I love the Summer Reading Program at the library. I've been a part of it in some way whether bringing my children, ordering in books, planning crafts, or reading books at storytime, for the past 12 years<--eek, that makes me feel oldish!
As a librarian I'm lucky enough to be asked to attend my regional library's Summer Reading Training, but did you know they love it when volunteers come and take part in training too? They do at my library system at least. If you're a children's book writer and have the time, volunteering to help with the Summer Reading Program is a great opportunity! I seriously learned the most about books the summer I read to the kids at storytime once a week. It was purely evident which books worked in a group reading session and which ones didn't. YA and MG writers, you could check with your library for Summer Reading opportunities too. My library has a teen group that is always in need of more adult help.
But, back to the training--if you want to be inspired as a writer, all it takes is to be amongst a group of librarians gushing over books. Each librarian at my training worked hard to create crafts based on picture books within the theme and write book talks for books from picture book to young adult. Oh, and when they gave the talks they were so expressive! I just sat there thinking wow, these people are so excited about children's books and they don't even write them (as far as I know anyway). Think about it, as an author, you never know, someone just might be talking about your book, or even creating a craft to go along with it. That is super exciting!
I see so much enthusiasm about children's books on a daily basis from within the kidlit writing community I think I can sometimes forget how enthusiastic non-writers are as well, especially when my husband asks me things like, "why did you check out that board book" as he eyes the faeries on the cover suspiciously. I suppose it's a fair question since we have no board book aged kids, and definitely none that are into fairies. But to me the answer is obvious. I want to read it. Yes, he rolled his eyes. Ha!
This year's Summer Reading Program theme is Dream Big, Read! I love love love putting together books with a theme. I know I'll find a lot (more--I already have a big stack) of books to go with that one. But, if you have any suggestions please do leave them in the comments. I'm certain there are lots of stories I don't know about. Plus I love to hear about (and read) new picture books!