{Summer Reading} Picture Books for Kids

Kids books for summer reading
This summer reading list is a bit of a hodgepodge. I wanted to choose picture books for kids which have a summer theme but covered a variety of topics. I also wanted books which encouraged kids to examine them closely, either because they encouraged discussion, had a slow rhythm or had intricate pictures to pour over. As a result, the titles I’ve collected here are a mix of classics and new publications, wordless and books with lengthy texts. I hope you find something to read during the long, lazy, hot months ahead.

Don’t forget to also check out my Summer Reading lists: Chapter Books for Read Alouds and Books for Independent Readers.

{Note: As always, books are chosen based solely on my — and my kids — opinions. I’ve included affiliate links should a book spark your interest.}

If You Want to See a Whale. Last year this author-illustrator team created the gorgeous And Then It’s Spring. This year’s collaboration celebrates the rewards of patience, imagination, being in the moment, and close observations of one’s surroundings — all key qualities of a summer well-spent.

The Other Side. Since their mothers have instructed them not to cross the property-dividing fence, a white girl and an African-American girl make friends by sitting atop the fence instead.  Lewis’ beautiful illustrations accompany Woodson’s story, which amazingly never strays into the didactic. After you read this, you and your kids will surely be talking about the arbitrary divides that society erects between people and the simple acts of friendship that can bridge them.

Flotsam. Magical, twisting perspectives invite readers to study Wiesner’s exquisite watercolors in this imaginative journey that begins with the discovery of a camera on a beach.

Take Me Out to the Yakyu.  My 8 year old loves to go to ball games with dad and it wouldn’t be summer without a few hotdogs in the stands. Young baseball enthusiasts will love this brand-new, clever picture book depicting the difference and similarities between American and Japanese baseball. Also available as an ebook.

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey. If you aren’t familiar with Mini Grey’s Traction Man, read the 3rd book in the series on your beach blanket. This book guarantees lots of giggles (he’s got a scrubbing brush sidekick for goodness’ sake!) and fodder for imaginative play. I double-dog dare you to resist using your superhero voice when reading it aloud. Also available as an ebook.

One Morning in Maine and Time of Wonder. I had a hard time choosing between these two books, and so… I didn’t! As a kid growing up in California, the summertime experiences in these two books were completely foreign but utterly beguiling. I first went to Maine a few years ago and yes, it’s all it’s cracked up to be. Get your kids daydreaming about lazy summer days free of digital screens and ringing phones. These two books are must-reads for summer. They are long, but you’ve got lazy summer days to fill.

You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum. Kids in the city fill their summer days quite differently than those in the country. I can attest to the fact that summer means lots of museum trips. Pour over the pictures of this classic wordless book and introduce your kids to a few famous paintings while you’re at it. (Books for Boston and D.C. are also available.)

Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm. No summer picture book list would be complete without a book about a farm. Break out of the box with this amusing tale of an unusual, magical balloon farm. The narrator describes the farm as well as her attempts to discover the secrets of a successful balloon harvest.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. Frazee’s popular book about two friends who spend their summer days doing everything and nothing, but having the greatest time ever, deftly captures what summer with friends is all about.

The Relatives Came. Is your extended family coming for a visit this summer? I hope your reunion is as rowdy, messy, joyous and love-filled as this one.

Disclosure: This blog is an Amazon affiliate, purchases made through links may result in an itty-bitty commission (at no extra cost to you! Including affiliate links underwrites the time it takes me to make these free book lists for you and does not affect which books I choose. Thanks for your support!

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  1. says

    Robert McCloskey is one of my favorites, and I love the choices you made for summer reading. There are some which will definitely be added to our list.

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