By Kitty Felde 

I just got back from the American Library Association annual conference in Chicago. It was the perfect place to ask the experts about how to get a kid to pick up a book.

Librarian Arlene LaVerde from Queens, New York says kids have been inundated with school work for months and months. “Everything is school, school, school,” she says. “There’s no down time.”

But now it’s summer. Time to breathe. Time to rest. But how do you get a kid to read? Laverde has one rule: Do. Not. Book Shame. “I don’t care what they’re reading. I don’t care how old they are,” she says. “If they want to read Dr. Seuss, great.”

Some teachers say if you’re not reading the classics, you’re not really reading. “The classics are great,” she says. “I guess. When they were written, they weren’t classic. They were just books. We have books that are coming out right now that are going to be classics.” Laverde admits that she doesn’t gravitate toward the classics. Especially in summer. Especially on the beach. 

Summer is special. Summer is for doing the things that you enjoy – even if it means mindless scrolling on your phone. 

“However, reading should be enjoyable, too,” she says.

Help your less-than-enthusiastic reader find something mindless, something fun. Ask the children’s librarian or the experts at your local bookseller for suggestions. Or check out our Book Club for Kids list of favorites from kids around the world at our Books We Love page.)

No book shaming. Let them read whatever they want. It’s summer.

Kitty Felde is host and executive producer of the Book Club for Kids podcast. Her middle grade mystery set on Capitol Hill Welcome to Washington Fina Mendoza is now available in English and Spanish.

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