Colorado Big Summer Read

Colorado Big Summer Read

~Engaging Community through Books, Arts & Culture~

The Colorado Big Summer Read is a shared reading experience across the entire state of Colorado for all ages over the summer centered around a theme, and illustrated by a selection of books, author appearances, activities and discussions to create an immersive, interactive experience that will inspire further reading and conversation. The inaugural theme will be: EMPATHY. Everyone in Colorado is invited to participate. Any bookstore, public library, school, or business can help bring this experience to as many Coloradans as possible. (Email Kristen Gilligan for more info.) Founded by Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, Colorado.


  1. To encourage Coloradans to talk about specific issues using literature and the arts.
  2. To bring books to life and help readers envision a world of possibility through arts, culture, and reading.
  3. To bring together bookstores, public libraries, schools, businesses and the public over a shared issue.

Download a PDF of the flyer here!

The Program

This summer program will include a six featured books for preschoolers through adult; an offering of summer kids programming around the Denver Metro area connecting with the theme; interactive social media events; featured bookstore events with participating authors and guests discussing the featured books, the issues and how we can be more empathetic; and an end-of-program wrap up party with participating authors to help continue the discussion beyond the summer.

Featured Book & Author List


Create Wishtrees in bookstores, etc.; have customers write wishes and hang on tree. Create your own Wishtree in your community! 

Colorado Blue Bear

For the younger kids, some of the topics are edgy, even scary. Pulling out an overall theme, we find kindness, empathy, being welcoming, being inclusive. Focusing on these themes, we'd like to introduce a familiar Colorado icon, but with a new role...

Modeled after The Elf on the Shelf, Colorado's famous Blue Bear will act like a summer version of The Elf. Encouraging kids and adults to perform random acts of kindness, thinking outside of themselves, and The power this creates for both the giver and the receiver becomes palpable and something that can passed along to the next person.

People will be able to submit photos and we'll publish them. In addition to publishing them on our website, at each event, we'll share a few!

Six Featured Author/Book-Specific Events

PICTURE BOOK: For grades Preschool - 2. Event Location: Tattered Cover Aspen Grove; Sunday, July 14 at 2pm

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, Rafael López (Illustrator)

*Discussion & Activity

MIDDLE GRADE: For grades 3-5. Event Location: Tattered Cover Colfax; Sunday, July 7 at 2pm

Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

*Discussion & Activity

MIDDLE SCHOOL: For grades 6-8. Event Location: Tattered Cover Colfax, Thursday, July 11 at 6pm

Refugee by Alan Gratz

*Author In Conversation with Panel & Activity

YA: For grades 9+ Event Location: Tattered Cover Colfax; Saturday, July 13, 2pm - 4pm

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

*Discussion with Author & Writing Workshop

ADULT FICTION: For adults. Event Location: Tattered Cover Colfax; DATE TBD

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

*In Conversation with Author and Editor & Writing Workshop

ADULT NON-FICTION: For adults. Event Location: Tattered Cover Colfax; DATE TBD

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

*Discussion with Author

Fall & Spring Author Visits & Skype Visits to Schools  to link summer conversations. Availabiltiy to depend heavily on authors and publishers. 

Social Media

Post random acts of kindness with the Colorado Blue Bear.

Write short messages in chalk on sidewalks all at same day/time all over Colorado.

Post readers’ favorite parts of the Featured Book.

Hashtag: #COempathy

Featured author posts on social media.

Readers to post short videos of book summaries.



Add Featured Books to schools’ Summer Reading Lists.

Give extra credit for participating in this program.

Help spread the word about the program.

Create your own version of this program!

Colorado Big Summer Read Advisory Board

An advisory board of teachers, school librarians, instructional coaches, authors and community leaders will help curate the book list, create programming and to help spread the word. We're working with the publishers to bring the authors to Colorado this summer for events and activities, to arrange Skype and author school visits, create author videos, special written content, and more.