Algonquin Books is launching a young reader program, focusing on YA and middle grade fiction. The Chapel Hill, N.C.-based publisher has hired Elise Howard to oversee the line. Howard arrives from HarperCollins where she spent the last 12 years, working on both the HarperTeen and Harper imprints as senior v-p and associate publisher of books for young readers at HarperCollins Children's Books.

Algonquin's new imprint is expected to launch by the end of 2012 with as many as six titles and Howard, who will be working out of the publisher's New York office, will start for the company in mid-November. At HarperCollins Howard worked on, among other titles, books by Chris Lynch, Rachel Vail and Neil Gaiman.