Wednesday, June 25, 2014

12 Summer Picture Books for Preschoolers

Summer time has arrived! School has wrapped up in most places. Warm weather is here to stay. At least here in NY, we are enjoying grilling, the sprinkler, and other summery activities.

There are so many great warm weather books out there from fantastic children's authors covering a variety of other themes including camping, the beach, fruit picking, family, and so forth.  What activities does your family enjoy during this season? The summertime holds so many adventures to be had!

Today I am sharing twelve of our very favorite picture books focusing on the summer season! I also included one of my favorite chapter books for kids that can be read aloud to those that are old enough to sit still. Enjoy!

A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris VanDusen

I'll have to admit - camping in hot weather is not my fave; this author, however, has definitely ranked amongst my all time favorite children's authors. Reminiscent of Dr. Seuss' poetic style, Mr. VanDusen has created the character of Mr. Magee (and his little dog, Dee) who find themselves in the most exciting twisty tales. The art is somewhat reminiscent of a vintage 50s style with lots of bright colors and detail. In this story, a planned out camping trip enjoying the peace of nature turns into a disaster when their trailer breaks loose. All is solved, but you'll have to read it to find out how.

Four Friends in Summer by Tomie DePaola

Originally part of a larger book that perused all four seasons, this story from Tomie DePaola differs from many other books I've read by him. The four characters in this book about the sweetness of friendship share simple yet fun summer day activities together. It's not my favorite DePaola book, but I do enjoy it for younger listeners as the art is still quite delightful.

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

I love Robert McCloskey (who also wrote 'Make Way for Ducklings' and 'Blueberries for Sal'), and this is no different. This story, however, seems to be more aloof and less story like than his others. It's still gorgeous art and beautiful usage of the English language, but it is a bit more poetic, and younger listeners might not be as interested. It tells of a summer spent in Maine of two young girls and their parents. Simple things in life are shown to bring great joy. It shows the beauty that can be found when you take a break from a quick paced life.

Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder + illustrated by Renee Graef

I am hoping soon to start reading the Little House series aloud to my eldest, but for now these picture books have been a lovely intro to the simple world of America's pioneers. It's a perfect history lesson for small listeners woven around a story of a family that works together in community. This particular story includes summer fun such as tree climbing and also shows them helping with household chores and introduces concepts that might be new to your child such as honey gathering or cheese making. As with all the First Little House Books, the pictures and stories are fun and educational reads.

On a Summer Day by Lois Lenski

A sweet story of a brother and sister and their imaginations hard at work. I love Lois Lenski's colorful style and simple approach to storytelling, and it's perfect for younger readers as the book isn't very long or wordy.

Summer: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur + illustrated by Leslie Evans

The title gives away pretty much what this book is about. Mr. Schnur has written a book for each season, and with each one the letters of the season starting a simple riddle pertaining to that time of year. The beautiful hand cut linoleum block prints are hand colored and are so stunning, they would work just as perfectly framed on the wall. I would put this book at being a little better for the older preschooler since the riddles can be a bit confusing or over the heads of younger children.

Sergio Makes a Splash by Edel Rodriguez

Sergio is a penguin who adores all things water; everything, that is, except swimming in it. He realizes when his class is going on a field trip to the ocean that he must face his fears. It turns out that he, like any good penguin, loves the ocean. Simple colors bring this fun story to life.

The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

What is a book list that lacks a great classic such as this one by Dr. Seuss. This is actually one of my favorite of all his tales. The sneetches on two different beaches start having a battle over which set of them is better. They add stars to their bellies in attempts to be better and one up the set from over there. In the end they discover it doesn't matter what you look like, all sneetches are equally valuable.

Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion + illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

You've most likely read or at least heard of 'Harry, the Dirty Dog,' right? But like me, you might never have seen that there are others in the series. Or maybe you have, and I'm just behind the times. Harry is spending the day at the beach and is overly hot. Desperately he searches everywhere to find a cool spot.  Finding nowhere, he sits at the water's edge until a wave crashes over him, and he find himself caught in seaweed. He realizes he's lost his family and begins to search for them, scaring other people because they all think he is a sea monster. A cute story perfect for some giggles.

Poppleton: Poppleton and Friends by Cynthia Rylant + illustrated by Mark Teague

Another favorite from my childhood. Poppleton is a pig who has several best friends including a llama (Cherry Sue) and a mouse (Hudson). This book includes three short stories about friendship that are perfect for word recognition for early readers but they are still entertaining enough for younger kids to enjoy just listening to. This was one of Dom's favorites last summer, especially the last story where Poppleton thinks grapefruit is the secret to a long life and much to his relief, finds that is not the case.

Katie's Sunday Afternoon by James Mayhew

Introduce some beautiful classic art while reading an entertaining story of Katie! Famous examples of the post-Impressionistic paint form of Pointillism are introduced in this book. Katie's Grandma decides that museum is the perfect outing for a hot day, but the real adventure begins when Katie leans too far into Georges Seurat's Bathers at Asnières.

Summertime by Dubose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward, Ira and George Gershwin + illustrated by Mike Wimmer

The iconic summer song from the musical 'Porgy and Bess' is brought to life with these beautiful illustrations by Mr. Wimmer. Another way to sneak some classic culture into your little one's day - the lyrics to the song 'Summertime' are illustrated in gorgeous oil on canvas paintings depicting a warm day in the life of a family in the Southern States. 

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

Finally reading this aloud to Dom this year, and let me tell you, I cannot wait! I mostly just want to read it to me again. =) Doesn't the cover art just make you want to pick it up???
Here's a recap I wrote awhile back: "Four motherless sisters set out on all kinds of adventures. They are not afraid of a little dirt and are much closer to how I hope my daughters (if I, God willing, ever have any) will turn out to be. Their life ambitions book on their talents and their minds rather than their looks. A very fun book series that I encourage you to check out for yourself." (From a post on what I read in 2012)

So, there you have it. Some favorites from the O bookshelf centered around summer. What books might you add to this list? 

Happy Summer reading to all!


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This post: 12 Summer Picture Books for Preschoolers first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 25 June 2014 


  1. I just discover the Alphabet Acrostic series and checked out summer a few days ago! So great!

    1. Aren't they the best? I think we found the Autumn one first and have also checked out the Winter book.

  2. Oh, LOVE! I'm adding these to my list. We have Summertime in the Big Woods and it's a family hit. I'll have to check out Penderwicks for my big girls! :)

    1. Yay! Definitely check out the Penderwicks - I was so surprised at how lovable they are because I typically find modern books aimed at young girls to be silly and sometimes even downright annoying. =/ But these are different, definitely loved them - the first is the best!


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