Growing up, summer reading was an occasion for adventure—a time for me to inhabit new worlds and take risks on authors I’d never read before. There was such power in getting to make that choice for myself. Such freedom.
I remember my childhood summers in sensations: the warm glow of fireflies winking to life in the backyard; the sounds of a neighborhood water gun fight; the sticky feel of a half-melted ice cream cone. But I also remember them by the books I read, and the special magic of getting lost in a story for an entire day. Sometimes, I had a hard time coming back to reality. My mind wanted to stay in The Secret Garden, or on a mission with The Three Investigators, or at the horse races with Black Beauty.
I read non-fiction and poetry, fantasy and science fiction, epic period novels, and paperback series about ordinary girls doing extraordinary things. Discoveries abounded as I tore through books. We relied on our wonderful public library to feed my bottomless appetite; I knew I would always be able to find my next great read somewhere on those well-loved shelves, and I cherished the afternoons I spent browsing. My library card was priceless, both in terms of the immediate entertainment I enjoyed and the sustained benefits of reading during the months away from school.
Finding my first book Counting Thyme on summer reading lists across the country has been a highlight of my experience as a debut author. The idea that my story could be a child’s summer discovery both warms my heart and overwhelms me. It is the ultimate vote of confidence—a gift from librarians to writers.
On the journey to publication, there are times when the business of books can distract from the joy of story-making. Deadlines can be brutal, and the work can be exhausting, but young readers are a constant source of enthusiasm. They inspire me to create worlds that will both entertain and entrance, with plenty of warmth and humor throughout—like the books I remember best from the summers of my youth.
Kids get straight to the heart of stories. They take a chance on a debut author like me, and they don’t hold my newness against me. Summer reading lists are a bridge from me to them, and a privilege I can only hope to repay through hard work on my future books, so that one day, young readers will find magic between those pages, too.