24 Children's Books for Summer


These are some of our favorite picture books for summer time! They are beautifully illustrated and have lovely, engaging stories.

The Little Blue Cottage

By Kelly Jordan

Illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle

Ages 4-8

This gentle, rhythmic story is reminiscent of The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. It has a vintage classic feel to it that I love, and my preschooler requested an immediate reread! The little blue cottage waits all throughout the seasons each year for summer to arrive and with it, the little girl who smells of syrup, sunscreen, and sea. One summer, she never comes, and year after year, the little blue cottage waits until one serendipitous day when the girl—a mother now!—arrives. This beautiful, nostalgic book has just the right tone for an end-of-summer read. It is filled with sensory language that makes it a rich read aloud experience. I love the representation of a multiracial family! 

Julián is a Mermaid

By Jessica Love

Ages 4-8

I have seen this book all over bookstagram since it came out and finally got my hands on it! Julián is captivated by some mermaids he sees on the subway coming home from going swimming with his abuela. While abuela leaves the room to take a bath, he finds the perfect items to transform himself into a mermaid. As I watched him let his imagination take over, I smiled to myself. This is a playful, whimsical book with gorgeous illustrations, to match. This is a perfect summer read!


By Jim LaMarche

Ages 4-8

This is a celebration of nature, childhood, outdoor play, and the seasons! The setting is “drawn from the childhood of award-winning illustrator Jim LaMarche, who grew up in Wisconsin along the Milwaukee River.” After studying a dirt pit, Matt realizes a trickle of water has the potential to create a pond. He works with his sister and his friend throughout the seasons to clear out the pit and restore the pond that once was. I love that this showcases children working together with very little adult intervention to create something lovely in response to their own curiosity and observation. In today’s over-scheduled, fast-paced society, children so often lose out on slow, unstructured play days outside that lead to creativity, problem solving, teamwork, and appreciation for nature. These qualities build confidence as children test out and refine their ideas. Wonderful book to inspire and celebrate outdoor play!

By Abdul-Razak Zachariah
Illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo
Ages 3-7

“This last bit of silence and this last breeze touching your face:

They are yours.

They are your reward for being patient and thoughtful when the game seemed to not go your way.

They bring you peace the same way you bring me peace.”

What a beautiful, lyrical summer bed time book! From the same illustrator of the lovely book, “I Am Enough,” this is a story about Amani, who plays hide and seek with friends from the neighborhood. It is told with wonderful sensory language and celebrates community and self-acceptance subtly but powerfully.

Seashells by the Seashore

By Marianne Berkes

Illustrated by Robert Noreika

Ages 4-10

After two beach trips, I finally found the book I was looking for, hiding on a shelf. #booknerdproblems Anyway, this is a really lovely rhyming/counting book with a different type of seashell on each beautiful, glossy page. This is a great one to take along to the beach or look at afterward to identify shells. 12 shells are featured, but 14 additional ones are pictured and labeled at the back. This pairs beautifully with nature study and water coloring!


By Julie Brinckloe

Ages 5-8

This is such a cozy book to read on a summer night! It’s a simple but lovely story of a little boy rushing outside to catch fireflies with friends. Once he brings them home in a jar, he realizes he can’t bear to keep them from freedom. This made me feel so nostalgic and reminded me of the glorious first half of my childhood out in the country in western Pennsylvania. I have such fond memories of the soft grass beneath my bare feet as I ran about with my brother and sister catching fireflies, our dog running loops around us. The language in the book captures the gentle magic of a perfect summer evening. Such a sweet bed time read!

By Jill Barklem
Ages 5 and up

By Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Ages 3-5

By Robert McCloskey
Ages 3-7

Some of our favorite beauty summer reads! Sea Story is one story out of the Brambly Hedge collection of charming animal stories, which we adore! The Seashore Book and Time of Wonder both have gorgeous, rich language. Time of Wonder is from the author of Blueberries for Sal and tells about summer on an island in Maine. See below for the review of The Seashore Book!

