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August 10, 2016

Get Ready for Back to School with these Classroom Favorites!

Summer is winding down and it’s time to get back into “school mode!” To help get the back to school preparations started, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite middle grade titles set in schools.

Read the book that inspired the nationwide movement to #choosekind!

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

Read the book then take the Certified Kind Classroom Challenge with your students!



Love, friendship, betrayal, and Valentine’s Day all take on new meanings in this captivating and intriguing novel by Newbery Medal author Rebecca Stead.

Bridge and her friends live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. When Bridge was in third grade, she survived being hit by a car, and ever since she’s wondered: why am I here on earth? There must be a reason. Bridge and her best friends Tab and Emily start 7th grade, and dramas unfold: Emily suddenly has “a body” and is getting lots of attention, including texts from a popular older boy who sends revealing photos of himself, wanting Em’s photos back. Tab immerses herself in the human rights club and feminism. Bridge becomes good friends with Sherm, a boy who makes her question a lot of things, such as: did Apollo 11 really land on the moon? And she wonders: what’s the difference between liking someone, and love?

Download the Educators’ and School Counselors’ Guide




Is the pen mightier than a bulldozer? Fifth grade poets stand up to save their school in this delightful debut novel.

This year, Ms. Hill’s fifth graders are writing poems to put into a time capsule. This year, the school board plans to tear down their school to build a supermarket. They might be the last fifth grade class of Emerson Elementary. No way! Inspired by Ms. Hill’s 1960s political activism, the students decide to save their beloved school. As they circulate petitions, stage sit-in, and test the waters of democratic action, personal questions, triumphs and sorrows find their way into their poems.

Download the Educators’ Guide






The first book in the beloved Mr. Terupt Series

It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school.

Only Mr. Terupt, their new teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much…until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.

Download the series Educators’ Guide



It’s the ultimate game—locked in a library overnight, twelve kids need to solve brain-teasing puzzles in order to escape!

Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games–board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of twelve kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

Download the Educators’ Guide

July 07, 2016

ILA Annual 2016 Random House Children’s Books Author Signing Schedule

Join the school and library marketing team in Boston at booth #405. We’ll be hosting the following authors and illustrators for book signings.

Saturday, July 9

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Judd Winick

Sunday, July 10

9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. Bruce Coville

10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. Rob Buyea

11:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m Erica S. Perl

12:00 p.m. – 12:45 p.m. Candace Fleming

1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Teresa Toten

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Jonah Winter & Raul Colón

3:00 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.  Tad Hills  

June 07, 2016

ALA Annual 2016 Random House Children’s Books Author Signing Schedule

Join the school and library marketing team in Orlando at booth #2303. We’ll be hosting the following authors and illustrators for book signings.

Saturday, June 25

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Donna Gephart

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Jennifer L. Holm

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Peter Brown Hoffmeister, Kathleen Glasgow

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. David Levithan, Matt de la Pena

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Matt de la Peña, Kwame Alexander, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Ellen Oh

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monica Brown


Sunday, June 26

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Grant Shaffer

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Sean Qualls & Laurie Ann Thompson, Jerry Pinkney

11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Christian Robinson, Jory John & Lane Smith

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Teresa Toten, Brie Spangler

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Christopher Barzak

March 18, 2016

National Social Work Month is celebrated every March.  Some children and young adults may have encountered social workers, but many may not understand what social workers actually do.  Try some of the following activities to help them understand the focus of social services and why social workers are needed in our communities.

  • Tell readers that Frances Perkins was the pioneer of social work.  Ask them to find out about Perkins and why the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 caused her to become dedicated to social work. (http://www.history.com/topics/triangle-shirtwaist-fire); (http://www.biography.com/people/frances-perkins-9437840).  Suggest that readers write a tribute to her for the school or library website.
  • Have readers read about the Orphan Trains (http://www.kancoll.org/articles/orphans/or_hist.htm) and discuss why The Children’s Aid Society is classed a social service organization.  How was this movement the beginning of the foster care system in the United States
  • Suggest that readers find out the many duties of social workers (https://www.socialworkers.org/pressroom/swmonth/2016/documents/SWM2016ThemeLogo.pdf).  Then have children ages 9-up to write a job description for a social worker in their city or county.
  • Ask a social worker to speak to readers and tell them the specifics of their job.  Why do school districts and hospital employ social workers? Have readers prepare questions to ask the guest speaker.
  • “Forging Solutions Out of Challenges” is the theme for 2016 National Social Work Month.  Display books about children and families may benefit from the help of a social worker. For example, how could a social worker have helped Zachary in When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. Then have them share the book they select.  Suggestions from Random House include:

Dealing with the Poor

A Chance to Shine (picture book) by Steve Seskin

Something Beautiful (picture book) by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

The Mighty Miss Malone (middle grade) by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bucking the Sarge (young adult) by Christopher Paul Curtis


