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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 Creating Lifelong Readers

Tip #47: What Do You Want To Learn Today?

Kitty Felde

Tyler Elementary Moo.jpg

Ah, the power of choice. For kids, it's not a superpower most get to use very often. Particularly in school where students study exactly what the brainiacs at the top think kids need to study. 

What if you could design your own education? Become an autodidact. You can if you're a lucky kid who drops in at the library of Tyler Elementary School on Capitol Hill.

Stephen Reichlen is the school librarian at Tyler Elementary. To persuade a reluctant reader to check out a book, he doesn't ask, "What do you want to read?" Instead, he asks, "What do you want to learn about today?"

Reichlen says he was inspired by California librarian Glen Warren who urges students to study their passions.

He admits that asking "What do you want to learn today?" leads most often to the non-fiction shelves of the library. Reichlen says he has a different technique to help kids pick a new fiction book. Readers gravitate to books they already know, he says. "So you try to gently nudge them in that direction with something that's similar, but maybe a little different."

If a kid likes "Diary of Wimpy Kid," Reichlen will nudge them toward a Louis Sachar novel or a Jerry Spinelli or Andy Griffiths' "The 13-Story Treehouse" - books he describes as similar, but not the same. "It's not a science," he says. "The art is trying to help."

If you're looking for more fiction recommendations, check out our Books We Love page. Kids from around the world have shared their favorite titles with us.

So what do Tyler Elementary students want to learn about? "Dinosaurs," says Reichlen.