I was trying to come up with a good theme for my June Read Aloud Book List when all I really wanted to do was get outside in the garden. Then the light bulb went off! June is one of those months in which the weather is almost always inviting. So this month, why not read aloud a collection of books that will make you and your kids want to go outside and play, garden, relax, or any other activity that inspires you. Perhaps you could even read outside?
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June Picture Books
Daniel's Good Day by Micha Archer. Oh, how I adore this optimistic, feel good picture book! Daniel gets outside and asks his diverse friends and neighbors what it means for them to have a good day. A gardener tells him it's a good day when the bees visit. His friend Emma has a good day when the wind is sufficient for kite flying. The book has such a positive message and after reading your kids will love discussing what it means for them to have a good day. Maybe they will even start to poll their friends, too!
Camp Tiger by Susan Choi. This is a fun, imaginative take on the camping story. A boy and his family head out for their annual camping trip but this year there is an unexpected visitor. The tiger, however, is of the friendly persuasion and keeps the boy company during the trip. This camping trip, the boy's mom has been encouraging him to be more independent and do things for himself and the reader begins to wonder if the tiger is real or part of the boy's imagination. Be sure to ask your kids what they think!
Ruby's Sword by Jacqueline Veissid. Here's another wonderful book about the power of imagination. Ruby longs to play with her brothers but when even the gift of "swords" doesn't sway them, she becomes the hero of her own delightful, outdoor adventure. She saves ants, gathers a feast, and builds a castle. Eventually, her brothers come around and the three use their swords to work collaboratively. A book that is sure to inspire outdoor play, and fort building!
The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol. This is a funny, quirky story about a group of "little guys." Are they acorns? Mushrooms? Who knows, but they are super cute. The "guys" work together and believe that together they are mighty and can take over the world! In any case, they tromp through the forest, conquering waterways and stealing food from the other animals. But events, and the kindness of other animals despite their greed, gives them a change of heart and they learn that cooperation and being kind is the better way of life.
Summer by Cao Wenxuan. It is hot and dry on the grasslands and all the animals are desperate for shade. At first they fight over who will get to stand in the shade of the tree, only to realize that its lack of greenery prevents it from actually casting shade. Observing a passing boy and his father, the animals put into action a plan that requires them to cooperate but which rewards them with the desired cool shade. Read this book under a shady tree and appreciate being outside, even on hot, hot days.
Ojiichan's Gift by Chieri Uegaki. Mayumi learns how to care for and appreciate a garden from her grandfather. Mayumi's grandfather lives in Japan and his garden is not filled with flowers, but with stones. When grandfather becomes too elderly to continue to live alone he must leave his house and garden and Mayumi channels her sadness over the loss by creating a small, mobile stone garden that her grandfather can always have with him. After reading this book, why not encourage your kids to create their own mini zen garden. Fill a shallow tray with sand, add in a few lovely stones and a tiny rake and let the calming begin!
My First Book of Haiku Poetry by Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen. The title may mislead you to believe this is a collection of haiku that is only suitable for beginners. Not so, not so. Traditionally, haiku poetry invites reflection upon the natural world and readers of all ages will love this short poems, written in both English and Japanese. The absolutely gorgeous and evocative illustrations beg your children to open up their powers of imagination. At the conclusion, the author asks the readers to write their own haiku and the accompanying drawing is of a child opening a door to the outdoors. Magical.
Longer June Books
Rabbit's Bad Habits by Julian Gough and Jim Field. This is not a chapter book although you would be forgiven for thinking so when you pick it up. Formatted as the size of a novella, this hilarious tale had us laughing out loud at every page. I realize that it is counterintuitive to read a book with snow on the cover in June, but you won't want to wait until the winter to read this hysterical story. A kind bear wakes from hibernation and finding her food missing, heads out of her cave where she runs into a rather grumpy rabbit. The two form a friendship despite Rabbit's rude behavior and rather strange habits. When Rabbit confesses to not enjoying being a rabbit, Bear invites him to be a bear, like her. Read aloud for ages 5 and up.
Freya & Zoose by Emily Butler. Here's another June book that is set in a wintery wonderland! Freya, a rockhopper penguin, is set on adventure and stows away on a hot air balloon headed for the North Pole. On board she meets Zoose the mouse. At first the two are antagonists but during the adventure they find themselves relying on one another for safety and comfort and eventually become friends. Read aloud for ages 7 and up, but not for sensitive listeners due to the death of one of the hot air balloonists.
Mr. & Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath. I read this book way back when it first came out and I was sure I had already put it on a list when a reader wrote to me and recommended it. Lo and behold, I had never mentioned it! This June book list does seem like the perfect place for a funny book about detective rabbits by a stellar author. Madeline (a human) needs help when foxes kidnap her parents and turns to the quirky Mr and Mrs Bunny. Hilarious, zany and laugh-out-loud with great illustrations to boot. Read aloud for ages 7 and up.
Not June? Try one of our other monthly book lists. Hint: you can read them any time of year.