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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: summer reading

All of Our Reading Tips

Kitty Felde

Everyone asks: how do you get a kid to pick up a book? How do you get them to fall in love with reading? We asked the experts: teachers and librarians to share their best tips with us.
— Kitty Felde

Tip #79: Summer Reading Free Stuff

Kitty Felde

Great Brain kids.jpg

We continue our focus on summer reading - this time highlighting a few places where young readers can earn cash, free books, free movies, or other rewards just by reading. Greed may be a vice, but it can also be a strong motivator for literature!

  • TD Bank Summer Reading Program

    • Read 10 books and get free money. Keep track of your books on the TD form, bring it into a branch, and get $10 in a savings account.

  • Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading Program

    • Read 8 books and write about them in B&N's Summer Reading Journal, show up at a B&N in August with a completed journal and claim one of the free books on their list.

  • Amazon Summer Reading Challenge

    • Again, read 8 books, but no book report is required. Bring your list to a bricks and mortar Amazon Bookstore before September 2 and get a Star Reader Certificate worth a dollar off your next book purchase.

  • Chuck E. Cheese Reading Rewards

    • Parents can set reading goals and keep track on a printable calendar. The prize is 10 play points to use while you're waiting for your pizza.

  • Showcase Cinema's Bookworm Wednesdays

    • It may sound counterintuitive: read books to see a free movie, but that's the idea behind this movie theatre chain's program. Fill out their book report form and it's your ticket to a free Wednesday matinee. Adults accompanying kids also get in free and don't have to write a book report.

Next time, we'll be checking in on the loot available for summer readers at public libraries around the country.

Tip #78: Past Performance IS Indicative of Future Results

Kitty Felde


We'll be focusing on Summer Reading over the next few weeks, providing lists of themed book selections, highlights of library programs, and road trip worthy reading activities. But first, let's start with a trip to the library or bookstore with your young reader.

As you stand there pointing to the stacks and your reader's eyes are distracted by library computers or all the toys and games surrounding the bookstore cash register, how do you get her to leave the building with a book in her hands?

Anne Blanchard is head librarian at St. Aloysius Catholic School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Anne is a great believer in using past preference to predict future interest. She starts by asking, "What was the last book that you read that you liked so much that you wouldn't mind reading it again?" She then finds that particular book on the shelf (or sends the young reader to find it herself) and begins her detective work. 

Anne looks for clues. "Is it a sports book? A graphic novel? Is it one that has a lot of white space in it?" She then finds similar books. 

If you don't want to play matchmaker yourself, many libraries use NoveList, a database that is rather like for book lovers.

And don't forget the staff at your local library or favorite independent bookstore. These book lovers positively light up  whenever you ask for book suggestions. Their enthusiasm is contagious as they dash over to the shelf to find your reader's next favorite book.

Tip #63: Pink Fish or Aussie Detectives?

Kitty Felde

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Most of the teachers I know are heading back to the classroom this week – if not to meet their new students, then to sit for hours and hours of meetings and training and organizing. A few of us lucky sorts get to still savor the corn on the cob and afternoons at the beach and the end of guilt-free summer reading.

I’ve given up on reading anything serious this summer. Instead, I’m indulging myself by reading the entire catalogue of Kerry Greenwood. In addition to her wonderful Phryne Fisher mysteries, she’s created another heroine: the zaftig Melbourne baker and reluctant invesigator Corinna Chapman.

Monica approves.

Monica is a youth librarian from Michigan. We met at the American Library Convention in New Orleans this summer. Monica says you’ve got to let kids – and grownups - read what they want to read. “If you try to tell them what they should be reading, you’re not going to create a lifelong reader.”

I asked her to tell me the weirdest book a kid has ever requested. That book is “Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals” by Jess Keating. Monica’s reaction to the request? “This exists?” Turns out, it’s a 2016 non-fiction book about pink animals. Monica calls it “awesome.” There’s even a trailer for the book, complete with a blockbuster motion picture soundtrack.

Need a few suggestions to fill out your summer reading list? Elle magazine has a few ideas. So does The Daily Beast. Got a summer read to suggest? Tweet it and include the hashtag #BCKsummerreads.

Tip #60: Summer Reading: Why Should Kids Have All the Fun (And All the Prizes?)

Kitty Felde

Nearly 100,000 kids are signed up for Portland's summer reading program at the Multnomah County Public Library. Young readers who participate can earn tee shirts, theatre tickets, and other prizes. Libraries across the country have similar programs. But what about us grownups? 

