Summer is all about adventure, and we can always go on adventures inside books. We’ve compiled our Top Summer Book Picks and suggested an activity to go along with each one.
Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
My absolute favourite. A classic story of one summer on an island in Maine.
Activity: Make a paper boat and take it on an adventure. Here’s a tutorial for an easy origami boat.
The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
A beautiful story of a little island and all the things that grow and live (and visit!) there.
Activity: Draw your own little island. What would grow there? Who would live there? What things would you bring there?
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
A tender tale of a boy who overcomes his fears with the help of his dad.
Activity: Have fun with water by making these sponge toys.
A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry, illustrated by Marc Simont
A Caldecott Medal winner that celebrates the everyday beauty of trees.
Activity: Find a tree to hug! Then notice all the beautiful parts of the tree.You could draw the tree and find out its name. If you find an acorn, plant it in a pot and see what happens…
The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Learn the real story of John James Audubon and some fun facts about birds.
Activity: Go outside and find some birds. Observe them and draw them. See if you can recognize them the next time you see them.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
This Caldecott Honor Book follows Sal and her mom as they pick blueberries.
Activity: Eat some blueberries!
Tim to the Lighthouse by Edward Ardizzone
All of Little Tim’s adventures are so fun for summer reading. This one follows Little Tim as he sets out to fix the lighthouse and find out why it went dark.
Activity: Draw your own lighthouse or make one from plastic cups! Then you could make up a story about your lighthouse. Does someone live there? Who takes care of it? Are there boats nearby?
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
This multiple award-winning book is filled with adventure and will help you see the beauty in the world around you, in the everyday sights and sounds.
Activity: Write or draw three beautiful things you notice during your day. If you do this every day, you’ll soon find you can’t stop!
The Day the Babies Crawled Away by Peggy Rathmann
These babies will keep you on your toes as you follow their adventure after sneaking away from a pie-eating contest.
Activity: Make a pie with someone you love.
When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie LB Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
Watch what happens when a girl gets a lemon tree for her birthday (instead of all the things she really hoped for).
Activity: Make lemonade — there’s even a recipe in the book.
The Complete Nonsense of Edward Lear by Edward Lear
Read these hilarious and exuberant poems that inspired me to be a writer.
Activity: Write some of your own limericks and illustrate them and then recite them to people. Remember: it can be very, very silly and not even make sense. (This activity is tested in real life: It’s exactly what I loved to do as a 7-year-old.)
The Listening Walk by Paul Showers, illustrated by Aliki
A beautiful book that will remind you to take notice of all the wonders around you.
Activity: Go on a listening walk. The book will teach you how.
How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
A brilliant manual on how to read a book and how to enjoy it “piece by piece, part by part.”
Activity: Read a book, of course!
Look! I Wrote a Book! (And You Can Too!) By Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Neal Layton
If we’ve learned to read a book, now we must learn to write one! This hilarious book will tell you how.
Activity: Write a book! Obviously!
Seek and Find Around the World
Travel the world without leaving your home, and find hidden people, animals, and objects on each page.
Activity: Seek and Find throughout the book, then play seek and find wherever you are — in a car, in your home, outside.
Vacation Fun Mad Libs
The classic, hilarious word game filled with entries all about vacation (perfect for road trips!).
Activity: Mad Libs, of course!
Nature Journal for Little Explorers by Monkey & Bean Book Company
Record details of your daily discoveries, and follow guided prompts to record weather, samples, and descriptions of the world around you.
Activity: Go on a nature walk, and fill in your journal.
And if I may, I’ll share two more of my own that I just love for summer:
Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Leo Espinosa
The ultimate summer adventure book. Three children are stuck at home and bored (sound familiar?) but find a fabulous adventure right on their doorstep.
Activity: Make a goldfish out of a paper plate. Imagine what kind of vacation your goldfish would take. Write a story about it if you’d like.
Baby Wren and the Great Gift by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jen Corace
A tiny wren in an enormous canyon marvels at the wildlife around her and finds her unique gift.
Activity: Sing a song. You could even make one up. It could be about the things you love, or what you see, or what you’re grateful for—or anything at all!
Poor Doreen by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
The story of a traveling fish and her unlikely and hilarious journey upstream.
Activity: Color Doreen! Here’s a free coloring page for you.
Happy Summer Adventuring!