Boats on the Bay

By Jeanne Walker Harvey

Illustrated by Grady McFerrin

Ages 4-8

In just one sentence per page, this fun book tells about the many different boats that come and go on the bay throughout the course of the day. The illustrations have a vintage feel to them that grabbed my attention as soon as I saw the cover at the library. This is a great summertime read for preschoolers!

The Honeybee

By Kirsten Hall

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Ages 4-8

Between the brilliant illustrations, rhyming text, onomatopoeia, and action-oriented words, this book provides such a fun, multi-sensory experience! It tells in lyrical text about a bee’s process of finding and choosing a flower, getting pollen, communicating with the other bees, and making honey. I’m so impressed with how the author gave so much information in an exciting, poetic way. 

Dragonfly Kites

By Thomson Highway

Illustrated by Julie Flett

Ages 4-8

“Joe and Cody live in the far north. Their summer home was a tent near a lake. There are hundreds of lakes in northern Manitoba, so they never stayed on the same one twice. The lakes had beautiful islands and and forests and beaches and clear water. But no people.” 

So begins this serene, playful story of two brothers who explore and connect with nature. They catch dragonflies and tie string around the middle to make dragonfly kites. Each page has the text translated into the Indigenous language of Cree.This is another stunner with the signature style I’m always love from Julie Flett. The illustrations are bold, beautiful, high-contrast pictures that make you want to jump into the story. This would be a wonderful book to read before a nature study lesson or a nature walk. 

Wild Berries

By Julie Flett

Ages 4-8

This is another gem by Julie Flett. It’s a gentle story about a little boy going on a walk with his grandmother to pick blueberries. They come across an ant, a spider, and a fox and feed the birds. Each page has a word in the #firstnations language of Cree. At the end is a recipe for wild blueberry jam. The story is accompanied by beautiful high-contrast illustrations. Reading it feels like taking a leisurely stroll on a pleasant summer day. Just lovely!

The First Strawberries: a Cherokee Story

Retold by Joseph Bruchac

Illustrated by Anna Vojtech

Ages 3-5

“To this day, when the Cherokee people eat strawberries, they are reminded to always be kind to each other; to remember that friendship and respect are as sweet as the taste of ripe, red berries.”

This is the Cherokee story of how strawberries came into the world. It begins with the creation of the first man and woman who live together happily until one day, when they have a quarrel. The woman leaves in anger, unable to hear her husband’s apology. The remainder of the story is about how the sun helps the husband catch up with his wife to make amends. First, Sun sends raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, to no avail. Finally, the gift of strawberries gives the woman pause and leads to the couple’s reconciliation. This is such a sweet story about repentance and forgiveness and has lovely water color illustrations. 

Enemy Pie

By Derek Munson

Illustrated by Tara Callahan King

Ages preschool – 7

I brought Enemy Pie to read when I was the mystery reader for my daughter’s second grade class and it was a crowd pleaser! It’s about a boy who doesn’t get along with another little boy and asks his dad what to do about it. His dad pulls out a recipe for enemy pie and proceeds to make it, but there’s a caveat— for the pie to work, the boy has to spend a whole day with his enemy and be nice to him. The two boys end up having fun together and become friends, so the main character panics when his dad brings out the pie. He can only imagine what it will do to his new friend until the boys notice that the dad has already started eating a piece of pie. I love how this book is told from the child’s point of views. The second graders I read to debated whether the pie was magic and didn’t harm anyone because the boys were no longer enemies or the dad tricked them into spending time together. Such a great book about friendship and getting along with others!

By Paul Fleischman
Ages 4-8

This is one of my favorite picture books ever. It’s a magical story about Wesley, a curious, intelligent boy who has unique interests and has trouble fitting in with his peers. He decides to put all of his book knowledge to good use one summer by creating his own civilization in his backyard. He uses a special crop for food, clothing, and entertainment and even creates his own language. His classmates begin to see the value in someone who isn’t afraid to do things differently, and Wesley learns the value of doing things in community instead of only relying on himself. I love how Wesley learns to use his gifts without compromising who he is but still learns to connect with others.

