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!

Baby & Toddler

The Best Summery Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

by Keith Rice

summer-board-books
Photography by Seana Williamson

There’s nothing quite like spending summer days with your little one. It’s the perfect time for sun-drenched walks, afternoons in the park, and lazy days basking in that summer sunshine. With thoughts turning to games and beach trips, ice cream and picnics, it’s also the perfect time to start introducing your baby to all the joys this particular season has to offer. I’ve rounded up our favorite board books to while away those sunny days with your littlest soon-to-be reader.

  • Llama Llama Sand and Sun

    by Anna Dewdney

    Also available from:

    Summers are for spending time at the beach! With this touch-and-feel book, your baby joins Llama Llama and Mama Llama for a day of seaside adventure, splashing in the waves and building sandcastles. The bright illustrations and tactile touches are a great way to keep babies entertained.

    Also available from:
  • Hello, World! Garden Time

    by Jill McDonald

    Also available from:

    One of my favorite parts about summer is the amazing produce that comes into season (corn, tomatoes, strawberries, oh my!). Introduce your little one to the magic of gardening with Hello, World! Garden Time, where they’ll learn how the fruits and vegetables we eat come from tiny seeds we plant in the garden. And don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hello, World! series to keep your toddler learning all year round.

    Also available from:
  • The Smell of a Rainbow

    by Dawn Goldworm

    Also available from:

    It's always a delight when a dazzling rainbow follows a summer sunshower. Imagine that you could also smell that rainbow, as world-famous perfume designer Dawn Goldworm did with this wildly inventive scented board book. With seven new scents — one for each color of the rainbow — this bright and whimsical book offers a unique and surprising way for little ones to follow their nose and learn about colors.

    Also available from:
  • Is it Warm Enough for Ice Cream?

    by DK

    Also available from:

    This is perhaps the most important question of the season: Is it warm enough for ice cream? This board book is a highly visual and basic introduction to the seasonal change. It’s an excellent way to begin teaching your little reader that with the changing seasons comes new and fun activities to try. Ice cream, of course, is at the top of the list.

    Also available from:
  • Spot Goes to the Beach

    by Eric Hill

    Also available from:

    Everyone loves Spot, and now the tail-wagging yellow puppy is ready for his day in the sun. This isn’t just any beach trip, though — today, Spot’s going to learn how to surf! Babies will love following along with Spot and his new friends, including a gutsy penguin.

    Also available from:
  • Maisy Goes Swimming

    by Lucy Cousins

    I love this re-issued edition of one of Lucy Cousins’s first Maisy books, and your pool-loving young readers will enjoy recognizing the sights and sounds of their favorite summer hangout. Featuring lift-the-flaps and lessons on colors, directions, and more, it’s a summer board book essential.

  • Boat Book

    by Gail Gibbons

    Also available from:

    Gail Gibbons has a great series on all sorts of transportation, and Boat Book introduces babies to a whole fleet of floating vehicles. From little tugboats to underwater submarines to classic canoes, beginning readers will learn that boats come in all shapes and sizes, and serve us well for work and play.

    Also available from:
  • Pop-up Peekaboo: Under the Sea

    by DK

    Also available from:

    This bright and colorful pop-up book is a charming and wonderful way to introduce your little book lover to the ocean and all the creatures that live there. From Diving Dolphin to Stripy Fish, there are a host of colorful sea creatures waiting to surprise and delight your baby under each flap. The rhyming structure is also an ideal way to support those developing language skills.

    Also available from:
  • A Ball for Daisy

    by Chris Raschka

    Also available from:

    This winner of the 2012 Caldecott Medal is the perfect way to help your toddler learn to cope with the loss of something special. Told through Raschka’s engaging, impressionistic illustrations, the bittersweet story of what happens when Daisy’s favorite toy pops teaches little ones a valuable lesson and is perfectly suited for long, play-filled days of summer.

    Also available from:
  • Duck, Duck, Goose

    by Tad Hills

    Also available from:

    This new board book edition of a beloved contemporary classic is a sweet tale of friendship and understanding. It sees Duck and Goose overcoming the first real trial of their feathered friendship when a new duck named Thistle arrives in their lives. The bright, colorful illustrations are a lovely addition to a charming story of camaraderie and summer fun.

    Also available from:
  • Colors with Ladybug

    by DK

    Also available from:

    Summer is a time of vibrant, bright colors. Colors with Ladybug is a delightful and tactile adventure sure to spark your child’s imagination. Written in rhyming verse perfect for a read-aloud session, we follow the journey of a little ladybug as she discovers magical flowers and learns colors with her animal friends.

    Also available from:
  • Dr. Seuss's Summer Things

    by Dr. Seuss

    Also available from:

    Follow Dr. Seuss’s Thing One and Thing Two to the shore for summer fun! Readers will love watching these beloved characters as they swim, float, boat, and more. This book is perfect for getting kids excited about a trip to the beach, or a fun way to celebrate everything the season offers.

    Also available from:
  • Red Wagon

    by Renata Liwska

    Also available from:

    Renata Liwska’s lively artwork is the star of this wonderfully imaginative tale for the youngest of readers. Lucy only wants to play with her brand-new red wagon, but her mother has chores for her to do. Fortunately, Lucy discovers that with her new wagon and a little imagination, anything is possible and fun can be had anywhere — a perfect lesson for all those summer playtime sessions.

    Also available from:
  • The Very Lonely Firefly

    by Eric Carle

    Also available from:

    This board book is an innovative and creative tale starring one of summer’s most magical creatures: the firefly. A lonely firefly goes searching for other fireflies, only to find all manner of other glowing things in the darkness. Beautifully illustrated and with a perfect read-along cadence, this one has a surprise at the end that’s sure to light up your little one’s face.

    Also available from:
  • Hello Zoo

    by Nicola Slater

    Also available from:

    Perfect for family trips to the zoo, this lift-the-flaps AND touch-and-feel board book is easy to tote along on fun summer days. Your little one can compare the vibrant animal pictures to the real-life animals all around and grow their vocabulary with foundational words.

    Also available from:
  • Everything Grows

    by Raffi, illustrated by Nina Mata

    Also available from:

    Raffi’s beloved song takes on new life in this beautifully illustrated board book that celebrates the earth. When a family goes to the local community garden, they marvel at how each plant and creature is connected. Whether your summer plans include hikes, walks at the local park, or a long car ride, this book is an excellent jumping-off point for your own adventures!

    Also available from:

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2022.