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updated: 5/16/2013 5:49 PM

American Pickers star inspires kids to see treasure, not trash

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  • Author Mike Wolf

      Author Mike Wolf

  • "Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure" (Feiwel and Friends, 2013), by Mike Wolfe with Lily Sprengelmeyer, $12.99, 114 pages.

      "Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure" (Feiwel and Friends, 2013), by Mike Wolfe with Lily Sprengelmeyer, $12.99, 114 pages.

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

It was just about the coolest thing you'd ever seen.

Most people might've described the old bottle as garbage. True, it was dirty and half-sticking out of the ground. Yes, it was junk. But there was writing on the side and a date on the bottom. It was blue and when the sun hit it just right, despite the dirt, you could see something awesome.

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Yeah, most people would call that bottle "garbage," but you call it a treasure. And in the new book "Kid Pickers" by Mike Wolfe (with Lily Sprengelmeyer), you'll meet folks who would agree.

When American Picker Mike Wolfe was your age, he loved nothing more than "picking through junk." His room, he says, was filled with "rusty gold." He especially loved bikes and old comic books.

"I never thought of it as junk," he says. "To me, this was treasure."

Picking is fun, you see, and becoming a Kid Picker is easy: having this book is a good start, and the tools you need are in your head. You shouldn't even need a lot of money because some of the best finds are free or cheap. All you have to do is start looking for things that interest you.

Neighborhood garage sales are great places to pick. They're also great places to practice using your bargaining skills, so you'll need to know how to negotiate. Don't be afraid to bargain down because it never hurts to ask, right?

You'll find a lot of great stuff at auctions, but that takes practice, lots of caution, and an adult's help. Keep your eyes open and know what you're bidding on, or you could end up with something you'd never want in a million years!

Thrift shops are picker's paradise. Antique stores have tons of treasures. Flea markets don't have real fleas, but they do have lots of goodies. You might also have good luck picking within your own family's attic or barn. Then, no matter where you find your prize, try to find out more about it. Who owned it? Where did it come from? Is it worth lots of money, or is it just cool?

And finally what are you going to do with it?

Remember thinking you might strike it rich with something you dug out of a barn, a box, or a bucket of dirt? Give your kids those dreaming possibilities, too, by giving them "Kid Pickers" to read.

Author and History Channel star Mike Wolfe speaks to the hearts of junk yard pups with a bit of biography and even more useful hints. I liked the encouragement that kids get here -- including advice on picking their family history -- and I loved the pictures. I also think the profiles of other young pickers are just plain fun.

Alas, the words "ask permission" are somewhat lacking here, so before you send your kids out with this book, be sure to repeat them a few times. With that reminder fresh in their heads, 7-to-12-year-olds will find "Kid Pickers" to be a gold mine.

• Terri Schlichenmeyer, aka The Bookworm, has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.

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