Summer Reading 2021

Featured Events

Tales of Tails with the Topeka Zoo
July 1, 11 am
Experience the zoo from your living room or backyard, as Topeka Zoo staff introduce us to five different animals! Learn what makes their tails special, what they eat, where they live and more.

Unicorns Break the Cage with Tailwise
July 7, 3 pm
Join us on a wild adventure about two kids who visit the city zoo and discover incredible animals, including a horse who knows in its heart that it’s truly a unicorn! The animals join forces to stand up to the tyrannical zoo owner — but do they have what it takes to leave their cages forever? The fun animated story segues into fascinating science concept segments about life sciences and animals, so you won’t only be entertained — you'll learn something, too!


Sparkle Take and MakerSpace Make your own Sparkle the Unicorn!
Written Instructions
Video Instructions

Color Sparkle pages:

Booklists and Reading Log

Find your next favorite book with one of our lists for kids, teens and adults.

We also recommend:

Track your progress at home with our Summer Reading log.


Tails and More Tails: Animal Photography Contest

Fantasy Sticker Contest

Fantasy Short Story Contest

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Johnson County Library Summer Reading Program?
The Summer Reading Program is an initiative that aims to promote reading and literacy to children, teens and adults. Each summer, Johnson County Library offers programs and events connected to the Summer Reading theme, which this year is Tails and Tales. The theme is chosen by the Collaborative Summer Library Program and adopted by libraries across the country.

Why is Summer Reading so important?
Johnson County Library promotes reading and literacy by offering access to books, programs and presenters during the summer months to help encourage our community to keep reading and reduce summer slide. Research shows that kids who don’t practice reading skills during times when school is not in session can lose gains in ability made the previous academic year. Download a Summer Reading log to track your progress.

When does Summer Reading start and end?
The Summer Reading Program kicks off virtually Saturday, June 5 at 10 a.m., with noted author and educator Kwame Alexander as the keynote speaker and live entertainment and trivia to follow.

The grand finale of our 2021 Summer Reading Tales and Tails will be Saturday, July 31. We’ll showcase our contest winners, test our trivia mettle, and enjoy a special feature storytime with Sparkle the unicorn and friends.

How do I find out more information about Summer Reading at Johnson County Library?
We’ll update this website and our social media accounts frequently with new information and updates about our Summer Reading program. Follow @jocolibrary on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  We also offer a biweekly Summer Reading email newsletter this June and July with featured programming, reading recommendations, and more tips for summer fun. Sign up »


Will Summer Reading events be virtual in 2021?
Yes. The Library has postponed in-person events until Fall 2021. All programming will be virtual using Facebook Live, Zoom and On24.

Do I need to register for events?
Most events will require registration. Beginning in mid-April, you will find a full list of events and registration details on our Events Calendar »

Will you have contests this year?
Yes, we will have several contest opportunities this year: the Friends of Johnson County Library bookmark design contest and a sticker contest open to all ages, as well as a photography contest and short story contest geared toward teens. All entries will be submitted online and judged by teens, with the assistance of Library staff.


Will Johnson County Library be giving out Summer Reading books? 

Yes. We have already given out over 13,000 books to schools and Community Partners. We will continue with the final phase of our distribution in July through Pop Ups in the Park. Pop Ups in the Park is a new offering this summer that allow us to give out free books to the public, while meeting the organization’s public safety standards of social-distancing and not gathering large groups indoors. 

Why aren't books being given out in branches? 

As an organization, we have committed to doing no in-person programming through August 2021. Summer Reading is considered a program, so for this year there will be no in-person Summer Reading events or book giveaways happening in the branches. 

How do I know where to get a free book? 

You can sign up for our Summer Reading and/or Kids and Family eNewsletters where we will announce locations, dates and times. Information will also be shared on the Library’s Facebook and Instagram pages. 

When will they be given out? 

Saturday mornings in July (pending favorable weather and sufficient staffing).  

What kind of books will you be handing out at Summer Reading events?

Johnson County Library has ordered over 24,000 books across all age groups within the following categories:  Board, Picture, Easy Reader, J Fiction, J Nonfiction, and Teen. These lists show some of the books we will have available:

In addition to books, you’ll receive a Summer Reading bag filled with bookmarks, reading logs, stickers, and other library swag.