I am teaching an online class through the Loft Literary Center beginning on February 2, 2015. Here is the description:
Many consider ages 8–12, “the middle grades,” to be a golden age for readers. Their novels include classics like Charlotte’s Web, the Ramona series, and the earliest adventures of Harry Potter. Most Newbery winners also fall into this category. In this class, we will explore some of the qualities that make a book a hit with young readers, with an emphasis on developing a character-driven story. Topics covered include creating a main character kids want to chase through the pages of a novel, avoiding stereotypes and cliches, and being attentive to the inner life of a middle grade novel. Participants will have an opportunity to share their work and get feedback from their peers as well as from the teaching artist.
And here are answers to commonly asked questions:
- The class is completely online and mostly asynchronous. We do have weekly live chats to check in but the meat of the class is in the online readings and discussion forums. (We use the Moodle platform, but don’t worry if that doesn’t mean anything to you.)
- There is a chance to share works in progress with the rest of the class; you also get private feedback from me on about 10 pages of writing.
- The class is listed as “intermediate” primarily because of the expectation that writers are familiar with (if not steeped in) middle grade books, but if you have not read a lot you can catch up by familiarizing yourself with at least some of the following books. Most are Newberry medalists or honorees, so look on that bookshelf if your bookstore or library has one! These are not assigned class readings, but I use them as examples throughout the class (this is a partial list):
- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (and others in the Ramona series) – Beverly Cleary
- Bud, not Buddy – Christopher Paul Curtis
- Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
- The Giver – Lois Lowry
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH – Robert C. O’Brien
- Hatchet – Gary Paulsen
- From the Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler – E. L. Konigsberg
- The Westing Game – Ellen Raskin
- Holes – Louis Sachar
- Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli
- When You Reach Me – Rebecca Stead
- Charlotte’s Web – E.B.White
We also all read one recent book recommended and voted on by the class, and I try to get the author to join us for a chat.
Sign up for the class here!