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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.

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Tips for Creating Lifelong Readers

Filtering by Tag: library

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...)

Tip #44: Percy Jackson, Gateway Drug

Kitty Felde

Oak Park interview.jpg

Book Club for Kids was invited to speak at the Illinois Library Association convention this month and we had the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the brightest librarians in the country, asking them how to get reluctant readers to pick up a book.

Shaira Rock is the middle school services and technology librarian at the Elmhurst Public Library. Her secret weapon: the graphic novel version of Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson" books. Shaira calls them "a gateway drug to reading."

The books are short, they deliver the whole story, and they provide the visuals when a page full of nothing but words is just too intimidating. Once kids get hooked on the graphic version of the Rick Riordan series, she then moves in with the line: "Did you know Percy Jackson has a fiction book, too?" The answer is usually, "It does? Can I get the next volume?" Once they've inhaled the entire series, Shaira says they ask for other fiction books like Percy Jackson.

Shaira says not to worry that fans of graphic novels will get stuck. She says kids occasionally do go back to graphic novels, but that just means they're touching base with "what they're familiar with and what they love. It's only a matter of time," she says, "before graphic novels is not enough."

Tip #42: Starve Them

Kitty Felde

Italian Book Club for Kids fan

There is something about being surrounded by a foreign language that makes you crave something in English. Anything will do - a newspaper, a Facebook post, a menu - but most especially, a book.

I was fortunate to tag along with my husband on a nearly three week long trip to Italy this month. He had speeches on the European Union to deliver. I had a Kindle full of novels and a stack of magazines I’ve been meaning to get to for months.

In less than a week, I ran out of things to read.

My Italian is limited to greeting strangers and ordering wine. I was drawn to the news stands – all in Italian. I watched the cooking shows – all in Italian. After about a week, I was hungry for English language anything. I was starved for English - perhaps because it was so scarce. According to the Harvard Business Review, success belongs to those who create something scarce. I got to thinking: will this sense of scarcity work on kids?

Overseas travel is one of the more expensive reading tips, but if you have such an adventure planned with your kids, use it to your advantage. Tablets are cheap and the public library has a vast selection of e-books available for download for free.

Before you leave town, load up the tablet with a variety of books:

  • fiction and non-fiction set in the country you will be visiting
  • a foreign language phrase book designed for kids
  • books you’d like your kid to read
  • fun books – the kid version of a beach read 
  • include at least one all-time favorite – a book your kid has read a hundred times or more. There is something comforting about having something familiar and predictable to turn to when moving around in a place that is both unfamiliar and unpredictable.

Need some suggestions? The New York Public Library has a terrific list of book suggestions for overseas travel. 

One more tip: pack a few paperback books as well. There’s likely to be a family fight to use the adaptor to recharge everybody’s electronics, so there will be times when that tablet runs out of power.
 

Tip #41: Back to School Success

Kitty Felde

San Gabriel kids at Podcast Movement taping of Book Club for Kids.JPG

It's not just back-to-school TV ads that strike fear into the hearts of kids. For some, it's the prospect of another year of reading. For book lovers, it's hard to imagine someone who views books as a torture device. But for the kids we call "reluctant readers," reading is hard.

Gayle Wagner is the children's librarian at the Watha T. Daniel Neighborhood Library in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Gayle is a big fan of Hi-Lo Reading Books. These are the so-called "high-interest, low readability" books - complex themes for more mature readers written at lower reading levels. The selection is vast -Saddleback Publishing alone offers everything from non-fiction on 3-D printing and drones to novels about video gaming and transplants. 

Montgomery County Schools have a terrific list of Hi-Lo books broken down by grade. The American Library Association has its own recommended reading list for upper elementary grades.
 

Tip #15: Saving Summer Brains

Kitty Felde

Readers discuss "The Great Wall of Lucy Wu" at Alexandria's Hooray for Books!

Readers discuss "The Great Wall of Lucy Wu" at Alexandria's Hooray for Books!

My brain is fried in summer. I can only imagine what a kids' brain is like after nine months of school. So perhaps the idea of picking up a book of any kind is a bridge too far.

Well, here's some good news: listening can make you learn even better. In an ATLANTIC article, Emma Rodero, a communications professor at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain says that “listening, unlike looking at a written page, is more active, since the brain has to process the information at the pace it is played.”

Even better news: there is a growing number of new podcasts out there designed specifically for kids - not just about books, but about science and music and all of their interests. Want to know what's out there? Check out the new organization Kids Listen.

So give in to summer brain: grab a cool drink, put on the headphones, and enjoy!


Got a tip of your own? Email us! 

