For the Love of Books: Summer Reading and Storytimes

Fourteen-month-old Diya Nitin proudly points to her favorite board book, My Car by Byron Barton. It’s a book her mother Sowmya Bali says she’s probably read to Diya every day since early summer – and sometimes multiple readings in a day.

Diya chose this book herself after she and her family reached the 10-hour reading milestone in the Library’s Summer Reading Challenge, and she’s been proudly showing it off to family and friends ever since.

“Diya shares her book again and again with her grandparents back in India when we FaceTime,” Sowmya says, laughing. “She even brings it out to show visitors to our house. She loves to point out shapes and colors.”

Since moving to Fort Collins from India in January, Diya and her mom have made Council Tree and Harmony Libraries a regular part of their weekly routine. They began attending Peek-A-Book Storytime when Diya was just 6 months old and the family was new to the community, and then added the Summer Reading Challenge to their library activities.

“Storytimes have been brilliant for Diya to socialize with other kids while learning about words and stories,” Sowmya explains. “When we first started coming to storytime, she would hug me closely and stay right by my side. Now, she heads off on her own and stands up front by the storyteller.”

Books and reading are a large part of the family’s life. Sowmya describes herself as an active reader, though much of her reading these days seems to be the telling and retelling of My Car and other picture books with Diya.

“I’ve probably read the same few books with Diya ten times a day. But she loves it. She’s grasping words and phrases and increasing her vocabulary,” says Sowmya. “It’s also amazing to watch how she makes connections between what she sees and hears in a book or at storytime and the world around her.”

Storytimes at Poudre River Public Library District use a research-based approach to early literacy with activities designed to have children reading, writing, speaking, singing, and playing – all of which develop young readers’ literacy awareness. The annual Summer Reading Challenge extends the storytime experience and encourages families to participate in at-home literacy activities.

This year, more than 10,000 individuals have signed up for summer reading and are working toward becoming a Power Reader. Including Diya, who has already reached the toddler milestone of 25 hours and is officially a Power Reader (with a bit of help from mom, her grandparents on FaceTime, and library storytellers).

“Diya has grown to love books and stories so much that she’ll usually grab a book instead of a toy,” says Sowmya. “We’ve tried stuffed animals and dolls and blocks. She prefers books.”

Now that’s something we love to hear!

Let us know how we can help your young reader build a love for books and #ConnectToCuriosity!


My Car is a picture book written and illustrated by Byron Barton. Sam, the narrator, describes in wonderful detail his car and how he drives it. The book invites toddlers and young readers to count, name colors and shapes, and follow along as Sam drives from his home in the country to his job in the city.

Barton has written a variety of other picture books like The Three Bears and My Bike which are available to check out at the libraries.