Summer Stories: Engaging Children’s Books to Capture the Essence of the Season

Reading recommendations from our own Dr. Alice Mar

Ah, summer! Time to laze by the pool. Time to savor an ice cream cone. Time to go on a long road trip and watch the world go by out the window. And time to read great books. Try these books that conjure up all the feelings of summer with your kids as a start. 

The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson perfectly conveys the feeling of freedom that summer brings to kids. A group of urban kids celebrate the long days of doing whatever they want on the last day of school as they look forward to the long summer ahead. 

Cannonball by Sacha Cotter tell the story of a young Maori boy in New Zealand who dreams of doing the perfect cannonball. He is scared and gets advice from many people, including his grandmother. In the end, he succeeds by doing a cannonball his own way. Kids will identify with the main storyline that is common to all cultures but it’s also a fun look at a culture that is very different from our own. Maori words sprinkled in the text are defined at the end. If you have a reluctant swimmer or diver they may also enjoy the classic Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. 

Pool by Jiheyon Lee is a beautiful and unusual book about a shy boy at a swimming pool. The story is told wordlessly as he meets a friend and they swim together. The whimsical illustrations shows a magical world under the water as they swim together. 

If visiting the woods is more your kid’s thing more than going to the pool, they may enjoy A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen. Mr. Magee and his dog Dee go camping but run into all kinds of crazy adventures like an encounter with a marshmallow loving bear and an almost trip over a waterfall. Kids will love Van Dusen’s trademark colorful retro-futuristic illustrations and rhyming text. 

Two kids are given disposable cameras by their Mom at the beginning of their vacation in Pictures from our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins. Most of their photos only show part of the story but the text accompanying fills in the details of their family road trip to visit extended family at an old homestead. 

For older elementary school kids, the graphic novel Camp by Kayla Miller tells the story of a young girl going to sleep-away camp for the first time. The story of two friends, one who wants to meet new people and one who only wants to hang out as a pair is also relatable to young tweens navigating friendships. 

Lumberjanes by N. D. Stevenson is a different twist on the traditional camp story. Great for upper elementary school kids and older, this graphic novel features five girls at a camp that band together to fight monsters, solve mysteries and save the world. The first in a series, these books can provide enjoyment all summer long. 

A fantastic chapter book, One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, tells the story of three sisters in 1968 who go to visit their mother in California. They have been living with their grandmother since their mother left them seven years earlier to go and live a new life. When they arrive, she doesn’t seem excited to see them and feeds them take-out Chinese food and enrolls them in a day camp run by the Black. Panthers. The story illuminates a time in history well but also is very much about the sisters’ relationships with each other and with their mother. 

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen tells the story of a 12 year old boy who is gifted a lawn mower and sets out to start a business mowing lawns. Things quickly spiral out of control making for a funny read.