25 Favorite Summer Children’s Books

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July 2020

Now that summer is in full swing, we wanted to share our list of the 25 Best Children’s Books about Summer. Summertime is such a great time to get reading! Not being in school, your children have more free time to explore reading and fall in love with books. Reading during the summer can help them discover new favorite books, explore different genres to discover what kinds of books they like to read, and stay on-track for the next school year.

Looking for more wonderful children’s books to read with your littles over summer vacation? Visit Elephant Books – The Book Club for Kids.

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Whenever and wherever . . . reading can be an amazing activity to have some fun and bond with your child this summer. Bring some summer-themed books with you to the beach or to the pool, snuggle up with them at home when it’s too hot outside, or explore them in your favorite backyard hide-out. Here is a list of some of our summer favorites:

Children’s Books that Explore Nature during Summer  

I See Summer
Charles Ghigna
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-4

What makes summer one of the best times of year? Is it the bright sunshine when you wake up? Is it the new flowers blooming in the garden? Or is it the time you get to spend with your family? I See Summer explores all the things that make summer great.

This book made the list of some of our summer favorites because, in addition to being a fun read, it also is educational. As you read along, you and your child are encouraged to count things like pea pods, cucumbers, and strawberries. There are even hidden numbers on every page that make this read-aloud double as a scavenger hunt and an opportunity to learn numbers.

Summer Color
Diana Murray
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

Explore the vibrant colors of summer alongside two adventurous children. Embarking on a quest from their backyard, the two characters go around nature and discover things they had never noticed before. Not even a little summer rain shower can stop the two from taking in each new scene and looking in awe at all the colors that nature has to offer in the summertime.

We love this book as a way to explore and talk about color! The illustrations are gorgeous and have a great diversity of colors that allow this book to be a way to identify different colors and different shades of color. All of these illustrations, too, depict things that you could find in your backyard or in your local park, so this book acts as a great inspiration to go explore your own world and make connections between literature and real life.

Summer in the Forest
Rusty Finch
Book Type: Board
Age: 1-5

A little baby bear cub is ready to take an adventure around the forest. As he hikes alongside trees, ponds, and bushes, he discovers lots of different animals and plants. Honey Bees buzz around flowers, blueberries fruit on bushes, and the pond is swimming with life. After a big day of exploring, the baby bear is ready for a great afternoon nap! Join him on his adventure as he learns more about how other animals spend their summer days.

This adorable board book is highly interactive. With liftable flaps and pop-ups, there are so many opportunities to encourage your child to engage closely with the book. In addition, it explores nature in a fun way, through the eyes of a baby bear still discovering the world. This board book is great for anyone looking to snuggle up and explore nature with their little one.

Summer is Here!
Heidi Pross Gray
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-8

Summertime has so much to offer. From picking blueberries to watching a caterpillar grow from an egg to a butterfly, this book explores summer in such a fun way. Take a journey, peeking under rocks, diving into water, and looking up into trees to see what summer is all about.

Summer is Here! Is a wonderful book to share with your child. Its breathtaking illustrations are done through watercolor and capture the essence of summer perfectly. Additionally, its rhyming scheme will have you and your child utterly captivated and ready to turn the page to see what special aspect of summer is coming next.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis
Paul Meisel
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

This is the diary of P. Mantis, one of 150 praying mantis born in a garden bush. She has some pretty amazing superpowers like camouflaging like a stick to hide from predators, swiveling her head all the way around, and even flying! Her diary takes the reader on a journey to explore the life cycle of a praying mantis through a humorous and entertaining narrative.

This highly creative book is sure to captivate the attention of any child, especially those who love nature. Getting the bug-eye’s-view is such an effective way to teach children about the life cycle of the praying mantis. Aside from the fascinating bug facts, this book also has a fun story line and even some really great themes. Throw in some wonderful illustrations, and you have a wonderfully engaging summer story to share with your young reader.

Children’s Books about the Beach

Llama Llama Sand and Sun
Anna Dewdney
Book Type: Board
Age: 3-5

Join the Llama Llama family at their adventure on the beach. Help them spread out beach towels or make a sandcastle. Go on a nice swim in the ocean with them and discover what kinds of animals you can spot on the beach.

