It’s time to be getting out the summer nature table and summer book basket. We don’t have as many summer books as we do winter books. I still haven’t figured out if this shows a personal or publishing industry bias. One does tend to want to be outside during the summer, rather than inside and reading. Additionally, with the long summer days, I’ll confess that bedtime stories sometimes get canceled in favor of staying outside “just a few more minutes”. Still, there are always rainy summer days to read during, so I thought I’d share some of the best summer picture books that we have read.
Among a Thousand Fireflies – On a summer evening, just as the stars blink on, a firefly lands on a flower. Lights start to flash all around her — first one, then three, seven. Hundreds. Thousands. How will she find just one flash among them? And will he see her flash in return? In evocative photographs and lyrical language, Rick Lieder and Helen Frost, creators of the critically acclaimed Step Gently Out and Sweep Up the Sun, offer a true story of how two fireflies come together after finding each other’s light among thousands of others.
At the Beach – A young girl spends a radiant summer day at the beach in this updated classic from the author of Apples and Pumpkins. Sun…sand…the bright blue ocean! There is so much for a young girl to do on a visit to the beach: sand castles to build, seashells to gather, sandpipers to run with, and a picnic lunch to enjoy.
Beach – A day at the beach supplies any child with a lifetime of memories. In this new picture book by award-winning author Elisha Cooper, the simple magic of building sand castles, collecting seashells, and running from the waves is brought to life through poetic text and lively illustrations.
Beach Day – In this charming picture book, a cheerful family tumbles out of the car and onto the beach, ready for a perfect day. Buoyant verse just right for reading aloud and bright, playful illustrations capture the singular feeling of a hazy, lazy day by the ocean, complete with a ball game with new friends, water-skiers and sailboats, and a picnic lunch of fried chicken and deviled eggs. This book is a captivating introduction to the beach for young children and an irresistible gift for beach lovers of any age.
Because Your Daddy Loves You – A day spent with a young child at the beach is filled with many minor dramas—a lost shoe, a ball that floats too far out into the water, a drippy ice-cream cone. These can be frustrating events for both child and parent, but the daddy in this book finds a way to fix each problem, lovingly and patiently. Why? Because he loves his little girl, of course! This spot-on pairing of words and images is a warm, reassuring, and humorous tribute to dads everywhere.
Because Your Mommy Loves You – When a little boy and his mom go camping, mini-disasters abound, and there are lots of opportunities for Mom to step in and fix everything. But instead, with a loving touch, this mommy shows her child ways to do things for himself, going far to encourage her child’s independence. And there is still plenty of opportunity for snuggling under the stars.
Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book – Through a hole in the book’s cover, a bee is buzzing inside a flower. Peek into this bright and lively book and discover the big ways this little insect contributes to the beauty of the environment, from pollinating colorful flowers to buzzing about the bright and beautiful meadow.
Blueberries for Sal – Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Sal and her mother a picking blueberries to can for the winter. But when Sal wanders to the other side of Blueberry Hill, she discovers a mama bear preparing for her own long winter. Meanwhile Sal’s mother is being followed by a small bear with a big appetite for berries! Will each mother go home with the right little one? With its expressive line drawings and charming story, Blueberries for Sal has won readers’ hearts since its first publication in 1948.
A Day at the Seashore – A classic Little Golden Book—with a summertime theme!
Nancy and Timmy hop out of their beds one summer morning and help pack their swimsuits and lunch. And then it’s off to the seashore! In a charming rhyme, this Little Golden Book from 1951 (then titled A Day at the Beach) describes what preschoolers will find there: “You can catch little crabs—if you’re quick! You can draw great big pictures right on the beach with a piece of a shell or a stick.” Oh, what fun!
Fireflies – A young boy is proud of having caught a jar full of fireflies, which seems to him like owning a piece of moonlight, but as the light begins to dim he realizes he must set the insects free or they will die.