Tip #14: Create a Craving for Story

Kitty Felde

Summer is always a challenge: how do you keep kids' brains engaged? Every local library seems to have a Summer Reading program. Here in Washington DC, the library offers prizes like tickets to the Washington Nationals and coupons for Chipotle to those who complete 8 hours of reading. 

The Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado kicked off its summer reading program by inviting kids to record their favorite book recommendations. Those voice memos will show up on a future bonus Book Club podcast. (Your kids can be on the show, too: just email for easy instructions.)

We asked Sarah Kostin, the youth services librarian in Steamboat Springs, for her best tip for engaging reluctant readers. Her answer: get your child to fall in love with "story." Sarah suggests starting by reading aloud or telling the stories that you love to your child. Next, get the kids to tell their own stories, using their own words. Have them describe the things they've seen today or the adventures they've experienced. Sarah says the telling and listening gets kids "to love and engage in story so much that they HAVE to read more books in order to get more story in their life."

Sarah's story mantra reminded me of a blog in Scientific American about the very human need for story. The article says the human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor. We figure out life through the medium of story. So getting your kids hooked on stories not only improves their reading, it helps them figure out life!


Got a tip of your own? Email us!

Tip #12: Word of Mouth

Kitty Felde

These Thomson Elementary readers loved the Origami Yoda series so much, they formed their own club to write letters to author Tom Angleberger, begging him to write more in the series!

These Thomson Elementary readers loved the Origami Yoda series so much, they formed their own club to write letters to author Tom Angleberger, begging him to write more in the series!

Our tip comes from Jaminnia States, the librarian at Thomson Elementary School in Washington, DC. Jaminnia plans to use the podcast in the library's listening center with her students. "I think it will really help them to hear other students talking about books and how much they love them."

She cites the power of personal recommendation - peer approval. It affects more than just which sneakers are the bomb this year. It also works with books. She says when a friend tells you, "hey, look at page seventeen, let me tell you about this character!" kids respond.

"The kids who don't stop talking about the book," she says, "are the kids who get other kids to read." She says kids trust each other "way, way, way more" than they trust librarians.

Hack this technique to jumpstart your kids' reading! Play a podcast episode on the way to the library and put a copy of the book being discussed in the hands of your child. Use the power of peer approval to get them to open a book.

 

Got a tip of your own? Email us! 

Tip #11: Create a Culture of Reading

Kitty Felde

The readers at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington, DC

The readers at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington, DC

We’re hearing from educators that literature and poetry are getting squeezed out by social studies during reading hours in the classroom these days. So how do you inspire that life-long love of reading for pleasure?

Kathy Echave, a reading specialist at Lafayette Elementary School in Washington, DC describes a carrot and stick approach. “Make reading fun for kids,” she says, by putting “really good books in their hands.” The school publishes a summer reading guide with what Kathy describes as the “best books  – classics that never go out of style as well as things that are brand new." The list is shared with students and parents and is also available in local libraries and bookstores.

Lafayette has created a culture of reading by requiring every student to read for 20 minutes every single night. “If you’re only reading while you’re in school,” says Kathy, “you’re never going to become a lifelong reader or someone who’s really a good reader.”

There are no reading logs to be signed and teachers don’t actively check up on students, but Kathy says the reading homework has become part of the culture of the school. Kids just read.

 

Got a tip of your own? Email us!

Tip #10: Book Club in a Bag

Kitty Felde

Broomfield, Colorado offers a Book Club in a Bag

Broomfield, Colorado offers a Book Club in a Bag

Book Clubs can be powerful motivators to get folks of all ages to read regularly. But how do you start one? How do you get enough books for everyone in the group? How do you kick off the discussion? 

The Mamie Doud Eisenhower Public Library in Broomfield, Colorado has come up with a brilliant idea: they've put together Junior Book Club Kits.

Children's Librarian Susan Person says the library has lots of programming for little kids and teens, but needed to find something just for tweens. Their on-site Junior Book Club for 4th and 5th graders was a hit "almost from the beginning," she says. (And you'll hear those kids on an upcoming podcast discussing Lisa Graff's "Absolutely Almost.)

But what about other kids? And what do you do with 13 copies of one particular middle grade novel?

Person started putting together book club kits - a complete book club in a box - or rather, in a lime green canvas satchel.  Inside, each kit contains a dozen copies of the book for readers, plus one more for the group leader. Families or neighborhood group can use the book club in a box to host their own Junior Book Club. Kits are checked out with a library card, just like a single book or DVD. 

What about your classroom or library? Why not start your own Book Club in a Box?


Got a tip of your own? Email us! More great tips at the website!