It’s over 80 degrees here already, and the humidity is so high that the sky has the hazy look that just speaks of sweat. Summer has officially arrived.

I don’t know about you, but for me, summer has always meant books. The first day my brother and I were free of school, Mom would take us to the local library, and we’d load up those canvas tote bags (my mom was “green” before it was hip to be so) with our books for the week. We’d also pick up those forms for the Summer Reading Program, the ones with the path or the ladder or whatever other cutesy kid-theme that was supposed to entice us to read. My brother and I didn’t need the pictures. We were already on board.

I spent hours and hours reading through the mornings and evenings of summer days (Afternoons were for the pool), and by the end of August, I had filled up the front of that cute form and begun making a list on the back. One year, my brother and I read so much that the librarians actually questioned our veracity on the form by quizzing us about the books. We proved our integrity with tales of dinosaurs and twins with special powers. We had read them all.

Recently, I was talking with a young woman, and she told me she didn’t read much. “I just didn’t read a lot as a kid, I guess,” she said. I was very sad by that. Reading as a kid (and as an adult) is what has gotten me through some tough days. Books have shown me new worlds and comforted me in my own. I have been shaped by the books I’ve read, and I’m never bored with a book in hand. When I learn of people who don’t read much, I almost always hear that it’s because they didn’t read (or get read to) as kids. What a shame! I wonder why her parents didn’t take her to the local library and fill a tote bag with tales of race cars and talking mice and tessalations.

So today, on this hot humid day, I’ll probably end up on the river. I’ll get my 1,000 words written. I’ll take a walk. And I will read. There’s this great book about fairies waiting on my nightstand. Ah, summer reading.

What did you read as a kid? Did you ever participate in summer reading challenges? Have you thought about taking up an adult one? If you’re a parent, will you get your kids into their local library program? What will you be reading?

If you’re looking for recommendations, check out The New York Times list of great beach books.

Jonesport, ME Summer Reading Program