43 Best Summer Books For Kids in 2023 (Great Reading Book List)
Summer picture books for kids are the perfect way to jump into warmer weather and lazy days. Keep your kids reading while on holiday, and you’ll set them up for a wonderful school year.
Why Summer Reading Is Important For Kids
In fact, without summer reading practice, kids can lose on average two months of reading skills over the summer. This has a snowball effect as they lose more skills each subsequent year. And it is especially evident in families with less access to books and literacy activities.
Let’s battle back with books they love!
Books About Summer For Preschoolers & Kindergarten
First, these summer picture books are excellent for toddlers and young kids who are just getting into the love of reading!
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1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s First Summer by Eric Carle
Explore what the season has to offer with your favorite caterpillar. Learn about feeling the sunshine, listening to noisy bugs and more through this sensory based board book.
2. The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizolli
Read about one funny crocodile who has a big fear. He’s afraid he’ll swallow a watermelon seed! The crocodile’s wild imagination gets away from him. But what will really happen when his biggest fear is realized?
3. Mouse’s First Summer by Lauren Thompson
*Classic summer kids books
Mouse and Minka experience a sweet summer picnic at the park. Join them as they roll down a hill, fly kites, and eat juicy watermelon.
See Mouse’s First Summer here >>
4. I See Summer by Charles Ghigna
*Great for learning numbers
This simple book for young ones helps kids learn to count in the garden with all of summer’s plentiful food.
5. Llama Llama Learns to Swim: Llama Llama by Anna Dewdney
*As Seen on Netflix!
Based on the classic kids books, follow along as our favorite llama learns to swim. It’s a little scary at first, but soon he gets the hang of it!
6. Is It Warm Enough For Ice Cream? by DK
*Fun introduction to beginner science
This playful board book is about yummy ice cream. But it’s also about so much more! Learn about weather, temperature, plant life, and the animal kingdom.
7. The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall
Do you hear it?
You’re near it.
8. Summer In the Forest by Rusty Finch
*Interactive Lift-a-Flap Surprise board book!
This sweet book explores all the happenings in the forest during the summer. Kids love following a young bear with her cubs as they lift the flaps for extra surprises.
See more great interactive book ideas >>
9. A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee: (Read Aloud Books, Books for Early Readers) by Chris Van Dusen
*Beloved series books for kids
Mr. Magee and his dog are on a new adventure. They’re off to enjoy a peaceful camping trip. But things don’t go as planned when a marshmallow-loving bear wanders in. And from there, the real excitement begins!
See it here >>
Related: Grab our free camping packing list for kids and kids camping gear list if you’re going on your own adventure this summer.
10. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
Caldecott Honor-winning picture book
Young Flora admires a nearby flamingo and makes an unlikely friend. In her swimsuit, cap, and flippers, Flora and the flamingo make the perfect harmony.
See it here >>
11. The Hike: (Nature Book for Kids, Picture Book for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners) by Alison Farrell
Adventurers and budding scientists will love The Hike. This book celebrates how wonderful it is to explore your natural surroundings. Each of our three explorers enjoys nature in their own way, through poetry, feathers, sketchbooks, and more.
“Beautifully illustrated . . . This is a perfect addition to elementary school libraries to support readers who love the great outdoors.”—School Library Journal
Related: Free Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable
12. The Little Blue Cottage
*Winner of the 2020 Northern Lights Book Award, 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award
Every year, a girl spends her summers at the little blue cottage. Through stormy and sunny days, the girl and the cottage keep each other company. But as time goes on, the cottage begins to miss its friend.
Read the touching story about change here >>
13. Summer Song by Kevin Henkes
This new picture book about summer celebrates the sights, smells, and sounds of the season. It’s a beautiful book to help kids visualize and use their senses when thinking of summer.
Great Kids Books About Summer Vacation
14. The Night Before Summer Vacation
One family is about to go on vacation! But when they pack as much as they can, there’s still something that gets overlooked in the end. And it makes for one funny ending!
15. Summer Vacation, Here I Come! by D.J. Steinberg
*#1 New Release
These silly poems about summer vacation will help everyone soak in the sun! From a family road trip to splashing in the pool, they are sure to bring joy and fun to your days.
See Summer Vacation, Here I Come here >>
16. And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner
It’s all of your favorite things about summer in this sweet summer picture book for kids. Explore lemonade stands, flip-flops, fireworks, and more. Even parents will love this book while they remember their summers spent outside, soaking in the lazy adventurous days.
See it Here >>
Best Picture Books About The Beach
Next, are you headed to the beach this summer? These kids summer books are excellent choices to explore the sand and water within words.
17. Pete the Cat: Pete At The Beach by James Dean
*Great for beginning readers!
