Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Award-Winning Middle-Grade Nonfiction

Children's nonfiction is alive and well and innovative approaches to it are rewarded. The following are lists of recent awards. I welcome additions to these lists of award-winning and recommended children's books.

The International Reading Association (IRA) and the Children’sBook Council (CBC) present annual Children’s Choices awards. Children themselves evaluate and write reviews of their favorite books.
Children's Choices for 2012, Grades 5–6
Ghostly Alcatraz Island by Stephen Person
How to Survive Anything by Rachel Buchholz
Worst-Case Scenario: Survive-o-Pedia Junior Edition by David Borgenicht

You can find the complete, annotated lists of Children’s Choices (fiction and nonfiction) for 1998 through 2012  at:

The IRA also publishes annual lists of children’s fiction and nonfiction selected by teachers. 
Teachers’ Choices for 2012, Grades 3–5 (Ages 8–11)
A Boy Named FDR: How Franklin D. Roosevelt Grew Up to Change America by
Kathleen Krull
A Butterfly Is Patient by Dianna Hutts
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming.
Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their
World by Allan Drummond
Marching With Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage by Claire Rudolf Murphy
Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss
Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing by Laura Purdie Salas

Teachers’ Choices for 2012, Grades 6–8 (Ages 11–14)
Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz
Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students by Mignon Fogarty
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
Saga of the Sioux: An Adaptation from Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dwight Jon Zimmerman

You can find the complete, annotated lists of Teachers’ Choices (fiction and nonfiction) for 1998 through 2012 at:

The American Library Association is another well-established literary authority that gives awards to fiction and nonfiction.

The Booklist Editors' Choice awards of the American Library Association (ALA) are for nonfiction and fiction for children of all ages. 

Booklist Editors’ Choice for “Middle Readers,” 2011
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map by Sue Macy
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
The House Baba Built: An Artist’s Childhood in China by Ed Young and Libby Koponen
Roots and Blues: A Celebration by Arnold Adoff
The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

The following is the link to the Booklist Editors' Choice 2011 awards for readers in all grades:

The ALA also presents an annual Notable Children’s Books award for both fiction and nonfiction. The following are the nonfiction Notable Children's Books for 2013.

Grades 3–5 (ages 8–10)
Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman. 
The Beetle Book by Steve Jenkins
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
Chuck Close: Face Book by Chuck Close
George Bellows: Painter with a Punch! by Robert Burleigh
Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport
Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin
The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity by Elizabeth Rusch

Grades 6–8 (ages 11–14)
Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance during the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport
Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure by Jim Murphy
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Differen by Karen Blumenthal.
Temple Grandin: How the Girl who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World by Sy Montgomery
We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Y. Levinson

The link to the complete annotated list, which includes fiction, is:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Award-Winning Middle-Grade Fiction—Part 2

My blog this week continues the lists of award-winning fiction and poetry generally suitable for children aged eight through twelve.

Notable Children’s Books: Each year, the Association for Library Service to Children “identifies the best of the best of children’s books on the Notable Children’s Books list.” The lists feature books for readers of all ages: Younger Readers – Preschool-grade 2 (age 7), including easy-to-read books; Middle Readers – Grades 3-5, ages 8-10; Older Readers – Grades 6-8, ages 11-14.

Fiction selection for 2013, Middle Readers
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz
Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay
Mary B. by Caroline Starr Rose
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Tumage
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Fiction selection for 2013, Older Readers
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return by Zeina Abirached
My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Son by Lois Lowry
Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf

You can find the complete, annotated list at

Children’s Choices: This is a project of the InternationalReading Association (IRA) and the Children’s Book Council (CBC), in which approximately 10,000 children choose 100 favorite books each year. These books are listed by year, from 1998 to 2012, annotated, and categorized by grade level. Here is the selection of 2012 titles for grades 5–6:

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel
BONE: Quest for the Spark by Tom Sniegoski
Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald
Cursed Grounds by Steven L. Stern
Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Prince of Dorkness: More Notes from a Totally Lame Vampire by Tim Collins
Quarterback Season by Fred Bowen
Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein
Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow
IRA/CBC Children's Choices
Sound Bender by Lin Oliver and Theo Baker
Stickman Odyssey by Christopher Ford
Stir It Up: A Novel by Ramin Ganeshram
Storm Runners by Roland Smith
Ten by Lauren Myracle
Titanic #1: Unsinkable by Gordon Korman
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

You can find the complete annotated list, which includes nonfiction and books for younger children, along with lists for previous years, at

Teachers’ Choices: The IRA also publishes annotated selections of thirty books chosen each year by teachers. The books are listed by year, from 1998 to 2012, annotated and categorized by age and grade level.

