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Al's Book Club

Al Roker encourages kids to jump into reading

By Hayley Livingston | May 21 , 2007
<p>Kid Reporter Hayley Livingston and Al Roker at NBC's <i>Today Show </i>studio in New York City.  (Photo: Suzanne Freeman) <br /></p>

Kid Reporter Hayley Livingston and Al Roker at NBC's Today Show studio in New York City.  (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)

Television audiences usually turn to meteorologist Al Roker for news about the weather. I recently sat down with Roker in NBC’s Today Show studio to talk about an entirely different topic—reading. Roker has books on the brain, and he wants kids to get excited about reading too. This month, he kicked off a new club called “Al’s Book Club For Kids.”

Roker's main goal is to get kids reading this summer, so no one experiences what is known as the “summer slide.” This is when kids stop reading during the summer and actually end up losing some of their reading skills. Roker wants to prevent this by choosing exciting books for kids (ages 9-11), and giving kids an opportunity to talk about what they are reading.

“You don’t have to read a lot of books,” said Roker, “but find a couple that you really like.”

He’s hoping that one of the books that kids will really enjoy is his pick for May—The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick. The book is a fun read, but it also has something extra for readers. It's packed with pictures—a combination of photos and drawings. I asked Roker to explain what drew him to Selznick’s book.

“You know, it was the combination of the layout of the words and the graphics,” he said. “The pictures were really incredible—it was like reading a movie.”

Selznick uses words to tell his story, but at certain points, the reader will find pages and pages of vivid pictures explaining the next series of events. I commented that the pictures helped to put the audience into the story. Roker agreed.

“You kind of go, ‘ooohhhhh,’ ” he said. “The imagery in both the photographs and the drawings is really very powerful.”

Roker credits his mother for his early love of reading. He read a lot as a kid, he explained, even though kids who have their noses in books are sometimes considered nerds.

“I was a nerd right through college, but I'm doing OK now,” he said with a laugh.

According to Roker, kids who enjoy reading are on the right track. The lifelong reader had a few words of wisdom for kids who think it's not cool to read.

“I don't think the kids who read should change,” he said. “I think the attitudes of the non-readers should change.”

This is your chance to get in on the action! Join Al’s Book Club—and you can experience the joys of reading.

READY, SET, READ!

Do you need help picking out what book to read next? Let Scholastic News Online be your guide! Find out what Kid Reporters are saying about all the latest books by reading their book reviews in this special report.

About the Author

Hayley Livingston is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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