Still time for summer reading

07/19/2012 9:54 AM

08/08/2014 10:11 AM

Wichita Public Library’s summer reading programs are in full swing, and if you’re not signed up yet, it is not too late.

Children up to 17 years old can register until July 26. Participants can set individual reading goals for the summer, with a minimum of one book. The program lasts until Aug. 2, and all prizes must be picked up by then.

Jennifer Heinicke, special-projects librarian, said the program has been successful in recent years.

“We know that kids who read over the summer enter school in the fall with their skills sharpened, ready to learn,” she said. “And it’s fun.”

So far, the children’s program has 10,228 participants, and the teen program has 1,591 participants — for a total of 11,819 summer readers. Last year, more than 11,000 readers signed up.

Once the reading goal has been achieved, participants can return to the library where they registered and pick up a certificate and prize bag with a free book and certificates from area establishments, including Pizza Hut, Pump It Up and Wichita Wingnuts. For a full listing of prizes, visit

Even if your children are too young to read on their own, books read to them by others count in the program.

Here are some suggestions of engaging summertime reading for young readers, preteens and teens.

All ages

•  “Go Out and Play! Favorite Outdoor Games from Kaboom!” by Kaboom!: The book contains about 70 activities that range from old favorites like flashlight tag to new adaptations of old favorites like drip, drip, drop. Simple instructions for how to play each game, as well as a brief list of the number of players, recommended ages, space required, and suggested materials, are included on each page.

Ages 3-5

•  “Little Owl’s Night” by Divya Srinivasan: Sure to make going to bed a snap. Join this endearing little owl on his adventures through the night. Preschoolers will enjoy making many of the animal sounds while a parent or caregiver reads from this book.

Ages 5-6

•  “Rhyming Dust Bunnies” by Jan Thomas: Not only a rhyming book, it’s funny, fuzzy and comes with a surprise ending. It also gives readers a new slant on vacuum cleaners. (Adults will enjoy it too.)

Ages 6-8

•  “Those Darn Squirrels and the Cat Next Door” by Adam Rub: A quirky and hilarious picture book about Mr. Fookwire and the crafty squirrels who plague his life. In this story, however, follow-up to “Those Darn Squirrels,” Fookwire and the squirrels face another annoyance: Muffins, the neighbor’s antagonistic feline who bullies the squirrels and annoys the birds. Muffins gets his comeuppance when the squirrels organize a plan to make Muffins an indoor cat permanently.

Ages 6-9

•  “I Broke My Trunk” by Mo Willems: Gerald the elephant tells his best friend Piggie a long, crazy story about how he broke his trunk. Willems is the author of “Knuffle Bunny” and the “Pigeon” series along with the “Elephant and Piggie” books. Children can relate to these silly stories and will laugh out loud at some of the conundrums that ensue.

•  “Just a Second: A Different Way to Look at Time” by Steve Jenkins: This nonfiction picture book explores time and how we think about it in a different way — as a series of events in the natural world (some of them directly observable, others not) that take place in a given unit of time. The bold illustrations will catch the attention of young readers, and the interesting facts will fascinate them.

•  “The Hop” by Sharelle Byars Moranville: A twist on the traditional “Frog Prince” story, this chapter book focuses on Tad, a young toad, and his quest to find the “Queen of the Hop.” If Tad can find and kiss the Queen, his home, Toadville-by-Tumbledown, will be saved from destruction. While Tad is off on his own quest, a young girl named Taylor is busy trying to save her beloved grandmother’s pond from being turned into another strip mall. Will Mother Earth and Father Pond (yes, pond) bring these two together in time? Filled with magic, adventure and family life, this environment-friendly book will appeal to many this summer.

Ages 7-10

•  “No Easy Way: The Story of Ted Williams and the Last .400 Season” by Fred Bowen: Starting with Ted Williams’ dream of being the greatest hitter who ever lived as he grew up in San Diego, this true story shares the drama and excitement of his quest to finish the season with a batting average of .400.

Ages 8-12

•  “No Talking” by Andrew Clements: The Laketon Elementary School’s noisy fifth-grade boys challenge the equally noisy fifth-grade girls to a “no talking” contest.

Ages 9-12

•  “Heat” by Mike Lupica: Because his parents and birth certificate are still in Cuba, pitching prodigy Michael Arroya is banned from Little League because he cannot prove that he is really only 12 years old.

Ages 10-14

•  “Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam” by Cynthia Kadohata: A young soldier in Vietnam bonds with his bomb-sniffing dog.


•  “Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer” by John Grisham: Theodore is the son of two lawyers and has lawyer inclinations at an early age. Like the “Nancy Drew” and “Hardy Boys” sleuths, he gets involved, perhaps over his head, with a major criminal case in town, sometimes skirting the boundaries of his school and parents. The first book has a cliff-hanging conclusion, so the following book, “Theodore Boone, the Abduction,” is a must-read as well as the third in the series, “The Accused.” “Theodore Boone” is a series that will most likely develop a huge following. Although Theodore is a boy willing to take risks, his parents and home life are comfortingly stable. The appeal will range from the most reluctant readers to the adventurous.

•  “Inside Out and Back Again” by Thanhha Lai: Written in prose, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama. It is a story of heartbreak, growth and accomplishment as a new immigrant struggles to find her place in a new country and culture.

•  “Dead End in Norvelt” by Jack Gantos: It is 1962 and Jack Gantos, age 12, is “grounded for life” by his parents, who fight all the time. Jack’s mother sends him to help a feisty old neighbor for the summer, and he ends up typing obituaries. He learns a great deal about the people of his small town in Pennsylvania. What seemingly is the worst punishment of all turns out to be full of fun, adventure and mystery. Winner of the 2012 Newbery Award, it is well worth a read.


•  “Article 5” by Kristen Simmons: In the near future, in a society where the authority is controlled by soldiers instead of police, life is under tight control. Society is enforced according to Article 5 — the Moral Statutes. Punishment for the violation of Article 5 can be harsh. People get arrested for reading the wrong books, behaving in a certain way, and disobeying the curfew. Ember Miller, 17 years old, remembers the time when life in the United States was much different. When her mom violates Article 5 for not being compliant, Ember has to come to her mother’s defense. Ember also learns that the person who arrested her mom is Chase Jennings, the boy she is in love with. Those who love “The Hunger Games” will definitely like this book. The narrator’s voice is compelling and believable.

•  “The Future of Us” by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler: Josh and Emma live in 1996 and they’ve just signed on to AOL for the first time. Miraculously, they discover their Facebook profiles 15 years into the future. Josh is ecstatic when he learns about the future, but Emma — not so much, and she races to change it. This book takes an insightful look at the immense consequences of our everyday decisions, and there is a hint of romance in it to please young readers.

•  “Divergent” (trilogy) by Veronica Roth: This is one of the best dystopian series since “The Hunger Games.” In a futuristic Chicago, society is divided into five factions based on aptitude for honesty, intelligence, bravery, pacifism and selflessness. Tris learns in her 16th year that she is Divergent (fitting into more than one faction), which makes her “dangerous,” and she transfers unexpectedly into the faction known for bravery.

Contributing: Matt Riedl of The Wichita Eagle; Orange County Register

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