San Francisco's Summer Reading Program Boasts Artist Residency, Grammy-Winning Musicians, Nature and Exploration, Free Book Giveaways for Youth

SAN FRANCISCO Come read, San Francisco! Summer Stride, San Francisco Public Library’s premier summer reading, learning and exploration program, launches on June 1. 

San Franciscans can look forward to unparalleled access to Summer Stride illustrator K-Fai Steele during her artist residency program. Every year, the Library uses original art from a recently published children’s book to excite San Franciscans to participate in Summer Stride. Steele is the illustrator of I Made These Ants Some Underpants! written by Derick Wilder (Chronicle Books, 2023), this year’s Summer Stride title, and other books for young readers. Steele is offering nine free programs at Library locations, ranging from drawing workshops, to story hours, to a tour of the Main Library for adults through an artist’s lens. Steele will also be the featured artist at SFMOMA’s Free Family Day on Sunday, June 11. Meet, mingle and make art with Steele during her San Francisco tour. You will find her art on SFMUNI buses, outside transit shelters, kiosks along Market Street and of course at every Library location.

Steele isn’t the only celebrity in the Library this summer. Hot off their 2023 Grammy win, the Alphabet Rockers have performances scheduled at the Visitacion Valley, Eureka Valley and Excelsior branches. The versatile and talented group creates brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop. And award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author Dr. Jewell Parker Rhodes will be at the Main Library on Wednesday, June 7, as the 27th annual Effie Lee Morris Lecturer, speaking on the topic “Words as Witness, Words as Healing.” This highly-anticipated event for all ages features the biggest names in children’s literature. Books for children will be given away for free while supplies last; book signing to follow.

San Francisco’s outdoor gems are also showcased in the Library’s summer calendar. Besides the Alcatraz Island garden sketching program hosted by K-Fai Steele, fans of farms can look forward to the second Library Day at the New Farm, which will be jumping with live music, dancers, book giveaways, art and crafts, and of course, goats and chickens, plus the Bookmobile will be giving away piles of books. Spend the day listening to Caribbean music with Asheba, dancing Boogaloo, Robotting and Strutting, screen-printing with Calixto Robles and Ali Blum and participating in a crochet jam with Ramekon O’Arwisters. Walking tours to nearby Heron’s Head Park will be offered by Nature Play Date. And as a celebration of Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s 50th anniversary, the Library is offering 10 free shuttles for disadvantaged youth that will make trips from select library branches to famed sightseeing spots perfect for a family outing.

Little fans of storytimes will have much to celebrate as the popular SFPL YouthMobile will be making new stops all around the City for the entirety of the summer season! From June 5 to August 31, find the new “SummerMobile” at the following sites:

• Mondays, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., St. Mary’s Rec Center

• Mondays, 2– 4 p.m., Garfield Rec Center

• Thursdays, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Glen Canyon, at the trailhead

behind the Rec Center

• Thursdays, 2–4 p.m., Crocker-Amazon Clubhouse

For adult audiences, the Library offers rich arts-related programs to entertain and educate all summer long. Timed with Black Music Appreciation Month, radio host Justin Desmangles will be in conversation with Dr. Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound. Join author/scholar Larry Wolff, author of The Shadow of the Empress: Fairy-Tale Opera and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy, which explores how the changing circumstances of politics and society transformed opera and its cultural meanings before, during and after the First World War just in time for the SF Opera's upcoming performance of Die Frau ohne Schatten. And of course, gardening programs, crafting workshops, films and wellness programs are on the season's schedule.

Summer Stride incentivizes reading, learning or exploring nature for 20 minutes a day as a way to prevent “summer slide”—a decline in academic skills that occurs while school is out. Participants can track their time reading and learning on Beanstack (, an online platform that can be accessed from a computer or mobile device. Participants can also download a physical tracker along with the SFUSD/SFPL Recommended Reading List for preschoolers to high schoolers at Those who complete 20 hours are eligible to receive a prize—the coveted 2023 Summer Stride tote featuring original artwork by this year’s Summer Stride artist K-Fai Steele. Plus, all youth (babies through teens) may receive a free book to keep every time they visit the library.

