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Brighten Up Reading with These Summer Picture Books

Let’s dive into some wonderful summer picture books that capture the spirit of adventure and relaxation that makes this season a child’s favourite. These stories are perfect for rainy afternoons or quiet beachside mornings and offer a glimpse into summer’s adventures.

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Why Read Summer Picture Books?

Summer picture books are not just fun reads; they help keep children’s reading skills sharp during the long school break.

Reading is like any other skill—it improves with practice. These books provide an enjoyable platform for children to practice their reading without the structure of a classroom setting.

By immersing themselves in stories of summer adventures and mischiefs, children maintain their reading abilities and enhance their vocabulary and comprehension skills, all while absorbed in tales of summertime joy.

Four children sitting in tall grass, engrossed in reading summer picture books on a sunny day.

Questions to Pair with Summer Picture Books

  1. What is your favourite part of summer and why?
  2. Which summer picture book character would you like to be friends with?
  3. What new summer activity did you learn from these books?
  4. How do the colours in the book make you feel about summer?
  5. What summer food would you love to try from a story?
  6. How would you help the character in your book solve a summer problem?
  7. What kind of summer adventure would you like to have?
  8. What does summer sound like in the book and in real life?
  9. How does the weather affect the adventures in the book?
  10. Which book’s setting would you like to visit and why?
  11. What summer games would you play with the characters in the book?
  12. If you could pack a suitcase for a summer trip, what from the book would you take?
  13. What are some ways the characters celebrate summer?
  14. How do the characters show teamwork during their summer adventures?

Summer Picture Books

Summer joy isn’t just found outside; picture books bring it to life too. With bright, colourful pages, these books take children on all sorts of summer adventures. You will find newly published books, but I am sure you will spot a few classics too.

The Beach by Ximo Abadía

The Beach explores the many activities you can do at the beach, including burying Grandpa, kayaking, building sandcastles, blowing up inflatable toys, and eating ice cream.

The Beach sparks discussions on summer activities, the value of spending exploring nature, beach ecosystems, and curiosity.

A Beach Tail by Karen P. Williams

Gregory uses the sandy beach as a canvas for his creativity, drawing a lion’s tail that winds through various objects. Each item incorporated into his artwork is a breadcrumb on his adventure, guiding him back safely to his father when he strays too far.

A Beach Tail sparks discussions about creativity, embracing curiosity, and exploration.

Blackout by John Rocco

The power unexpectedly goes out a family seek relief from the heat on their rooftop. making the most of this rest bite from technology. When the power returns, life gradually returns to normal, but the experience leaves a lasting impact.

Blackout explores a sense of community, nurturing an appreciation for the simple things and finding a balance between technology and human connection.

A Boy, His Dog, and the Sea by Anthony Browne

Danny finds the beach boring until he takes his dog, Scruff, for a walk. As they explore the beach, they find adventure and excitement in unexpected places, leading Danny to discover just how extraordinary the beach is.

A Boy, His Dog, and the Sea promotes discussions on exploration, appreciation of nature, and discovering the extraordinary in what may seem ordinary.

Choices by Roozeboos

A girl stands at the pool’s edge, pondering what life offers. Everywhere she looks, she sees choices. Big ones and small ones. Should she jump in or just stick her toes in the water? It’s all about making decisions.

Choices is a simple metaphor for life’s decisions and the bravery needed to make them. It prompts discussions about decision-making, courage, and the consequences of our choices.

Cloud Chaser by Anne-Fleur Drillon

Emery and Leon collaborate to create a flying machine. After initial failures, Emery achieves flight, and Leon embarks on an ocean journey, inspiring Emery to continue dreaming and creating.

Cloud Chaser, translated from French, weaves a story of the creative process, scientific discovery, mentorship, support and a shared journey of invention.

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse

Tess looks up, pleading to the sky for rain. The city has an endless heatwave with sticky sidewalks, plants dying, and cats panting. As the grey clouds roll in, Tess joins her friend to dance in the refreshing rain.

Come On, Rain! explores the anticipation and joy of simple natural events, the beauty and power of nature, and the sense of community that shared experiences can foster.

The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky by Jihyun Kim

While visiting his grandparents’ home in the countryside, a boy from the city experiences the natural world in its full glory—from the expansive lake to the towering sky above.

The Depth of the Lake and the Height of the Sky explores introspection, the splendour of nature, connection to the environment, and how quiet moments allow for personal growth.

Emmett and Caleb by Karen Hottois

Emmett and Caleb are as close as can be, yet their different personalities sometimes lead to misunderstandings. However, they always find a way back to each other, valuing their friendship over their differences.

Emmett and Caleb illustrates that friendships might face ups and downs, but the ability to forgive, understand, and communicate is key to maintaining them.

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

Two children travel away from their urban home to explore the wild. They traverse through mountains, lakes, dense foliage, and rocky shores, experiencing sudden storms and witnessing life thriving in the most inhospitable conditions.

