Summer is here and with it comes piles of books.
In my case it is piles of books for the beach. Piles of books to read on the dock. Piles of audio books cued up for our next road trip.
There are dozens of beach reads and must reads and can’t miss-es for adults to enjoy this summer that have seen to my piles, but what about the kids?
Summer also means diving into picture books that are full of sticky ice cream and sunshine. Picture books that remind me of childhood and old favorites I can’t wait to read aloud to my squirmy listeners. Hours at the library and teetering stacks of must reads.
What are the best picture books for preschoolers about summer? The ones that you can read over and over out loud because your kids beg you to but also because they remind you of your own carefree childhood summers?
These are the ones I’ve listed below. Our summer children book favorites, but also some new authors to explore and new reading ideas to make this the best summer reading adventure yet.
So, dive in and share you favorites – from the list or whatever else you enjoy in August to #aReadaDay so we can all add to our must read next list!
Also a note to my dear southern hemisphere #areadaday members. I realize that it isn’t ice cream licking, sunscreen wearing season down there so feel free to adapt this list however you must to make it work for you. I tried to make it more general so that most of it will apply to anyone anywhere – but where it doesn’t feel free to add/subtract/alter however you need.
And now…on to the books!
affiliate links are included below.
30+ Picture Books Ideas for Summer
1. Read a Book about Summer: And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner
Doesn’t this cheerful cover kind of say it all? This book overflows with the simple joys of a childhood summer. PS. If I was going to pick a second Summer book, especially for city kids, it would be One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews.
2. Read a Book about Watermelon: The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli
What would happen if you swallowed a watermelon seed? This must be my all time favorite summer read aloud. Watermelon = summer to me and this book is just hilarious.
3. Read a Book about Strawberries: The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
Two in a row because this is another fantastic book to read aloud. This is a classic. If you haven’t already – buy it and read over and over and over again today!
4. Read a Book about Ice Cream: Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis
This is one we recently discovered and I’m a huge fan of the bright illustrations. If you love ice cream you’ll love this one.
5. Read a Book on a Blanket Outside
6. Author Spotlight: Britta Teckentrup: The Odd One Out
I have yet to read a book by Britta Teckentrup that I don’t love. Her book list is so varied and extensive it is hard to summarize her style, but I would say that there is a gentleness to them that appeals to me. Often there is humor and her illustrations are always intriguing to explore, but there is a quietness to them that is soothing. It is hard to pick one book to share, I highly recommend them all, but the first one we fell in love with was THE ODD ONE OUT.
7. Read a Book from Your Childhood
8. Read a Book with the Letter H: Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
Surely, at least if you have read to a toddler in the past decade or two, you are familiar with the serious silliness of Sandra Boynton. Her collection of board books are the perfect thing to make any toddler giggle – this goofy hat one included.
9. Read & Retell a Favorite Story with Puppets: 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Puppets are a fun way to re-tell a familiar book. In this case, we love 5 Little Monkeys for reading and singing AND puppets. PS. Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car is our family favorite monkey tale.
10. Look for Words to Read Outside
Head outside to find words to read. Street signs? Park signs? Numbers on houses? Chalk words on the sidewalk? We love books, but words are everywhere!
11. Read the Book on the Bottom of the Pile
12. Read a Counting Book: Spot a Lot Vehicle Adventure by Steve Smallman
There are a million counting picture books you could read aloud today (here are our 10 Favorite), but this is the one we’re currently obsessed with. We have a couple of these SPOT A LOT counting books and we love both the counting and just soaking in the detailed illustrations.
13. Author Spotlight: Phillip Stead: Sebastian and the Balloon
Phillip C. Stead is best known for the wonderful and award winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, but it is just one of his lovely picture books. He is an author and illustrator, a combo that never ceases to amaze me, and produces books with depth and beauty. Sebastian and the Balloon is my personal favorite.
14. Read a Book about an Adventure: Bird and Squirrel Series by James Burks
These hilarious graphic novels are about a fearless bird and fearful squirrel who go on a big adventure. The one pictured above is the first in the series and there are others that are equally as hilarious and entertaining. Although I suppose they technically fall into early chapter book or “novel” my kids can read the stories just by looking at the pictures and at 5 fell absolutely in love with these two hilarious characters so I think younger kids can enjoy these adventurous tales too.
