I can’t wait to share with you 21 of the best summer picture books for kids. Many of these are longtime favourite books of mine, but a good picture book never gets old! Others are new!
Welcome to Summer!
Do you love summer?
I cherish every minute of warm weather from up here in Canada. And summer is the perfect time for summery picture books! I have some on this list you may remember from your childhood, and others that are very new.
This post was written in collaboration with two of my blogging friends. I am featuring the best summer picture books for kids, Stephanie is sharing the best summer poetry for kids and Julie is sharing awesome summer bee themed crafts! I am so excited to share their posts with you down below.
This post contains affiliate links.
Before we get to the book list of 21 best summer picture books for kids, let’s review why its important to read picture books to all ages of children (yes, even babies and older kids!).
Why All Children Benefit From Listening to Stories
The main reason is simple: reading aloud promotes all forms of communication.
The more words children hear in their first 18 months of life directly correlate to the amount of words they can say at two years of age. And who doesn’t want a toddler who can communicate better?
But the benefits don’t end at age 2.
Reading aloud exposes the child to different language. The words in books are often different from the words of everyday tasks. Books designed to be read aloud, like the picture books I’m about to list, have a much wider variety and more challenging vocabulary than early read type of books, and therefore they expose children to more complex words, sentence structure and grammar.
But words aren’t the only thing you “read” in a picture book. The artwork of children’s picture books is another opportunity for learning.
When looking at beautiful pictures, your child can learn important observation skills and visual thinking skills. It can help increase their understanding of the language and also expand on the story.
Pictures Books Are Important
The pictures in books add so much! Take the Little Blue Truck, for example.
In this simple, rhyming board book the images add so much value! First, they give the story context (what time of year is this? Where is this taking place?). They also add humour. And they give visual clues about how the characters may be feeling. They even help to capture the attention of the child and excite the imagination.
Picture Books Are Great for Kids of All Ages
Picture books are wonderful to share with children of all ages. The rich language, designed to be read aloud, the beautiful artwork, even the shape of a picture book invites quality time and making memories, which is what we all want for our kids in summer!
If you are totally with me and motivated to keep your kids reading this summer, check out my post with Summer Reading Book Bingo and 6 tips to keep your kids reading all summer long!
How to Choose Summer Books
You can read any books at any time, but I love to read seasonally. There is something so great about embracing the season you are in!
For summer, look for books with great summer themes to inspire your family to live summer to it’s fullest:
- Vacation themes
- Adventure themes
- Summer camp settings
- Hiking, camping
- Water: lakes, rivers, oceans, pools
- Island or beach life settings
- Family time themes
- Fruit, flowers, and nature
21 Best Picture Books for Summer
I actually tried pretty hard to narrow down my list to just 12 picture books, but ultimately, it was a lost cause. I love all the books!
So, without further ado, here is my list of the 21 best summer picture books for kids. These are all linked to Amazon so you can easily click over and use the Amazon “Look Inside” function to see more!
Ever gone berry-picking in summer? This sweet rhyming book is a celebration of early summer, complete with canoeing, a maypole, fireworks and all sorts of sweet berry-themed treats. “One berry, two berry. Pick me a blueberry!”
2. Blueberries for Sal
Another berry good book here! If you haven’t read Blueberries for Sal yet, you should! This berry-picking tale is one of our forever favourites and its great for a wide range of ages. “Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk!“
“Each peach pear plum, I spy Tom Thumb!” This precious rhyming book takes your children’s favourite nursery rhyme characters and links them all together in delightful ways and with entertaining details! It’s an I Spy book, too! At the end all the characters (even the Wicked Witch!) gather for plum pie in the sun.
“When the sun rose today, a friend came to visit me. She came in a carriage as bright as the sun.” What would you do if a lion pulling a carriage stopped at your playhouse gate on a sunny summer’s day? This book was my favourite from about age 5-7. Though the visit is imaginary, the story evokes real feeling about warmth, hospitality, friendship, and promises.
Miss Rumphius decides to make the world more beautiful and she spends a whole summer doing so. A wonderful book to inspire children and parents over what really matters. I can’t read this one without crying!
I love the Little House picture books illustrated by Renee Graef and this is no exception. What do pioneer children do in summer? They sure are busy!
