Tomorrow marks the first official day of summer! Maybe it makes me a nerd, but one of my favorite parts of summer was the “Summer Reading List” our teachers sent us home with. With so many young readers taking time away from the classroom, I wanted to share my own list with you today. These are a few titles that have crossed my desk lately that I think perfectly capture the warmth and joy of summer.
As always, these titles will have inclusive characters (think racial and cultural diversity, LGBTQ+ representation, diverse family structures, disability representation, and more), and fall into a range of genres in both fiction and nonfiction categories.
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Together We Ride by Valerie Bolling, Illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
“Hair Love meets bike rides in this loving portrait of a father-daughter relationship.
Learning to ride is no easy feat! But with a little courage, a guiding hand from her dad, and an enthusiastic bark from her pup, one brave girl quickly learns the freedom that comes from an afternoon spent outside on a bike.
Experience the fear, the anticipation, and the delight of achieving the ultimate milestone in this energetic, warm story that celebrates the precious bond between parent and child.”
Sand Between My Toes by Caroline Cross, Illustrated by Jenny Duke
“A family spends a day at the seaside, enjoying the smells and sensations that are unique to the coast. Evocative rhyming text immerses the reader in the experience of visiting a beach.”
My Book of Butterflies by Geraldo Valério
“This stunning exploration of butterflies from around the world is a companion to My Book of Birds
Geraldo Valério grew up in Brazil, watching white butterflies visit the vegetable patch behind his house. As he got older, he learned more about these unique and beautiful insects, which can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
In this gorgeous album, Geraldo presents his favorite butterfly species from around the world. Paint and paper collage illustrations show the butterflies in flight, sipping nectar, laying eggs and resting among flowers and foliage. The text provides fascinating information about each species ― from familiar Monarchs and Giant Swallowtails, to dazzling Blue Morphos and tiny Snowflakes, from beautifully patterned European Peacocks to endangered Queen Alexandra’s Birdwings. Colorful endpapers, showing the butterflies as caterpillars and chrysalides, complete this beautiful book for budding young naturalists.”
Pool Party by Amy Duchêne and Elisa Parhad, Illustrated by Anne Bentley
“A splashy story celebrating a fun-filled day at a public pool
Splash, dash! It’s time for a pool bash! Grab your swimsuits, inner tubes, noodles, and floats, and jump, belly flop, or dive into this wet and wild ode to swimming pool fun.”
A Park Connects Us by Sarah Nelson, Illustrated by Ellen Rooney
“An ode to urban parks and the many ways they connect us to community and nature
This picture book excursion through a city park invites readers to discover how shared green spaces bring us together. Lyrical, upbeat text illuminates the abundant gifts the park offers. Vibrant mixed-media illustrations show a diverse group of visitors as they explore this communal space.”
Ice Cream Face by Heidi Woodward Sheffield
“The Ezra Jack Keats Award–winning creator of Brick by Brick brings to delicious life the anxiety and elation involved in waiting in line to get ice cream.
As far as this ice-cream-loving kid is concerned, every meal should include ice cream. In any form, in every flavor, he loves it all. But what he doesn’t love is seeing other people with ice cream . . . while he’s still waiting in line for his. That’s when he can get his mad, “no-ice-cream-yet, waiting-in-a-long-line face”–until he finally gets his cone, and his mad face melts into something sweet. Heidi Woodward Sheffield gently explores a range of emotions as they relate to this delicious, everyday experience.”
I Love You Like Yellow by Andrea Beaty, Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
“Love comes in many forms. It can feel tart as lemonade, or sweet as sugar cookies. Slow as a lazy morning, or fast as a relay race. Love is there through it all: the large and small moments, the good times and bad. And at the end of the day, love settles us down to bed with a hug and kiss goodnight.
With charming, rhyming text from bestselling author Andrea Beaty and lush, heartwarming illustrations by bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison, I Love You Like Yellow celebrates the unconditional love that pulses through life’s profound and everyday moments—and the people who make them so special.”
Look What I Found at the Beach by Moira Butterfield, Illustrated by Jesus Verona
“Open your senses to a world of wonder by taking a walk along the beach!
Set off on an adventure and find natural treasures, from spiraled seashells to discarded mermaid’s purses. Then learn more about the marine plants and creatures in this fact-filled guide to the outdoors.”
The World Belonged To Us by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Leo Espinosa
“It’s getting hot outside, hot enough to turn on the hydrants and run through the water–and that means it’s finally summer in the city! Released from school and reveling in their freedom, the kids on one Brooklyn block take advantage of everything summertime has to offer. Freedom from morning till night to go out to meet their friends and make the streets their playground–jumping double Dutch, playing tag and hide-and-seek, building forts, chasing ice cream trucks, and best of all, believing anything is possible. That is, till their moms call them home for dinner. But not to worry–they know there is always tomorrow to do it all over again–because the block belongs to them and they rule their world.”
When I Listen To Silence by Jean E. Pendziwol, Illustrated by Carmen Mok
“When a child is asked to “Please, be quiet!” they sit silent … and their imagination sweeps them away on a breathtaking journey.
Through the window, the child can hear the trees breathe and watches them sway back and forth as they begin to dance. Then bears join in, accompanied by the child on their drum, making so much noise they wake up a dragon! The dragon’s smoky breath fills the sky, and the wind forms a knight on a steed that gallops through the stars. The child’s adventure continues, as one wonderful flight of fancy leads to the next, from pirates to mermaids to whales, until they find themselves sitting silent once again among the trees.”
Be a Good Ancestor by Leona Prince and Gabrielle Prince, Illustrated by Carla Joseph
“Rooted in Indigenous teachings, this stunning picture book encourages readers of all ages to consider the ways in which they live in connection to the world around them and to think deeply about their behaviors.
Addressing environmental issues, animal welfare, self-esteem and self-respect, and the importance of community, the authors deliver a poignant and universal message in an accessible way: Be a good ancestor to the world around you. Thought-provoking stanzas offer a call to action for each one of us to consider how we affect future generations. Every decision we make ripples out, and we can affect the world around us by thinking deeply about those decisions.”
Expedition Backyard: Exploring Nature from Country to City by Rosemary Mosco and Binglin Hu
“Join two best friends—a mole and vole—on their everyday expeditions to find beautiful plants, meet new animals, and learn more about the world all around them in this nonfiction graphic novel.
Each day, Mole and Vole venture out into the world – never forgetting their nature journal! – to see what they can find in their own backyard. From pigeons and jumping spiders to swamp milkweed and maple trees, these two explorers get to know every part of their local environment. But after an accidental move from the country to the city, Mole and Vole worry that everything will be different. As they explore, they discover plants to look at and animals to meet in their new home as well.”
Rooftop Garden by Danna Smith, Illustrated by Pati Aguilera, Narrated by Holly Turton
“A group of city friends work diligently together to grow herbs and vegetables in a rooftop garden. Set to a foot-tappin’ original tune, this rhythmic, rhyming story will have kids singing enthusiastically about the six stages of plant growth. The story concludes with a summer harvest and feast that celebrates the gardeners’ commitment.”
My Mommy, My Mama, My Brother, and Me: These Are the Things We Found By the Sea by Natalie Meisner, Illustrated by Mathilde Cinq-Mars
“Living by the sea offers myriad charms for the two young brothers in this poetic ode to beachcombing. When the fog disappears, the path to the beach beckons, with all the treasures it leaves behind: lobster traps, buoys, fused glass, urchins, a note in a bottle. But best of all is all the neighbours they meet along the way. An unforgettable instant classic for families of all shapes and sizes. Featuring glorious watercolours by Mathilde Cinq-Mars, which capture the warmth and magic of time spent with family by the sea.”
Choices by Roozeboos
“A girl considers her future while she people-watches at her local outdoor pool. Choices, both insignificant and life-changing, are all around us. Whether we want to make a splash or just dip our toes into new experiences, there’s always a decision involved. Profound and humorous, CHOICES encourages readers to value the power behind their thoughts and actions!”
I hope you’re all staying cool this summer, and soaking up the sun while it lasts. Be sure to share what you’re planning to read this summer in the comments below!