12 Summer Children’s Books to Enjoy with Your Family


Every year, my family makes sure to sign up for our library’s summer reading program. It’s a great way to be held accountable for what we read over the summer and participate in activities we normally wouldn’t do. The prizes don’t hurt either. Plus, we love summer children’s books!

However, I’ve found that if I just set the kiddos free in the library to pick out what they want some of their choices will be a little…questionable. And believe me, I am thrilled my kids want to read and engage with books. But, the other week my four-year-old picked out what, basically, equated to an encyclopedia of dinosaurs and it was published in 1995. If you’re thinking, “1995, that’s just a hop, skip, and a jump back from where we are now” maybe you need to check the date on your phone and pull out your calculator to see how long ago 1995 was. Let’s face it, we are old! Anyhow, this book had small print, sporadic pictures, and outdated information. What I’m saying is, it wasn’t something to curl up with between trips to the pool.

Although I make a point to allow my kiddos to pick out what they want to read, I also throw in a few mommy picks, as well. These are books that I know are engaging, have great illustrations, and either relate to the current season or have a good message.

Here are some of my favorite summer children’s books that will, hopefully, give you and your kiddos something to look forward to reading.

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner

This was a delightful new find for me! The language is so descriptive and made me feel like it was the middle of summer. The artwork is beautiful. This is a perfect choice to read at the beginning of the season.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell

We pretty much live at the pool and, while my daughter takes to the water like a fish, my son is slower to jump in. He’s a lot like the main character in this book; excited about the idea of trying something new but quite nervous when it’s time to actually do it. I love the message of this book; believing in yourself and giving something new a try. This book also portrays a loving Black dad and shows how he helps his child overcome anxiety.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

What’s a little fish to do when all of his friends get eaten up by a bigger fish? Work together with a new school of fish of course! This book is a great example of teamwork and just happens to be set in the ocean.

The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle

Eric Carle is one of my go-to authors when I need to pick something in a hurry. I know his books appeal to a wide variety of readers and are just the right length. This one, in particular, is a great one to read in summer since it’s about one of the season’s most popular insects.  

Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe

What another delightful new-to-me find! The storyline of this book pulls me back to my childhood and does a lovely job of contrasting the desire of wanting to keep something from nature but knowing that doing so might ultimately cause harm.

Summer Days and Summer Nights by Wong Herbert Lee

I love this book for its simplicity. In it, a little girl goes through a summer day many kiddos can relate to waking up when it’s already light, splashing in a pool, and trying to catch butterflies.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

I first came across this one years ago and it has been a must-read ever since. In it, a little boy discovers some vegetation in an unlikely place and starts tending it. The results of his work are amazing and his passion transforms his whole city. Make sure to take time to compare the illustrations on the inside front cover to the inside back cover. It’s sure to spark an interesting discussion!

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Little Sal and her mother aren’t the only ones on Blueberry Hill looking for a sweet treat! This is a great classic to read if you go berry-picking with your little one.

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

Kate Messner has several books of this type and, in my opinion, they are all worth adding to your collection. In this one, she takes the reader to a pond and highlights what is going on all around a little boy and his mother. This is a great way to challenge a child’s perspective and introduce him to the idea of life going on even in places we aren’t able to easily see.

Hattie and Hudson by Chris VanDusen

Chris VanDusen is one of my favorite children’s authors. I pretty much buy anything he writes because I enjoy his work so much. But, I digress. This is a sweet tale of a little girl who befriends a sea monster and, together, the two are able to change a town’s point of view. VanDusen has two other great books for summer as well: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee and Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee.

Thundercake by Patricia Polacco

We have had our fair share of thunderstorms lately and they always seem to come at inconvenient times. Just before dusk, bedtime, etc. It’s great to have a sweet story to turn to when sleep is out of the question and the thunder roars. In this story, a little girl is frightened of an approaching storm and her grandmother comforts her with the ultimate distraction: baking.

Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long

The recent flooding brought powerful storms and, naturally sparked some fear and questions in our house. This is a good pick to open discussions about summer storms and help talk about ways to keep each other safe in severe weather.

It’s hard to narrow down all the great summer children’s books out there! I’m curious, what books would you add to this list?

Looking for book suggestions and recommendations for you? Check out our But The Book Was Better Book Club!

And, don’t miss these other great book lists!

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Guest Writer: Jessica Wagner

Jessica is a wife and mother of two. She and her family live on a few acres in rural Ohio. They can be found playing in the backyard, hiking at local parks, or taking care of their assorted pack of animals. Jessica taught preschoolers before her oldest child was born and now is dipping her toes back into the workforce at her local park district by working as a seasonal naturalist. Her favorite things are hearing sleepy morning greetings from her kids, drinking a hot cup of coffee on a foggy morning, livening up boring chores with a good podcast, and date nights with her husband at Mexican restaurants.

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