Here’s one for the free-range kids. This story is all about a group of kids who go to a special hangout and play make-believe. It is totally lovely and gives me the shivers to read it!
“FAN FAST PUMP BLAST. We did it! We did it! Its honey at last!” Would you like to know EXACTLY how honey is made? With bright drawings and sound effects, this book manages to engage even toddlers into the world of the honeybee! Perfect for some sneaky summer learning.
9. Hello Lighthouse
“On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse. It is built to last forever.” Guys. This book is a favourite of mine for sure. Have you ever wondered what it was like to live on an lighthouse? This is a beautiful family story about an old-fashioned lighthouse and the illustrations are exquisite! This is a story that will make you fall in love with lighthouses!
Have you ever been afraid of the dark? This book takes place in the childhood of astronaut Chris Hadfield at his family’s summer home in Ontario, Canada. Its a tale of how they watched the moon landing and it inspired in him the confidence to overcome his fear of the dark (and then, you know, grow up to be an astronaut). I love the back pages in this book because they have real photographs from his life.
“Over the pond we drift, heads tipped up to the sun.” A mother and son go for a summer paddle and learn all about pond life in this sweet and rhythmic story. The back pages of this book contain facts about the plants and animals they see.
Have you ever had a dry summer? In this old tale, the people are experiencing drought and all that brings. One girl’s actions bring a reprieve for the whole land. This is an origin story of the bluebonnet, a kind of wild lupine. And it’s by Tomie DePaola, so its fantastic!
This classic Eric Carle book takes you through the months of the year with hermit crab as he moves into and furnishes a new home, then outgrows it and passes it on to a friend.
Not everyone gets to go away to a cottage all summer. Some kids are hanging out in the city, trying to find something to do. Luckily these kids have an awesome Grandpa! This book is so sweet and its based on a true story, which my kids always love!
15. Time of Wonder
Have you ever been to an island? This Robert McCloskey favourite transports you to Maine and a family enjoying summer on an island. This is a longer picture book with lots of lovely nature and weather descriptions and family life.
16. The Hike
Do you like to go for hikes? This is a sweet and brief nature adventure tale and kids will love the speech bubbles and cute details. I love that the plants are labelled!
17. Bubbles UP
Do you go to a community pool in the summer? This bright and fun read-aloud, brings the underwater world to life as kids swim, dive and play and of course, bubbles . . . rise . . . UP!
18. Jabari Jumps
Another pool book! Summer can be a time for facing new challenges with bravery. Jabari wants to try something new but he has to overcome his fear first. I think you all will be rooting for Jabari in this sweet summery poolside adventure.
“They grew up together, from summer to summer. The little blue cottage. The little bay girl.” Do you have a favourite place to return to each summer? This tale is told from the perspective of the cottage and the drawings are so cozy and homey.
“When the days stretch out like a slow yawn…” This picture book is basically 80s childhood summer memories crammed into a bright and descriptive picture book to share with the next generation. From cleaning out lockers and pumping up bike tires, to lemonade stands, the ice cream truck and making s’mores around the campfire, this book has it all. It is super fun, with lovely pictures and nostalgia for miles.
“So many plants and flowers you see were given life by one small bee.” This peek-through picture book brings the world of bees to life! We love this whole series and many of them are great for summer!
Last Year’s Summer Picture Books for Kids Haul
I hope you enjoyed my book list of 21 best summer picture books for kids. Last summer I did not have a blog but I did have a YouTube channel. If you’d like to see my picture book haul from last year that featured some of these titles, pop over here. Be sure to introduce yourself and say hello!
Free Printable Summer Reading Book Bingo
I made a fun book bingo printable to help inspire lots of reading this summer. Click over here to get your copy!
Before you go…
I wrote this post in collaboration with Stephanie from This Intentional Home and Julie from Nature Inspired Learning! If you are inspired by my Bee book, head on over to Nature Inspired Learning to find some great Bee themed crafts! If you’re super into summer reading, be sure to check out Stephanie’s awesome post on summer poetry to read with your kids.
Here is Julie’s Easy and Fun Bee Crafts for Kids
And here is Stephanie’s 40 Summer Poems for Kids
What do you think? Are there any summer picture books for kids you would add to this list?
I’d love to hear which picture books say “summer” to you! Please comment below!