Are You Making Waves at Your Library This Summer?

Dive into summer reading with great thematic reading lists!

Candace Walton

Every year many teen specialists put together summer reading programs that include exciting activities designed to draw teens into the library. One of the most common approaches employs partnering with The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP), a consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials (see Spotlight on Teen Literacy in VOYA June 2010). This consortium develops and distributes summer reading materials for purchase and can easily be accessed through their Web site at The CSLP provides a common theme and divides materials into categories aimed at children, young adults, and adults. This year’s young adult theme is Make Waves at Your Library!

There is a multitude of ways to approach this theme by using books, activities, and movies that emphasize “making waves.” It could be stirring things up with that teen proclivity for questioning everything through an investigative mind or rebellious streak, or it could be hanging out at the beach or lake with your friends, or even leading the way with something progressive and avant garde that makes a difference in people’s lives. First, Second, or Third Wave Feminism, anyone? Make a “wave” at your library with musical sound waves or broadcasting. Go green with an exploration of wave technologies in environmental terms that harness wave energy as a green power source. All of these are great jumping off points for this summer’s thematic reading.

Themed Reading Lists at Library Thing

One of the most elemental aspects of developing a summer reading program is creating thematic reading lists. This can be time consuming, but LibraryThing can help the young adult librarian move beyond treading water when it comes to compiling great reading lists relevant to “making waves.” LibraryThing ( is a social networking site for book lovers, as well as a site for creating an online catalog of your personal or professional library. A favorite use for LibraryThing is exploring the tagmash, a truly useful feature for creating reading lists where you combine search terms or tags, in a personal way, to find books with your desired theme. And it’s free to search!

LibraryThing culls collective world intelligence to develop fantastic reading lists. Hence, typing in water or sea and young adult or teen resulted in an amazing array of “wave/water/ocean/sea/lake/island” classic and newer books:

Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville
Along the Shore by Lucy Maud Montgomery
The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
The Adventures of Ulysses by Bernard Evslin
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
The Sea Wolf by Jack London
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by Thor Heyerdahl
Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Hornblower Series by C.S. Forester

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong
The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea by Sebastian Junger
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Red Sea by Diane Tullson
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Wave by Suzy Lee
Stowaway by Karen Hesse
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
Sand Dollar Summer by Kimberly K. Jones

Try a LibraryThing tagmash for any theme. When tags for young adult and rebels are combined, a sampling of the results includes:

The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Here are a few of the titles from the tagmash of sample terms social justice, teens, and young adults:

Does My Head Look Big in This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Even more terrific are the suggested and related tagmash options that others have created. Coming of age, prejudice, and young adult resulted in an amazing array of titles from classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith to the modern American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang and Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

Don’t let the summer reading ship set sail without these useful young adult resources, and, when you’re fishing around for a good young adult book, you’re sure to make a splash at the library this year!

More Resources for Themed Reading Lists and Readers Advisory

Fiction_L. a listserv with collective intelligence.
Early Word. where pre-selected reading lists abound.
Fiction Connection.
The Reader’s Advisor ONLINE.
Books & Authors.
Booklist Online.
Novelist Plus.

Candace Craig Walton received her MLIS from Valdosta State University and is currently head librarian at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, a small college-preparatory school nestled in the mountains of Northeast Georgia and original home of the historic Foxfire Magazine, where she also has taught history for thirty-one years. Candace’s passions include all things Jane Austen, history, reading, antiquing, thrift stores, and flower gardening, as well as her family and friends. Young adult literature and historical fiction are Candace’s favorite literary genres and she thrives on conducting research.


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