamine (ha!) and the angst/worry/nerves/chewed fingernails.

    Javits_Center_11av_jeh

    Javits Center, New York City

    Highlights of my experience:

    1. This summer my 4th novel will publish with Scholastic (THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES) and I finally got to meet my talented and terrific editor for the first time. Scholastic also set me up with an ARC signing – we estimated at least 100 copies in 45 minutes. Whew! So much fun.

    2. I was also able to meet my Harpercollins editor for the first time (FORBIDDEN, Nov ’14) and discuss edits for Book 2 in the trilogy as well as their forthcoming marketing/publicity plans. My editor called it a “robust” marketing plan – whoo hoo!!

    I’ve been to ALA and IRA Conventions before, which are geared toward librarians and teachers, while BEA is put on by booksellers (although teachers, librarians, publishers, authors, and READERS, are there in wild abundance.)

    I discovered that agents, foreign agents from around the world, movie people, as well as folks from outside publicity firms are also at BEA in strong numbers. I was able to meet and chat with Scholastic and Harpercollins sales and marketing folks manning their respective booths eager to talk about upcoming Fall titles.

    BEA Diversity Panel

    The WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel Members. I missed it but I heard it was FANTASTIC!!! Raves from everyone who attended.

    BEA Diverse

    As you can see from the standing room only crowd waiting for the Diversity Panel to begin.

    My two days was so wild and crazy with appts, panels, classes (yes there are many of these, much more than I expected), lunches, and autographing sessions, I neglected to take a picture of the Autographing Area. Believe me, there were THOUSANDS of people there to snag ARCs and meet their favorite authors. I did notice that Adult and Young Adult authors were in higher abundance than Middle-Grade Authors. I had one of the few MG ARC signings and the line was crazy huge. I signed like a mad woman, (while trying to simultaneously chat with the terrific readers and booksellers and librarians – my publicist and editor unpacking and opening the books as fast as they could next to me) that I have NO pictures. Truly, I was there! Really! :-)

    BEA Children’s Book Breakfast: Carl Hiaasen, Mem Fox, Jason Segal , and Jeff Kinney (l to r)

    Your Average Book-Lover Citizen was able to attend on the final day of Saturday since the BEA convention organizers added a Book Con day (also called Power Reader Day) to the schedule. The public was able to purchase tickets, grab ARCs as well as enjoy demonstrations, games, and panel events with their favorite authors.

    Read a great recap of panels and events here: BEA Round-Up by Publisher’s Weekly

    Pics From the Floor!

    IMG_1041

    I *am* partial to the purple flooring . . .

    IMG_1044

    Middle-Grade Books!

    IMG_1045

    More Books!

    IMG_1046

    Scholastic titles that have sold internationally.

    IMG_1049

    IMG_1057

    A Lego Bounty Hunter: couldn’t help myself.

    IMG_1061

    The aisles go as far as you can see in both directions.

    IMG_1062

    Audio Books!

    IMG_1063

    Publisher’s Weekly as well as Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and other reviewers were represented.

    IMG_1064

    I tried to snap displays of MG books for y’all.

    IMG_1065

    Barefoot Books

    IMG_1067

    Self-Explanatory. :-)

    IMG_1068

    Ditto!

    IMG_1069

    Gorgeous weather enjoyed by all – except when it suddenly poured rain trying to get a taxi to the airport Saturday late afternoon. Some of my ARCs got wet in my bag. :-(

     

    Was anybody at BEA that I missed? Please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.

    June 27-28 I’m headed to the American Library Association Summer Conference – raise your hand if you’re going! Would love to meet more readers and writers.

    Kimberley Griffiths Little’s newest MG novel will release July 29. THE TIME OF THE FIREFLIES has already received terrific reviews from Kirkus, PW, and School Library Journal said, “A perfect choice for lovers of ghost stories, historical fiction, or just a good yarn.” Stay tuned for her launch with giveaways right here on MUF. Find Kimberley on Facebook. and Twitter:@KimberleyGLittl

    Teacher’s Guides, Mother/Daughter Book Club Guides, and book trailers “filmed on location” at her website.

