The Library Finds Its Happy Place: A New Summer Reading Record

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

You read. You ... rule

Participation in the Library’s Summer Reading program, which wrapped up Tuesday, August 15, reached an all-time high for the second year in a row. Nearly 13,000 people participated – 12,952 to be exact, young and old and in between. 

That shattered the previous high of 11,639 in 2022. 

Along the way, Summer Reading participants read 23,133 books. Most popular among adults: Emily Henry’s bestselling new novel Happy Place. Among youth: the beloved picture-book classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar by the late Eric Carle. 

Kaite Stover, the Library’s director of readers’ services, credits the record engagement in part to a passionate Library staff. “They’re readers,” she says, “and they love to talk to people about their suggestions for reading, for viewing, for listening. They look at the Library as a discovery place.” 

The Library’s Outreach department also was key, Stover says, offering Summer Reading signups and activities at its Pop in at the Park stops at four Kansas City parks. The Bookmobile signed people up at all 17 of its regular stops and at nine community events. 

This year’s Summer Reading program followed the theme All Together Now. Kids were a core audience, as always. But well more than a third of this year’s participants were adults (4,804, also a record), continuing an upward trend since the Library made Summer Reading a 2½-month, all-comers celebration in 2017. Prior to that, it offered Summer Reading to youth and Winter Reading to adults. 

“I think, the way Summer Reading is structured now, that it’s so much more fun for families, for young adults, new adults, seniors,” Stover says. “It just took a while before the Kansas City community realized it doesn’t have an age limit. It’s not just for kids.” 

Still, plenty of kids are getting their Summer Reading kicks. More than 8,000 of this year’s participants were under 18. A little more than 7,000 were 12 and under. 

The 12 Most Popular Summer Reading Titles 


Happy Place by Emily Henry 

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas 

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus 

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Garbrielle Zevin 

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy 


The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown 

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney 

The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone