Summer is just around the corner and kids will love hearing summer-themed stories. Here are some recommendations for fun, magical, thought-provoking, and multicultural picture books to get us into the summer spirit. Enjoy!
All You Need for a Beach by Alice Schertle; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
From the author of one of my favorite picture books, Little Blue Truck, All You Need for a Beach is the companion to All You Need for a Snowman. Its playful rhyme of beach day ingredients is perfect for reading aloud and the pacing will have kids clamoring to find out what’s on the next page. Adorable gouache and watercolor illustrations complement the text.
Mama and her sister, Auntie Yang, sorely miss their family and home in China. So when they discover American soybeans growing in rural Illinois, they decide to bring a taste of home to America by throwing a soybean picnic. The picnic grows into an annual tradition with more and more Chinese American families joining each summer, culminating in the sisters’ dream come true. Written and illustrated by two Chinese American sisters, this picture book is based on true events.
Pictures from Our Vacation written and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins
When their family sets off on a cross-country trip, two siblings capture memories with instant cameras and notebooks. But everything seems to go wrong — from dusty, old accommodations to rain to getting lost to even more rain. Only when the family gathers at a great-aunt’s memorial service do the vacation memories become special. This is a wonderful story of a family’s summer road trip. Author/Illustrator Lynne Rae Perkins won a Newbery Medal for a previous middle grade novel, Criss Cross.
Tar Beach, winner of Coretta Scott King and Caldecott Honors, originated as the first in a series of quilt paintings at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. In its book form, 8-year old Cassie Louise Lightfoot’s family spends evenings on Tar Beach, the rooftop of their Harlem apartment building. Here, the stars lift Cassie to fly over the city. She claims everything below her, getting everything she wants for herself and her family. While also touching on social inequality issues, this book will satisfy kids who enjoy the magic of flight and dreams coming true.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Stephen Gammell
When the relatives come (and a lot of them), they fill the house with laughter, hugs, and love. It’s different with them around. They are everywhere, they eat all the food, and they stay for weeks. Despite the drawbacks, the warmth and joy of this family reunion emanate throughout the text and color pencil illustrations, making this a wonderful read for anyone expecting visitors this summer.
This wordless, panoramic picture book perfectly captures a young girl’s day at the beach. She plays with the ocean as if it were a living being. They perform a silent back and forth dance — chasing, taunting, and splashing each other with the result being a friendship that will surely be revisited another day.
When a Dragon Moves In by Jodi Moore; illustrated by Howard McWilliams
When a boy builds the perfect sandcastle at the beach, a dragon moves in. At first, hanging out with the dragon is awesome. But then the dragon starts causing problems — or does he? Bright, playful illustrations keep you guessing as to whether the dragon is real or a figment of the boy’s imagination. This cleverly-written and illustrated book is a fun lead-in to summer.
Margaret Greanias (email@example.com) is an aspiring children’s picture book author. She has two young children and lives in Los Altos.