From poolside lemonade to blueberry picking, from dripping ice cream cones to hot city streets, this compilation of books is our tried and true top 16 summer reads for the younger crew.
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At the Beach by Anne & Harlow Rockwell, uses simple text and illustrations to convey a child’s day at the beach with her mother, as seen through the child’s eyes.
At the Beach by Salina Yoon is a very simple board book containing drawings of beach items (pail, kite, crab, etc.). There are interesting cutouts and shimmering pictures to hold a baby’s attention.
Wave by Suzy Lee needs no words to convey a child’s approach to the waves. Lee’s tale is illustrated using only blue and shades of grey, yet we are whisked to the beach alongside this little girl as she approaches the waves - tentatively at first, and then increasingly bold, until ultimately happily soaked, with an armful of shells.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague: A young boy’s imaginative response to the perennial question, “What did you do this summer?” His response describes being captured by cowboys and saving a barbecue from a stampede.
Magic Beach by Alison Lester delivers on its promise of capturing the magic of a childhood day at the beach. Breaking waves become wild horses and treasures wash up while gathering shells.
Summer Is Summer by Phillis and David Gershator is a bouncy, rhyming, repetitive treat that gets at the heart of summer, “Cool in the shade/Pink lemonade-/Summer is summer is summer.”
A Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy follows a family on a walk to the sea with unexpected diversions “on a summery Saturday morning.” The repetitive refrain is sure to please preschoolers.
Reflections by Ann Jonas opens with a child waking up, rejecting the crowded beach for the orchard, and then deciding to turn around. When the child turns around, so do we. We turn the book upside down, and read backwards. The illustrations work either way, and just as the initial pages told the story of the day beginning, in reverse they illustrate the day closing.
One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews transports you to the hot city streets, with open hydrants and hot metal slides, and the relief brought by a summer storm.
Zoomer’s Summer Snowstorm by Ned Young is a fun book for a hot day. On a sweltering day, when Zoomer’s snow cone machine overflows, they put the ice to immediate use, cooling off as they sculpt ever larger creations out of ice.
The Summer Night by Charlotte Zolotow describes a father’s efforts to put his wakeful little girl to sleep. Reading this you feel as though you are joining the pair on the warm summer night stroll by the pond under the stars.
In When I Was Little Like You by Jill Paton Walsh, we join a child and her grandmother on a warm day at the sea, in which present day and past pictures are interspersed, gently showing us the changes in trains, candy shops, and even ice cream vans.
Many parents will relate to Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure. A little boy continually asks his mother if it is summer yet, as the book shows the progression from the bare trees of winter to the swallows of spring to…finally…summer. This is a good book to help children visualize the changing of the season.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey takes us on a blueberry picking adventure with two pairs – Sal and her mother, and a bear and her cub. Sal and the cub mistakenly follow the wrong mother. All is made right in the end, and the very blue of the ink on the pages will leave you wanting your own pail to drop berries into – kuplunk!
Summer’s End by Maribeth Boelts reminds us that summer must eventually come to an end. This is a good transition back to school book, easing children into anticipating school days filled with recess, field trips, and friends.
Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich offers rhymes about childhood summer pleasures, including catching fireflies, blowing bubbles, and going barefoot in the grass.
What are you reading with your kids this summer?
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