Foster Care

Carolina Harmony (middle grade) by Marilyn Taylor McDowell

But, Not Buddy (middle grade) by Christopher Paul curtis

Grover G. Graham and Me (middle grade) by Mary Quattlebaum

Pictures of Hollis Woods (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Balls Don’t Lie (young adult) by Matt De La Peêa

Shifty (young adult) by Lynn e. Hazen

The Story of Tracy Beaker (young adult) by Jacquline Wilson


Adopted Children

Ten Days and Nine Nights (picture book) by Yumi Heo

All the Way Home (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Finding Miracles (young adult) by JJulia Alvarez

Invisible Threads (young adult) by Annie Dalton and Maria Dalton


Troubled Families

Holes (middle grade) by Louis Sachar

Liar and Spy (middle grade) by Rebecca Stead

Nest (middle grade) by Esther Ehrlich

A Piece of Heaven (middle grade) by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Black Box (young adult) by Julie Schumacher

Grief Girl (young adult) by Erin Vincent

Life is Fine (young adult) by Allison Whittenbert

Prizefighter en Mi Casa (young adult by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo


Aide to Immigrants

Return to Sender (middle grade) by Julia Alvarez

Enrique’s Journey (young adult) by Sonia Nazario

Red Glass (young adult) by Laura Resau

February 02, 2016

From Reluctant Reader to Reader: One Author’s Story

Written by Matthew Cody

The Secrets of the Pied Piper 1: The Peddler's RoadWhen visiting with readers, I always begin the same way. First, I ask, by a show of hands, how many kids out there like to read for fun. It’s always less than half, and usually a lot less.

Next, I ask how many kids have older brothers or sisters, which as you can imagine is a pretty good percentage. Then I ask my follow-up – how many of those older brothers or sisters are total jerks?

I swear the number of hands raised actually increases! It’s like the kids without older brothers or sisters just want to get in on the sibling bashing for the fun of it.

I empathize. I really do. As the youngest of four, I endured name-calling, snow-baths (in nothing but my pajamas), and that thing where they tie your socks together and your feet sweat so much you can’t get the socks off and they tickle you while you try to crawl away while making fun of your sweaty feet which is totally not something you can control and . . . well, suffice it to say I suffered.

What do sweaty feet and siblings have to do with books? The sweaty feet, not much, but the sibling thing, that’s the story I tell my would-be readers:

My big brother Brendan was an avid reader. Loved science fiction and fantasy especially, and he loved to haunt used bookstores.  His bedroom bookshelf was jam packed with DAW paperbacks with the cracked spines. Pages yellowed and smelling of mildew. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, I was not a reader. Books were boring. Books were for sitting still, and everyone knows that if you sit still for too long they’ll grab you by the socks and . . . you get the idea.

So, not a reader, me.

Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, Brendan tired of the torture. Maybe my cries for mercy were disturbing his reading time, I don’t know. What I do know is that one evening he asked me to come into his room and to choose a single book from his bookshelf. Hands trembling, feet sweating, I did. I choose the book by its cover of course – a boy in the woods facing down a man on horseback who had a skull for a face and horns. Horns!

The book, which some of you might have guessed, was The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. Now here’s where the story gets weird, because Brendan sat me down on his bed and started reading to me. It was like enemy forces on opposite sides of the battlefield pausing to sing Christmas carols or something. It was miraculous! Never mind that I didn’t like it and I was bored out of my skull – my socks were safely untied and I wasn’t bathing in snow! He read a chapter or two and then I scurried safely off to bed.

The next evening, he read a few more chapters. These ones weren’t so bad. The fortune-telling pig was funny and the Horned King was downright terrifying!  This went on for about a week, night after night, chapter by chapter until we came to the climax of the book, which by definition was the most exciting part. By then I was on the edge of the bed listening with rapt attention when Brendan asked, “Do you want to find out how this all ends?” and I’m like, “Yeah! Yeah, course!”

Then he closed the book, handed it to me and said, “Go find out for yourself.”

The jerk.

Or maybe not. Was this just another more elaborate form of torture? An escalation in psychological warfare? Or was he, just maybe, extending a small olive branch and sharing the hobby he loved most in the world with his only kid brother?

Heck, I don’t really know the answer. I’ll tell you this, though – the next day I crept into his room, uninvited and took a new book down from his shelf. It began a years-long habit of pilfering his bookshelves at odd hours of the day and night. Brendan had to have known what I was up to, but he never complained. Not once.

So for books, thank you Brendan.

For the socks-thing, not so much.

About the Author:

Matthew Cody is the author of several popular books, including the Supers of Noble’s Green trilogy:PowerlessSuper, and Villainous. He is also the author of Will in Scarlet and The Dead Gentleman. Originally from the Midwest, he now lives with his wife and son in Manhattan. You can visit him on the Web at matthewcody.com.