This board book is the perfect way to introduce the beach to your child, especially if you are planning a trip to take them for the first time! The llamas walk you through what you do at the beach and what to expect once you get there. This book also features a fun rhyming scheme and some touch-and-feel pieces, making it super interactive and engaging for any child.

The Sand Castle Contest
Robert Munsch
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

On a family beach trip, Matthew, a master sandcastle builder, discovers there is a contest being held. He decides he will create a sandcastle so wonderful, the judges won’t believe it is made out of sand. He ends up winning the contest and shares the prize with a new friend he made along the way.

We love this story because it is such a fun, heart-warming, hilarious story. When his family is packing up to go to the beach, for example, Matthew insists that they forgot their dog. When his father reminds him that they don’t have a dog, Matthew says that now would be a good time to get one. The whole book has a similar style of humor that is sure to make you and your children laugh. It’s a great adventure to read whether you’re at the beach or you’re at home, dreaming of being able to build a sandcastle sometime soon.

A House for Hermit Crab
Eric Carle
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

In this book, Hermit Crab looks for the perfect home. He scours the beach and the ocean alike to find a new place to live, but struggles with the idea of change. Along the way, he learns that change can not only be a good thing, but can sometimes lead to even bigger and better adventures than you could ever imagine.

This book is a timeless classic. Not only does it carry Eric Carle’s signature illustration style, but it also carries important themes that can help children cope with change. A House for Hermit Crab teaches children that for every friend and adventure left behind, there are new ones just ahead.

Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach
James Dean
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

Pete is the cool kid on the block, not afraid of anything. But one day, at the beach he discovers something he might be afraid of. After picking up shells and building sandcastles, he wants to cool off by taking a swim in the ocean. The only thing is, he might be a bit of a scaredy-cat when it comes to water.

This book, like the others in its series, are funny, silly, and entertaining. Pete the cat’s antics will have you and your child laughing together. We also really love this book because it can make going to the beach or swimming in the ocean a little less scary, as your child and Pete face and conquer their fears together.

Children’s Books about Summer Vacation

Ice Cream Summer
Peter Sis
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

In this book, Peter Sis proves that ice cream is the perfect treat for summer. The main character writes a letter to his grandpa to tell him about his summer vacation. He says that he is pretty busy with reading every day, studying world history, and practicing his math facts. The crazy thing is, he does all these things through ice cream!

What a more perfect topic for a summer read than ice cream. This book, in addition to being so creative and fun, is also a great opportunity to show that learning is everywhere! From gaining new vocabulary from reading off ice cream flavors to taking a world tour, the main character stays busy learning even when he is on vacation.

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
Chris Van Dusen
Book Type: Picture
Age: 0-12

When Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, set out to go camping, they would never have guessed what they were in store for. On their trip, they meet a marshmallow-loving bear who brings them on an exciting adventure. Join Mr. Magee and Dee as they plunge down a mountain, race down a river, and teeter on the edge of a waterfall.

This book made our best books for summer list because it is so captivating and exciting. Not only does a camping trip scream summer, but the crazy adventure the characters go on mimics the thrills that summer has to offer. And if the engaging plot doesn’t capture your attention, the vibrant illustrations and playful, rhyming text sure will.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Mark Teague
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-7

For summer, most kids go to sleepaway camp or to their Grandmother’s house. Not Wallace Bleff. He is supposed to visit his aunt, but, instead, he gets carried off by cowboys and taught the tips and tricks of the Wild, Wild West! Join Wallace on his summer adventure, riding bucking broncos and roping cattle.

Get carried away in this great western fantasy adventure. We love this book because it really sparks your imagination and gets you to wonder what it would actually be to be swept away into the Wild West. With unique illustrations and a great range of vocabulary, this is the perfect summer book to capture your child’s imagination.

Goldfish on Vacation
Sally Lloyd-Jones
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

H, Little O, and Baby Em are stuck in the city for the summer with only their pet goldfish to entertain them. Summer is looking pretty boring until they notice that someone has started to fix up the old fountain down the street. The children put out a notice in the neighborhood that says “Calling All Goldfish Looking for a Summer Home,” and give their goldfish the summer vacation of their dreams.