Flower Fairies of the Summer – This beautiful reissue of the well-loved classic Flower Fairies title is complete with Barker?s original poems and exquisite artwork. Each page features her recreation of nature’s beauty and the enchanting world of the fairies.
The Flowers’ Festival – A lucky little girl is invited by the flower fairies to join them for their Midsummer festival. Gathering around Queen Rose, all the flowers and bumblebees and birds tell their enchanting stories, while Pea-blossom and the Dew-cups serve refreshments.
Flowers Are Calling – Flowers are calling to all the animals of the forest, “Drink me!”—but it’s the pollinators who feast on their nectar. In rhyming poetic form and with luminous artwork, this book shows us the marvel of natural cooperation between plants, animals, and insects as they each play their part in the forest’s cycle of life.
Hello Ocean – “Hello, ocean, my old best friend.” Relive a day at the beach with this lovely book of memories. You can almost feel the salt spray on your face and smell the musky scent of ocean in the cool morning air. Remember how the sand squishes between your toes as the tide rushes to shore and taste the tang of the ocean on your lips. HELLO OCEAN is a joy-filled and playful poem about the draw of the shore and the effect the ocean has on all five senses. Spirited language evokes a sense of closeness and nostalgia for an old friend. The inspiration of the ocean will make learning the five senses as easy as a day at the beach.
There Might Be Lobsters – Lots of things at the beach scare Sukie. Lots. Because she is just a small dog, and the stairs are big and sandy, and the waves are big and whooshy, and the balls are big and beachy. And besides, there might be lobsters. With endearing illustrations and a perfectly paced text that captures a timid pup’s looping thoughts, here is a funny and honest read-aloud about how overwhelming the world can be when you’re worried — and how empowering it is to overcome your fears when it matters the most.
Jabari Jumps – Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
Jamberry – They’re off…a boy and an endearing, rhyme-spouting bear, who squires him through a fantastic world of berries. And their adventure comes to a razzamatazz finale under a starberry sky. Children will want to feast again and again on Bruce Degen’s exuberant, colorful pictures and his rollicking, berryful rhymes.
Let It Shine – With soft-colored art, adorable children, and vibrant outdoor scenes, LET IT SHINE celebrates all the seasonal awe of summer.
Little Fairy Can’t Sleep – Faith, the little fairy, can’t get to sleep. It’s a lovely summer’s night and magic is in the air, so she flies off to see who else is still awake. Faith meets a mother fox and her young cubs, who can’t get to sleep, an elf father whose children can’t get to sleep, and the sandman who is filling sacks with magic dust to help children everywhere get to sleep. Finally the little fairy meets a moth-fairy prince who takes her to the source of the night’s magic – a wonderful Midsummer Night’s party – where she dances until she is so tired that she finally falls asleep. This magical, dreamlike tale makes perfect bedtime reading.
The Mermaid – When Kiniro, a young mermaid, comes upon a gorgeous house made of seashells and coral, she is so curious that she goes inside. She’s thrilled to find a just-right breakfast, pretty little chair, and, best of all, a comfy bed that rocks in the current. But when the Octopus family returns home, they are not happy to find that someone has been eating their food and breaking their things. Baby has the biggest shock when she finds the mermaid asleep in her bed! Luckily, shock turns to happiness when Kiniro gives her a thoughtful gift before escaping from the twenty-four arms coming her way. Vibrant, intricate scenes of an underwater paradise transport this classic fairy tale to a magical setting inspired by the seas off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. Chock full of fish and fauna and adventure, Kiniro’s story will enchant readers of all ages.
The Midsummer Tomte and the Little Rabbits: A Day-by-day Summer Story in Twenty-one Short Chapters – It’s summer in the forest and the rabbit children are looking forward to their first Midsummer party. Owl, who knows everything, says Midsummer is a time for dancing, love and magic. What a fun time they will have! Then a terrible storm sweeps through the forest and the woodland animals must find shelter at Grump the tomte’s cottage. With the forest turned upside down, will the little rabbits still be able to arrange the famous Midsummer party? This follow-up to The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits is an enchanting story in twenty-one chapters, which can be read through June to conclude on Midsummer’s Day.
