Books I’d Put On a Summer Reading List

I’m a sucker for the kids’ summer reading programs. All the bookstores have them, the libraries and even banks. Some of the programs let you read whatever you want, then turn your list in for a prize. Others give you a list of books to read. I usually like this because I get to discover new books.

However, this year I’ve been bummed by the lists. Pottery Barn Kids’ list is all princesses and ballerinas. Books-a-million is edgy and mysterious. So, I decided to come up with my own Summer Reading List. I don’t have any prizes to give away (just my undying love and affection) but I hope you enjoy the lists!

Fun Picture Books that shoulda made it on your library's summer reading list. //

Picture Books for Kids of All Ages (AKA Pictures Books Asa and I Read and Loved So Far This Summer)

1. The Gardener by Sarah Small

One of my all time favorite picture books–and not just because the main character is named Lydia. This book is told in pictures and in letters sent from the main character to her family. A little girl is sent to live and work with her uncle in the city during the Great Depression. She learns to bake and plant seeds of joy into her family and friends’ hearts.

It will make you want to read all of Sarah Small’s books with similar themes/style: The Quiet Place and The Journey

2. How To Get a Job by Me The Boss by Sally Lloyd Jones

So many books today are just silly. I don’t understand why we have to read books to our kids about boogers and underpants to get catch their attention. I’m sick to death of silly, attention getting books. But I do love a book that makes you laugh!

If you’re looking for fun giggles, this How To series by Sally Lloyd Jones is hilarious. A little girl explains what she thinks a job is including resumes of penguins, crazy job descriptions and more.

3. The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky

I picked this book up at the thrift store and I would read it every day if my kids let me. The illustrations are by Peter Spier who is just a genius with details. Plus, every other page is black and white or color. It’s just gorgeous. The story is about a cow in Holland who sails down a canal and explores a city on her own. It’s so fun and feels like you’re traveling to Holland yourself.

4. Emeline at the Circus by Marjorie Priceman

I found this book when Lydia had “Circus Week” in kindergarten. A 2nd grade class goes to the circus and is warned that if they wander away they will be stuck in the Lost and Found and miss the whole circus. Well, Emeline does wander away but ends up experiencing the circus first hand.

The illustrations have literally nothing to do with the text which is Emeline’s teacher reading facts about the circus but it is hilariously juxtaposed to the adventures Emeline is having in the circus. It almost feels as if you are Emeline wandering away from the teacher and the text!

5. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

My kids stare at me uncomfortably whenever I read this book–it’s because I cry every single time. It’s about a family from Virginia that takes a vacation to visit the rest of their family in another state. They enjoy each other and then drive home. *sniff* I can’t describe the beautifulness of it but it makes me miss my long-distance family so much!

6. We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen

This book has been illustrated a few times so you MUST read the version with Doris Burn’s illustrations. It starts off with some disobedient kids and their mad parents staring each other down. Then the kids walk out and go to live in the woods, then a cave, a pond, the seashore, etc. At the end, when nothing works out, they go back home to their parens open arms. (It is so Luke 15!)

7. Gobble It Up! by Jim Arnosky

This is a new-to-us book. We got it at the library because it came with a CD and we love listening to read-along books in the car. But this one isn’t actually a story–just a song about what different animals eat. We listened to it about 5 times in a row and were singing along every time. I had to look Jim Arnosky up to see if I could order an entire CD! (He didn’t have one–you had to download them one at a time. So, I’ll just stick with the book.)

8. The Little Read Hen by Paul Galdone

I know this is just a fable and has been published a million times but this re-telling with these particular illustrations are just so fun. My kids absolutley love this story and love to add voices to the characters who won’t help the Little Red Hen. I’ve bought more of Galdone’s books simply because I love this one so much.

9. Mrs. Rosey Posey and the Fine China Plate by Robin Jones Gunn

Oh. If you’ve been around me long you know how much I love this book. It never gets old. (And the true story makes a cameo in Robin’s newest non-fiction for young adults, Spoken For!)

10. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

I love all of Robert McCloskey’s books but this one is my fave. The illustrations are in one color and it’s a simple story of a family of ducks moving to a pond but it’s just so quaint, it’s a go-to book for me.

So, what picture book would be on your Summer Reading Book List?

Here’s a few more book lists for you if you need a few more books for your library haul!

Best Library Books for Kids

Best Books for Boys

Favorite Books to Read Aloud With Fantastic Accents

Audio Picture Books for Kids

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  1. I love many of these and can’t wait to try some I didn’t know about! Thank you! I would add The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman to the list. It’s a great one and the pictures are hilarious!

  2. Donna Miller says:

    Two of my favorites are “Bark, George” by Jules Feiffer and “No Such Thing” by Jackie French Koller and Betsy Lewin. Both are so funny to read to kids…
    Bark, George is fun for 3-6 year olds. George is a puppy who meows, moos, and does everything but bark! The expressions on his mom’s face while he is at the vet are priceless and the ending is fun! I’ve actually used it with older kids to talk about good endings because it could end with the problem solved… but then there is an added surprise!
    No Such Thing is about a boy and a monster under the bed who are scared of each other. I love to read it to mixed groups of kids because when the monster says that his mommy says there are no such things as boys, the girls think it is hilarious and the boys get so indignant! The made-up words the monster uses (whimple and sniggle) are fun too as kids decide what they mean. And I LOVE the ending!
    Thanks for your list. I have most of those in my school library and will be adding the rest… and will add them all to the buy later list for my 8 month old granddaughter! I LOVE your blog!

  3. I LOVE How to Be a Baby, so I will have to check that job one out. We got The Relatives Came from the library earlier this summer, too – I think L had read it at school. At Jill’s recommendation, we checked out The Day the Crayons Quit from the library, too – my kids LOVED it. It is hilarious. And if somehow you haven’t read Goldilocks and the 3 Dinosaurs by Mo Willems you must.

  4. We were able to get most of the books from our library and they are wonderful. I really love the Gardener and The Relatives Came. Thank you!

  5. Erin Smith says:

    We LOVE Petunia by Roger Duvoisin! It should also go in your ‘best books to read with an accent’ category. It’s very funny!

  6. On my ideal picture book list, I’d put The Lorax, The Big Orange Splot, The Story About Ping, McElligot’s Pool…all the classics that I want to read (except for the first one, which I read and highly enjoyed last summer).

    You should make a list of novels for a summer reading list! Unless you did already. In that case, could you please link me to it?

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