Soaking Up Summer With 10 Picture Books

With summer in full swing and life still uncertain in many regards, there is a comfort that comes with the consistency of the seasons. Warmer temperatures mean more time outside and while the status of parks and pools opening remains varied, summertime staples can be as simple as a slab of salty watermelon, a squirt bottle, or an inflatable kiddie pool. And while it’s easy to slip out of a routine during the summer months, keeping the familiar structure of storytime—be that outside in a hammock or an audiobook during quiet time—will reap rewards beyond the closing pages of the book. So grab a refreshing drink and reach for these seasonal favorites.

Editor's Note: The links below don't direct to Amazon, but rather to a startup company (Hey! We know about those!) called Bookshop, which is aiming to loosen Amazon's grip on the publishing industry and give independent bookstores a fighting chance. Always, but especially while indie bookstores are hurting from retail shutdowns forced by Covid-19, we think that's a pretty noble aim. Check them out for your next book purchase - a portion of all profits go directly to independent book stores like the one down the street from you.
 

And Then Comes Summer
By Tom Brenner, Illustrated by Jaime Kim 
When the days become longer and the world feels brighter, throw on flip-flops and head out the door. When bumblebees buzz and the lawn mower thrums, pump up big tires and go for a ride. When class projects (or online school) are finally finished, pop up a lemonade stand and greet your neighbors. A celebration of all things summer, this book will remind us of summers past and give us hope for future summers that look just as familiar.
Ages 4-8 


Blackout
By John Rocco
What starts out as a normal summer night in New York City (people bustling outside and electronics blaring inside), quickly turns into a canvas of darkness as the city loses power. A family gathers together with flashlights and candles, searching for ways to entertain themselves. Before long they move from the sweltering inside to the rooftop, each one looking skyward to gaze at the now perceptible stars. From the under-the-dust-jacket surprise to the comforting feeling of community, this award-winner is one we recommend for every home library.
Ages 4-8



Charlie & Mouse Outdoors: Book 4
By Laura Snyder, Illustrated by Emily Hughes 
Beloved brothers Charlie and Mouse are in the car attempting to pass the time as the family drives toward their camping location. Once the foursome begins hiking, the brothers find sticks to defend their land but unexpectedly encounter a few scary creatures they hadn’t anticipated. With humorous antics and familiar characters this early chapter book series is a perfect hit with young and old.
Ages 4-8



Hike
By Pete Oswald
A father wakes his son for their appointed outing. Backpack filled with compass, binoculars, trail mix and other supplies, the two leave the city behind and arrive at the outdoor trail. Surrounded by wildlife, father and son take their time to observe the creatures soaring and chasing past them. With melting snow still dripping into the nearby river, the two forge the watery chasm over a fallen tree trunk. At last they reach the spot where they plant a young sapling. An exquisitely rendered wordless picture book.
Ages 4-8



Mabel and Sam at Home
By Linda Urban, Illustrated by Hadley Hooper 
Siblings Mabel and Sam are on a series of three at-home adventures (particularly timely for today’s new normal). A giant moving box becomes a ship and the two keep occupied to avoid worrying about pirates and other nefarious sea creatures. After lunch the two discover that the boxes and random furniture make a museum worth exploring, and Mabel takes charge as the designated Tour Guide. Lastly, Mabel and Sam navigate a strange new universe as they blast into space. With imaginative illustrations, this book tackles worry through play and is ideal for anyone who’s been hoarding cardboard boxes.
Ages 4-8



Goldfish on Vacation
By Sally Lloyd-Jones, Illustrated by Leon Espinosa
Meet three eager children, a dilapidated fountain restored to its former glory, and an oasis for goldfish to swim freely. Don’t miss this delightful tale, perfect for summer reading and bursting with childhood zeal.
Ages 4+



National Parks of the USA
By Kate Siber, Illustrated by Chris Turnham
Millions of people the world over flock to the dedicated landscapes we call National Parks. It’s no wonder they are beloved by citizens throughout the globe. This book, divided into geographic regions, explores the flora and fauna native to each area, while giving a historic overview and highlighting what makes each destination unique. Don’t forget to also snag the corresponding activity book for this nonfiction winner.
Ages 5-10



See You Next Year
By Andrew Larsen, Illustrated by Todd Stewart
Every year a family takes the same road, packs the same items, and stays at the same cottage to spend a week at the beach. One year the young girl meets a new friend who shows her how to swim, sort of. We follow the family through the days of their week, the familiar ebb and flow of a vacation being played out through the eyes of each child. At the end of the week the new friends wave to one another, promising to see each other next year.
Ages 4-8



The Not-So-Great Outdoors
By Madeline Kloepper
A young girl is perturbed that she has to venture into the outdoors—a place with no electricity, sculptures, or playgrounds—all for a family outing. Through her grumpiness we gradually see the transformation from reluctance to acceptance and even spirited excitement about her family’s camping excursion. A splendid picture book for those less inclined to being outside.
Ages 4-8



The Seashore Book
By Charlotte Zolotow, Illustrated by Wendell Minor
A young boy asks his mother what it is like to visit the seashore. From their mountain home the mother explains the textures and sounds familiar to any beach outing. With vivid descriptions of the shushing lap of ocean water and the skittery pencil marks of sandpipers marking the damp sand, this is such a wonderful book to pair with seashells and kinetic sand—of course with a thermos of lemonade too.
Ages 4-8

 

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Miranda Rosbach is a librarian turned children’s book reviewer and freelance writer. In her spare time she likes scouting new restaurants and colorful murals. She also loves reading middle-grade novels and memoirs. She lives in St. Louis with her husband and two daughters. You can find her book reviews on her blog or on Instagram as @bookbloom.