Ah, summer! The perfect time to spend an afternoon with a good book, especially one that the whole family can enjoy. These summer read alouds and the perfect books for everyone!
You'll meet quirky characters, hear heartwarming stories, listen to summer adventures and sometimes even grip your picnic blanket in suspense.
I've organized the books in a rough order by read aloud age lowest to highest. Books were selected because I believe they all have something to offer listeners at every age level. If you're reading to preschoolers on up, choose a book from the first half of the list, if you're reading to 3rd grade and up, choose any book from the list, noting that the most advanced read alouds are near the end.
See more seasonal read aloud lists!
- Spring read aloud books for the whole family
- Fall read aloud books everyone
- Winter read aloud books for cozy days
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You can now view my curated list of books featuring mythical creatures like dragons, mermaids and unicorns at Bookshop!
MORE: Check out all our summer reading resources, like reading bingo, the great library challenge and more.
OUR FRIEND HEDGEHOG: THE STORY OF US by Lauren Castillo
What a marvelous book! I have long admired Castillo's illustrations and this gentle chapter book is perfect for kids who like cozy and gentle reads. A storm carries away Hedgehog's stuffed toy dog, Mutty, leaving Hedgehog feeling lonely. She sets out to find Mutty, following clues that lead her to encounters with other friendly animals who help her. Eventually all the creatures meet a human, Annika May, who has lost something of her own. All the animals have charmingly distinctive personalities. With full color illustrations, Castillo's book is also a great read aloud for young children.
MCBROOM'S WONDERFUL ONE-ACRE FARM: THREE TALL TALES (series) by Sid Fleischman
Funny books make perfect summer read alouds! These three humorous tales can be read as stand alone stories, so they are perfect for kids who may not have the attention span for longer novels, or those kids who can't stand pausing at the end of a chapter with a cliff-hanger! The hilarious stories feature McBroom and his eleven (!) children, bamboozling, tricksters, as well as wit and wisdom.
NO. 1 CAR SPOTTER by Atinuke
Find it: Amazon | Your Library
This series from the author of the popular Anna Hibiscus series is set in Modern Africa. Oluwalase Babatunde Benson has been nicknamed the "No. 1 Car Spotter" by his friends and family because he loves to watch cars as they drive by the village. He has other talents, too, though, including his quick thinking inventiveness which helps his neighbors and family in tricky situations. I really love this series and highly recommend it.
GOOSEBERRY PARK AND THE MASTER PLAN (series) by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard
This is the first book in an early chapter book series which is a companion to the original Gooseberry Park novel. If all your kids are over six, I recommend the original Gooseberry Park. We adored both books. In this title, the colorful cast of animal characters band together during a drought and come up with a plan that involves a cat, a possum, a raccoon, 200 owls, and 20 packs of chewing gum.
SUMMER ACCORDING TO HUMPHREY (series) by Betty G. Birney
This popular series about Humphrey the class pet includes an installment perfect for reading aloud to the whole family during summer. Humphrey is so excited because this year he gets to go with his school class to summer camp! We have primarily listened to this series on audiobook so if you need something to listen to in the car pick this one up. Even older kids might even enjoy a chuckle or two while listening.
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. His adventure begins when he risks the perils of dry land and makes friends with Badger. I am so delighted to have discovered this book! It's the perfect old-fashioned read aloud for summer and the content is appropriate for any age who is ready to sit down and listen to a chapter book.
RAGWEED (Poppy series) by Avi
If you want to fill your library bag with great summer read alouds, pick a quality series! We loved Avi's very popular Tales from Dimwood Forest series about a mouse and other woodland creatures. Our first read was Ragweed, about an adventurous mouse who sets out to see the world, meets some cool mice living the good life except for the occasional encounter with a tricky kitty. It was huge hit, (see it on my list of chapter books to read to 4-6 year olds) especially with my then-4 year old who started constantly interrupting conversations throughout the day to tell me "Silversides [the cat] needs to go to jail!" You will be enchanted by the whole series.
SAUCY by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Marianna Raskin
Becca and her three brothers are quadruplets. One day, Becca finds a tiny, mangy little pig and convinces her parents to let her bring it home. Once the family learns from the vet that the pig will eventually be 600 pounds, they agree to allow the pig to stay until it reaches 100, or "maybe 50-60," as her mother warns. As Becca learns to take care of the pig, she also reflects upon some of the choices she has made in life, especially in regards to a friend she feels she has let down. One of the children has cerebral palsy, adding an additional human detail to the family. This is a great family story and Kadohata's narration is superb, as always.
