Get book recommendations, tips & advice, and more tailored to your child's age.

Thank You!

The perfect book picks are on their way.

You're all set!

Pre-K

Growing Reader

Feel-Good Picture Books for the Warm Days of Summer

by Jennifer Garry

summery-books-feat
Background credit: Trairong Praditsan/Shutterstock

With bookbags retiring to closets, schedules getting tossed out the window, and the summer sun soaking everything in a magical glow, it’s time to turn our attention to books that fit the mood. Feel-good, nature-drenched, easy-breezy tales are at the very top of my family’s to-be-read list this season.

These 15 picture books are exactly what you and your little readers need to get into that summertime groove.

  • The Sandcastle That Lola Built

    by Megan Maynor, illustrated by Kate Berube

    Also available from:

    This funny and modern take on The House that Jack Built is sure to make your whole family want to pack up and head to the beach. Lola is building a dreamy sandcastle and has visions of mermaids moving in. But the beach is crowded, and her sandcastle falls again and again. Undaunted, Lola recruits the responsible parties to help out, and her sandcastle (and circle of friends) gets bigger and bigger — until a wave crashes in. Will the sandcastle — and Lola’s cheerful can-do attitude — recover? With messages of cooperation and perseverance, this book is sure to become a favorite.

    Also available from:
  • Llama Llama Loves Camping

    by Anna Dewdney

    Also available from:

    Llama Llama and his friends are off on another adventure, and this time they are going camping. Everyone is excited about their trip, but also a little nervous to sleep overnight in the woods. They soon learn that even if something seems scary at first, it can actually be really fun! This book is perfect for first-time campers tackling their fears right alongside Llama Llama.

    Also available from:
  • It Began with Lemonade

    by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Lian Cho

    Also available from:

    Is there anything better than an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a scorching hot summer day? The young girl in this picture book doesn't think so. After slicing, squeezing, and stirring lemons, she's ready to open her lemonade stand. But the sidewalk is already crammed with other stands. Determined, the girl sets off toward the countryside, finding some pretty unexpected customers by a river. Cho's lush cartoon illustrations are full of playful details, adding to the charm of this delightful story.

    Also available from:
  • Finding Wild

    by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

    Also available from:

    Two city kids step off the subway and into a wonder-filled nature adventure in this delightful story. Lyrical prose and gorgeous watercolor illustrations envelop you in natural beauty, reminding readers young and old that you can find a little bit of wild just about anywhere. Guaranteed to spark curiosity and an itch to explore, this book is perfect for a wide-open summer afternoon.

    Also available from:
  • Just Grandma and Me (Little Critter)

    by Mercer Mayer

    Also available from:

    Sand, sun, and fun — Little Critter and his grandma are ready for the beach! Little Critter gets himself into all sorts of misadventures throughout the day, but through it, all his grandma is so patient and loving. Full of humor and heart, this feel-good picture book is perfect for kids to share with their own grandmothers.

    Also available from:
  • The Night Is Yours

    by Abdul-Razak Zachariah, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo

    Also available from:

    This story, narrated by a father, takes place one hot summer’s night as a group of friends play hide-and-seek by moonlight outside of their apartment complex. Amani and the moon seem to work together to find her hiding friends and the moon’s glow spotlights Amani’s beauty and strength. An ode to the fun and freedom found during summer nights, this story also celebrates community and self-confidence.

    Also available from:
  • The Night Before Summer Vacation

    by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Julie Durrell

    Also available from:

    There sure is a lot of packing to do before a family trip! The little girl in this story is thinking about all of the things she might need to have a great summer — her bike, snorkel, supplies to make s’mores, and more. But in all the excitement, will she forget something important? This funny and relatable book is an excellent read to prep kids for their own summer getaways.

    Also available from:
  • Sun

    by Sam Usher

    Also available from:

    It’s the hottest day of the year — the perfect time for a boy and his grandpa to embark on a picnic adventure. With the sun beating down, Granddad keeps suggesting they stop for a rest on their quest for the perfect spot to eat. But when they finally arrive, pirates have discovered the spot first! Beautifully illustrated and brimming with imagination, this book is the summery companion to Snow, Rain, and Storm.

    Also available from:
  • The Snail and the Whale

    by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

    Also available from:

    When a tiny snail who longs to travel meets a giant humpback whale, the two set off on an adventure around the world. The friends see icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and storms. But when the whale accidentally swims too close to the shore, it is the snail who will save the day. From the creators of The Gruffalo, kids are sure to giggle through this delightful tail — er, tale!

    Also available from:
  • And Then Comes Summer

    by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Jaime Kim

    Also available from:

    This positively delightful, nostalgic book is an ode to summer, from a child’s joyful anticipation of the last day of school to all the sweaty, sticky, glorious moments that follow. A celebration of the season that will engage all your senses, this is the perfect read for “when the days stretch out like a slow yawn.” (I’m feeling dozy already.)

    Also available from:
  • The Night Before the Fourth of July

    by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer

    Also available from:

    Who doesn’t love the Fourth of July? All across the country, people celebrate with friends and family at backyard barbeques, parades, and of course, watching fireworks shows. The Night Before the Fourth of July captures all of the fun and excitement that this holiday has to offer.

    Also available from:
  • How to Code a Sandcastle

    by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios

    Also available from:

    It’s the last day of summer vacation, and Pearl really wants to finish the sandcastle she’s been working on all season. She decides to join forces with her robot friend, Pascal, and use computer coding to break the project down into smaller, more manageable steps. Combining humor, sun-filled illustrations, and introductory coding concepts, this book from the nonprofit group Girls Who Code celebrates the joys of summer while teaching kids a little something in the process.

    Also available from:
  • Hello, World! Ocean Life

    by Jill McDonald

    Also available from:

    Hello, World! Ocean Life is a perfect introduction for kids to the ocean and all of the animals and plants that live there. With bright, eye-catching illustrations, little ocean explorers will love pretending to swim with the playful dolphins, counting the octopus’ eight legs, and more. Soon they’ll want to go splashing in the waves themselves!

    Also available from:
  • The Golden Glow

    by Benjamin Flouw

    Also available from:

    Fox loves nature, and he loves looking through his botany books. One night, he discovers a rare flower from the Wellhidden family that only grows high in the mountains, and he decides to search for it. Come morning, he heads to the woods on a grand hike, observing many different trees and plants and meeting friends who help him make it to the top. A blend of fiction and nonfiction elements, this book joyously celebrates the natural world.

    Also available from:
  • Goldfish on Vacation

    by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

    Also available from:

    What seems like a pretty boring summer vacation quickly becomes exciting when an unkept fountain in New York City is fixed up and turned into a goldfish pond. The entire community comes together to bring their goldfish for a little vacation and listen to stories about the olden days. With bright retro-style illustrations and a sweet storyline based on true events, this book will draw in young and old readers alike.

    Also available from:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2019 and updated in 2021.