Summer is here and we want to help you load up your bookshelves, because what better way to spend your time than stretching out in the sun with a glass of cold lemonade and escaping into a new adventure?
Here is a list of our favorite books for kids, from picture books to read-alouds, road-trip books to illustrated non-fiction. We've also included some of our top grown-up reads for you to enjoy at the end. And you can keep track of all this summer reading you'll be up to with our free 2022 Reading Printables.
ALL FROM A WALNUT by Ammi-Joan Paquette
Emelia and her grandfather have a special connection. It starts with a small walnut that grows into a large tree. An important story about the meaning of life and the reminder that small things can become great things and our relationships continue to have meaning.
BIG AND SMALL AND IN-BETWEEN by Carter Higgins
From big things like the sun and it's shine, to small things like a raindrop plip in a puddle for a butterfly to sip and all the things in between. This book causes you to pause and take notice of the world around you in all the best ways.
SOMETHING GOOD by Marcy Campbell
When someone writes something bad on the wall at school, all the emotions are felt by the children. Everything feels a little different now. It takes a lot of talking and working to turn something bad into something good as they all come together to heal. A poignant approach to something we all feel these days. Illustrated by one of our favorites, Corrina Luyken!
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS by Dena Seiferling
On the edge of a swamp, a few dreary flowers droop until one day the gift of a baby bumblebee arrives. With new purpose, the flowers perk up and cheerfully give all their love - and their messages of encouragement - to the little bee. But when she is older, will the tiny bumblebee heed her caretakers or break the rule to never leave the meadow? A lesson on the wonders that finding your purpose and choosing words of kindness can bring.
TEN BEAUTIFUL THINGS by Molly Beth Griffin
Lily is traveling across the midwest to her grandmother's home in Iowa. Things are hard, scary, and a little depressing for Lily. Her grandma suggests that they find ten beautiful things on their drive. A beautiful book about changing your perspective and finding gratitude even in the hardest of situations.
A GIFT FOR NANA by Lane Smith
Don't you just love Lane Smith? He's one of my favorites. His new book just came out in May 2022 and it is just as wonderful as his others. In it, a bunny is searching for the perfect gift to give to his grandma. He travels all over the world only searching, but his grandma already has so much. When he gets back home he realizes that the perfect gift was right there all along. This sweet tale highlights all the best things about a grandparent/grandchild relationship.
TEN LITTLE DUMPLINGS by Larissa Fan
Inspired by the author's father's family, this is the story of 10 brothers, or 10 little dumplings, who seemed to have all the luck. But take a closer look and you'll see that there is also a sister in the mix who makes her own way. The illustrations are delightful.
THE TREASURE BOX by Dave Keane
If you've read and loved The Remember Balloons then you are going to love this beautifully illustrated book about a little girl that loves collecting treasures with her grandpa. It is one of her favorite things to do. When her grandpa gets sick and dies, she has a hard time opening the treasure box. But her grandma steps in and helps her carry on the tradition and keep the memories alive.
THE WORLD BELONGED TO US by Jacqueline Woodson
Jacqueline Woodson does it again with this new book she describes as being "a celebration of summer, of being part of a community and the freedom of being a kid." The illustrations have a 70s feel to them and we think you're going to love it.
PIERRE THE MAZE DETECTIVE by Hiro Kamigaki
The legendary maze egg is missing and Pierre and Carmen are determined to find it and return it to its rightful place. But they need your help! Can you help them weave their way through the mazes and find hidden clues within the city?
NATIONAL PARKS of the USA by Kate Siber
An illustrated tour of the breathtaking and varied national parks of the United States of America. Discover nature and encourage outdoor exploration as you pore through maps and learn interesting facts about local wildlife. A great addition to your home reference library.
IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY by Rachel Piercy
A sweet, rhyming picture book with detailed illustrations that double as a seek-and-find. Can you find bluebells pushing up their heads? Four woodpecker chicks listening in from home? Or bunnies piled onto a sled?
NATURE ANATOMY by Julia Rothman
An illustrated guide to nature. Julia Rothman's detailed illustrations bring the wild to life right at your fingertips. Inside you'll find pages full of geodes and minerals, fossils, weather, animals, insects, trees, flowers, and so much more, paired with interesting facts and labels. Easy to carry with you on nature adventures and equally as beautiful sitting on the coffee table, this book is one that is fun for all ages.
THE SECRET SIGNS OF NATURE by Craig Caudill
A handbook for discovering how to see hidden clues in the sky, water, plants, animals, and weather. Each beautifully illustrated spread poses a challenge - look up at the clouds to predict a thunderstorm, observe a rainbow to decipher its message, etc. - and shares bite-size bits of information to help children (and their adults) see and understand what the world is trying to tell them.
THE HONEYBEE by Kristen Hall
Follow honeybees from one spring to the next, learning about what life is like as a bee. Non-fiction that reads like a story. Brilliantly colored illustrations.
OCEAN ANATOMY by Julia Rothman
A book for beach lovers. Julia Rothman's detailed illustrations bring the wonders of the ocean to life. Inside you'll find pages full of interesting facts, from types of crabs to the life cycle of a jellyfish; the difference between galciers and icebergs; and what you'll find in tide pools and tidal zones. Engaging non-fiction to bring to the beach (or make it feel as if the beach has come to you).
