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Librarian-Picked, Summer Learning Challenge Book Lists!

Every summer, the phenomenal librarians at Chicago Public Library come together and develop a special reading list, broken into specific age groups for the Summer Learning Challenge.

A Super Explorer! checking out this year’s reads!

Since its inception, Chicago Public Library has had a multitude of library patrons asking how they come up with their book list selections — and this year they’re revealing their secrets! Check out their qualifying criteria below! (*and Spoiler alert, it takes a lot more than a journal review and a website reference!)

  1. First, they look at a diverse collection of work focusing on books that reflect ALL the children of Chicago (because its important for children and families to see themselves reflected in these books).
  2. Then they identify books that support STEAM learning, promote curiosity and will be informational and enjoyable for each of their specific age groups.
  3. Next, they apply their combined years of experience planning story time, reading and evaluating materials for children, to determine which books will appeal MOST to Chicago’s children.
  4. STEAM books are selected by looking at the science behind the themes, and ensuring there are informational titles able to back the learning and generate problem solving and empathy; to do this CPL looks at the programming they provide while also thinking of questions that might come up at home while reading some of these books. They look for real world problems a child might come up with at home and how they could solve it using STEAM skills—even if it relates to a fictional world. How would Rapunzel escape her tower? Who are real life superheroes?
  5. Finally (*and this may be the biggest qualifier) They ask themselves “Are these books fun?” ‘Will they inspire children?” And to these last questions, the answer must be YES!

This Year’s Book Lists

Developmentally, children reach learning milestones at different ages, which is why we’ve made it easy for Super Explorers and their parents to make quick selections from each of the following age groups.  Check out a few of CPL’s picks below!

How many books off the Book List will your Super Explorer! tackle?

Books for 6-8

  • The Bad Guys
  • Magic Trash, The Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art
  • Super Fly, The World’s Smallest Superhero!

For the full 6-8 year-old’s Book List, click here!

Books for 9-13

  • Hidden Figures, The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space
  • The Real World Science Behind Superman’s Powers
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

For the full 9-13 year-old’s Book List, click here!
The Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge runs from June 19th thru September 1st of this year and is intentionally crafted to help prevent  summer slide – where kids can fall as much as 2 months behind in math and reading achievements during the summer months.
The Summer Learning Challenge is made possible by generous donations from The James and Madeleine McMullan Foundation, Allstate, Boeing, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Walter E. Heller Foundation. Helen M. Harrison Foundation, KPMG, William Blair, Macy’s, RR Donnelley, Cubs Cares (a fund of the McCormick Foundation) and PNC Bank, through the Chicago Public Library Foundation.
To learn more about the many, fun activities planned for this year’s Summer Learning Challenge, visit the Chicago Public Library’s website. To help support the Summer Learning Challenge and become a CPL superhero, donate here.