Our favorite groovy cat is headed to the beach. But there’s a problem. Pete is a fraidy cat when it comes to water. Will he be able to overcome his fear? Only one way to find out!
See it here >>
18. Duck & Goose Go To The Beach
*Best Selling friends (and now an animated series on Apple +)
Duck wants to go on an adventure. So, together the two best friends set off through the meadow, past a thicket, over a hill, and finally see…
the beach! And wouldn’t you know, goose finds that he loves the ocean.
Related: Pick up this free kids beach scavenger hunt too >>
19. Bluey: The Beach (Kids Summer Books)
*Based on the Disney + series
In Bluey’s latest adventure, she finds a beautiful shell on the beach. As she runs to show mom, she is met with all kinds of funny encounters.
20. Explore the Beach: Little Kids Nature Guide
*National Geographic Kids
Help young children learn about the wonderful creatures and plants around them.
Explore the Beach is the perfect book to take with you on your next summer vacation. Your kids will use it to identify all the creatures they see, and learn interesting facts along the way.
21. Curious Geoge Goes To The Beach by H. A. Rey
*Our favorite monkey
If your child loves the PBS show, they’ll adore this book about George visiting the beach! As curious as ever, he tries lifeguarding, feeds seagulls, helps a friend, and even makes an ocean rescue.
See Curious George Goes to the Beach >>
22. The Sandcastle That Lola Built by Megan Maynor
*A summer spin on “the house that Jack built”
While Lola spends a day at the beach, she dreams of building a fantastical sand castle. But the beach is crowded. Instead of getting frustrated, Lola recruits friends to join her. Soon, they’re working together as a team against the fierce waves.
Fun Fact: National Sandcastle Day is August 5th!
23. Biscuit’s First Beach Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
*Perfect for younger kids
In this summer picture book classic, Biscuit visits the beach for the first time! Toddlers will love watching their favorite pup explore.
24. In The Ocean: National Geographic by Jennifer Szymanski
Wander from the beach and into the ocean with this fun early reader. In this visually stunning book, kids learn about all the weird creatures living in the deep blue.
25. Where The Ocean Meets The Sand by Beth Costanzo
Exciting things happen at the spot where the ocean meets the sand! Waves crash and crabs scurry in this book about the excitement of ocean life.
This is a fun sensory book encouraging kids to dip their toes in, feel the breeze, and savor the beauty of the ocean.
26. Swimmy by Leo Lionni
*Caldecott Honor-winning tale
“Deep in the sea lives a happy school of fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along.” – Amazon
Children’s Books About Summer Holidays
Next, these kids picture books for summer highlight our favorite celebrations!
27. F Is For Flag by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
Celebrate Flag Day (June 14th) with this book! It’s perfect to read to your young child. And it helps explain what our flag means to each of us. Explore concepts of unity, family, and pride.
28. What Is Juneteenth?: What Was? by Kirsti Jewel (Ages 8-12)
*New York Times Best Selling Series
Learn more about our newest national holiday through the popular “What is” series for kids. On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger came to Texas to announce freedom for all slaves. It’s a significant moment in the history of our country, and this book helps kids understand it’s impact.
Related: Juneteenth Trivia Quiz Questions
29. You’re My Little Firecracker by Nicola Edwards (Ages 0-2)
This festive summer book for toddlers explores both the 4th of July and the love between a parent and child. It’s a sweet rhyming board book little ones love!
30. The Night Before the Fourth of July by Natasha Wing (Age 2-4)
*Best-selling Night Before series
In this colorful 4th of July book, people are getting ready for the firework show.
Read about a family wearing patriotic colors, enjoying a barbecue with friends and family, seeing a parade, and more. It’s all the things we love most about this holiday!
Related: Best 4th of July Family Traditions and US Trivia Quiz Questions
31. The Solstice Badger by Robin McFadden (Ages 4+)
Discuss the summer solstice using this sweet book. It’s about an unlikely friendship between the sun and a badger, and how the sun affects so much of our world.
See it here >>
32. Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems (Ages 2-6)
*July is National Ice Cream month!
Gerald is having a dilemma.
Piggie and Gerald are best friends. But Piggie isn’t as careful as Gerald. Can Gerald share his ice cream in time?
More Diverse Summer Kids Picture Books
33. Island Born by Junot Díaz (Ages 2-8)
Lola is doing a project at school about the island that she was born on. There’s just one problem: she was just a baby when she left. Luckily, with the help of her family and friends’ memories, Lola captures the heart of her island, and makes an extraordinary journey back.
See Islandborn here >>
34. Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis (Ages 3-6)
*Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, New York Public Library Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editor’s Choice
“This is the land that’s never been sold, where work the hands, so wise and old, that reach through the water, clear and cold, into the mud to pick the taro to make the poi for our ohana’s luau.”