Based on a true story, Goldfish Vacation is fun for the whole family. It demonstrates not only the love that a family can have for their pets, but also that fun and adventure can be found anywhere if you know where to look. The illustrations and the flashbacks to when the fountain was first built make this book extra special and unique.

Let’s Have a Picnic!
Hunter Reid
Book Type: Board
Age: 2-5

Join two children as they spend their summer day having a relaxing, delicious picnic. They spread out their tablecloth and yummy food, fly kites, explore the nature around them, and play on the nearby swings. Come nighttime, they look up and search the stars and admire the firework show. Sounds like the perfect day of summer vacation.

We love this book because it is so interactive and relatable. Most of the things that the children do in this book are common to many children, meaning that readers can make connections between real life experiences they have had and what they are seeing in the book. For example, a child could see the swings in the book and make a connection to the time they swang at the park. Making these connections is an essential literacy skill, and the colorful illustrations of this book as well as the fun activities they characters engage in make this board book the perfect opportunity to explore this skill.

Great Summer Read Alouds

Summer Days and Nights
Wong Herbert Yee
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-6

On a hot summer day, a young girl finds different ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She packs a picnic, goes swimming, makes some delicious lemonade, and catches a butterfly. At night, she explores nature and spots an owl high in a tree and hears a frog croaking in a pond. Before long, she is fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights.

This book made our list because we feel that it is a great book to read before bed. You and your child can recap all the fun things you did that day and look forward to having even more tomorrow. With its unique illustrations, rhyming scheme, and exploration of nature, it highlights all the different things that make summer such a special time of year.

Firenze’s Light
Jessica Collaco
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-8

Firenze, a feisty firefly, isn’t the biggest fan of her light. After all, it makes it nearly impossible to play hide and seek with her friend. One day, she decides to cover her light with a skirt, thinking that it will make her feel better. Instead, she finds herself lonely and sad, until she meets a new friend who encourages her to share her gifts and let her light shine.

This book carries such amazing themes that every child needs to hear. It encourages young readers to be proud of who they are and the many gifts and talents they have, as well as to always help others to let their own lights shine. This book is great to share with your young reader before bed time, as you snuggle up and discover what a difference courage and kindness can make.

Sam Usher
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-7

“It’s the hottest day of the year, hotter than broccoli soup, hotter than the Atacama Desert, hotter than the surface of the sun.” But it’s just the right day to have a picnic! So a boy and his grandpa set off, only to find pirates had beaten them to their favorite shady spot. Good thing they have enough food to share.

This book is another one of our favorite summer reads because it is so imaginative and shows that you can make the most out of even the hottest of summer days. The illustrations have so many hidden things to explore, so much so that you can take a scavenger hunt through the pictures. We also love that this book can be made into a great bonding moment as a read-aloud, especially with a grandparent.

Mouse’s First Summer
Lauren Thompson
Book Type: Board
Age: 2-4

Join a baby mouse as he experiences his first summer ever! Roll down the hill on tickly green grass. Enjoy some juicy watermelon. Spot some sparkling fireflies. And before it’s time to go home, a special summer surprise appears in the sky.

This board book is perfect for a read-aloud with your child. Not only are the characters cute and attention-grabbing, but the illustrations are so bright, colorful, and fun. This book also allows the perfect opportunity to introduce your child to new concepts like fireworks or a picnic, as the baby mouse discovers all these things for the first time himself.

How to Catch a Mermaid
Adam Wallace
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-10

Have you ever thought that a mermaid would be an amazing friend? The main character in this book sure does. In fact, she dreams about all the different adventures she and her mermaid friend could go on. So, she decides to get creative and find a way to meet a mermaid in real life.
This book makes for a great read-aloud because it really gets you and your child’s gears whirling. As you watch the main character build her gentle trap and gather all her tools, you almost want to build something yourself or catch a mermaid of your own. This picture book also has a fun rhyming scheme that will keep you engaged with the text, as well as the illustrations.

Summer-Themed Books that We Love

At Elephant Books, we carefully select each of the titles that we include in our packages. We look for great illustrations, exciting storylines, meaningful messages, and relatable materials. We also love to celebrate different times of the year and the unique things that season or holiday has to offer. Now that summer is in full-swing, we have been revisiting some of the summer-themed books we have included in our packages. Here are some of our favorites:

On Kiki’s Reef
Carol Malnor
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-10

Follow a baby sea turtle named Kiki as she discovers life underwater. After scrambling across a sandy beach to reach the sea, she finds a new home in the coral reefs. Here, she finds brand new friends, including a gang of tangs that lend her a helping hand by cleaning up the algae growing on her shell. Eventually, though, something calls Kiki back to the beach and the cycle of life continues.

