5 Summer Reading Activities for Book Lovers

Father and son reading outside of a camping tent..For my family, July is a month of backyard cookouts, running through the sprinkler and enjoying nights out at the ball park. We take trips to the playground, get all sweaty from running around, and then head over to our local library to cool down in the air conditioning, fill a canvas tote with books and check off more boxes on our summer reading challenge forms.

Summer offers lots of literacy-focused fun beyond library visits and recreational reading, so I thought I’d focus this month on some reading activities you can enjoy with your whole family or share with your patrons.

Book Festivals

Book festivals are often a child’s first chance to meet the women and men behind their favorite stories. Often authors and illustrators give talks about their story-making processes, share character and plot inspiration and answer questions from the audience. Afterward, attendees have the opportunity to get their books signed by the author or illustrator. To those who have never attended a book festival before, the experience can be thrilling and magical: rushing from tent to tent to meet authors, being picked to have your question answered in front of a crowd and standing eye-to-eye with the person who wrote that book you love! That book you read every single night, the one with all the dog-eared pages. Every kid should experience a book festival at some point in their childhood. Lucky for us, book festivals happen all across the country at all points of the year. The Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip offers some great opportunities for families with kids up to age 12. Check with your local chamber of commerce to get information on other events in your area.

Indie Bookstore Passport

The national parks have a Passport To Your National Parks booklet aimed at inspiring travelers to visit as many national parks as possible throughout their lives, capturing cancellation stamps in their passport at each park they visit. Last year a friend of mine did a similar challenge with her two daughters, only they focused on visiting as many local independent bookstores as possible throughout the summer. As I researched more, I discovered the Twin Cities Independent Bookstore Passport used to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day in April. The idea is this: you receive (or create) a passport listing all the independent bookstores in your area. Set a deadline and a goal for how many you’d like to visit, and then set out on an adventure to see new destinations and explore new places celebrating great books. You don’t need to purchase anything to make the trip worth the drive. Learning about a new bookstore means you’ll have a memory you can share with friends. And maybe you can plan a visit when the bookstore has a scheduled storytime for a visiting author to make the memory even more meaningful. If you’re on social media, sharing posts of your visits and tagging the bookstores can help raise more awareness of the business for family and friends which, in turn, ends up helping the bookstore a lot!

Little Free Library Drop and Swap

Little Free LibraryLittle Free Libraries have popped up in neighborhoods, schools and small businesses all over the country. If you’re not yet familiar with the take-a-book, leave-a-book boxes, they are handmade boxes, usually on a post and a little bigger than a milk crate, filled with gently used books people have donated for others to enjoy. Anyone can leave books for others. Anyone can take a book or two to enjoy. Some boxes are easy to spot because of their bright or ornate decorations. Some boxes are geared specifically for children. All the boxes have collections that change frequently. Here’s where you come in. Go through your collection of books at home and consider which ones you’d be okay with donating. Then visit Little Free Library’s World Map Search Tool to find one near you. Note the locations near you, near your extended family or near the spot of your upcoming vacation, and plan to drop off some of your books or swap them for new reads. Check back throughout the summer when you’ve finished reading and you’re ready to try something new.

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

The annual Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge runs from May 7 through September 7 and is focused on helping students discover new books, make connections with real-world activities and track the minutes they’ve read throughout the summer. It’s something you can do as a family, school or library, and all of the minutes are added together in one large total for your state, so it’s easy to feel like you’re part of something big! Learn more on the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge homepage.

We’re the People Summer Reading List

The 2018 We’re The People Summer Reading List is the perfect place to go for age-appropriate suggestions for diverse books for your children and students to read independently or with family. The site states, “The team at We’re the People select books that are by and about IPOC (Indigenous and People of Color), people with disabilities and people from the LGBTQ+ community. Chosen books are thoroughly discussed, vetted and given second reads.” Titles are organized into Picture Books, Chapter Books/Beginning Readers, Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult Crossover, and each listing includes the book’s publisher, a brief description and a note about the languages that are incorporated into the book. It’s one of the most valuable tools I’ve found for bringing greater awareness to books by authors of color and indigenous authors, and it’s one I know we’ll be reading from as a family this summer as well.

Connect With Us Online

How do you support literacy throughout the summer? Do you have any fun reading challenges or traditions you turn to each year? Are you planning to try out anything new this summer? Be sure to let us know in the comments below or by connecting with us on Twitter at @MatthewWinner and @demco. We’d love to spread the word about how you’re championing reading this summer and throughout the year!



Matthew Winner

Matthew Winner

Library Media Specialist and Host of The Children’s Book Podcast
Matthew Winner is an elementary school librarian in Howard County, Maryland. He is the host of The Children's Book Podcast (formerly All The Wonders), a weekly podcast featuring insightful and sincere interviews with authors, illustrators and everyone involved in taking a book from drawing board to bookshelf. He is the author of Asha Went Walking, a webcomic for young readers illustrated by Lorian Tu-Dean, about a girl, her arctic fox companion and her magic bag. In 2013, Matthew was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker and was invited to the White House as part of the Champions of Change program. Visit Matthew online at www.matthewcwinner.com/blog or on Twitter at @MatthewWinner.