MOOMINSUMMER MADNESS by Tove Jansson
Who doesn't love the Moomins? These classic characters created by Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone. One summer after a flood in Moominvalley, the Moomin family take shelter in a floating building that turns out to be a theater! (What could be better?) The plot is full of quirky characters, serendipitous run-ins, and good old-fashioned fun.
THE ADVENTURES OF NANNY PIGGINS (series) by R. A. Spratt
Nanny Piggins is one of the funniest books we've ever read. This Australian import is a series about three siblings whose father is so frugal he hires a pig to take care of them. Nanny Piggins is no Mary Poppins, however. The enthusiastic circus pig thinks school is overrated, chocolate is a food group and takes the kids on riotous adventures. This is a great book for kids (and adults) who enjoy over-the-top, subversive humor and plain, good fun. If you prefer moral didacticism, move on.
THE PENDERWICKS (series) by Jeanne Birdsall
It's hard to believe this book was written only a few years ago! It has all the old-school charm of books like Little Women, Betsy-Tacy or Anne of Green Gables. The Penderwicks, a family of four girls and a single dad rent a house for summer vacation near the Arundel estate. They meet a musically talented boy who lives in the "big house" whose mother isn't so sure she approves of his new frieds. nearby. You'd be hard pressed to remember they exist in the same world as cell phones and Wiis.
THE LAST-LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER (series) by Lamar Giles
This is a wonderfully quirky book and my 10 year old absolutely loved listening to me read it aloud. Cousins Otto and Sheed live in a Virginia county known for strange happenings. Together they have worked to solve many mysteries but now it's the last day before school starts and they are not ready for summer 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.
MORE: Books about Summer Camp
AN OCCASIONALLY HAPPY FAMILY by Cliff Burke
Theo is not looking forward to a camping vacation with his dad and sister in the desert. It's also clear that something suspicious is going on since his dad is keeping part of the vacation plans a secret. I read this book out loud to my son and although there is a serious side to Theo's story, we spent much of the time in stitches, laughing at the hilarious characters that Theo encounters and the misadventures that befall him.
THE FAMILY FLETCHER TAKE ROCK ISLAND (series) by Dana Alison Levy
We've recommended the first Family Fletcher book, and here's the summer reading sequel! This mixed family of four boys ranging from age 13 to 6, and two dads is headed to their favorite summer spot on an island off the New England. Upon arrival they learn of the closure of the local lighthouse and along with a couple of girls they meet, set out to find out why. Lots of fun, humor, old-fashioned adventures and delight.
THE RHINO IN RIGHT FIELD by Stacy DeKeyser
This is an excellent, funny book for kids who love baseball. Set in the late 1940s, the story follows Nick Spirakis, the son of Greek immigrants, who plays ball with his friends in a field by the zoo. The field contains perils such as Tank the Rhino, who lives just beyond the outfield (where balls occasionally land!). When the local baseball team comes under the control of a new owner, Nick and his friends vie for a spot as batboy. Amidst the humor and action, the story also addresses life as an immigrant, dealing with bullies and the status of girls who play baseball.
MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM by Rajani LaRocca
Mix one cup Shakespeare, two cups The Great British Baking Show, a tablespoon of a diverse cast and a sprinkling of magic and you get one perfectly baked magical realism book. 11-year-old Mimi, whose mom is Indian-American and dad is white, loves to bake. She enters a contest with the local bakery but then her father strangely loses his sense of taste and a mysterious boy helps her search for unusual ingredients. Everything goes awry á la A Midsummer Night's Dream and Mimi must figure out why and how to put it right.
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia
In 1968, 11-year-old Delphine and her sisters travel from New York to Oakland to stay with the mother who abandoned them seven years earlier. Their mother, who is not exactly happy to host them, enrolls them in a day care run by the Black Panthers. Williams-Garcia's writing is splendid, with interesting characters. It was a hard-to-put-down kind of book and a great non-preachy story to show kids how politics infuses daily regular life.
TEMPLE ALLEY SUMMER by Sachiko Kashiwaba
Originally published in Japan, Kashiwaba's novel is part summer adventure, part ghost story (not scary at all), part friendship tale. One night, Kazu sees a girl he's never seen before leaving an altar room. The same girl appears at school the next day and everyone but Kazu remembers her and insists she's always been a classmate. Kazu decides to do his summer project on Kimyō Temple Alley, which has links to ghosts and stories about the dead coming back to life. He befriends the mystery girl, Akari, and meets some of the older residents of the neighborhood who help him with his quest to solve the mystery of the alley. A suspenseful story that will introduce families to a fascinating world.
Don't forget to get your summer reading bookmark coloring page! It's a great quiet activity for kids to do while they listen to you read aloud.