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Book Club for Kids is a podcast where middle school readers discuss the books they love with host Kitty Felde. The author answers questions. A celebrity reads from the book.

Tips for Reluctant Readers

Tip #9: Everybody Hates Historical Fiction (except when they don't)

Kitty Felde

Writer Rita Williams Garcia

Writer Rita Williams Garcia

EVERYBODY HATES HISTORICAL FICTION* SO HOW DO I GET KIDS TO READ IT?
(*EXCEPT WHEN THEY DON'T)

I sometimes think kids are born with opinions. By the time they reach middle school, they've developed the verbal skills to tell you exactly why they like something and why they don't. That includes books. More often than not, kids tell me they HATE historical fiction. "Too much like homework," they say. 

Except...

A good story is a good story. Once you're hooked on character and plot, the time period becomes background noise. So how do you get a kid to pick up a historic fiction in the first place?

Crystal Graham is the librarian at Takoma Education Campus in Washington, DC. She says kids at her school "tend to shy away from" historical fiction. She says she's planning to use the Book Club for Kids podcast as a sneaky way to make the genre more intriguing to her students. 

We've done a trio of historic fictions on the show - Laurie Hulse Anderson's tale of slavery during the Revolutionary War CHAINS, Marjorie Agosín's story of life under Pinochet in Chile I LIVED ON BUTTERFLY HILL, and an upcoming episode, Rita Williams-Garcia's ONE CRAZY SUMMER, about a trio of sisters whose mother sends them to Black Panther summer camp.

Librarian Graham says she's planning to have her students listen to these particular episodes, where they can hear other kids get excited about the books, and hear them share the books' relevance in their own lives. The bonus: after Graham's students have inhaled the first book, she says it'll be easier to get them to check out the next one in the series, or a similar book.

Our own experience taping these episodes featuring historical fiction: not every kid hates the genre. Several told us they really liked them because they tell stories they never heard in history class.

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