Beaches, sunshine, heat, laziness, outdoors. These are the things that come to mind when we think about August (in the northern hemisphere, anyway). To me, August always seems like a month for waiting. Waiting for the heat to let up, waiting for kids to return from camp, waiting for school to start... And what do we do when waiting? We read aloud, of course! Let these wonderful books for August inspire you to spend the last lazy days of summer reading aloud to your children. Below you will find picture books, poetry and longer chapter books for August, no matter what age kids you have.
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August Picture Books
A few of these are obvious selections for August reading, but don't skip the others!
Vroom! by Barbara McClintock is a wonderfully joyous read aloud for toddlers and preschoolers. This story of a girl going on an journey in a race car celebrates the pleasures of speed! One night Annie puts on her helmet (safety first!), hops into her car and zooms out the window of her bedroom, headed on an adventure limited only by her imagination. The text is simple and to the point, allowing the reader to travel vicariously with the racer across the landscape. The illustrations are clever and engaging. A gem.
Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea Tsurumi. This is a fun picture book. You think it might be a nonfiction book about life in the ocean, but then the main character is a crab who loves to bake. When trash dumped in the ocean causes a crisis for the marine animals, Crab leads the way by organizing the other creatures with a plan to clean up the mess. Of course, baking also plays an important role in motivating the troops! A fun read aloud with a crucial environmental message.
The Girl and the Wolf by Katherena Vermette. I always gobble up any book illustrated by Julie Flett, and I love this new find by Métis author, Vermette, which flips European-style fairy tales on their heads. A young girl (dressed in red, you might note) gets lost and meets a wolf. Although at first, the girl is wary of the wolf, he soon becomes her guide and calms her with questions through which she discovers her inner strength and confidence. After returning to her home, she takes an offering to the wolf to show her gratitude. Not to be missed.
Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris. This book will cool you down in the heat of August! After emerging from his cave, Bear falls into the river and begins a journey downstream. Along the way he picks up various animal companions, including a frog and a turtle, a raccoon and more. During their watery ride, the animals discover they need each other and then–here comes the waterfall! Utterly joyous.
The Sandcastle that Lola Built by Megan Maynor. Headed to the beach for some sandcastle building this month? Be sure to read this take on the traditional "The House That Jack Built" tale. Lola begins to build a sandcastle, but the best part is that other children at the seaside begin to help her and it becomes a festive, collaborate event.
How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk. Don't want to build a sandcastle the traditional way? Put on your thinking cap and figure out how to code a sandcastle with the help of technology–in the form of your trusty robot, Pascal. Pearl is annoyed that her sand creations continue to be mauled by other beach elements like dogs, frisbees and rambunctious kids. So she sets out to code a castle with Pascal. While reading about Pearl's attempts–and reattempts–to build her castle, kids learn fundamentals of coding and the process of building using small steps as part of a larger process.
Read Aloud August Poetry
My son and I have been watching nature documentaries this summer and he was obsessed with a scene between the racer snake and an iguana. Well, the next day at the library I discovered this poetry collection, and which two animals graced the cover? Perfect.
Predator and Prey: A Conversation in Verse by Susannah Buhrman-Deever. I love finding unique poetry books for kids and parents to enjoy together. This is a wonderful collection for those of you who are poetry newbies (and those of you who already have a deep appreciation for verse!). Each double page spread introduces a predator and its prey in two poems told from the animals' point of view. Some of the poems are designed to be read in two alternating voices, which makes them great fun to read aloud with your kids. This collection will appeal to nature and animal lovers, kids who like drama and those of you who appreciate unique literary forms. Absolutely wonderful.
August Chapter Books to Read Aloud
I was able to pick three chapter books to cover all ages! Starting with anyone who can sit still, all the way up to teens. Happy reading!
The Curious Lobster by Richard W. Hatch. First published in 1937, this title will appeal to fans of books like Wind in the Willows and the Thornton Burgess animal stories, but anyone who loves gentle quirky humor and animal stories will enjoy it. A lobster's curiosity about the world prompts him to leave the ocean in search of knowledge and adventure. He risks the perils of dry land and makes friends with Badger and thus his adventure begins. I am so delighted to have discovered this book. It's the perfect old-fashioned read aloud for August and the content is appropriate for any age who is ready to sit down and listen to a chapter book.
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles. This is one of the quirkiest books I have ever read aloud and my 10 year old absolutely loved it. Cousins Otto and Sheed live in a Virginia county known for strange happenings. Together they have worked to solve many mysteries but this is the last day of summer and they are not ready for it to be over. They encounter a mysterious man with a camera that stops time and that's when the weirdness really begins! Zany, imaginative, not-a-little-bit-surreal, yet still thoughtful, this is a really fun read aloud for ages 8 and up.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson. My son's 5th grade teacher started reading this aloud to the class and we finished it up at home after school let out. It is a prequel to Peter Pan, although the world building is not meant to be exactly aligned with Barrie's original. Orphaned boys, pirates, treasure, an isolated island and a ship called Never Land set the scene for how Peter became Pan. There is some intense action and so I recommend it as a read aloud for older kids, at least ages 10 and up, and it is an excellent choice for those of you who are still reading aloud to your teens.
Not August? Choose your monthly read aloud books from the following lists: