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LA is the Best Place for Bookworms! Creating Lifelong Readers With Digital Media

Book Club for Kids podcast, a project of Community Partners

A fiscally sponsored group

We want to engage the next generation of LA readers. We’ll take the free podcast to 3-5 public schools or libraries every month. At least half of the tapings will be in front of a live audience, which will be invited to participate on the show by talking about their favorite book. We will focus on local authors who are available for book signings, and we’ll invite local public officials and influencers to be celebrity readers. Curriculum will be developed for episodes, also available for free. Episodes will be branded LA2050 episodes.

Please describe the mission of your organization.

Book Club for Kids is a free, 20-minute podcast for elementary and middle school kids, designed to turn reluctant readers into lifelong book lovers. Each show features a group of young readers who discuss a novel, interview the author, and hear a celebrity read an excerpt from the book.

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • Westside
  • South Bay
  • City of Los Angeles
  • LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

  • LA Public Library
  • Access Books
  • Cal Poly Pomona College of Education and Integrative Studies

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Access Books has been building school libraries in Southern California for decades. They are assisting us to identify public schools that would like us to record on campus with their students. We will be providing books to students and school libraries.

The LA Public Library (LAPL) has approved Book Club for Kids to tape episodes at branches across the city under their “performer” program. They’ve also distributed Book Club for Kids bookmarks and will distribute a new LA2020 “LA is the Best Place for Bookworms!” bookmark. LAPL also helped publicize our recent taping at the Studio City branch on its website, on social media, and with printed materials.

Cal Poly Pomona researchers will study how the podcast can influence reading habits, using surveys and focus groups, sharing findings..

What is the need you’re responding to?

We lose readers in middle school.

More than half of 9-year-olds read every day - this according to the 2007 National Education Association report. By the time they turn 13, less than a third of kids are daily readers. The reading numbers fall off a cliff by the time kids get to high school.

The key is creating a love for reading and a habit of reading at that most crucial time: middle school.

Book Club for Kids reinforces the importance of tween reading and fosters a love of literature that will carry over to high school and beyond.

Our podcast is designed to interact with educational systems to maximize our impact. Teachers and librarians incorporate the podcast into their own lesson plans or tap into our curriculum.

Our podcast offers a smarter way to use a smartphone, melding literature with a tween’s favorite device.

By taping episodes before live audiences at public schools and libraries, Los Angeles actively demonstrates that “LA is the Best Place for Bookworms!”

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?

The podcast began in 2015 in Washington, DC. Creator Kitty Felde moved the show home to her native Southern California in 2020. We want to play a central role in LA’s literary life.

Book Club for Kids has received the California Library Association’s Technology Award and the DC Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities. The program was named one of the top ten podcasts for kids in the world by The Times of London and rated “excellent” by Common Sense Media.

We’ve taped live shows at the National Archives and book festivals from Maryland to Colorado to California.

Our celebrity readers have included the former US Secretary of Education, a Laker, a Dodger, members of Congress, a governor, a mayor, a spy, an FBI agent, and numerous LA actors.

We offer free learning resources at our website: curriculum, reading tips, and an extensive recommended reading list.

Kitty Felde is a veteran public radio journalist who first created Book Club for Kids for her talk show on KPCC.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?

Direct impact
Indirect impact

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Los Angeles has always been a city of readers. And writers. Has technology changed that forever? What happens to LA if its future citizens are poor readers?

Using technology for good is Book Club for Kids’ way of creating lifelong readers.

In addition, talking about a book together connects us, creating community. It allows us to talk about what’s on our minds, inspired by what we’ve read.

NOTE: To further explain the impact of “LA is the Best Place for Bookworms! Creating Lifelong Readers With Digital Media,” we estimate 300 young readers will directly participate in podcast tapings with another Angelenos; 1800 in the audience at live events. Additionally, we estimate the number of downloads of LA2050 podcast episodes to top 420,000.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

We can measure success in a number of ways:

  • The number of patrons who join us at their local library for live events
  • The number of LA2050 episode downloads
  • The increase in sign-ups for free reading tips newsetters
  • The number of press mentions

But our larger purpose is to inspire that lifelong love of reading. It’s a tough metric to measure.

To help us with data, we have partnered a pair of professors from the College of Education and Integrative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona. These researchers will study how the podcast can influence reading habits. Their methods will include both surveys and focus groups. The research will be published as part of “LA is the Best Place for Bookworms! Creating Lifelong Readers With Digital Media”! final report and distributed widely in the press and academic media.

Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?​

  • Student proficiency in English & Language Arts

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?

  • LA is the best place to CONNECT

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?

  • Access to the LA2050 community
  • Host public events or gatherings
  • Communications support
  • Capacity, including staff
  • Strategy assistance and implementation