Summer Reading Club

Summer Reading Club

President Lincoln loved to read. Reading was his way out of a small cabin on a rural farm—through reading, he learned about life, citizenship, the importance of character and honesty, and his place in the larger world around him. It is from Lincoln’s beliefs that our reading club takes inspiration.

We invite you to join us this summer as we discuss books about the world we share. Our hope is to provide relevant books that allow you to engage with our staff and your peers around topics that are important to you. Our promise is a safe space where you can think, discuss your ideas, challenge assumptions, and (hopefully) grow a little based on what we read. We also promise to remember it’s summer and keep it fun!

The Books

Each summer, we’ll select three different books for Intermediate (ages 10-13) and Advanced (ages 14-18) readers. We strongly recommend that youth participate in their age appropriate reading group as we select the books for each group intentionally. That said, parents, you know your child best - please enroll them in the events that work for them.

Intermediate Readers

​June 15
​July 13
​August 10

The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate

Common Sense Media

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks, Jason Reynolds

Common Sense Media
Other Words for Home, Jasmine Warga

Common Sense Media

Advanced Readers

June 22
​July 20
​August 17
​Turtles All the Way Down, John Green

Common Sense Media
​Dear Martin, Nic Stone

Common Sense Media
​Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Marjane Satrapi

School Library Journal

Parental Advisory: Includes a depiction of torture where a guard urinates on a detainee and a verbal threat of sexual violence against Marjane's mother. 

A Note to Parents

Our book selections are vetted using industry-recognized sources, including Common Sense Media and the School Library Journal. When these are unavailable, staff complete due diligence research, often referencing the writings of school librarians and teachers. Further, staff who lead these programs either have teaching experience or have been trained to facilitate youth reading programs and discussions.

As a museum, we believe it is important to tackle both history and our lived experience, warts and all. We also believe, as educators, that children who engage others around challenging topics, learning to express their opinions respectfully, while hearing and considering the opinions of others, mature to be engaged citizens in a participatory democracy.

Given our desire to present the world as it is, you will notice that all of our books include links to Common Sense Media reviews, which contain detailed information about the contents of the book. Where a Common Sense Media review is not available, we provide a “parental advisory.” For each book, please review the linked materials and any advisories to make sure you are comfortable with your child reading the book and participating in a dynamic conversation in a group setting, where things can be, even with the best of intentions and facilitation, somewhat unpredictable. If you are not comfortable with your child reading a particular book, please do not register them for that book club and, depending on their age, consider enrolling them in the other group that month.

Preparing for Summer Reading Club

To prepare for each session of Summer Reading Club, we ask that you:

1. Read the book.

2. While you read, think about how the book makes you feel, how it may challenge your beliefs, and what you still want to know.

3. Jot down a few questions you want to discuss when we meet.

If life got busy and you didn’t finish the book but were able to read most of it, you’re still welcome to participate, but [SPOILER ALERT]—you can’t be upset when (it’s never if, it’s when) we talk about the ending...because we will.

If you can’t think of any questions to ask, that’s okay, just make note of the things you think are important in the book or the topics you really want to spend some time talking about.

I've Already Read the Book, Can I Still Participate?

Absolutely! If you've read the book and remember it well enough to discuss it in a group, you’re welcome to join us. If you aren’t sure what you would discuss, you might want to skim the book to refresh your memory and consider topics for conversation.

Our Expectations During Summer Reading Club

This isn’t a class. We won’t ask you to sit quietly and listen, nor do we have a handbook of rules to follow. But we do have a few expectations while you’re in our space (whether face-to-face or virtual):

  • Actively participate in the conversation.
  • Respect the feelings and thoughts of all participants.
  • It’s okay to disagree and have a different opinion. As a matter of fact, we expect it! When you disagree, we ask that you discuss it constructively, with an open mind. Bullying, abusive language, or arguing will not be tolerated; if you choose to do these, you will be removed from the discussion.
  • Try to build on each other’s thoughts and use the book to emphasize your points.
  • Ask questions! Your questions can tackle points of confusion, things that bothered you, topics you want to discuss, ideas you want to know more about, or just a quote, section, or chapter that stuck with you.
  • Don’t leave upset or frustrated. If a topic came up that you didn’t feel comfortable raising to the group, but want to discuss more before you go, stick around and we'll talk.

Questions? Concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns about Summer Reading Club, or just want to provide feedback, we’re always interested in hearing from our community. Please email the Education Department to share your thoughts.