Fear not, there's a growing number of adult summer reading programs with some pretty creative prizes. Over in Washington County, Oregon, grown up readers can win a Kindle. At the Bozeman, Montana library, adults readers can earn cooverdue fine forgiveness coupons. At the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the grand prize is a free night at a nice hotel.

But there's a grander prize: when you read in front of your kids, you help turn them into readers.

Carrie Carlson is the media specialist at Oakwood Elementary School in Minneapolis. She says summer reading is the perfect time to model reading for your kids, showing how much you love books. "I think it's important for kids to see adults reading and liking reading," she says.

Carrie says it doesn't really matter what you're reading - sports pages, beachy novels, self-help books. Or you can read along with your kid, taking turns reading what they've chosen to read. "Because I'm a children's librarian," Carrie says, "I actually read the same books they do so then I can really get excited and talk about the books."

She adds a caveat: "I have to be careful not to talk too much about the books I didn't like because that might be the book they love!" Instead, she says she just shuts her mouth and lets the kids tell her what they think.

What are you reading? Do you have a summer reading list you're willing to share? Tweet it to us @bookclubforkids with the #BCKSummerReads.

Tip #40: Keep It Short

Kitty Felde

Reading power

Maybe it's the dog days of August. Or the poison ivy rash that won't leave me alone. Perhaps you, too, are finding it tough to focus on long news articles and fat literary novels. It's time to go short.

That's the reading tip this week from Joanne Lécuyer, author and owner of Topsy Books in Gatineau, Québec, Canada. 
Joanne says many parents tell her that long books are daunting for their kids. "They feel that they may not understand the story, that it will take too much time to read the book or that they can't concentrate long enough to get through it."

Joanne's tip for getting distracted readers to enjoy reading? Pick shorter books, possibly with short chapters. "It's also good when there are pictures or illustrations in the book. It's often easier to understand something visually." 

Start small, she says. Set a goal to read one chapter - or even just one page - every day. Those small bites add up. 

And after all, autumn is just weeks away. Time enough to get into shape to tackle the longer, tougher reads ahead.

Tip #36: Stop the Summer Reading Slump

Kitty Felde

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About the time I learned how to write my name (a requirement in those days to get a library card) my folks moved to a new house. It was down the street from the local public library. I spent most of my summers plopped down in front of the fiction section, working my way through the stacks. 

I'm still a big fan of public libraries...particularly their summer reading programs. Nearly every library has one: kids are challenged to read a certain number of hours. Those who do are rewarded with prizes.

In DC, if you read at least 8 hours, you get a burrito and free tickets to a Washington Nationals baseball game. Read 28 hours and you could win lunch with a famous author. In Chicago, the mayor put his brand on the challenge: "Rahm's Readers" are required to read AND visit a museum AND create art or a story. Prizes include a free book and a chance at a backpack of books and STEM activities. InSan Diego, if you read at least ten hours, you can earn free passes to the zoo, free pizza or burgers.

Kids may sign up for the bribes, but who cares? Studies show that students who participate in public library summer reading programs score higher on achievement tests when they return to the classroom. 

So take your readers to the library and sign them up!

PS: many libraries have summer reading programs for parents, too!

Does your local library have fun rewards for their summer reading program? Let us know! Send us an email.

Tip #35: Lights, Camera, Action!

Kitty Felde

Actress Jo Mei

Actress Jo Mei

It happens so often: when we ask kids their favorite books, they name the ones that have been made into movies. And then they happily debate which version is better.

YouTube is as much a part of their culture as the library. So why not use the power of film to glamorize reading and books?

Tracy King, who teaches 4th grade at Cienega Elementary School in Los Angeles, suggests adding a bit of Hollywood to the traditional book report. Tracy's idea: promise your young readers that once they've finished the book, you'll help them film a "book commercial" to send to family and friends. We'll even post them on our Book Club for Kids website!

With a smartphone and free video editing software, it's really not that difficult to turn your kitchen table into a film studio. In fact, Edutopia (funded by a fellow who knows something about film: George Lucas) has an entire page of resources to help you and your budding star get started.

If you do film a book review, please share it with us at Book Club for Kids! We'll be delighted to include it on our website, particularly if your reader tackles one of the books on our Books We Love page.

Got a reading tip you're willing to share? Send us an email.

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!