All Together Now! Get Ready for Summer Reading 2023!

Johnson County Library is delighted to welcome everyone for Summer Reading 2023! The theme this year is “All Together Now” which is perfect to frame a rich roster of programming for the whole family. Johnson County Library is ready to invite everyone to book distributions and in-person events encouraging literacy and reading among children, teens and adults.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​“We have really embraced this theme, thinking about programming that not only offers a variety of ways to get engaged in Library programming but also ways we can intentionally bring the communities of Johnson County together, all ages, all ethnicities,” said Elementary Coordinating Librarian Melanie Fuemmeler.

The Summer Reading theme is a nationwide campaign provided by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, with this year’s graphics done by illustrator Frank Morrison.

​​​​For many Johnson County Library staffers, Summer Reading is their favorite time of year. “I’m really excited about connecting patrons with new experiences,” said Monticello Youth Information Specialist Michelle Ranney. “Whether that’s going to a program or getting a free book or engaging with the Library for the first time. I love how it opens the community to all the different ways you can experience the Library.”

Answers to Summer Reading questions are available on the Library's Summer Reading webpage.

The kickoff is June 1 at Central Resource Library, featuring Newbery-winner Jacqueline Woodson, author of “Brown Girl Dreaming” and other acclaimed best-sellers. She will speak about her work, answer questions and do a book signing in an event that already has a waitlist. The program will be recorded for registrants to view online.

The Library will host free book distributions in its branches throughout June. It has ordered 25,000 books including picture books, Easy Reader, J Fiction, Non-Fiction and Teen selections.

Even before that, during April and May, more than 13,000 free books are distributed through Johnson County’s elementary schools and community partners like Merriam Parks and Recreation and the Jewish Community Center. This Library outreach began during COVID and has proven to be hugely successful.

“It’s getting a book in their hands, building those home libraries, giving out high interest titles,” Fuemmeler said. “So students have them before they even leave for the summer.”

This year’s Summer Reading events are particularly exuberant and fun. MakerSpace presenters will provide creative programming at Central, Antioch, Monticello and Gardner. Library favorites like Dino O’Dell and Mr. Stinky Feet will perform. MISTER G, a bilingual artist/musician/author, will do a book signing and concert at Central on June 24.

Other workshops will feature Drum Safari, breakdancing, circus performance arts, and science activities. Popular programs like Tabletop Games and READ to a Dog are back in person.

The season wraps up July 29 at Central Library and the adjacent Strang Park with a celebration including popular local performer Funky Mama (Krista Tatschl Eyler) and artist-musician Camry Ivory.

Reading logs are available to help kids keep track of what they’ve read, but the goal isn’t to plow through a ton of books.

“We want quality and engagement over quantity,” said Central Information Specialist Christin Devonshire, part of the programming committee. “We are not trying to treat it like a homework assignment.”

Monticello Youth Services Librarian Jennifer Reeves can’t wait to see the branches full of parents and children this summer. It’s also a celebratory time for staff. “There’s just a buzz,” she said. “I love the excitement.”

For Devonshire, the summer reading season exudes joy, particularly this year. “The theme feels so timely when we have felt distanced from each other and had all these barriers,” she said. “The Library is the place that will bring us together.”