A Universe of Stories

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As I'm writing this, the polar vortex is plunging deep into the nation, and it's hard to imagine that it’s time to get ready for summer reading! I’m a firm believer that there should be no Christmas decorations at Target before Halloween, but it’s never too soon to plan for what is the biggest event of the year for many libraries. The new books! The decorations and promotional materials! The programs!

Some studies say that reading as few as five books in the summer can prevent “summer slide,” the loss of reading skills while school is out for the summer. The whole family can benefit by participating in these programs, and libraries benefit by attracting new readers, raising their profiles in the community, and building book circulation.

Many public libraries organize summer reading clubs with easy-to-reach goals for preschool and school-age children. In recent years, libraries have expanded these programs to target a wider audience, including more activities for teens and adults. In recent years, libraries have also joined with the USDA to provide food assistance in low income communities. Many children are at risk of going hungry without access to the free or reduced-price meals they receive in school. According to the Collaborative Summer Library Program (a self-described "consortium of states working together to provide high quality summer reading for public libraries"), to be well read, you must be well fed.

The Collaborative Summer Library Program was established in 1987, when a group of Minnesota library systems worked together to design high-quality summer reading program materials. The program expanded nationwide; I often notice CSLP graphics and materials when I visit library branches in various states. Dedicated librarians share their ideas and expertise to help libraries across the country provide programs that help young children build reading and language skills, to motivate teens to read and discuss literature, and to encourage adults to rediscover the joy of reading. You can find more information about the CSLP here. You can also follow them on Facebook and Pinterest.

The theme of this year’s program is A Universe of Stories. The theme can be interpreted in many ways. A big area of interest is space exploration, tying in to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. And of course, a wide array of STEM topics will be of interest. On the fiction side, readers can explore new ideas in science fiction and international authors. For the youngest children, concept books teach early reading skills. Teens can read about heroism and different views of the world. Adults can explore the world with some of the most popular and important fiction titles available. Lists include the newest titles and some older favorites. There are fiction and nonfiction titles, biographies, easy readers, picture books, board books, graphic novels and even a special list for Spanish speaking patrons. For all of you librarians, we have included a list of professional titles to help you run your library. Now’s the time to think warm thoughts, get out your sunglasses and kick off preparations for summer. View titles here