When I was a kid, sitting outside to read was a favorite pastime during the long, hot days of summer.

One year, my siblings and I built a clubhouse in the woods behind our house with scraps of lumber and tin sheets. We thought that was the best structure ever to grace the backwoods of rural Missouri! We dragged a quilt out there and a couple of old pillows to sit on and made ourselves a grand spot to hang out and read. Every week when we came home from the library with a new supply of books, I’d head out to our clubhouse. I’d read the latest Trixie Beldon mystery or maybe a classic like “Alice in Wonderland.” While sitting there in the woods, it was easy to believe I was helping Trixie solve the “Mystery Off Old Telegraph Road” or jumping down the rabbit hole with Alice.

I still love reading in the summer, enjoying a shade tree, and a good book. With the longer days, it seems like it’s easier to make time for reading. Of course, working at the library gives summer reading a whole new meaning. With our summer reading program each year, the library encourages hundreds of Stillwater’s kids, teens and adults to spend time with books. This year is no different in that regard. We’re still finding ways to encourage people to read.

Things are different this year, though, so we’re using BookPoints, an online platform, for our summer reading program. With BookPoints, we can issue challenges to participants and award digital badges for success. We’re encouraging people to read books they might not otherwise pick up. For example, genres that present stories in different forms with a wide variety of perspectives like biographies, historical fiction and classic fairy tales. For each different type of book read, the participant earns a cool digital badge.

We’ve also created a series of activity challenges to get participants moving and engaged in active learning this summer. These challenges, also presented in BookPoints, range from trying out new craft projects to taking outdoor adventures or participating in community service projects. At the end of the summer, we’ll be handing out a lanyard with buttons representing each of the activity challenges individuals completed.

The Summer Reading Program runs through July 31 when we’ll have our grand prize drawings. This year, thanks to the Friends of the Library, we’ll be awarding a $100 gift certificate, to the local business of the winner’s choice, in each program age group: children, teen and adult.

This summer, we’re also hosting online book discussions for adults. Between June 22 and July 13, Tim Mason’s mystery, “The Darwin Affair,” will be available with no waiting or holds through the Oklahoma Virtual Library. Set in London in 1860, the story follows a detective as he solves a case of murder and intrigue involving Queen Elizabeth and Charles Darwin. Check it out to read or listen to then join us for a video discussion noon or 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 15.

There’s one last summer reading opportunity I’d like to mention. Overdrive, the company that manages our digital library content, is providing simultaneous access to two books as part of a larger conversation on social justice and anti-racism. Until July 13, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander, will be available as an audiobook and “Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor,” by Layla F. Saad will be available as an eBook. These titles are also available with no waiting or holds. Because everyone interested can be reading them at the same time, making this an excellent opportunity for book clubs or other groups that want to engage in social justice discussions.

There is so much change in the world right now, but one thing that remains constant is the pleasure to be found in reading. That little girl in rural Missouri might be in her clubhouse with a Kindle if she were around today. However, the excitement of jumping down rabbit holes and solving mysteries would still be the same. See if you can’t find yourself a shade tree and a good book to head out on a summer reading adventure of your own.

You can register for summer reading and a book discussion of “The Darwin Affair” at library.stillwater.org or call the Help Desk at 405-372-3633, x8106.

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