Event Highlights:

Events with Artist K-Fai Steele

Illustrator Tour for Adults – June 4, 9:30 a.m., Main Library. Reservation required. Call (415) 557-4554

Story Hour with K-Fai Steele

June 6, 10:30 a.m., Garfield Park with the Bookmobile

June 7, 1 p.m., Ortega Branch with guest Mac Barnett

June 8, 10:30 a.m., Marina Branch with guest Nidhi Chanani

June 12, 2 p.m., San Francisco Botanical Garden with guest Cindy Derby

Studio Artist at SFMOMA Free Family Day – June 11, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., SFMOMA

Exhibition: K-Fai Steele: Drawing for Fun – June 9–Sept. 1, Main Library, 2nd Floor Mezzanine

Summer Stride Events for All Ages

Library Day at The New Farm – July 15, 12 p.m., The New Farm/Bay Natives Nursery, 10 Cargo Way

Summer Stride Events for Youth

Party at the Libraries with our Summer Stride Kickoffs

Celebrate the beginning of our annual summer learning program with activities galore.

June 2, 1 p.m., Sunset Branch

June 3, 12 p.m., Richmond Branch, including a read-aloud by Emma Bland Smith, author of The Gardener of Alcatraz and activities with Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and Fog City Gardener

June 3, 1 p.m., Portola Branch; 1:30 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium and Latino Hispanic Meeting Room, Lower Level

Mandarin language learners: June 4, 11 a.m., Main Library, Fulton St. Steps

Music and Melodies

Join the Social Justice Movement with Alphabet Rockers

This intergenerational and Grammy award-winning group creates brave spaces to shape a more equitable world through hip hop.

June 12, 2:30 p.m., Visitacion Valley Branch

July 17, 12 p.m. , Eureka Valley Branch

Aug. 10, 2 p.m., Excelsior Branch

Music of West Africa with Keenan D. Webster

Listen to traditional instruments of the Mandinka and the Mande-speaking people of West Africa. Learn how these traditions gave birth to the banjo and influence blues, jazz and popular music of today and play alongside Webster.

June 17, 1 p.m., Bernal Heights Branch; 3 p.m. Eureka Valley Branch

Aug. 19, 2 p.m., West Portal Branch

Make and Do

Make Art with the Museum of Craft and Design

Museum of Craft and Design (MCD) staff facilitate art workshops inspired by MCD exhibitions and local artists. After creating, pick up a free take-home art kit to continue the creativity at home.

June 9, July 7, Aug. 4, 3 p.m., Potrero Branch

June 16, 3 p.m., Mission Bay Branch

June 23, July 28, 2 p.m., Bayview Branch

June 30, 3 p.m., North Beach Branch

Create Your Own Book with Book Arts Roadshow

Learn to make delightful handmade books from master book artists. Space limited. Reservations required.

June 14, 2 p.m., Chinatown Branch. For ages 5 to 11.

June 21, 2 p.m., Sunset Branch. For ages 9 and older.

July 19, 3 p.m., Ingleside Branch. For ages 9 and older.

July 20, 4 p.m., Merced Branch. For ages 9 and older.

Experiment with STEM Activities Led by American Society of Civil Engineers

Learn basic engineering concepts in a fun hands-on lesson with the San Francisco Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Younger Members Forum. For ages 6 and older. Space limited. Reservations required.

July 6, 4 p.m., Glen Park Branch

July 11, 1 p.m., Portola Branch

July 13, 1 p.m., Potrero Branch

July 19, 2 p.m., Chinatown Branch

July 24, 10:30 a.m., Ocean View Branch

Telling Stories

Hear Stories of Black Resilience, Joy and Community with Kirk Waller

Waller combines music, movement and the spoken word to weave together a magical storytelling experience in “Stories to Take You Far and Away.”

June 3, 12 p.m., West Portal Branch; 2 p.m., Glen Park Branch

June 17, 1 p.m., Presidio Branch; 3 p.m., Park Branch

Learn Indigenous Culture, Past and Present, with The Ohlone Sisters

Members of the Costanoan Rumsen Carmel tribe share songs, storytelling, regalia, language and special relationships from Ohlone culture.

