How do I find out about new books to read? Once upon a time, when I was in graduate school at Hollins University Children’s Literature Program, it was through the required reading lists. Sometimes those lists were, err, on the long side. Both the lists and the length of the novels. So it could be a full-time job getting through some of them, especially some of the 19th century books like The Wide Wide World by Susan Warner—608 pages of the smallest print imaginable. The edition I read had had me wanting to find my magnifying glass. But it was well worth the effort.
Post graduate school, I found my books as a reviewer. For several years, I reviewed children’s books for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The book editor would call me up and assign me a particular book, mail it to me, and I’d send him a review a couple of weeks later. I discovered many delightful middle grade books this way. One that comes to mind is Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye. It was a self-published fantasy about a mouse watchmaker who enjoys a fantastic adventure.
The book went on to be published by Penguin Putnam, and there were three sequels. I also reviewed books for Children’s Literature, and I would be sent five books a month and through that relationship I was introduced to many books, including the work of Gail Carson Levine.
These days I have a tendency to find my books through word-of-mouth. Often when I attend Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators conferences, I’ll take the opportunity to purchase and read faculty books. I remember going to a conference and Cynthia Lord speak, and running to be first in line to grab Rules, which went on to win the Newbery Honor.
Or sometimes I will find out about at out about a book from social media. Just the other day, I learned about the release of Christina Springer’s newest middle grade novel Cici Reno #middleschoolmatchmaker. I can’t wait to read it since it’s an update of the Cyrano story. Plus, Christina’s middle grade books are so much fun to read. And the good news, you will be able to read an interview with Christina right here on April 27th.
And naturally, there’s discovering new reads from blogs, just like ours. Our own Mixed-Up Files site has plenty of book lists (click on “book lists” at the top of the page), as well as a list of sites that review middle grade books
There’s also just old fashion word-of-mouth were a friend or a new friend will tell me about a book. So feel free to tell me about your book. I’m all ears!
Hillary Homzie is the author of the newly released Queen of Likes (Simon & Schuster MIX 2016), The Hot List (Simon & Schuster MIX 2011) and Things Are Gonna Be Ugly (Simon & Schuster, 2009). She can be found at hillaryhomzie.com and on her Facebook page.