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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.

When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me book.jpg

Story Synopsis

Books allow us to transcend the world we live in, but they also help us to connect to the people and places around us. In this audio story, several young students at a school in Washington DC talk about the plot, characterisation, themes, and motifs in the book “When You Reach Me.” The author, Rebecca Stead, discusses what motivates and inspires her to write. This book includes clues to solve a puzzle, mysterious notes, time travel, and the excitement of figuring out a book as you read it. Listen to more about the novel, “When You Reach Me” as these students discuss the elements of fiction and question the author about her own creative process.



Subject/Grade:Middle/High School


Listening Comprehension Questions

  1. Where did the author get her idea for “When You Reach Me”?

  2. What evidence suggests the book they are reading is fiction?

  3. How is the book they are reading like other books they have read?

  4. In what ways does the book help the students explore their own feelings and get to know themselves better?

  5. How does learning about the author’s creative process help students better understand the book they are reading?


Classroom Discussion Questions

  1. Would you like to discuss literature with others in a book club? Why or why not?

  2. If you could meet with one author and ask this author questions about his or her writing process, what author would you chose? Why? What questions would you ask?



latchkey kid (n): a child who is often left at home with little parental supervision

open question (n): a topic in which differences of opinion are possible; a matter not yet decided

epilepsy (n): a medical condition marked by seizures (shaking and unconsciousness) that are associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain

grudges (n): angry feelings toward someone that last for a long time

time travel (n): the action of traveling into the past or into the future in a science fiction book or movie

global warming (n): the recent increase in the world's temperature that is believed to be caused by the increase of certain gases (such as carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere


Listening Guide

Activate student knowledge:

Begin the class by asking students if they have ever participated in a book club. What was it like? What book were they reading? You may want to ask students if they know or read Stead’s book, “When You Reach Me”. If some of them have read it, have them explain how they first heard about it and what kept the interested in reading it (avoid having students explain the plot). If no students have read it, ask students about science fiction books and what they might like about them or dislike about them.


Active listening supports: Choose one of the following listening organizers to support student understanding as they listen to the story.

Directions: As you listen, complete the chart by finding evidence from the audio story that indicates the students’ thoughts and ideas on the book and the author’s explanations of her writing process.


              Students’ Descriptions & Questions                                  Author’s Descriptions & Answers






• The **“When You Reach Me” T-Chart** will guide student listening as they takes notes on the audio story.


Reflect on the story: Take time for student reflection on the audio story and discussion questions to check for understanding. (Use this wording then add other ideas if needed.) Ask students to reflect on the audio story by writing in their journal about whether or not they want to read “When You Read Me” and why. If students have already read it, ask them to write about what they would ask the author if they met with her.


Paired Text:  Pair this NPR article on the benefits of reading literary fiction with this audio story. Have students discuss the benefits of being part of a book club and the benefits of reading for our brains. Ask students how the students from the audio story related to “When You Reach Me” and ask students how they can relate to a book they have read or are reading. Use this NPR article to allow students to explore the fiction they have read and discuss how it helped them understand other people better.

Another option:

Pair this New York Times book review with this audio story. Have students discuss the ideas and thoughts that were discussed in both the article and audio book club discussion and interview with the author. Ask students which gave them a better understanding of the book, and which they related to more. Answers will be different from student to student and have them articulate their preferences. Use this article paired with the audio to allow students to explore how reading this book can help them understand other people better.


(Teachers can share or assign these to their students to help them get more information or clarity around the story)

Article: How to Start a Book Club, Oprah:

Website: Rebecca Stead,

Website: Madeleine L'Engle,

Article: Benefits of Attending Book Clubs,

Website: Time Travel,

Article: Time Travel in Science Fiction,


 This curriculum was developed for Book Club for Kids by Listenwise.