June 15, 2 p.m., Ingleside Branch; 4 p.m., West Portal Branch

June 16, 1 p.m., Portola Branch; 2:30 p.m., Visitacion Valley Branch

Dance and Movement

See Danza Azteca Xitlalli-Xolotl

Experience the beautiful tradition and dance form with roots in Pre-Columbian culture. Danza Azteca Xitlalli-Xolotl is dedicated to preserving the rich culture and ancestral customs that incorporate dance movement and the spiritual philosophy of Mexico’s Azteca/Mexica tradition.

June 4, 11:45 a.m., Main library, Fulton St. Steps; 3 p.m., Excelsior Branch

Experience Stories Through Indian Dance with Namita Bodaji

Watch Bharatanatyam dance performed by Bodaji, master of the language of Indian dance, and learn dance movements using body movements, hand signs, facial and eye expressions.

June 15, 11 a.m., Marina Branch; 1:30 p.m., Anza Branch

Participate in a Game Called Capoeira with Jarrel Phillips

Learn about the Afro-Brazilian art form capoeira in a fun, relaxed community and play-based environment. Plan to dress in comfortable clothing that breathes, you’ll be working up a sweat while telling stories as you learn capoeira movements.

June 15, 2 p.m., Bayview Branch

Aug. 6, 3 p.m., Ingleside Branch

Outdoors and Nature

Create a Garden Using Seed Balls with Fog City Gardener

Use recycled paper and plant seeds to make a seed ball. Take it with you to start your own urban garden. For ages 5 and older. Space limited. Reservations required.

June 3, 12 p.m., Richmond Branch

July 29, 4 p.m., Chinatown Branch

Aug. 12, 12 p.m., Ocean View Branch; 2 p.m., Portola Branch

Meet Amphibians and Lizards with Tree Frog Treks

Explore nature, learn about science and have fun with animal friends. Space limited. Reservations required.

June 3, 2 p.m., Portola Branch

June 20, 12:30 p.m., Ocean View Branch

June 27, 3 p.m., Parkside Branch

July 11, 11:30 a.m., Potrero Branch

July 18, 2 p.m., Mission Bay Branch

Aug. 2, 1 p.m., Marina Branch

Aug. 9, 3:30 p.m., Bernal Heights Branch

Meet Live Animals with Tracy Hill’s Fur, Scales and Tails Animal Show

Learn about wildlife, see some critters close-up and pet some of your favorite animal stars.

June 5, 1 p.m., Ortega Branch; 3 p.m., Merced Branch

July 12, 1 p.m., Sunset Branch; 3 p.m., West Portal Branch

Aug. 2, 1 p.m., Richmond Branch; 3 p.m., Eureka Valley Branch

Discover Insects with

Explore the extraordinarily diverse world of insects and arthropods. Learn about their key role in the web of life. Interact with and see live insects and arthropods. For ages 3 and older.

July 1, 1 p.m., Anza Branch; 3 p.m., Western Addition Branch

Summer Stride Events for Adult Audiences

Larry Wolff, The Shadow of the Empress – June 2, 2 p.m., Main Library, Koret Auditorium, Lower Level

The Shadow of the Empress: Fairy-Tale Opera and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy explores how the changing circumstances of politics and society transformed their opera and its cultural meanings before, during and after the First World War.

Daphne Brooks and Justin Desmangles in Conversation – June 6, 7 p.m., Virtual Library

A conversation with Dr. Daphne A. Brooks, winner of the MAAH Stone Book Award for her book Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound.

Sara Novic On Writing and Connecting with the Deaf Community – June 13, 6 p.m., Virtual Library

Bestselling author Sara Novic discusses her latest novel, True Biz, as well as the importance of writing from a Deaf person’s perspective.

The Grotto at the Library

Grotto Nights is a monthly series at the Library, featuring The Writers Grotto members who showcase and discuss their writing around a theme of their choice.

Louise Nayer and Saila Kariat: Searching for Home – June 27, 6 p.m., Virtual Library

Maxine Schur and Sarita Sarvate, South Asia: Inside Insights and Outside Observations – July 11, 6 p.m., Virtual Library

Terry Tierney, Pia Chatterjee and Sophia Raday, Building a Mystery – Aug. 8, 6 p.m., Virtual Library


About San Francisco Public Library

San Francisco Public Library is dedicated to free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community. The library system is made up of 27 neighborhood branches, the San Francisco Main Library at Civic Center and four bookmobiles.

Summer Stride is funded by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library.

Mayo 18, 2023