My husband loves television and is the classic remote “clicker,” as he speeds across the channels in search of the next most-interesting-thing. As a result, I learn about all kinds of strangely-fascinating programs I might never discover. One of these is History Channel’s American Pickers, a reality show that follows “pickers” Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel across the country searching for antiques and collectibles.
Because Mike Wolfe’s interest in all things old and rusty began in childhood, he has created both a book and a website designed to introduce young people to the joys of picking—while teaching about history and historical research. The Kid Pickers website says:
Being a Kid PickerTM is all about unlocking the mysteries of our past. Start with your family. Anytime you start to sort through old items and artifacts, especially family items, you are taking on the role of a detective.
Junior pickers look for artifacts and then learn where they came from, what they mean, and why they might be important. Junior pickers explore old family photographs and want to learn their stories. While junior picking may not lead directly to major events in history, it does encourage curiosity, problem solving, and a sense of history as a collection of stories—the perfect bases for historical research.
Junior Pickers could be the basis of a class project, a club, or a family adventure. The website has opportunities for parents to register junior pickers in a community of children under 13 who share a passion for exploring. The site is making clear efforts to keep the site safe for young people’s interactions, though of course parents will want to monitor the activities.
Whether junior picking is a week-long activity or a new passion, it gives young people plenty of opportunities to wonder and explore—the perfect combination to foster history-focused creativity.