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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 #49: A Roundabout Way to Get Them to Read

Kitty Felde

Virginia readers

Kathleen Roberts loves to talk to her students at Rivers Edge Elementary in Glen Allen, Virginia about books. She wants to get the perfect read into the hands of the perfect kid, asking "Real or made up?" If it's non-fiction, she leads them to those shelves. Fiction is a bit trickier. So she asks, "Do you like fantasy? Do you like realistic fiction? Do you like historical?" If they say, "I don't know," she asks: "Do you like animal or people stories?" She keeps up the questions to get kids to be more specific - not stressing them out, not making them nervous, just asking to let them know that she's interested.

But the life of a school librarian is filled with chaos. Kathleen doesn't always have time to interview kids about what kind of book they might want to read. She was tired of 4th and 5th graders "doing laps in the library and leaving with nothing."

So Kathleen found a secret weapon: the roundabout. "The roundabout is a great tool," she says, "because it's different." 

It looks like a lazy susan for books - a few shelves that can spin round and round. Kathleen picked it up second-hand from her local public library. It's devoted to her most picky clients: those window shopping 4th and 5th graders.

It sits on the check-out counter, stocked with Kathleen's most tempting books, ready to go out the door, like all that candy at the grocery store check out line. Kathleen says the 4th and 5th graders love it because they know it's just for them.

If your local library isn't having a tag sale, you can hunt around for one online. Most of the "lazy susan bookshelves" are in the UK. However, I found a birch plywood model. And a few clear plastic versions. If you're handy (and I'm not) you can build one yourself.

(FYI, Book Club for Kids isn't getting any money for referrals. But the husband may just get one as a belated Christmas present...)