SHARKS: A MIGHTY BITE-Y HISTORY by Miriam Forster
Does anyone watch Shark Week around here? It seems like it is always on right before we go to the beach. This is an over-sized reference book with beautiful illustrations and a history of sharks and their predecessors. I think my 9-year-old is going to eat this one right up (pun intended).
SEACROW ISLAND by Astrid Lindgren
The Melkerson family rents a home on a small Swedish isle for the summer. Their days are full of funny antics, endearing encounters, sun-drenched meadows, and a faithful dog. This is what everyone dreams of childhood summers looking like. If you love Pippi Longstocking, you'll love this work of Astrid Lindgren, too.
A PLACE TO HANG THE MOON by Kate Albus
William, Edmund, and Anna have suddenly become orphaned and displaced from their home during the London blitz. Trying to find a new home amongst different challenges, they make friends with the local librarian. This is a heartwarming story about what families can look like in the hardest of times. If you liked The War that Saved My Life or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, pick this one up.
ONCE UPON A CAMEL by Kathi Appelt
Based on the true story of how the US Army imported camels to help build the railway in Texas, this delightful read aloud is told from the perspective of Zada, a camel who has taken it upon herself to save two abandoned kestrels from a sandstorm. Story-telling and hilarity ensue. For fans of The One and Only Ivan.
SKUNK AND BADGER by Amy Timberlake
A fresh, uplifting, and hilarious odd-couple series reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh and Frog and Toad. This is one of our all-time favorite read-alouds. No one wants a skunk. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it. Everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens? If you like this, find the sequel here.
ECHO MOUNTAIN by Lauren Wolk
After losing nearly everything in the Great Depression, Ellie's family must move to Echo Mountain and start over. Things are hopeful until an accident pulls Ellie's dad into a coma...and it looks like it's her fault. She heads off in search of "the hag" who might be able to cure her father and set things right again. A story about discovering who you are and how to be true to yourself.
WAR IS OVER by David Almond
Set during WWI, John's father is off fighting and his mother works in a munitions factory. John grapples with trying to figure out what war really means, and discovers that maybe he and the opposing side's children aren't all that much different. Beautifully illustrated by David Litchfield, the pictures tell much of the story. This is particularly important for things that are going on in our current events. A quick read but well worth it.
PONY by R. J. Palacio
The bestselling author of Wonder returns with an enthralling adventure about a boy on a quest to rescue his father, with only a ghost as his companion and a mysterious pony as his guide.
R. J. Palacio spins a harrowing yet distinctly beautiful coming-of-age story about the power of love and the ties that bind us across distance and time. This is one of those rare books poised to become an instant classic for readers of all ages.
THE MAID by Nita Prose
Molly Gray is different than your usual hotel maid. She struggles with social skills and can't quite read cues. She loves being a maid and could not be happier in her job, until a murder happens on her watch and her world is turned upside down. She is under investigation and must figure out how to solve the mystery in order to avoid a life in prison. An enjoyable cozy mystery that's also perfect for the pool.
BREATHLESS by Amy McCulloch
There is something about mountaineering that is just so fascinating to me. I also love a good thriller. Both of these things come together in this new release by Amy McCulloch. Journalist Cecily Wong is on an expedition with one of the most famous mountaineers in the world, and he is willing to give her the interview of a lifetime...as long as she can summit Manaslu, the eighth highest mountain. As she starts her journey, disaster after disaster happens. Are they connected somehow? She is trying to figure that out. Everything is not always as it seems. Run and pick this one up! You'll fly through it!
LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus
For the lovers of Eleanor Oliphant and The Maid, I highly suggest this new release. Set in the 1960s, Elizabeth Zott is trying to make her way in the world as a chemist. Unfortunately, being a woman, there are hurdles galore. She finds herself single, with a daughter to raise, and doors slamming in her face in the professional world. She is cast on a cooking show and the nation can't stop watching this quirky, new chemist/chef. Elizabeth is a one-of-a-kind protagonist and this is a book you won't want to put down.
I MUST BETRAY YOU by Ruta Sepetys
Set in Romania, 1989, this is a new novel by one of my favorite authors, Ruta Sepetys. Nicolae Ceausescu is the dictator of Romania during this time and rules by fear. Cristian is a citizen of the Romania and must choose between becoming an informer and betraying his friends and family, or using his position and friendship as a way to stand up and fight in the revolution. This is not something I knew a lot about, though it happened during my lifetime. A must-read, especially during our particular world climate.
A MONSTER CALLS by Patrick Ness
If I had to pick my all-time favorite book, this would for sure be in the running. This is a poignant view into grief, and all the guilt, fear and other emotions that come with it. Conor's mom is dying. He is dealing with that, and, in addition, a monster shows up in his backyard and keeps disrupting his life. All the monster wants is the truth. But can Conor let the truth be known? This book is absolutely beautifully done. The illustrations add so much to the story. I don't often cry in books but I bawled like a baby during the last couple chapters of this book. Don't forget the tissues with this one.
STARFISH by Lisa Fipps
Written in verse, this story brings to light body issues that are so prevalent in our society. Ellie has been bullied about her body since she was five, including by her mother. She finds solace in the pool where she feels weightless and can be whatever she wants. Through the help of her dad, therapist and a special neighbor, she learns how to break through societal norms and enjoy life as she is meant to be.
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