We chose this book because it offers a great combination of a fun storyline alongside educational facts. You and your child can follow the story of a cute baby sea turtle, while also learning a little bit more about the turtles’ life cycle, where turtles live, what kinds of animals they interact with and so much more. We also love this book for summer because it could inspire a scavenger hunt on the beach to find baby turtles, a dip in the ocean, or a new research project to learn more about sea turtles.

Ailie Busby
Book Type: Board
Age: 3-7

Every season has something unique to offer. This book explores what makes summer so special. Follow the children in this book to discover and explore the different things that help make summer days and nights so memorable, from taking a dip in the pool to exploring nature.

We love this book because it is a great way to share with your young child all the things that make summer so exciting and special. This board book will engage your child’s senses and help them to begin developing essential literacy skills. The pictures are bright, perfectly complement the text, and are fun for babies and adults alike to look at.

Max and Marla are Having a Picnic
Alexander Boiger
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-5

It’s one of the first super sunny days of the year, and Max and Marla know the perfect way to spend it–having a picnic! They pack up all the supplies, from delicious foods to comfy blankets, and they fly off on their bikes. Once they get there, Max realizes he forgot something and turns around to grab it, but while he is gone, Marla dozes off, accidentally inviting squirrels to join in on their picnic. Their picnic might be a bit of a mess, but that won’t stop these best friends from making the most of a beautiful day.

We love this book because of the beautiful messages of friendship it conveys. Even though things don’t go according to plan, the two friends stand by each other, stay positive, and find a way to enjoy their day and their time together. The illustration style is also very unique and captivating, and there is something new on every page to discover.

Round and Round the Garden
Annie Kubler
Book Type: Board
Age: 2-4

Take a journey round and round the garden with your baby. This book features a well-known nursery rhyme, along with interactive text to explore different things you might find in a garden. From taking a peek at different flowers to watering new plants, this board book is a great way to celebrate new growth and new life in summertime.

This book is one of our summer favorites because it offers a lot to your child developmentally. Singing songs and rhymes is not only a great way to bond with your baby, but it also helps them to begin to understand natural sounds and patterns of speech. This, alongside fantastic illustrations, will help your baby’s language development. Throw in some hand signals or movements and you will stimulate their brain further and help muscle development.

I’m Sunny
Jennifer L. Holm
Book Type: Board
Age: 2-4

In this board book, the sun has a very sunshiney personality, putting out rays of happiness to brighten others’ days. But, nobody is perfect, and one day he upsets his friend. He must apologize and help make his friend feel better.

This book is such a fantastic and creative introduction to understanding emotions. Learning more about how others feel and how to interact with peers will help your child’s social development and problem-solving skills. We also think this book is great because it is written in the style of a comic-book, introducing children to this artform and to this mode of storytelling.

Summer Reading Tips

Need help getting started? Here are some quick summer reading tips to get you and your child engaged. Find more helpful tips on our blog.

1. Bring a book wherever you go

Whether you’re on a long road trip, waiting at the bus stop, or at the pool, a book can be a great form of entertainment on-the-go. Stick one in your purse, backpack, or luggage and keep it on hand for moments when life is a little boring.

2. Make a scavenger hunt and find summer-themed things in your book

Brainstorm a list of summer-themed things like the sun, a pool, some flowers, a tent, or a pair of sunglasses. Try to find these different items in the book(s) you are reading together.

3. Set a goal for the summer

Collaborate with your child to set a goal for how many books you would like to read during the summer. Come up with a prize or incentive to celebrate reaching that goal!

4. Try a new reading spot

Break up the monotony and experiment with new spots to read. Enjoy the sunny weather, hang out in a different room, or do something crazy like read in a closet with flashlights.

5. Make a connection between your book and real life

Try to find something in a book that your child can make a connection with in real life. For example, if you are reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, bake cookies. Or if you are reading a book about the beach, head down to the beach.

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