Finding Wild promotes discussions on exploration, appreciation of nature, resilience, and discovery.

Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe

A boy captures fireflies in a jar, but the fireflies lose their light as the night progresses. Faced with the creatures’ distress, the boy releases them back into the night.

Fireflies explores responsible decision-making, freedom, the beauty of nature, and the value of experiences and memories over possessing physical objects.

Flotsam by David Wiesner

A boy stumbles upon an old camera on the beach. Developing its film reveals an underwater world beyond imagination, a visual narrative linking children across time and space.

Flotsam, a wordless book, inspires discussions on perception, perspectives, curiosity, and observation.

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

Despite the Civil Rights Act, the local pool closed rather than allowing black people to use it. Joe cannot understand why his friend John doesn’t have the same rights as himself.

Freedom Summer prompts discussions on civil rights, segregation, equality, tolerance, prejudice and challenging inequality.

Garmann's Summer by Stian Hole

As Garmann’s summer slowly fades, he grapples with the anxiety of starting school. Talking with his family helps Garmann realize he isn’t alone in facing his fears and builds the courage to step out of his comfort zone.

The book helps students transition from the freedom of summer to the structured school routine while encouraging them to take risks.

Grains of Sand by Sibylle Delacroix

A young girl is sad to leave the beach on the last day of her family holiday. She has sand in her shoes and doesn’t want to leave it behind. So, she and her brother come up with an idea – to plant the grains of sand and see what will grow!

Grains of Sand encourages readers to imagine possibilities and wonder what could happen if they plant the grains of sand in their lives.

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English

Best friends Kishi and Renée are waiting for each other to apologise. They sit on their front porches, but before long, they forget their fight and join in the fun.

Hot Day on Abbott Avenue inspires discussions on conflict resolution, forgiveness, and positive friendships. Friendship’s ups and downs underline that bonds can endure even after a quarrel.

If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here by Simona Ciraolo

A young girl urges her brother to enjoy summer before winter arrives. However, when winter comes, her brother discovers it’s not as bad as he imagined. They discover the colder months’ beauty and joys as they explore the winter wonderland together.

If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here encourages children to embrace new experiences and to look for the beauty in everything around them.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari resolves to jump off the diving board for the first time. Despite his determination, fear and uncertainty hold him back. But with his father’s encouragement, Jabari finds the courage to make the leap.

Jabari Jumps explores a growth mindset, courage, risk-taking, determination, and overcoming fears. Students can also make connections to Jabari’s fear of trying something new.

Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure

This is the first of two summer picture books by Nikki McClure. Take a journey through the changing seasons with a little boy eagerly awaiting the arrival of summer. His anticipation is an exploration of the transition from spring to summer.

Mama, Is It Summer Yet? explores seasons and their characteristics, patience and anticipation, and observation skills in identifying natural changes.

The Night Is Yours by Abdul-Razak Zachariah

Amani doubts her ability to excel at a game of hide and seek due to her dark skin. Her father instils in her that dark skin is not a limitation but a gift that can work in her favour.

In The Night is Yours, Amani learns about self-acceptance, self-confidence, and the power of representation. It explores identity, self-esteem, and overcoming self-doubt.

Ojiichan's Gift by Chieri Uegaki

Mayumi and her grandfather (Ojiichan) love Japanese rock gardens. When Ojiichan cannot care for his garden, Mayumi creates a small indoor garden he can tend to, preserving their shared memories and connection.

Ojiichan’s Gift explores perseverance, compassion, initiative, preserving memories, the power of initiative, and the impact of different cultures and traditions.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson

This is the first of two summer picture books by Jacqueline Woodson. Clover and Annie live in houses divided by a fence, symbolising segregation. They are prohibited from crossing the fence because of their racial backgrounds. They break down this barrier through curiosity, one conversation at a time.

The Other Side inspires discussions on tolerance, open-mindedness, challenging societal norms and communication in breaking down barriers and forming connections.

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

As a boy and his mother paddle across the pond, they observe the world above and beneath them. Above, dragonflies zip and ducks dive; beneath, tadpoles grow into frogs, and minnows dart among the plants.

Over and Under the Pond encourages discussions on observation and curiosity, appreciating and preserving the natural world, life cycles, and respect for all creatures.

The Raft by Jim LaMarche

Nicky is disappointed to spend his summer with his grandmother, expecting a dull vacation. As Nicky embarks on adventures with a mysterious raft, he grows closer to his grandmother and discovers his own talent for art.

The Raft promotes discussions on discovering and cultivating personal talents, appreciating simple pleasures, and finding the extraordinary in ordinary circumstances.

Sometimes Shy by Julie Bliven

During a seaside stroll, a boy finds reflections of his own shyness in nature’s simple yet profound expressions. This story encourages readers to appreciate life’s ebb and flow, embracing the emotions that make us human.

Sometimes Shy explores understanding and accepting one’s emotions, observing and appreciating nature, and valuing the individuality of oneself and others.