Browsing the archives for the culture tag.

  • OhMG! News


    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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  • Are Changes in YA novels Changing MG books too?

    Book Lists

    Although we usually focus on middle grade in this blog I want to take a moment to consider what shifts in YA publishing mean for younger readers. YA books are not like they were when I was growing up. They’re not even like they were five years ago. Here are some things that I think are impacting the content of books for teens.

    • Money

    There have been a few book franchises that have out sold adult books by a mile which has attracted both media attention and writers who would not previously consider this genre.

    • Movies

    Most of the big YA book franchises have gone to film, generating more money and also, I suspect, influencing the content of books that are expected to go to film. It’s one thing to write a book, and then as a completely separate enterprise, write a screenplay. I think it’s an entirely different thing to write a book when you know the movie deal is part of the package.

    • Romance

    Most of the major romance novel publishers now have a YA imprint. This dramatically increases the number of teen books where romance is the main focus of the plot. However teen romance tends not to be shelved in a separate part of the library or bookstore, so many teens pick up a romance novel thinking they are going to get a YA novel with more substance and variety in plot themes than the typical romance novel. Also the publishing model for romance writers tends to be 2 or 3 novels a year. Some write as many as 4. Most people writing stand alone titles for young readers are not expected to write more than one book a year and many only publish a book every 3 or 4 years–a schedule which allows for careful research, mastery of craft, and artful editing and book production.

    • New Adult books

    There is a new category of books for 18-24 year old readers in which the usual conventions of tamer sex, milder language, less intense violence, and upbeat endings don’t apply.  And many adults are reading YA novels not as teachers, librarians, and parents but as if they are written for their adult needs and issues. This has greatly expanded the readership and sales of YA but it has also tended to age up the content and loose sight of the younger end of YA readership.

    So what does this all mean for the world of the MG reader. I had an interesting conversation with a person who has written many award winning YA novels. Her most recent is a great coming of age story in a gorgeous historical setting. She was asked in the editing process to make the main character 13 instead of 14 so that it could be marketed as MG fiction. Given the historical setting, a 1 year age difference didn’t affect the plot in the way it might if the character was in a modern school setting and had to be moved from high school to middle school, so she agreed. It works beautifully as a middle grade book. But here’s what bugs me. It works beautifully as a young adult book as well. The character is trying to enter a competitive profession. That’s really a teenage concern and not much of an issue for the 8-14 year olds. The character loves a girl and decides to spend the rest of his life with her. That is a clear candidate for YA, except they don’t have sex. They don’t even kiss. Given the historical period and the structure of the plot there isn’t really room for these kids to get together in a physical way. I think the book just wasn’t edgy enough for YA and so it got moved to MG.  All of which leads me to two questions.

    1. Are we seeing a move to “age up” MG fiction?
    2. What is out there for the transitional teen who is too mature for MG fiction but is not interested in the intensity of much of the new YA fiction?
    3. In short who is serving our tender-hearted readers?


    I heard Jeanne Birdsall speak recently at Wordstock here in Portland, and she was passionate about not letting her Penderwick series become a movie precisely because they would age up the content and make more of the romance and more of the sisterly rivalry than the author intended. She was willing to pass up what I would assume is a substantial amount of money to defend her tender-hearted readers.


    So dear readers, what do you think? Do you writers feel a pressure to age up your work? Do you librarians, teachers and parents find it hard to find books for your tender-hearted readers? Do you editors have trouble placing the more tender-hearted stories? Do you have a great MG title that would also work for teens? Leave your thoughts in the comments please!