See Ohana Means Family here >>
35. Cannonball: A Fun, Summertime Read About Believing In Yourself and Having Fun (Diverse Children’s Book) by Sacha Cotter
*Best books ages 3-5
Read this summer story of family, fears, and being yourself. And it’s all part of one boy’s pursuit to do the perfect cannonball.
36. Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
This is the sweet tale of a little boy who is afraid of jumping off the diving board. Now, he wouldn’t admit it to anyone. But when his dad squeezes his hand, he squeezes back.
Will he be able to make the jump? Read and find out!
37. The Wonders of Summer by Kealy Connor Lonning (Ages 2-7)
In this book, a little girl and her dad are enjoying the wonders of summer! Read as they take joy in simple pleasures and embrace the special bond between child and parent.
38. Beach Day by Candice Ransom (Ages 4-6)
*Beginning Reader Book
It’s family time at the beach. Join these siblings as they collect sea shells, build sandcastles, and have a grand time on the shore.
A perfect beach book for young kids to read themselves!
Best Summer Books for Older Elementary Students
And finally, get books into the hands of upper elementary kids and teens this summer too! These include picture books, activity books, and chapter books to explore.
39. On Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Ages 9-11)
*Newbery Honor novel & multiple award-winning book
One Crazy Summer is about three girls’ journey of founding out who their mother truly is. Delphine and her sisters enter the summer not knowing the woman who abandoned their family.
When they get there, their mother is worse than they expected. But over time, their feelings begin to change.
See it here >>
40. The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer by Davide Cali
What starts as a beach day turns into one epic globe-trotting adventure!
Is it a tall tale, or just a truth that’s hard to believe? Find out here!
41. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer
*Also a movie!
Judy is having a super boring summer – until she comes up with the greatest plan ever. Get ready for tightrope walking, monster riding, treasure hunting, and more!
Grab it here >>
*Also on our list of best books for 7 year olds
42. Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliott (Summer Books For Kids)
*USA TODAY Bestseller and over 2 million sold
Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes For Kids will give your child hours of entertainment and laughter. It’s great for car trips and summer family nights!
*See more kids joke books and Duck and Farmyard Jokes
43. How to (Almost) Ruin Your Summer by Taryn Souders (Ages 8-12)
Chloe gets shipped off to career camp for the summer. And while she plans to make the best of her situation, nothing goes according to plan. Follow along as Chloe meets her match against the crazy animals (and people) at camp.
See the book >>
BONUS: Summer Activity Book For Kids
44. The Hardest Hidden Pictures Book Ever
*Best Seller in Children’s Puzzle Books
This advanced Hidden Pictures Book is a collection of 80 of the hardest hidden pictures created! Perfect for 8-12 year olds, this is a great activity for the child who needs a summer challenge.
It is also fun non-screen entertainment and perfect for rainy days or hot afternoons.
*Also featured in our best books for 8 year olds >>
Check Out Our Summer Read Aloud Video
Featuring #35 – Cannonball:
Q&As About Kids Summer Reading
Not sure how much to read with kids this summer? No worries! Our Certified Reading Specialist, Jessica Evans, answers your most common questions below.
How many books should my child read over the summer?
There is no “right” number of books for kids to reach during the summer.
Aim for reading independently at least 20 minutes a day for kids in first grade and older. The number of books each child reads will vary based on the length of books. (I.E. picture books are much shorter than chapter books)
Set a goal for motivation. But make sure it is right for your child’s age and reading level.
If your child is a reluctant reader, use summer as a time to not only read books, but also spend quality time discussing and learning to enjoy them.
Should kids read every day during the summer?
While it is awesome if your kids read every day, be realistic. It is summer after all. And some days are busier than others. These tips will help:
- Make sure daily reading is in your child’s daily routine. I use a daily kids checklist.
- Use a summer reading log to keep your kids motivated and mindful of their progress.
What happens when kids read 20 minutes a day?
When your child spends time reading at least 20 minutes a day, they continue to build vocabulary and critical thinking skills that increase their reading proficiency.
This will also prevent the “summer slide” which refers to the decline in reading that can happen during the summertime.
It’s important to remember that:
- Book choice matters. Your kids should be reading books they enjoy, but that are not too easy or too hard.
- Conversations with your kids about their books will increase reading enjoyment and comprehension.
- Continue to read WITH and TO your child. Especially when they are struggling to read independently.
Do kids who read more do better in school?
Reading more makes kids better independent readers. And statistically, better readers score higher on standardized tests.
More Books To Help You (By Age)…
- Great List of Books for 4 Year Olds
- Best Book List For 6 Year Olds
- Interactive 2 Year Old Books (Our favorite toddler reads!)