Fiction titles, 2012, for readers aged 8–11:
IRA/CBC Teacher's Choices
Walking Home to Rosie Lee by A. LaFaye
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Fiction titles, 2012, for readers aged 11–14:
City of Orphans by Avi
Hidden by Helen Frost
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul B. Janeczko
Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow

You can find the complete, annotated list, which includes nonfiction and books for younger children, along with lists for previous years, at

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Award-Winning Middle-Grade Fiction—Part 1

My blog this week is for buyers of children’s books and writers who want to read books considered to be the best in children’s literature. The following are noteworthy works of children's fiction suitable for readers aged eight through twelve (middle-grade fiction).

Newbery Medal: Just about the best-known award for children’s books is the Newbery Medal, given each year by the Association for Library Service to Children: The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”

For the complete list, including honors winners, go to the American Library Association John Newbery Medal page at

Here is the list of Newbery Medal winners, suitable for upper elementary and middle-grade readers, for the past twenty years. 
2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
2012: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
2011: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
2010: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
2009: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
2006:  Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
2004: The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
2002: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
2001: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
2000: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
1999: Holes by Louis Sacher
1998: Wringer by Jerry Spinelli
1997: The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
1996: The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman
1995: Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
1994: The Giver by Lois Lowry
1993: Missing May by Cynthia Rylant

Booklist Editors’ Choice: An annual selection of fiction and nonfiction for children of all ages is made by the American Library Association for its Booklist Editors’ Choice award. Published lists cover  the years 2005 through 2011.

Fiction titles for grades 48, 2011:
Around the World by Matt Phelan (Gr. 4–7)
Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson (Gr. 2–5)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Gr. 5–8)
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Gr. 4–8)
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan (Gr. 5–12)
Mo Wren, Lost and Found by Tricia Springstubb (Gr. 4–6)
My Name Is Mina by David Almond (Gr. 4–7)
Never Forgotten by Patricia McKissack (Gr. 4–8)
No Ordinary Day by Deborah Ellis
The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley (Gr. 5–8)
Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor (Gr. 5–8)
A Storm Called Katrina by Myron Uhlberg (Gr. 1–4)
The Wikkeling by Steven Arnston (Gr. 5–8)
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (Gr. 4–8)

The annotated lists can be found under the heading, Middle Readers, 2011 Selection, at:

I'll continue these lists of children's fiction in my next blog with selections from the Association for Library Services to Children, the International Reading Association, and Children's Book Council. A future blog will list resources for award-winning titles in children's nonfiction. The lists will have their own page on this blog site. As usual, your comments and suggestions for other lists of award-winning and recommended middle-grade books are most welcome.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Web Resources on Writing for Children

This week I've put together a short list of websites and web pages that offer help specifically with writing for children. As always, your suggested additions and updates to this list are welcome. The list will eventually have its own page on this blog site.

Aaron Shepard’s Kidwriting Page
This site offers lots of free resources for writing and publishing children’s books

Adventures in YA & Children's Publishing
This site offers helpful articles on the craft of writing for children and young adults.

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Best-selling children’s and YA author Cynthia Leitich Smith’s site has won many accolades. It’s loaded with advice on writing and features other resources for children’s writers, including her blog, Cynsations, and her other social media sites. 

Institute of Children’s Literature

The institute offers writing help and much more. This link is to a huge list of articles on writing for children, categorized by topic.

Margot Finke
Margot Finke's website is full of advice and articles on writing for children.

Pat Mora—Bookjoy
Author Pat Mora lists 20 tips on writing for children. 

Resources for Children’s Writers
Rachelle Burk’s renowned website for children's writers includes a list of “Helpful Writing Articles.”
This link is to a web page listing articles on various topics related to writing for children, many written by Laura Backes of Children’s Book Insider newsletter.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators
offers a Writing Mentor Program for writer members selected by a panel of judges.

Suzanne Lieurance
This children’s author offers tips, articles, coaching, and other resources on writing for children.

The Purple Crayon 
Children’s book editor Harold Underdown offers loads of great advice and resources on writing for children, and much more.

Verla Kay
Verla Kay offers transcripts of workshops on writing for children by authors including Anastasia Sue and Linda Joy Singleton (middle-grade fiction)

Writer’s Digest
Once registered (free), you can search for articles on writing for children. Many other resources include a free download of “101 Best Websites for Writers” and writing tutorials, workshops, and webinars.

Writers Speak to Kids (videos)
In this video series children's authors explain their techniques of creative writing. Authors include Jeff Kinney, Mo Willems, and Michael Buckley, among others.
Laura Backes and Jon Bard offer writing help and more for children’s writers with a paid subscription to their Children’s Book Insider newsletter.
This site offers numerous articles on writing for children, grammar and editing tips, and much more.

Individual online articles
This web page offers excerpted advice from Lisa Rojany Buccieri and Peter Economy’s book Writing Children’s Books for Dummies, 2nd edition.

Terri Rocker: “How to Write Children’s Literature”
This is an eHow page featuring advice from author Terri Rocker..

Michael Rosen’s “Child’s Play”
This is British author and former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen's article on writing for children, published in The Guardian, Sept. 25, 2008