15. Read an Atlas or Map
My kids love reading maps and atlases…they might be a little odd…but give it a try the next time you go on a trip. Try printing out a map and highlighting your route – see if they want to follow along.
16. Read a Book about a Road Trip: Backseat A-B-See by Maria Van Lieshout
This is my favorite board book to come out in the past few years and one of the best children’s books about road trips period. Maria Van Lieshout is a true children’s book genius.
17. Read a Book about Somewhere You’ve Never Been
I think one of the greatest things about books is that they can offer a glimpse at different perspectives and places. We’re going to Canada later this summer so we’ve been slowly working our way through this list of Canadian Children’s Books. You don’t have to have a trip on the horizon to learn about somewhere new however. What about somewhere you wish to go? Or somewhere you’re curious about knowing more?
18. Listen to a Book on Tape
I completely date myself by calling them books on tape don’t I? My kids always look at me a little odd and then say “Ohhhh an audiobook mom?” Sure. Yeah. That. We just dipped our toes into the audiobook for kid world this year, but we’re loving it. Our favorites so far are the Magic Treehouse audiobooks which are read aloud by the author.
19. Read a Non-Fiction Book: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton
Have a topic your child is curious about? Whales, perhaps? Then request a book or stack on that subject. Otherwise, browse the new nonfiction picture book area and you are sure to be amazed by the increase in quality of storytelling for this side of children’s books. I generally shy away from picture books written by famous people, but She Persisted is impressive. I love the depiction of girls both in the stories of persistence and the illustrations.
20. Author Spotlight: Read a Book by Herve Tullet: Press Here
Press Here is a fantastic picture book and in my opinion a must-have for any bookshelf. It launched a whole interactive book genre in a big way.
If you are already familiar with this one, have you looked deeper into Tullet’s books. He has so many and although some are a little quirky for me, many are serious winners (Help, We Need a Title is one of our favorites).
Tullet also has several games which encourage creativity and, my personal favorite, is his insights into leading group art activities with kids. This book is for you – the grown up – but is so inspirational and bursting with creativity I had to share.
This video will give you a taste of Herve Tullet.
21. Read a Book about the Sun: Sun by Carol Thompson
This is part of a series of board books about kids and weather. There is also a Snow, Rain, and Wind one. They are all a celebration of simple joys whatever the weather.
22. Read a Book about the Color Yellow: Yellow Copter by Kersten Hamilton
Obviously this is not overly summer related, but the color yellow screams sunshine and summer to me. This is a fun book to read any time a year and an easy win with toddlers who are infatuated with vehicles. After they fall in love with this one, you can also read about the blue boat and the red truck by the same author to add a little variety to your life.
23. Read a Book about Swimming: Maisy Learns to Swim by Lucy Cousins
I think Cousins does such a good job with the Maisy First Experiences books. They are all simple, positive, and fun. There is something to be said about the comfort of familiar characters facing new experiences right alongside you.
24. Read a Book about Lakes: A Day at the Lake by Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
I grew up a mile from Lake Michigan and my kids were born in Minnesota – the Land of Lakes…I never imagined there were so few books about lakes for kids until I started looking. If you know of a great one – please share! – but this one does a good job of capturing the joy of a day at the lake.
25. Read a Book about a Picnic: Picnic by Emily Arnold McCully
This gentle wordless book is a favorite from my childhood and stands the test of time perfectly. It is the story of a family of mice who head out for a picnic and the simple adventures that go along with their day.
26. Read a Book about a Boat Ride: Down to the Sea with Mr Magee by Chris Van Dusen
Only Mr Magee and his faithful sidekick Dee can take a simple boat ride and turn it into a laugh out loud, over the top adventure.
27. Author Spotlight: Bill Martin Jr:
Best known for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, you might be surprised to learn just how much Bill Martin Jr crafted over his 60 years as an author. The first time I heard a Bill Martin Jr. book it was Barn Dance when it was featured on Reading Rainbow.
28. Read a Book with the Letter K: Counting Kisses by Karen Katz
These Baby Love board books are my favorite by Karen Katz. This one is a perfect cozy book to read before bed.
29. Read a book about hot and cold: Hot Dog Cold Dog by Frann Preston-Gannon
This playful, dog filled board book insists that there is fun to have no matter what the season.
30. Read a Book about Fruit: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
One of our readaday group members reminded me about this classic recently and I had to dig out my copy to share it with my kids again. This one reminds me of Maine and summer and freshly picked blueberries.