You never quite appreciate what you have till it’s gone, right? Think of all those free summer afternoons you had as a kid — all that time to just read. Turns out you don’t get that as an adult. Faced with grim realities, we at EBYR are trying to make do, trying to find ways to read with the time we do have. We’re sharing what we plan to read — and sometimes where and how — in our Summer Reading Series.

Today’s post comes from Philip Zoutendam.

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River of Words
A River of Words

A River of Words
Written by Jen Bryant
Illlustrated by Melissa Sweet

Summer reading was easy when I was a kid. It was easy when I was a college student. It was easy when I was a teacher. All that time in the summer. I could read anything I wanted — long, short, simple, serious.

It turns out that it’s still pretty easy to get some summer reading done working at a publisher. A little less time, maybe (and reading isn’t all we do here), but plenty of valid excuses reasons to head to the company library and snatch a book.

So when I saw the article recently about the real owner of the actual red wheelbarrow in William Carlos Williams’s famous poem, and I realized I had never read A River of Words, EBYR’s Caldecott Honor-winning biography of Williams, well, I just had to pick it up.

You know, for work reasons.


This is a great summer read for kids with hours to spend outdoors, like the young Williams, listening to the rhythms of nature.

The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame

A classic that I’ve also just realized I haven’t read yet. I’m planning to take this on vacation tomorrow as an old friend and I make our tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It seems like the perfect book for a summer trip in a temperate clime. It offers the richness of unworried, unhurried leisure balanced with the thrill of spontaneous adventure, all suffused with the warmth of friendship.

It seems especially apropos given our plans to spend a lot of time — like the characters in the book — “simply messing around in boats” in the rivers and lakes of the UP.

Just for Today
Just for Today

Just for Today
Words by Saint John XXIII
Illustrated by Bimba Landmann

Here’s one I have read — and plan to keep reading, again and again this summer.

With the longer days and friendlier weather of summer, the number of things to do — things I want to do, and things I have to do — proliferates. The garden has to be watered, the lawn has to be mowed, the roof and the sidewalk and the garage need to be fixed; there are the softball games to play, the baseball games to watch, the walks and hikes and trips to take, the friends to talk to and laugh with into the late evening glow.

It becomes especially important to remember that, even in this season of leisure, all is not busyness, and all is not play. There are still others’ — and my own — needs and hurts and hungers. I need to “devote ten minutes of my time to sitting in silence and listening to God,” as Saint John XXIII says, “remembering that, just as food is necessary is necessary for the life of the body, so silence and listening are necessary for the life of the soul.” And I need to resolve to “do a good deed and tell no one about it” and to “do at least one thing I do not enjoy.”

This book is a good daily guide through any season, but especially this one. And the art’s exquisite balance between cool, deep azure and warm ochre emanates the tranquility conveyed by the words.