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    The Nonfiction Family Tree

    Authors, Book Lists, For Kids, Industry News, Interviews, Librarians, Nonfiction, Parents, Science, Science, Teachers, Trends

    A few weeks ago, I attended the New England SCBWI conference in beautiful Springfield, MA. I had the pleasure of sitting in on a workshop given by  Melissa Stewart and Sarah Albee on Nonfiction. It was fascinating!  There was so much GREAT information that I felt it would be good for others to learn about it. I contacted Melissa and she graciously agreed to be interviewed.   For those of you that haven’t heard of  or been lucky enough to meet Melissa, here’s a little about her:

    MS_300CMYK3in

    Melissa Stewart is the award-winning author of more than 150 science books for children. She has always been fascinated by the natural world and is passionate about sharing its beauty and wonder with readers of all ages.

    After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and a master’s degree in science journalism from New York University, Melissa worked as a children’s book editor for nine years before becoming a fulltime writer in 2000. She has written everything from board books for preschoolers to magazine articles for adults.

    Melissa believes that nothing brings nonfiction writing to life like firsthand research. While gathering information for her books, she has explored tropical rain forests in Costa Rica, gone on safari in East Africa, and swum with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands.

    When Melissa isn’t writing or exploring the natural world, she spends time speaking at schools, libraries, nature centers, and educator conferences. She serves on the Board of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival.

    With the advent of Common Core, nonfiction seems to be taking off. Can you give us a little background of how nonfiction has changed over the years? Wow, it’s changed A LOT. Fifteen years ago, most nonfiction text was rather dry. If an author wrote a manuscript with a strong voice, it was edited out. Today editors want, no demand, a strong voice. In the past, authors were supposed to be unbiased, but today it’s perfectly okay for writers to express a point of view.  Art and design has also changed. Ever since desktop publishing software was invented, illustrators and designers have been experimenting. The result is dynamic designs that kids can’t resist. The upshot is that today’s nonfiction has a dual purpose. It delights as well as informs.  

     

    In your talk, you broke nonfiction up into seven categories. Can you explain these categories? Sure. In my talk with uber-talented author Sarah Albee [link: http://www.sarahalbeebooks.com/], we drew upon the work of a group of highly-respected academics who call themselves the Uncommon Corp [link: http://nonfictionandthecommoncore.blogspot.com/]. They classify nonfiction books into seven broad categories. Data: In more friendly terms, you might call this category Fasts Facts. It includes Eyewitness Books, The Guinness Book of World Records, and my own book Animal Grossapedia. These are the concise, fact-filled books that groups of boys love to read together and discuss.

    Expository: You might call this category Facts Plus because the facts are interwoven into a content-area explanation. This is could be considered “traditional” nonfiction in some ways, but there’s nothing old-fashioned about today’s expository titles. Their engaging text and rich, dynamic art and design are sure to delight as well as inform young readers.

    Narrative: This is a category we’ve heard a lot (I mean A LOT) about in the last few years. It’s the current darling of awards committees. Narrative titles present facts in the form of a true story with a narrative arc.   As you learn about the next few categories, I think you’ll see that some of the books that have been lumped into the narrative category should really be thought about on their own terms, based on the author’s approach to the information.

    Disciplinary Thinking: These books reveal how scientists and historians go about their work, how they evaluate evidence and form theories. The structure could be narrative, but it usually isn’t. This category might also be called something like Experts at Work. Scientists in the Field books are the perfect example, but there are plenty of other examples. Skull by Mark Aronson is one that immediately comes to mind.

    Inquiry: This category could also be called Ask and Answer. In these books, the author raises a question or a group of related questions and then seeks the answer. Sally Walker’s Written in Bone and What Bluebirds Do by Pamela F. Kirby are great examples.

    Interpretation: For these books, authors research a topic widely, find their own meaning in the information, and present the content from that point of view. Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman is the first title that leaps to mind, but I’d also put books like Those Rebels, Tom and John by Barbara Kerley in this category. I think we’ll see more of these books in the future because this type of presentation directly supports Common Core.

    Action: This is category offers a separate spot for titles that invite young readers to take action. The most obvious examples include Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns and the Science Play series by Vicki Cobb. I’m not sure this system is the be all and end all, but it’s a very interesting way for writers, teachers, librarians, and other book lovers to think about nonfiction. It stretches the way we think about current books and future possibilities, and I think that’s extremely valuable.

     

    Do you think certain topics lend themselves to certain categories? Yes. I think narrative nonfiction works very well for biographies and books about historical events. These topics naturally have a beginning, a middle, and an end. With enough research, an author can craft the alternating scenes and summary architecture that characterizes narrative nonfiction. When writing about science, math, or the Arts, narrative nonfiction may not be an option. Even if it is, it may not be the best choice. For a broad overview of any topic, expository usually works best.   Two great examples are Bugged: How Insects Changes History by Sarah Albee and 9780802734228_p0_v4_s260x420 A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami Decristofano.     If writers think about these categories at the beginning of a project, I think they may have an easier time coming up with a great way to approach a topic and a solid structure for their book. It provides some options, so we aren’t just shooting in the dark.  

     

    Which one do you think is most popular with kids? Why? Data books are clearly the most popular with kids. Most school librarians will tell you that titles like The Guinness Book of World Records is almost constantly checked out. Elementary-aged readers love fascinating facts, so Data books can be good for hooking beginning readers. But many educators worry that these books don’t do much to help kids build their reading skills. Right now, thought leaders like Jonathan Hunt and Marc Aronson feel that we need a new breed of book that forms a bridge between Data books and long-form nonfiction that students are expected to read in middle school and high school.

     

    Which categories do teachers tend use in their classrooms? In recent years, teachers didn’t use much high-quality trade nonfiction in the classroom at all. But the hope is that Common Core is changing that. Right now, teachers are struggling to learn about nonfiction, and they are building their classroom libraries. Luckily, most school librarians have been singing the praises of the new nonfiction for several years now, so they are becoming trusted advisors in schools where they exist. We need more school librarians!

     

    Any tips for readers about how to find fun, engaging nonfiction books? Here are some lists to keep an eye on. They include great nonfiction titles from all seven categories:

    • AAAS/Subaru Prizes for Excellence in Science Books
    • ALA Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award
    • CRA Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Book Award
    • Cook Prize for STEM Picture Book
    • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices List
    • Cybils Nonfiction for Middle Grade & Young Adult
    • Cybils Nonfiction Picture Books
    • NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children
    • NSTA-CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12
    • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

     

    How do you see the world of nonfiction changing for the future? That’s a great question, and I’m not sure I really know the answer. My hope is that we’ll see more nonfiction being published for children. Although I think many editors are now more open to reviewing nonfiction submission than they were in the past, what I hear is that they aren’t yet acquiring significantly more nonfiction manuscripts. This may be because many editors are still trying to get up to speed on the market. They need to familiarize themselves with what’s out there and gain an understanding of the characteristics of best-selling and award-winning nonfiction. Some editors may also be in a wait-and-see mode, wondering how long Common Core will stick around. There is a lot of controversy regarding the testing associated with CCSS, but the standards themselves are sound. Still, educators are famous for a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater mentality. They tend to move in completely new directions every decade or so, abandoning previous ideas rather than revising them.

     

    Of all the books you have written, do any stand out as having been really fun to write? Perhaps they were about a topic that you loved or in a format that you enjoyed.  I guess I’m still an elementary-aged fact-lover at heart. One of my favorite books to research and write was Animal Grossapedia because it’s so chock full of amazing examples of how animals use pee, poop, vomit, slime (mucus), and spit to catch food and stay safe. But what I also really like about this book is that as kids read example after example, they gradually come to the book’s central idea—that animals have an amazing array of adaptations and behaviors that make it possible for them to survive in the world. So I’m sharing an idea that’s a central tenet of biology, but in a package that they find irresistible. To me, that’s a successful book.

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    Thanks so much for helping us to understand the wild and wonderful world of nonfiction, Melissa!!

    To learn more about Melissa see her website at www.melissa-stewart.com.  Melissa also has a great blog called “Celebrate Science” where she focuses on cool nonfiction books, how she writes them, and talks more about the classification and structure of nonfiction books. Check it out here:  www.celebratescience.blogspot.com

     

    **** Jennifer Swanson is the author over 20 fiction and nonfiction books. She is a science nerd at heart and loves to learn new and fun science facts which is why her shelves are filled with books!!

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