girlreadinginatreeEvery year, thousands of librarians organize and prepare amazing programs and resources to help children, teens and adults read and learn throughout the summer months. These summer reading programs help to bridge the gap in learning that often happens from the time school ends until it begins again; a time when parents play a critically important role in keeping their young ones reading, even when it is “unassigned”! The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s (CSLP) national summer reading theme for this year is HEROES—one that will be sure to inspire and encourage everyone.

As a parent, you may wonder how to get involved or what activities you can do with your children to help them get the most out of their summer. Here are a few tips from librarians to make your summer a success.

  • Check out the events taking place at your local library. Many libraries have reading programs where participants log the books or time spent reading and are given incentives or books for their efforts. Libraries also host a number of fun programs for all ages.
  • Get recommended books and learning resources from the library and spend a few minutes each day reading together as a family. With a theme like heroes, there are so many books, graphic novels, audiobooks, ebooks, and movies that bring out the hero in all of us. For additional practice, many libraries have special reading dogs that visit. Reading to a dog provides a safe forum for children to practice reading out loud, since dogs don’t judge readers’ skills or correct their mistakes.
  • Engage your child in a wide variety of learning styles by incorporating a range of activities, including sensory-rich art projects and large-motor opportunities. Sensory-rich art materials include seeds, rice, cotton balls, fabrics such as velvet and burlap, and spices with strong smells, such as cinnamon.
  • Be creative by writing, illustrating and making your own hero story or game. The skills that are used to do these activities foster the development of story plots and narrative skills. Sequential art contributes to children’s ability to understand cause and effect. Use free programs such as Scratch to turn the stories into fun computer games, which help children with mathematical concepts.
  • Engage in science and exploratory activities. One of the most important ways children learn is through observation and hands-on experiences. Ask your librarian for books and resources with simple science experiments. Then, show your kids how to record predictions and results. They will use the scientific process in school and throughout life in solving problems.
  • Make something at your library. Libraries around the world are embracing the maker movement and offering programs using 3D printers, TinkerCad, power tools, sewing machines, and so much more.
  • Kate DiCamilloRead about your favorite author’s heroes. Kate DiCamillo, Newbery Medal-winning author of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, and the first ever National Summer Reading Champion, writes about Miss Alice, her local librarian.

Let your local library and librarians champion you and your family as you take off into a summer learning adventure. Reading! Learning! Doing! (FOR FREE!) Whatever your need, the library is a place that gives children of all ages the freedom to choose a book for their own reading pleasure, reinforcing the simple joy of reading, key to establishing lifelong readers in your family. As our Summer Reading Champion says, “We can all be super-powered by stories.”

Here is a list of suggested books for all ages from Kate DiCamillo, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and the CSLP National Summer Reading Champion:

Picture Books:


Middle Grade:

Find more suggested books and activities:

About Karen Yother

Karen Yother, a 17-year librarian who recently received the Librarian of the Year Award from the Idaho Library Association, is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Community Library Network. Yother is currently the past president of the Collaborative Summer Library Program, a national nonprofit composed of volunteers who create, produce and provide public libraries with high-quality summer reading materials for children, teens and adults across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and four island territories

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