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The Read Ahead:
Kid Lit News & Views —
June 2016 Edition

by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Photo credits: Antonio's "Bibliomotocarro" via 5election; suitcase-based Little Free Library photo via @presocia/Instagram.

The Read Ahead is a series that aims to explore current events, trends, and unique views in children’s and young adult literature. In this June 2016 installation, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich dives into summer, exploring new award-winning reads, book festivals to look out for, fun literary activities, and more!

To read the March 2016 installment of the Read Ahead, click here.

As soon as spring really kicks into gear, I start dreaming about the promise of relaxed, recreational summer reading. In these warmer months I look forward to books at the beach, library summer reading challenges, and sharing titles at barbecues. It’s also the perfect time to organize special reading-based activities.

Years ago, when my daughter was very young, I started the “Brooklyn Blooms,” a local summer book club for moms and their daughters. We’d all go to the park, spread out a blanket and snacks, and just read together. Mothers read aloud, toddlers wandered away to explore books on their own, we all swapped reads … it was magical. Books have the power to inspire and unite generations. (Speaking of which, if you’re looking to start your own parent-child reading group, make sure to check out Brightly’s monthly Family Book Club!)

In this summer-themed edition of The Read Ahead, we highlight just a few of the many ways to celebrate the joy of books this season!

Making News

The kids have spoken. The Children’s Choice Book Awards were announced last month, and winners include longtime favorite R. L. Stine for his book The Little Shop of Monsters, and debuts George, by Alex Gino, and Conviction, by Kelly Loy Gilbert. Judd Winick’s Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, the first in the Hilo series, was named 5th – 6th Grade Book of the Year; Winick recently released the second book in this popular series, Saving the Whole Wide World. Winners are voted on by children and teens across the country; for the full list visit the Children’s Book Council website.

A challenge to young readers. As National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang, has chosen “Reading Without Walls” as his platform. With this project, Yang challenges readers to expand their worlds through reading, to use books as passports to places unknown. He writes, “I want every kid — every reader, really — to explore the world through books. Books have played a vital role in getting me outside of my comfort zone. I believe they can do the same for you.”

A Book-Filled Summer

Books to grow on. The second installment of We Need Diverse Books’ popular Summer Reading Series is on its way! The “If you liked…” recommendation format spotlights exciting new and diverse stories for young readers. This summer’s picks include even more picture and chapter book recommendations — guaranteeing windows and mirrors for all ages.

The bus stops here. Looking for a fantastic literary voyage? A mobile celebration of reading and books is traveling across the country, and might be in your neck of the woods very soon. Learn more about the Story Stop bus here. Scholastic is also hitting the road with its “Summer Reading Road Trip.” Authors, illustrators, and favorite characters will visit communities and host mini book festivals at each location. For more info visit the Scholastic website.

Lit fests coast to coast. Speaking of festivals, The Bay Area Book Festival will kick off the summer on June 4 and 5 with unique programs such as “How A Mountain Was Made,” a theater performance of Native stories by Greg Sarris, and a panel celebrating Muslims in children’s literature. On the other side of the country, Queens, NY — often called one of the most diverse places on earth — is set to host its very first book festival ever, Queens Book Festival, on August 7. On September 17, New Yorkers can visit Kids’ Day at the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is known to draw crowds from all over the world. And just a few days later, on September 24, the kid-lit-only Princeton Children’s Book Festival takes place.

Get outdoors with words. Summer camp? It can absolutely go hand-in-hand with literacy. Programs like Thalia Book Club Summer Camp in New York City fill up quickly with young bibliophiles who jump at the chance to meet favorite authors, take bookish field trips, and just immerse themselves in the world of story. Writopia Lab is another great option for creative kids; both sleepaway and day camp programs are offered in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Chicago, where children can create their own stories in many genres.

Free to be reading. People around the world have fallen in love with Little Free Libraries, and summer vacation might be a great opportunity to check one out — or build your own. The Long Beach Public Library in New York offers readers a colorful array of lovely boardwalk libraries. If you’re vacationing in the Italian countryside (in which case I’m quite envious!), you might come across Antonio’s “Bibliomotocarro,” which serves as both a bookmobile and little free library on a modified motorbike. And you don’t have to go anywhere to build a suitcase-based Little Free Library like this one — a perfect way to showcase the idea that books truly are passports to new worlds!

Hot Reads

And if you’re looking for more book recommendations for the season, make sure to check out this list of The Best Children’s Books of Summer 2016 and the 10 New YA Books to Read This Summer!


What are your family’s summer reading plans? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!