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Out With Kids: Whatcom libraries recommend summer reading for kids, teens

Area libraries are readying their summer reading programs, which aim to keep young minds focused on learning — in a fun way — during the summer break from school.

Programs at the Whatcom County Library System and the Bellingham Public Library both kick off June 6. Details are at the library websites, wcls.org and bellinghampublicibrary.org. Find the county program under the “For Kids” and “For Teens” section on the wcls.org front page. Find the Bellingham program under “Children” at the Bellingham site.

Both sites have links to book recommendations, and access to Hoopla and the Washington Anytime Library, digital sites that offer free downloads of audiobooks, e-reader files, music, and video for anyone with a library card.

Children and teens are encouraged to read and/or write to keep their language skills honed, said Bethany Hoglund, head of children’s services at Bellingham Public Library. But Hoglund likes to languish and luxuriate in the books of summer, especially when she’s on vacation.

“I want to have time to savor the words,” Hoglund said, adding that the first title on her list is “The Crossover,” by Kwame Alexander, the 2015 winner of both the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award. It’s a novel in verse about 12-year-old boys and basketball.

“I want to have time to savor the words,” Hoglund said.

She’s also yearning for a chance to sink into “The Penderwicks in Spring,” the fourth in a series by the delightful Jeanne Birdsall.

“These wonderful stories are reminiscent of classic titles that celebrate in the simple joys of being a child and the adventures that friends and imagination can bring,” Hoglund said. “Summer’s the time I like to do most of my reading outdoors. I also just love fun books with whimsical plots and lots of fun.”

Hoglund also favors audiobooks, especially for family road trips when everyone can enjoy a story together.

“We really do encourage listening, especially in cars,” she said. “Listening is just another way to enjoy the words.”

Adam Shaffer, a fourth-grade teacher at Irene Reither Elementary, is also looking to reading stories that have sat idle on his nightstand during the school year.

“Summer is definitely catch-up time for me. There are a bunch of books I’ve missed already this year, that I want to get to during the summer,” said Shaffer, who tweets about children’s literature and other educational topics @MrShafferTMCE.

Here is his reading list: “Echo,” by Pam Munoz Ryan; “Gone Crazy in Alabama,” by Rita Garcia-Williams (sequel to “One Crazy Summer” and “P.S. Be Eleven”); “Listen, Slowly,” by Thanhha Lai; “Stella by Starlight,” by Sharon Draper; “Mark of the Thief,” by Jennifer Nielsen; and “The Island of Dr. Libris,” by Chris Grabenstein.

He’s most looking forward to getting his hands on “Goodbye Stranger,” due Aug. 4, by Rebecca Stead, Newbery Award-winner of the time-traveling “When You Reach Me.”

For teen readers, Sylvia Tag at Western Washington University’s Children’s Interdisciplinary Collection (which is open to the public) is a nonfiction fan. Tag, a Newbery judge last year, is looking forward to the just-published “The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club,” by Philip Hoose.

“(It’s) nonfiction about a group of young boys who took on the Germans,during the occupation of Denmark,” Tag said. “They inspired the actual formation of a resistance movement in Denmark. Seriously, they rode their bikes around town stealing ammo and guns.”

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