AmeriCorps member sitting with participant

Summer has arrived! With summer comes days at the beach, s’mores roasting over campfires, and family road trips. But summer also brings with it the risk of “summer melt,” a loss of skills and knowledge gained during the school year.

Reading this summer can be a great way to combat learning loss. For adults and young people alike, cracking open a book can be a fun way to spend time together while beating the heat inside the comfort of a local library.

Check out some of the books we have on our reading list this summer!

Young Adult Reads

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone is a 2018 young adult fantasy novel by Nigerian-American novelist Tomi Adeyemi. This is her debut novel and the first book in a planned trilogy. The story follows heroine Zélie Adebola as she attempts to restore magic to the kingdom of Orïsha, following the ruling class kosidáns’ brutal suppression of the class of magic practitioners Zélie belongs to, the maji.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

This book tells the story of Esperanza, a twelve-year-old Chicana, through a series of vignettes. She moves with her family into a house on Mango Street, the first home her parents own. Though the house is an improvement from the family’s previous apartment, it’s not what Esperanza dreamed of, because it is run-down and small. The house is in the center of a Latino crowded neighborhood in Chicago, a city where many low-income areas are racially segregated. Esperanza does not have any privacy, and she resolves that she will someday leave Mango Street and have a house all her own.

Speak No Evil: A Novel by Uzodinma Iweala

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, DC, he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school, and is bound for Harvard. But Niru has a painful secret: he is gay, which is an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders, and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When Niru’s father accidentally discovers an incriminating text on his phone, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

Voces Sin Fronteras: Our Stories, Our Truth by LAYC’s Latino Youth Leadership Council Considering our country’s heated immigration debates, this book provides an opportunity to hear directly from youth who are often in the headlines, but whose stories don’t get told in full. Sixteen young people from LAYC came together to tell their own stories of immigration and transformation in this graphic novel. The result is a side-by-side bilingual collection of memoirs that not only builds connections across language, but also breaks down barriers and inspires hope.


More Reads

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship, and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic and gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Lima :: Limón by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

In her striking second collection of poetry, Natalie Scenters-Zapico sets her unflinching gaze once again on the borders of things. Lima :: Limón illuminates both the sweet and the sour of the immigrant experience, life as a woman in the US and Mexico, and politics of the present day. Drawing inspiration from the music of her childhood, her lyrical poems focus on the often-tested resilience of women. Scenters-Zapico writes heartbreakingly about domestic violence and its toxic duality of macho versus hembra, masculinity versus femininity, and throws into harsh relief the all-too-normalized pain that women endure. Her sharp verse and intense anecdotes brand her poems into the reader. Scenters-Zapico highlights the hardships and stigma immigrants face on both sides of the border, her desire to create change shining through in every line. Lima :: Limón is grounding and urgent, a collection that speaks out against violence and works toward healing.

Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution by Helen Zia

Shanghai has historically been China’s jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city. The bustling metropolis was home to sophisticated intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and a thriving middle class when Mao Zedong’s proletarian revolution emerged victorious from the long civil war. Terrified of the horrors the Communists would wreak upon their lives, citizens of Shanghai who could afford to fled the city. Seventy years later, members of the last generation to fully recall this massive exodus revealed their stories to Chinese American journalist Helen Zia. She interviewed hundreds of exiles about their journey through one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. From these moving accounts, Zia weaves together the stories of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the US.

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