South End Scoop: Books & More From KCLS — Summer Reading Program

The King County Library System (KCLS) and the South Seattle Emerald are teaming up to bring you the “South End Scoop.” Dig into this community-centered column each month for great book, music, movie, and event recommendations from your local librarians.

Illustration with a purple background depicting a green picnic blanket surrounded by colorful pastel flowers, toadstool mushrooms, and a snail seated atop a stack of books. A glass with a straw sits next to the snail.
Illustration by Erin Wallace.

KCLS’ annual Summer Reading Program has begun! Each year, we challenge King County residents of all ages to track minutes spent reading during the summer to help keep minds active and engaged. Participants ages 5 and older are encouraged to read 1,000 minutes by Aug. 31. We’ve also planned early literacy activities for younger kids to complete and a variety of in-person and online events to enjoy all summer long. 

You can read anything you want during our Summer Reading Program! And reading to someone else or listening to an audiobook counts toward reading minutes, too. Visit the KCLS Summer Reading Program page to learn more and track minutes. 

Get started with these great titles, selected by KCLS librarian Alexis Carter.

Local Librarian Picks

Kids (ages 3 to 7)

Uncle John’s City Garden by Bernette G. Ford; illustrated by Frank Morrison

When Li’l Sissy first arrives at Uncle John’s garden, there are no plants yet — just dirt. But with a few packets of seeds, time, and hard work, the empty city lot becomes a magical haven where vegetables grow and families gather during the summer. An autobiographical work by the late children’s book author, this story cultivates a vibrant homage to the urban garden Ford’s family created in the 1950s. Her fun and engaging tribute introduces early readers to multiple STEM concepts such as units of measurement, spatial awareness, estimation skills, gardening, and plant life cycles.

Book cover depicting a Black- and female-presenting youth in a large straw hat and overalls standing in a filed of tomatoes. A Black- and male-presenting individual also wearing a straw hat and overalls while carrying a brown box looks on at the girl.
“Uncle John’s City Garden” by Bernette G. Ford; illustrated by Frank Morrison

Kids and Tweens (ages 8 to 13)

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles

When cousins Otto and Sheed accidentally extend the last day of summer by freezing time, they can’t agree on how to spend their newfound magical freedom. Before the fun even begins, the boys discover secrets hidden between the frozen minutes and realize their town is in danger. They must put their differences aside to save the day before time stops for good. Laced with humor, Giles’ fast-paced mystery is sprinkled with themes of reconciliation, family, and identity.

Book cover depicting two Black male-presenting youth riding bicycles while being chased by a robot, pigeons, and mirrors with tentacles waving from them. The pair ride past a movie theater with the title written in red across the marquee.
“The Last Last-Day-of-Summer” by Lamar Giles; illustrations by Dapo Adeola

Teens (ages 14 to 17)

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton

Hamilton’s autobiography explores life as a 14-year-old aspiring professional surfer in Hawaiʻi. The young athlete made headlines when she lost her arm in a harrowing shark attack while surfing on the coast of Kauaʻi. This moving account of Hamilton’s life, recovery, resilience, and determination to continue surfing truly stand out in this courageous and inspiring tale. If you like the book, try checking out the film Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb, from our collection as well.

Book cover depicting a female-presenting individual wearing blue swim attire with their right arm missing. The individual holds a surfboard with a bite-mark on it.
“Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board” by Bethany Hamilton

Adult (ages 18 and older)

The Guncle by Steven Rowley 

Gay Uncle Patrick (or GUP, for short) has always been known as the fun, caftan-wearing uncle with a fabulous house in Palm Springs. After his sister passes away, he does not seem like the likely candidate to take custody of his niece and nephew. But it turns out he is exactly who the kids need. Although Patrick initially flounders, you will find yourself cheering him on in this enthralling story about life, death, family, and love.

Book cover depicting silhouettes of two youth, a dog, and a male-presenting figure wearing a green muumuu with yellow flowers. The adult figure holds a martini glass, one youth wears a blue baseball helmet and holds an icecream cone, the other taller youth with purple hair holds a blue book, and the little dog wears a red bowtie.
“The Guncle” by Steven Rowley

For more recommendations and a full list of events and activities, visit KCLS’ Summer Reading Program page.

About the Librarian: Alexis Carter is a teen services librarian at the Burien and White Center Libraries. When she’s not at the library, you’ll find her out and about, traveling near and far. Drop into one of her art programs this summer or join her online trivia nights at Kahoot! Trivia: Musicals & Dance.

July Events

We offer a variety of events for all ages! Visit our events page for a full list of in-person and online events and activities.

Amazing Magic Show with Jeff Evans
Thursday, July 14, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
Des Moines Library

Every book is a magic book, but only when you read it! Magician Jeff Evans’ career began from a book of coin tricks he read when he was 12. Discover the amazing things that can happen when you open a book!

Arts and Crafts for All Ages
Thursday, July 14, 12:30–3:00 p.m.
White Center Library

Do you love arts and crafts? Learn how to use different types of materials and mediums in this fun weekly series. The workshop on July 14 will focus on painting landscapes.

Tai Chi
Sunday, July 31, 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Des Moines Library

Learn the practice of slow gentle movements and postures, a meditative state of mind, and controlled breathing with Hansie Wong, M.D. All experience levels are welcome.

Future Voter Hubs
(multiple dates and locations )

KCLS and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) have partnered to provide support services to empower voters. Drop in to a Future Voter Hub near you — including the Burien, Skyway, Tukwila, and White Center Libraries — to learn about voter eligibility, register to vote, or print your personalized ballot and voter guide. 

If you already have your ballot, bring it along! Get helpful resources to learn about candidates and elected offices so you can feel confident in your vote. This is a safe space to learn about voting and these events are open to all community members.

Additional Programming and Services

BIPOC Mental Health Month

July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month. Formally recognized in June 2008, BIPOC Mental Health Month was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color face in regard to mental illness in the U.S. Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked to shed light on the mental health needs within Black communities and other impacted populations. Find local mental health resources from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).  

KCLS continually strives to support and serve our communities with a wide range of services and resources. We began offering a new service last year called Peers in Libraries to further help meet community members’ needs. Our Peer Services Specialists, or “Peers,” work through a trauma-informed lens to connect people to the community resources and services they need, including shelter and housing, education, food, and mental health referrals. 

Peers are individuals with lived experiences of mental or medical illness, substance abuse, homelessness, and/or involvement with the criminal justice system. Now on a path to recovery, Peers draw on their experience, helping community members to identify and achieve wellness goals. They provide emotional support in a compassionate space, while sharing stories without judgment to help people to rebuild their lives. This program is offered in partnership with Peer Kent. Contact us via Ask KCLS to learn more about Peers in Libraries.

Need a Library Card?

Residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the City of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a physical card to access our full collection or a digital eCard to access our digital collection. Visit our website to get started. Contact us via Ask KCLS if you need assistance with your account or call (425) 462-9600 or (800) 462-9600.

📸 Featured Image: South Seattle Emerald and the King County Library System (KCLS) are teaming up to give you book, media, and event recommendations each month via the South End Scoop.

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