By Sid Fleischman
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Ages 6-10

“There has been so much tomfool nonsense told about McBroom’s wonderful one acre farm that I had better set matters straight. I’m McBroom. Josh McBroom. I’ll explain about the watermelons in a minute.” *

Thus begins one of the best read aloud books ever! The McBroom books have hilariously imaginative tall tales that will entertain the whole family. The language is so rich and full of wordplay and imagery, and the storytelling is superb. They are perfect for reading together and then for children to enjoy independently over and over. These stories will make your kiddos laugh aloud. We love these stories, and I think you will, too!

By Marjorie Flack
Illustrated by Jay Hyde Barnum
Ages 6-8

By Ryan Anne Martin
Ages 4-8

Two fun and informative books for summer! The Boats on the River is about different types of boats and has wonderful vintage illustrations. Cross a Bridge describes various types of bridges, how they are constructed, and what they’re used for. It has bright illustrations that are perfect for young children! 

By Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Steven Salerna
Ages 3-5

When I was a brand new mom, our beloved pediatrician said that one of the best things we could do for our daughter would be to give her the gift of a second language. He has since passed away, but we remembered his advice and enrolled our firstborn in a Spanish immersion preschool. That is when we discovered Susan Middleton Elya’s books, which are not exactly bilingual but have mostly English with one or two Spanish words in each sentence. These are perfect for us since my daughter was learning Spanish and I know very little Spanish, myself. They are written such that the meaning of the Spanish word is usually fairly easy to determine from the context clues. They have a pleasant rhythm and rhyme, as well. It’s such a unique concept, at least among books I’ve seen, that we have bought or checked out many of her books multiple times and still enjoy them several years later. This is one we love for summer, but we enjoy her others, as well!

By Charlotte Zolotow
Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Ages 3-5

This lyrical story begins with a little boy asking his mother, “What is the seashore like?” The poetic text and illustrations for the remainder of the book describe the sights, sounds, and textures of an imagined day at the seashore. This would be a wonderful mentor text for teaching about figurative language, descriptive writing, or poetry. It would be a good one to read aloud and have children close their eyes, imagine being at the seashore, and then write or draw about the experience. Beautiful book for summer!

By Yukihisa Tokuda
Illustrated by Kiyoshi Takahashi
Ages 6-8

A perfect book for a beautiful sunny spring day! If your children are as obsessed with pillbugs as mine are, they will love this one. Great nonfiction for K-3rd grade. This book has a lot of information presented in a casual, engaging tone. 

By Sally Llloyd-Jones
Illustrated by Leo Espinosa
Ages 4-8

“Sometimes it’s hard being a goldfish. You dream of growing fat and exploring coral reefs. But instead here you are in a bowl. Going round and round in circles…”

We had the pleasure of hearing Sally Lloyd Jones read the introduction to this when it first came out. What a treat! It’s one of our new favorites. The illustrations are beautiful and the masterful storytelling draws you right in to the story, as Sally Lloyd Jones always does. It’s a fun, sweet story based on true events in NYC, where a man decided to clean and fix up an old fountain that had fallen into disrepair. The children in the neighborhood are invited to put their goldfish in the fountain for the summer, and they make friends with one another in the process. This is a wonderful book for kids of all ages! Tinies will enjoy the pictures and the story about the fish, and older children can see a real life example of community building.

By Alice McLerran
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

Roxaboxen is one of our very favorite books, and I can’t believe we read it for the first time just a few years ago. It’s an enchanting celebration of imagination and free play in the outdoors and chronicles the adventures of a group of children who create their own world. This is a wonderful book to inspire children to play, imagine, and create. 

By Joanne Schwartz
Illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Ages 4-7
“Pinny stepped outside. Summer was almost over. Days and weeks of sunshine had passed slowly by. This morning the sun was shining again, making everything as warm as toast. Pinny was happy.”
I love the Pinny books! The writing is beautiful and rich, and I believe Charlotte Mason aficionados would call this a living book. It has short chapters with different parts of Pinny’s summer day watching clouds, interacting with a seagull, and having a blueberry cake party with friends. Though the ages listed are 4-7, the sentences are a bit complex for preschoolers, so this might work better for early elementary kiddos, depending on attention spans. It could also be read a chapter at a time with younger readers. The events are so simple but are explored in an almost meditative, ambling way that has the feel of a lazy summer day. 

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