Monarch and Milkweed – Every spring the monarch butterfly migrates thousands of miles in search of the ideal milkweed plant. When she finds it, she lays her eggs on the plant, so when each egg hatches, the baby caterpillar can feed on the milkweed leaves. The milkweed plant then provides the perfect protection as the caterpillar turns into one of nature’s wonders, a chrysalis, before transforming into an even greater wonder: a monarch butterfly. And once the newborn butterfly soars away, the milkweed seeds fly away on the wind and start this cycle over again.
Mouse’s First Summer – Mouse and Minka invite YOU to celebrate summer with a picnic in the park. Roll down the hill on tickly green grass. Fly kites fluttery high in the sky. And don’t forget juicy watermelon! But before it’s time to go home, a summer surprise sparkles in the sky. CRACKLE, POP, BOOM! What’s making that sound?
My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis – “May 17: I was born today! It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day!” This is the diary of P. Mantis, one of 150 brothers and sisters born on a garden bush. P. Mantis is an amazing insect: she can make herself look like a stick to hide from predators, she can swivel her head all the way around, and when she’s grown up, she’ll even be able to fly! Told in dated entries, P. Mantis describes the entirety of her life, sharing the fun and beauty of her world as well its little ups and downs (“I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two.”). With bold, beautiful art and a text both humorous and scientifically accurate, My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis introduces young children to the life cycle of a familiar insect.
One Hot Summer Day – An effervescent city child dances through a hot summer day until a thunderstorm brings welcome relief. Executed in collages made from color photographs, imaginatively redefined in unexpected juxtaposition….
Over and Under the Pond – In this gorgeous companion to the acclaimed Over and Under the Snow and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal bring to life a secret underwater world. In this book, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. But under the pond is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, tadpoles growing. These and many other secrets are waiting to be discovered…over and under the pond.
Peter in Blueberry Land – Peter is looking for blueberries for his mother’s birthday but he can’t find a single one. Suddenly he feels a light tap on his shoe, and a strange and magical adventure begins.
Sea, Sand, Me! – Uncovering seashells… jumping in the waves… It’s a perfect beach day! And what better way to spend it than with a new beach friend? Patricia Hubbell’s light verse skips merrily along, while Lisa Campbell Ernst’s playful scenes picture a sea that is just waiting to be splashed in!
Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars: Take-Along Guide – An introduction to the world of seashells, crabs, and sea stars including identification information, educational activities, and fun facts. Invites young naturalists to spot wildlife. Safety tips are provided and interesting activities are suggested.
The Story of the Butterfly Children – Far far away, the butterfly folk live in a kingdom of beautiful gardens. The butterfly children play, dance and sing all day long with their little brothers and sisters, the caterpillars. The children can’t wait until the first day of spring, when they will finally get their wings. But first, they must learn about the many brightly-coloured flowers in the kingdom, so they can take part in the flying procession of peacock, swallowtail, red admiral and many other butterflies.
Summer – This is one of a series of four books without text, which lead the young child through the seasons of the year. Full of fun, active illustrations, this chunky board book shows the joys of fishing for tadpoles, playing at the beach, eating ice-cream, and enjoying evening picnics.
Summer – Better than fireworks, this classic Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss celebrates all the wonderful things that come with summer! From trips to the beach and eating watermelon to fireworks and fishing, Alice Low and Roy McKie’s Summer will have young readers eager for the kind of fun only warm breezes and sunny weather can bring
Summer Days and Nights – On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she’s fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights. As with his earlier books featuring this spunky little girl, Wong Herbert Yee’s focus is on appreciating the small but special details that define a season.
Summer is Here – Summer is a time when nature is bursting at the seams. Pick blueberries, see a caterpillar grow from an egg to a butterfly, or take a trip to the lake or beach with your family. Peek under rocks, look up in the trees, dive into the water–there is so much to learn and so much to discover together when you read Summer is Here!
