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Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Summer Learning Toolkits and Guides

Adult and kids making a chalk drawing of planet Earth

Start with a Book offers free, downloadable toolkits and guides to enrich summer learning at home or through summer youth programs.

Explore music, nature and the environment, space, civics, multicultural stories, and more!

Our toolkits and guides:

Tune In

Mosaic of multicultural kids doing music-related activities

Imagine making music with your body, inventing simple instruments with recycled materials, playing conductor, building community through call-and-response singing and group dances, creating a music time capsule, drawing to music, designing an album cover, exploring voices and songs of social change, and writing original jingles, parodies, and raps. Tune In is a 5-day program that connects books and writing with hands-on activities and other active learning opportunities. Tune In makes sure that summer is NOT a time when kids take a vacation from learning — instead, they read, explore, learn, and create!

Bird Buddies

Summer science: multicultural young children doing bird exploration activities

Learn about the connection between birds and dinosaurs, fantastic feathers, finding food and hunting prey, bird brains, nest-building, bird songs, and how we can protect birds and their habitats. Take a daily bird walk, set up an observation station, and start a personal bird journal. Bird Buddies is a 5-day program that connects books and writing with hands-on activities and other active learning opportunities. Our downloadable toolkit has all the resources you need for your summer program or at-home learning.

Space Rangers

Summer science: multicultural young children doing space exploration activities

Where do stars come from? Why does the moon change shape? What is the solar system and why is the sun at its center? How big are all the planets? What is gravity, and is there gravity on the moon and the planets? What’s it like for astronauts to live and work in space? Questions around space seem to be as infinite as the night sky itself. Our 5-day Space Rangers program includes dozens of carefully chosen fiction and nonfiction books, hands-on activities, writing ideas, and educational media to deepen the learning.

River Rangers

Summer science: multicultural young children doing river exploration and water activities

River Rangers gives kids a chance to learn about the life and science above, under, and around rivers including topics around pollution, water conservation, and plant and animal life. River Rangers combines hands-on activities with great fiction, poetry, and picture book biographies, inspiring kids to learn all about the complex world of rivers. Our downloadable toolkit has all the resources you need for your summer program or at-home learning.

Meet the Trailblazers

book cover collage of multicultural biographies for children

Meet remarkable men and women of color who helped to shape our world. They pursued their passions despite racism, prejudice, poverty, and injustice. They were scientists, writers, poets, athletes, pilots, activists, dancers, musicians, inventors, astronauts, and more. Meet the Trailblazers offers a wonderful collection of picture book biographies, plus reflection questions, hands-on activities, and writing prompts — to jump-start conversations, curiosity, and exploration.

We Are Storytellers: Exploring Multicultural Folktales, Fairy Tales, and Myths

road runner woodcut

This story-lovers DIY summer camp is all about multicultural folktales, fairy tales, tall tales, and myths! Storytellers combines hands-on activities with great fiction, poetry, and picture books — inspiring kids to learn about oral and written storytelling, plots and characters from different cultures, and the power of writing, telling, creating, and sharing stories.

Our Democracy: Government, Voting, and Active Citizenship

multicultural kids outdoors waving American flags

This civics and social justice-related DIY summer camp is all about voting, voting rights, and active citizenship! With Our Democracy, kids will learn more about what our local, state, and federal governments do, how our elections work, and simple ways to get involved as an engaged citizen in your own communities. Books and activities also explore how social movements like the Voting Rights Movement produce change, and the leaders who pushed for those changes despite the odds.