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Hitting the Books

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For someone who makes a living with words, it's a little embarrassing to admit that I wasn't always a big reader. As a kid, I spent most of my free time with friends or toys, not books. Still, each summer I looked forward to the children's reading program at the library.

I can't recall a single book I read, but I remember having fun with the other kids and thinking the teenage volunteers were way cool. Looking back now, I realize it was during those afternoons that the library transformed from a grown-up place where I got shushed to a place I still love to go.

If your child is a reluctant reader, too, she may be more motivated to dive into a book if she's around other people who are doing it. In addition to the great summer reading programs offered by public libraries and bookstores, kids' book clubs are sprouting up all over.

If you can't find a kids' book club in your area, consider forming one or joining an online club. Children read "real" books, then go online to talk about the stories. Here are just a few of the online book clubs I found with special activities for kids:

Al's Book Club for Kids

After reading the selected book, children can watch Al Roker chat with book club members on the Today show or play video of the discussion on the website. They can also submit questions to authors and listen to audio excerpts.


Parents help kids choose an adult reading mentor, such as a relative or family friend. Children correspond with their mentors about selected books, developing friendships and writing skills.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?