Summer Story – It was such a hot summer. The sky was deep blue and the sun never faltered. All along Brambly Hedge, the mice did their best to keep cool. Poppy Eyebright sought refuge in the mossy shadows of the mill wheel; Dusty Dogwood took to walking by the banks of the cooling stream. Dusty and Poppy spent more and more time together, so no one was at all surprised when they announced their engagement. They decided on a very unusual setting for the wedding ceremony, but even they didn’t realize just how unusual it would prove to be!
Summer’s Vacation – Vibrant, sunny Summer is too busy having fun shaping sand castles, jumping in the waves, gobbling berries, and camping under a blanket of stars to do her chores. But it’s not until she hikes to the top of a mountain and sees the dull, parched land below, that she realizes what she has done. Summer grabs her sprinkling can. Is she too late to make amends?
Summertime in the Big Woods – The winter is finally over, and now it is summertime! Laura and Mary are busy all day helping Ma in the garden and playing outside. Renée Graef’s enchanting full-color illustrations, inspired by Garth Williams’ classic artwork, bring Laura and her family lovingly to life in this sixth title in the My First Little House book series, picture books adapted from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved storybooks.
The Sun Egg – A mysterious orange egg has fallen into the woods. “It’s a sun egg!” declares the elf who finds it nestled on the forest floor. Soon she and her friends find out what it really is, but not before the little elf has one of the best adventures she has ever had.
Sun, Sun – Following a long winter and a dreary spring, the sun has returned and that means one thing – it’s time to head to the beach! Join three kids on their beach adventure as they experience the joys of everything from swimming to sandcastles to kites to ice cream – it’s all there!
Sunflower House – A little boy plants sunflower seeds in a big circle. He cares for them and watches them grow into a round wall of stems with golden flowers at the top. After playing in the “sunflower house” all summer, he and his friends collect the seeds from the dying plants to sow for next summer’s flowers. Rhymed couplets written in first person express the boy’s determination, surprise, and delight as he weaves his own play into the sunflowers’ cycle from seed to seed. The watercolor-and-colored pencil artwork shows a variety of perspectives, from cross sections of the seed sprouting underground to moonlit scenes of children sleeping out in the sunflower house.
And Then Comes Summer – When the days stretch out like a slow yawn, and the cheerful faces of Johnny-jump-ups jump up . . . then it’s time to get ready for summer! From flip-flops and hide-and-seek to fireworks and ice-cream trucks, from lemonade stands and late bedtimes to swimming in the lake and toasting marshmallows, there’s something for everyone in this bright and buoyant celebration of the sunny season. Tom Brenner’s lovely, lyrical ode to summers spent outdoors will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever counted down the days until school gets out, and Jaime Kim’s jubilant, nostalgia-soaked illustrations leave little doubt that summer is indeed a time unlike any other.
Today I’m Going Fishing with My Dad – Buzzing mosquitoes, wiggly worms, smelly fish, and worse yet, fish for supper are just some of the reasons why the young boy in this humorous story doesn’t like to go fishing. But none of these things can outweigh the reason why he goes fishing after all: he loves spending time with his dad. And therein lies all the difference. There’s a warmth in N. L. Sharp’s words, and the glow is reflected in Chris Demarest’s simple, impressionistic watercolors. Here is the kind of wise and gentle picture book that parent and child can share together.
The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer . . . – What really happened over the summer break? A curious teacher wants to know. The epic explanation? What started out as a day at the beach turned into a globe-spanning treasure hunt with high-flying hijinks, exotic detours, an outrageous cast of characters, and one very mischievous bird! Is this yet another tall tale, or is the truth just waiting to be revealed? From the team behind I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . comes a fantastical fast-paced, detail-rich illustrated summer adventure that’s so unbelievable, it just might be true!
Do you have any favorite summer picture books that we missed?