Are you enjoying spring’s softer weather and blooming flowers or are you, like me, already deep in summer planning mode? Are you thinking about summer activities, events, maybe a weekend at ALA Annual Conference, possibly some time at the beach? Well, thankfully kid lit creators and book industry folks are way ahead of us with some outstanding summer-themed reads and tools to use in your library, summer-school classroom, and at home. Hopefully, the titles and tools on this list give you a bit of time back to dream about a shady porch, and comfy chair, and a fun summer-read of your own. Or is that just me?
Summer Reads Recommendations:
Cooler Than Lemonade
By Harshita Jerath
llustrated by Chloe Burgett
When summer heat inspires Eva to open a lemonade stand, she’s prepared for everything but a nearby competitor. Innovation abounds as their rivalry heats up—new flavors, live music, and free samples to bring in the crowds. Jerath weaves problem-solving skills and creativity through this snappy and sizzling story of vibrant young entrepreneurs.
Sari Sari Summer
By Lynnor Bontigao
Nora spends summers with her Lola in the Philippines, and this summer she is finally old enough to help in the sari-sari convenience store. When a heat wave slows business, Nora’s plan to whip up mango ice candy draws a crowd and saves the day. Gentle language and pacing combines with soft focus digital illustrations bring the fascinating store and sweet intergenerational relationship to life.
By Dashka Slater
Illustrated by Laura Hughes Candlewick
Kayla is in for a wild ride when she trades her training-wheeled Pink Pony in for Wild Blue, a brand new big kid bike. But summers are meant for bike rides, and with a lot of practice and Dad’s reassurance, she tames her new mount and rides off into the summer afternoon. Imagination and persistence are key in this sweet tale of overcoming a fear in order to do something new. Charming acrylic ink illustrations capture Kayla’s emotions, the glorious light of summer and the triumph of accomplishment.
The Firefly Summer
By Morgan Marson
Simon & Schuster
Ryanna is a mystery book lover and when she finds out there is a mystery in her very own life, a cryptic invitation for a summer with grandparents she’s never heard of, she can’t resist finding out more. At Camp Van Camp she discovers unknown cousins, details about the mother that died when she was a toddler, treasure map, and her happy place. Matson blends adventure, uncertainty, and self-discovery in this sweet family drama.
Pack Your Bags, Maggie Diaz
By Nina Moreno
Illustrated by Courtney Lovett
Maggie Diaz is ready for the trip of a lifetime, or at least seventh grade. As her trip gets closer, everyone in her life is distracted by something more important—grades, first loves, family drama. Moreno blends humor and emotion as Maggie finds her place in school, social, and family dynamics. Fun artwork throughout the text brings the diverse and multigenerational cast to vivid life.
Picture Perfect Boyfriend
By Becky Dean
Determined to fit into her proper family of optometrists, Kenzie has dropped her photography dreams for science classes and made up a responsible and respectable boyfriend. When her completely fictional boyfriend suddenly shows up on her family vacation to Hawaii, Kenzie isn’t sure how it all happened, but knows the lie is about to blow up in her face. Time with fake-Jacob reveals just how unsatisfied Kenzie is with her new life-path and how being truly herself is the only way to happiness. Part swoony romance and part heartfelt exploration of balancing family expectations and being true to yourself.
Rosewood: A Midsummer Meet Cute
By Sayantani Dasgupta
Eila has changed her pre-law plans to accompany her sister to Regency Camp and a potential role in a period drama. Camp drama and uncertainty about her life plans, combined with an unexpected summer romance, lead to conflict for the usually sensible Eila. Dasgupta combines her love for Bengali folktales, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen in this romantic, multicultural retelling combination of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Sense and Sensibility.
Tools for Teachers and Librarians:
iRead (from the Illinois Library Association)—Perhaps you’re still looking for a Summer Reading program or need some ideas to help implement yours. The iRead Program website is full of resources to support you and your readers. You can even get a head start on planning summer 2024 programming and, if you dig into the blog, get a sneak peek at the 2025 theme!
Kindly Ever After Adventures—Join Storyologist Page Turner (aka Jill Ross Nadler) for a summer reading program package full of stories, crafts, and videos for in person and/or online events.
Tools for Home-Adults:
ALSC Summer Reading Lists–The Association for Library Service to Children has posted their new reading lists, divided by age, and associated tools, games, and resources. Created by ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee, the lists are a fantastic tool for both librarians and home adults.
Scholastic Summer Reading—Home Base—From May 9 through August 19, kids can visit the summer zone in Scholastic Home Base, a completely free digital destination which offers stories, characters, games, and a community of readers. Home Base is moderated for safety 24/7.
And, of course, I highly recommend caregivers get kids involved in their local library’s summer reading program. Youth librarians around the country have been hard at work for months, dreaming up creative ways to connect kids with stories this summer. All you have to do is READ! Check library websites for availability to those outside the particular town.
Brookfield Public Library: All Together Now! Kickoff 6/1/23 6:30pm
Oak Park Public Library: Find Your Voice. Runs 6/1-8/15. Open to everyone.
Tools for Everyone:
Reading is Fundamental: Literacy Central — With tools for educators, caregivers, and volunteers, RIF’s site hosts a wealth of resources, tips, activities, and assistance in one free-to-use account.
*Link in the title to each tool.