Make your picks for the 2019 Summer of Democracy Reading List

Welcome to summer! It's time for your submissions for the 2019 Summer of Democracy Reading List.


Summer is here! Kids are getting out of school, we’re setting high-temperature records in the state, and vacations are getting closer on the calendar. That means it’s also time to ask our friends, fans, and supporters for book recommendations for our annual Summer of Democracy Reading List.

In the spirit of our mission to create a modern, robust democracy for all Nebraskans, we’re compiling a list of great books for you to check out this summer. Thomas Jefferson underscored the importance of reading when he said, “if a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.”

You don’t have to be a Founding Father, though, to leave your mark on the Summer of Democracy Reading List. We’re hoping to highlight titles that are fun and funny as well as fundamental to our democracy. And we want to hear your suggestions about what should be included in 2019.

Here’s how you can contribute to the Summer of Democracy Reading List:

1) Nominate a book that you believe should be included. Then, in an email, write down two or three (or four) sentences about it, explaining how it highlights civic values, promotes how to strengthen communities, or advocates for fundamental American rights such as voting. As a reminder, here are last year’s selected titles.

2) Nominate big, serious books for adults. For example, Eric Liu’s new book Become America: Civic Sermons on Love, Responsibility, and Democracy asks what it means to be an engaged American in today’s divided political landscape, and how we restore hope in our country. Liu, a popular advocate for active citizenship, takes on these questions in a collection of “civic sermons” delivered at gatherings around the nation. Along the way, Liu suggests a number of ways forward in a time of anger, fear, and dismay over the state of the nation. There are ample lessons related to all of Civic Nebraska’s program areas – youth civic engagement, civic health, and voting rights – throughout this excellent book. It might just make it onto our 2019 list.

3) Nominate fun books for all ages, fiction and nonfiction alike. ​Consider that there are civic lessons in both the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, from media literacy to how ordinary people can create and lead mass movements to accomplish extraordinary things. Sharing a range of titles and genres for readers of all ages will help build engaged Nebraskans from age 6 to 106. Who knows? Maybe even some of those The Complete Idiot’s Guide to … books might be worth considering. Our point is, variety is good.

4) Already know your picks? Don’t hesitate. Email your nomination(s) to Steve Smith, Civic Nebraska’s director of communications, by 5 p.m. Friday, June 7. Please include your name and your town or city of residence. If you live outside Nebraska, let us know how you’re connected to the Cornhusker State.

Look for the complete Civic Nebraska Summer of Democracy Reading List at by June 10, and on display at libraries and bookstores around the Cornhusker State by the end of June. Hey, we just hope that’s before your big summer vacation, so you can plan out your beach-reading schedule accordingly. We’ll include links to get each title in both print and ebook, whichever you might prefer. The rest is up to you.

We can’t wait to see your picks!

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‘Fact from fiction’: Our testimony on LB1371

On Feb. 20, 2024, Civic Nebraska Director of Public Policy Heidi Uhing testified in favor of LB1371, which would create new media literacy requirements for K-12 schools in Nebraska. Here is the text of her testimony as prepared.

Media literacy needed for connection

To give youth their best shot at rising to their potential, we need to teach them how to communicate, providing them with hope and resilience.

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