Flip flop into fun with summer books for kids

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Sunny days, warm breezes and long stretches of free time — summer is a magical time for kids. It’s also the perfect time to cultivate a love of reading. That’s why we’ve looked into the best summer books for kids.

A woman is reading a book to her children in a park.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

With longer stretches of free time, summer is a great time for children to get lost in the pages of a book. Whether your child is a beach bum, an adventurous explorer or a gamer, there’s the perfect summer read waiting to be discovered. Grab a comfy hammock, pack a picnic basket or cozy up in a corner and get lost in the pages of summer book with your child. 

Board books for children 3 and under

Young children under three love being read to, and seasonal books make storytime more fun. The books on this list will help get kids excited for summer through interactive literature.

“Pop up Peekaboo: Under the Sea” by DK

Stripy Fish searches for her friends in this underwater adventure. Young children can search for underwater animals by lifting the flaps, which helps build fine motor skills. The rhythmic text also helps develop language skills. 

“Baby loves summer” by Karen Katz

This simple text asks questions that can be answered by lifting the flaps. Have your child guess what will be under the flaps. The vibrant colors and patterns keep little ones engaged in this story about summer

A mother and child reading a book in the grass.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s First Summer” by Eric Carle

Through classic Eric Carle illustrations, this book explores summer through the senses. Young children learn about noisy bugs, feeling the warm sun and tasting lemonade, ice cream and watermelon at a picnic. 

“My 3-year-old girl is obsessed with ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar.’ She giggles every time at how much the caterpillar eats through different foods and still stays hungry. When reading the book, we always talk about summer and how fruits ripen and become sweet when it’s hot.”

— Tamara, Thriving In Parenting

“Backyard Bugs” by Little Hippo Books

This touch-and-feel textured book adds a sensory experience to reading for little ones. Through rhyming text and questions, children will learn fun facts about the insects they may encounter in their own backyard.

“Big Fish, Little Fish” by Jonathon Litton and Fhiona Galloway

Travel through the ocean and learn about opposites in this colorful interactive book for small children. Each page features a finger-hole for kids to use to help turn the page. The holes get smaller as you go through the book, which adds to the fun. 

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Stories for preschoolers

Preschoolers love being read to and joining in on the story. Have them repeat lines after you or do motions to go with the story to make it more interactive. These summer books for kids are perfect for kids ages 3 to 5.

“The Sandcastle that Lola Built” by Megan Maynor and Kate Berube

This book is a modern spin on “The House that Jack Built” and is about a little girl building a sandcastle and working with others to rebuild when things go wrong. The sandcastle grows as other kids join in to help Lola make her castle even better.

“Hot Dog” by Doug Salati

In this 2023 Caldecott Medal-winning book, a hot dog has had enough of the city and plops down in the middle of the crosswalk. His owner hails a taxi, takes a train and heads to the beach to get her dog the fresh air he needs. With few words and clever illustrations, kids will love this story.

A woman is reading a book to her children on a couch.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

“The Backyard Bug Book for Kids” by Lauren Davidson

A friendly caterpillar introduces young children to bugs they may encounter in their backyards. Full-color photographs and interesting facts keep young children engaged throughout the story. 

“Summer in the Forest” by Rusty Finch and Katya Longhi

Young children will learn all about summer in the forest as they follow a mama bear and her cubs through the woods, climbing trees, eating blueberries and playing in the pond. Children will love lifting the flaps and enjoy the pop-ups in this interactive book.

“The Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean” by Catherine D. Hughes

With more than 100 colorful animal photographs, this book gives children an introduction to ocean life. It is filled with facts about the homes, sizes and diets of various ocean creatures.

Summer books for kids 6 to 8

Children in early elementary school can often read independently but also enjoy being read to. These summer books for kids are great for both reading aloud and on their own.

“Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer” by Megan McDonald and Peter H. Reynolds

Judy thinks summer is going to be boring because her parents are leaving her with her awful aunt, and her friends will be out of town, too. But Judy comes up with a plan to make her summer exciting, which involves a treasure hunt, a midnight stakeout, a runaway ice cream truck and more. This chapter book will keep young readers engaged throughout. A movie was also made that follows the book closely so kids can compare and contrast the two.

“The Night Before Summer Camp” by Natasha Wing and Mindy Pierce

Like the other books in this series, this book follows the pattern of the famous poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and is told through rhyme. A young camper is nervous and doesn’t know what to expect at day camp, but his friend reassures him that the best cure for anxiety is to have fun.

Three children sitting on the grass reading a book.
Photo credit: Yayimages.

“Summer According to Humphrey” by Betty G. Birney

Humphrey, the classroom hamster, hears that school is ending, and he’s not sure what he’s supposed to do. He soon finds out that the teacher is going to take him to camp with her and many of the kids from her class. Follow Humphrey on his adventure to camp as he learns all the sights, sounds and smells of the woods. 

“Amelia Bedelia Makes a Splash” by Herman Parish and Lynne Avril

Amelia Bedelia had her summer planned but then found out that her mother signed her up to attend the same all-girls summer camp her mom attended when she was a little girl. The camp is in disrepair, but Amelia Bedelia figures out how to make the most of it in this humorous story.

“Out in the Wild! : A Graphix Chapters Book (Bug Scouts #1)” by Mike Lowery

Doug and Abby love Bug Scouts and everything about it, including badges, scout gear and snacks. However, Josh is grumpy and doesn’t like anything but snacktime. In this book, they are working on their foraging badge and must work together to find something to eat in the woods. It is full of puns and kid-friendly artwork that will keep kids engaged.

Final thoughts

Reading can spark creativity, improve focus and strengthen the bond between a child and their caregiver. This list of summer books for kids will help you get started. Look for these titles at your local library, favorite bookstore or online. 

Heidi is a Certified Elementary School Teacher in the Inland Northwest and has been teaching for 17 years. She is also a vintage recipe blogger at RealLifeofLulu.com, where she focuses on recipes that are at least 50 years old, many from her grandparents’ kitchens. When she isn’t teaching or baking, she loves spending time with her husband and three kids.

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