Literary Links: Summer Reading 2016

Kristy Toplikar, Public Services Librarian

Summer is the perfect time to challenge your body with physical activities like sports and games. It’s also a great time to challenge your mind with some awesome summer reads. This year, we get to celebrate the combination of these two seemingly opposite things with the Summer Reading theme “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!” Let’s kick off the summer with suggested reads that will help us become rabid readers and knock out the summer brain drain. Registration for all ages begins on June 1. Now, on your mark, get set, READ!

For Ages 0-5

It's a Tiger

From rowing boats to piecing puzzles, the peas in “1-2-3 Peas” by Keith Baker (Beach Lane Books, 2012) are bursting with activity. Not only do these peas inspire some great summer activities, they also help kids count all the way to 100.

Get ready to sweat when reading the interactive book “It’s a Tiger” by David LaRochelle (Chronicle Books, 2012). Join in by running, climbing, leaping, swinging and swimming to get away from the dreaded tiger.

Dancing is a fun and active pastime, but it makes Gerald the giraffe trip over his feet in Giles Andreae’s “Giraffes Can’t Dance” (Orchard Books, 1999). Jeered at by his jungle friends after attempting to dance, Gerald leaves the annual jungle celebration. On his way home, he runs into a friendly cricket that plays him a song, sending Gerald into a lovely dance of his own.

If, after all that exercise, you want your kids to wind down, pick up Mariam Gates’ soothing book “Good Night Yoga” (Sounds True, 2015) to help. This gorgeously illustrated book teaches children simple yoga postures and techniques for relaxing both the mind and the body.

For Ages 5-12

Roller Girl

Feeling adventurous? Then read Mordicai Gerstein’s “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” (Roaring Brook Press, 2003). Gerstein tells the true story of Philippe Petit, a young French aerialist who walked, danced and performed tricks on a tightrope between the towers of the World Trade Center.

In “Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” (Yearling, 2014) by Chris Grabenstein, 12-year-old Kyle has to keep his mind in play when he and 11 other students get the opportunity to stay the night in Luigi Lemoncello’s library. The kids must solve puzzles and challenges to find the secret exit and win a spectacular prize.

For an inspiring read about girl power and perseverance, check out the graphic novel “Roller Girl” by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015). Twelve-year-old Astrid is determined to become a roller girl, so she joins derby camp, discovering that the sport is more difficult and rewarding than she ever imagined.

Are your kids interested in facts rather than fiction? Try checking out some of our great books on world records such as the “Scholastic Book of World Records 2016” by Jennifer Morse (Scholastic, 2015), “First Flight Around the World: The Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race” by Tim Grove (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015) and “Extreme Planet: Exploring the Most Extreme Stuff on Earth!” by Michael Dubois (Lonely Planet, 2012).

For Ages 12-18

Ready Player One

“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline (Crown, 2011) features a virtual utopia seemingly better than the dreadful reality in year 2044. Wade Watts connects to the computer-generated utopia to unlock the promise of fortune and power, but he soon finds his life threatened by players seeking the same prize.

The race is on in “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner when Thomas, a teen who has no memory of his former life, wakes up in a giant maze and is forced to work with his comrades to escape.

In Matthew Quick’s “Boy 21” (Delacorte Press, 2009), Finley, a quiet teen who is passionate about basketball, dreams of escaping his miserable home town where violence and racial tension are rampant. He is encouraged by his coach to mentor a troubled peer, prompting a friendship that helps both teens change for the better.

Readers will heartily cheer on 16-year-old Jessica on in “The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen (Ember, 2012) when she proves that, despite the loss of her leg in a tragic accident, she can still compete in sports and cross the finish line.

For Adults

Grandma Gatewood's Walk

The adult Summer Reading program is an easy way to discover new books and connect with other readers. Sign up, write book reviews, and you’ll be entered into weekly prize drawings. Also, don’t miss our book-related programs, including a series of walking book clubs highlighting titles about personal challenges like Ben Montgomery’s “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail” (Chicago Review Press, 2014) and a “speed dating” program to help you discover new titles.

We’ll continue to recommend books all summer long. Check our displays or visit our blogs at, and

Literary Links, compiled by library staff, appears monthly in the Ovation section of the Columbia Daily Tribune. Each article contains a short list of books on a timely topic.
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