Imagine Your Story This Summer

By Fern Hallman, M. Ln.

Librarians are always thinking ahead, and early winter is the perfect time to plan your summer reading program. Fortunately, some librarians think about this all year long and have given us a head start.

The Collaborative Summer Library Program was established in Minnesota in 1987. It is a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading materials for children, teens, and adults at public libraries across the country. The organization chooses a theme, creates artwork, and produces materials such as posters, reading logs, and bookmarks to help libraries promote their summer reading programs. Libraries nationwide join together to achieve the goals of helping young children build reading and language skills, motivating teens to read and discuss literature, and encouraging adults to rediscover the joy of reading. You can find more information about the program here. The group is also represented on most social media platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter).

This year’s theme is a broad one: Imagine Your Story. It leaves room for almost any book to be included, and our lists provide lots and lots of ideas. In addition to a wide array of fiction and biographies, we have included books on the human mind, self-awareness, inspiration, short story collections, and speculation about the future. For the youngest children, there are concept books that teach early reading skills. Teens can read about idealists and different views of the world. Adults can expand their horizons with our list of popular and important titles, including fiction, nonfiction, and biographies. 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 a special list for Spanish-speaking patrons. For the librarian crowd, we have included a list of professional titles to help you manage your libraries, select books, create programs, and plan for the future.

Most public libraries consider summer reading programs to be a core feature of their offerings. They began as a way to encourage young readers to keep reading beyond the school year, preventing the so-called “summer slide,” or loss of reading skills when school lets out. Combined with entertaining activities, children are motivated to read, develop positive attitudes toward books and libraries, and are exposed to meaningful social and learning opportunities. More and more libraries have expanded these programs to target a wider audience of teens and adults. The public library is one of the main community spaces that provides cultural enrichment activities and programs in the summer. You can find more information on the history of summer reading programs, along with ideas for planning and evaluating your efforts, here.

It may be winter where you are, but summer will be here before you know it!

In these lists, we’ve included titles that follow this year's Summer Reading theme — with an emphasis on fairytales, folklore and mythology. You can follow these, create your own, or ask Brodart staff for assistance in creating a custom list.