Skip to Main Content

Branch Out Reading Challenge: Home

Branch Out Reading Challenge: How to Participate

Branch Out is a new reading challenge for adults, designed to grow your reading.

The program is designed to be as flexible as you like: complete the themes in any order, at whatever pace you like. Complete all 12 themes over 12 months, or faster if you prefer. With each completed theme, your name will go into the hat for raffles happening throughout the year. Finish all 12 themes for a collectible prize. 

How To Participate

  1. Choose a theme. 
  2. Read any book that fits the theme. Our librarians have handpicked some fiction and nonfiction suggestions for each theme to get you started, but you can pick any book that fits the theme, whether it is listed in the booklet, the additional reading suggestions, or something you selected on your own.
  3. When you finish the book, fill out this form to indicate you have completed that theme.
  4. Repeat until you have completed all 12 themes.

Have any questions? Check our FAQ or reach out to us at or 224-543-1485

Looking for more recommendations beyond the titles in the booklet or listed below? Check out our reading suggestions or stop by the desk for additional book ideas.

Branch Out Themes


Go green! Read a book with an environmental theme.

Cover of Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy Cover of The Seed Keeper Cover of A House Between Earth and the Moon by Rebecca Scherm

Cover of The High House by  Jessie GreengrassCover of Termination Shock by Neal StephensonCover of The Light Pirate Lily Brooks-Dalton

Cover of Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne SimardCover of The Darkness Manifesto: On Light Pollution, Night Ecology, and the Ancient Rhythms that Sustain Life by Johan EklöfCovers of Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake


Looking for more books for this theme?


Blockbusters You Might Have Missed

Was there a book that made you say "Maybe later" when you saw the waiting list the first time around? Read a book that was recently popular with your neighbors.

Cover of Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van PeltCover of Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna RaybournCover of Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Cover of Demon Copperhead by Barbara KingsolverCover of Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle ZevinCover of The Maid by Nita Prose

Cover of The Wager by David GrannCover of I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdyCover of These Precious Days by Ann Patchett


Looking for more books for this theme?

One for the History Books

As a library, we always encourage your sense of curiosity. Read a book, fiction or nonfiction, about a period of history that you want to learn more about.

Cover of Every Rising Sun by Jamila AhmedCover of The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie EarlingCover of The Queen of the Valley by Lorena Hughes

Cover of The African Samurai by Craig ShreveCover River Sing Me Home by Eleanor ShearerCover of Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua

Cover of Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art by Rebecca Wragg SykesCover of Madhouse at the End of the Earth: The Belgica's Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian SanctonCover of The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine by Janice P. Nimura


Looking for more books for this theme?

Walk a Mile in Someone Else's Shoes

Step into someone else's life. Read a biographical fiction book or a memoir.

Cover of Beyond the Door of No Return by David DiopCover of Bronze Drum by Phong NguyenCover of Annie and the Wolves by Andromeda Romano-Lax

Cover of The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniCover of The Brightest Star by Gail TsukiyamaCover of The Great Mrs. Elias by Barbara Chase-Riboud

Cover of In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy BloomCover of Three Girls from Bronzeville by Dawn TurnerCover of Pageboy by Elliot Page


Looking for more books for this theme?

Award Winners

There's a book for every reader and recognition for every genre. Read a book that won an award in recent years.

Cover of A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky ChambersCover of A Lady for a Duke by Alexis HallCover of The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Cover of Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. ManansalaCover of Jackal by Erin E. AdamsCover of Trust by Hernan Diaz

Cover of How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint SmithCover of Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park HongCover of A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters by Henry Gee


Looking for more books for this theme?

Lost and Found

Whether it's searching for long-lost family or making a new one with friends, read a book with a found family theme.

Cover of The Music of Bees by Eileen GarvinCover of In the Lives of Puppets by TJ KluneCover of The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

Cover of Detransition, Baby by Torrey PetersCover of Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy VanderahCover of Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Cover of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani ShapiroCover of The Book Collectors: A Band of Syrian Rebels and the Stories That Carried Them Through a War by Delphine MinouiCover of Thinning Blood: A Memoir of Family, Myth, and Identity by Leah Myers


Looking for more books for this theme?

Hidden Treasure

Read about a fictional or real-life adventure to uncover secrets, jewels, and other mysteries.

Cover of Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. LiCover of Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel JoyceCover of The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly

Cover of Raiders of the Lost Heart by Jo SeguraCover of The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon ChakrabortyCover of The Antiquity Affair by Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne

Cover of River of the Gods: Genius, Courage and Betrayal in the Search for the Source of the Nile by Candice MillardCover of Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure by Menachem KaiserCover of Empress of the Nile: The Daredevil Archaeologist Who Saved Egypt's Ancient Temples from Destruction by Lynne Olson


Looking for more books for this theme?


Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Lions and tigers and bears—oh my! Read a book that features an animal in the title, story, or cover.

Cover of West With Giraffes by Lynda RutledgeCover of The Crane Husband by Kelly BarnhillCover of Horse by Geraldine Brooks

Cover of Starter Villain by John ScalziCover of A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice HendersonCover of The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa

Cover of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us by Ed YongCover of The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us by Steve BrusatteCover of Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald


Looking for more books for this theme?

Lights, Camera, Action!

Is the book always better than the movie? You decide! Read a book with a recent or upcoming adaptation.

Cover of Washington Black by Esi EdugyanCover of Exit West by Mohsin HamidCover of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Cover of Black Cake by Charmaine WilkersonCover of Mickey7 by Edward AshtonCover of The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

Cover of Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David GrannCover of Three Women by Lisa TaddeoCover of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown


Looking for more books for this theme?

Color Your World

Read the rainbow. Read a book with a color in the title.

Cover of Black Buck by Mateo AskaripourCover of Red Widow by Alma KatsuCover of Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Cover of The Golden Spoon by Jessa MaxwellCover of The Last Green Valley by Mark SullivanCover of Blue-Skinned Gods by SJ Sindu

Cover of Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder, and a Woman's Search for Justice in Indian Country by Sierra Crane MurdochCover of Driving the Green Book: A Road Trip Through the Living History of Black Resistance by Alvin HallCover of Blood Orange Night: My Journey to the Edge of Madness by Melissa Bond


Looking for more books for this theme?

Multilingual Lives

Hello, 你好, Привет, नमस्ते ! Read a book that features dialogue in more than one language.

Cover of Hula by Jasmin Iolani HakesCover of Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. SutantoCover of Babel by R. F. Kuang

Cover of Honor by Thrity UmrigarCover of The Spanish Love Deception by Elena ArmasCover of Things We Lost to the Water by Eric Nguyen

Cover of The Man Who Could Move Clouds by Ingrid Rojas ContrerasCover of The Best We Could Do by Thi BuiCover of Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang


Looking for more books for this theme?

Discover a Debut

Find a new favorite. Read a debut author.

Cover of Late Bloomers by Deepa VaradarajanCover of The Sweetness of Water by Nathan HarrisCover of Dreaming by Xochitl Gonzalez

Cover of Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi PatelCover of The Bandit Queens by Parini ShroffCover of Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Cover of Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. FordCover of The Summer of 1876: Outlaws, Lawmen, and Legends in the Season That Defined the American West by Chris WimmerCover of Raw Dog: The Naked Truth About Hot Dogs  Jamie Loftus


Looking for more books for this theme?