Past Themes | 2016 | 2017


Theme Page

The theme for the 2016 Summer Reading Club is Heroes and Villains.

Get ready to unleash your imagination as you encourage discovery of heroes, villains, sidekicks and more in this year’s program.

By definition, superheroes are larger than life, courageous, powerful, and seemingly able to overcome any obstacle with amazing physical prowess while doing great deeds at the same time.

Villains present opportunities for readers to formulate ideas about coping with evil and moral discord in our world. From brats to dictators, to evil masterminds, it is the villain’s interaction with the hero or protagonist that drives stories forward. Great villains add elements of humour and adventure that increase the excitement and engagement with literature.

The 2016 Heroes and Villains programming theme encourages libraries to help children and young people explore the themes and conventions associated with super and everyday heroes, and their villainous counterparts. Ideas such as:

  • the concept of right and wrong, power, responsibility and self-control/self-mastery
  • the concepts of sacrifice, determination, bravery, dedication
  • the concept of justice, morality, safety for the good of the people, what makes a good citizen, courage
  • the idea of autonomy, balancing the desire for power with the need for friendship, testing one’s physical limits, one’s ability to face fears, and being able to explore one’s feelings
  • the dynamic nature of complicated relationships, secret/dual identity’s, confidants, sidekicks, gangs, friendship, loyalty, social politics, villains
  • success, chaos, the pursuit of immortality, coming of age, transformation, origin stories

Independent of being endowed with super powers, everyday heroes are recognised for demonstrating good judgement and using their talents to benefit others. The concept of “with great power comes great responsibility” is embedded throughout traditional, classic and popular literature and provides a good discussion point for connecting fantasy and pop-culture to real life heroism.

It is anticipated that participating libraries will activate this theme in their spaces by:

  • providing exposure to an array of hero and villain types (traditional and non-traditional)
  • celebrating heroes in a variety of genres
  • becoming familiar with the characteristics, qualities and social conventions of a superhero and their villainous counterparts
  • engaging with heroes, heroines and villains found in novels, graphic novels and movies through program activities and reading

Literary Connections

The theme of Heroes and Villains provides an exciting platform to introduce children and young people to the following genres:

Speculative Fiction










  • Speculative Fiction: Any fiction with supernatural, fantastical or futuristic elements, which speculates about worlds that are unlike the real world. Speculative fiction encapsulates apocalyptic, fantasy, superhero, dystopian, utopian and survivalism fiction—just to mention a few. This is your YA paradise!

*Such as: Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan | Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling | The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Fantasy Fiction:  is a genre of fiction that uses magic or other supernatural elements as a main plot element, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic and magical creatures are common.
  • Superhero/Super-powered Fiction: A type of speculative fiction following the adventures of costumed crime fighters known as superheroes, who often possess superhuman powers and battle similarly powered criminals known as super-villains. Occasionally, this type of fiction is referred to as superhuman or super-powered fiction rather than superhero fiction in order to reflect that broader scope of both heroes and villains, as well as cover characters with enhanced abilities that fall outside the classic superhero/super-villain dichotomy.

*Such as: Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, X-men, Wonder Woman etc

  • Wuxia: Is a genre of Chinese fiction concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. Wuxia literally means “martial hero.” The heroes in wuxia fiction do not typically serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They often originate from the lower social classes of ancient Chinese society. A code of chivalry usually requires wuxia heroes to right and redress wrongs, fight for righteousness, remove oppressors, and bring retribution for past misdeeds.

*Such as: The Young Flying Fox by Louis Cha | The Legend of Condor Heroes by Jin Yong

  • Myth & Legend: Legends are semi-true stories, which have been passed on from person-to-person and hold important meaning or symbolism for the culture in which it originates. A legend usually includes an element of truth, or is based on historic facts, but with ‘mythical qualities’. Legends usually involve heroic characters or fantastic places and often encompass the spiritual beliefs of the culture in which they originate. Myths are stories based on tradition or legend which have deep symbolic meaning. Myths ‘convey a truth’ to those who tell it and hear it, rather than necessarily recording a true event.

*Such as: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy | The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle | Le Morte d’ Arthur (King Arthur) by Sir Thomas Malory

As libraries develop programming in connection with these genres it is envisioned that participants in this year’s Summer Reading Club will have the opportunity to:

  • ENGAGE w/libraries and library collections,
  • DISCOVER the themes and conventions associated with super and everyday heroes and their villainous counterparts and
  • ENJOY reading books and participating in activities that inspire them to unleash their imaginations.

* Note: Titles are provided as starting points in developing your programs. A themed list of SRC Recommended Reads for preschool, primary and secondary levels is provided later in the year and comprises selections by Australian authors, international best-sellers, classical literature and Australian award-winners.

2017 – Coming soon

The programming theme for 2017 will be released late 2016.