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

The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Kids Ages 3 – 5

by Rosemary D'Urso

Photography by Seana Williamson

Whether it’s basking in the sun on the beach, relaxing in the shade at the playground, or cuddling at home during an afternoon storm, books are the perfect addition to any summer activity! We’ve rounded up 20 stories that will have kids laughing, learning, and begging to read them again and again. You’ll find tales celebrating the essence of summer, books capturing the love between family members, and silly stories with social-emotional themes. There is a little something for everyone.

Prepare to break out the sunscreen and lemonade for a summer of fun with these standout stories!

  • Hot Dog

    by Doug Salati

    Also available from:

    This feel-good book opens up on a stifling day in a city. An adorable dachshund can’t take the heat for one more minute and demands a vacation. Several joyful spreads feature the dog’s ears blowing in the wind as he and his owner take a ferry to an island where he can roam the beaches. With simple but descriptive language, this carefree story encapsulates the necessity and pleasure of summer vacation.

    Also available from:
  • I Don’t Want to Read This Book

    by Max Greenfield, illustrated by Mike Lowery

    Also available from:

    This hilarious story is perfect for reluctant readers and book lovers alike! Many children will find a kindred spirit in the unseen narrator, who comically describes his reading challenges. With its engaging illustrations and side-splitting text, this book is irresistible.

    Also available from:
  • Anansi and the Golden Pot

    by Taiye Selasi, illustrated by Tinuke Fagborun

    Also available from:

    My kids love the West African trickster tales of Anansi the Spider, so they were eager to read this modern retelling. A young boy named Kweku, who earns the nickname Anansi for his mischievous ways, meets the real Anansi during a trip to Ghana. When Anansi presents Kweku with a pot that will magically refill its contents, Kweku indulges in his favorite food until he learns an important lesson in generosity.

    Also available from:
  • Millions of Maxes

    by Meg Wolitzer, illustrated by Micah Player

    Also available from:

    It shocks a young boy named Max to discover that other kids and even a dog share his name! His entire identity is shaken, but he pulls out of his self-reflection to help one of the other Maxes find a lost item. The encounter leaves Max realizing that he can still belong to a group while also being unique.

    Also available from:
  • Happy Hair

    by Mechal Renee Roe

    Also available from:

    With the refrain of “I love being me,” confidence abounds in this affirming book celebrating the versatility of natural Black hair. From full fro’ to pom-pom puffs, girls will feel empowered to rock any style. Boys will feel equally self-assured in the companion book, Cool Cuts.

    Also available from:
  • The World Belonged to Us

    by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

    Also available from:

    Remember those magical childhood days when you ran free with your friends, playing endless games of hide-and-go-seek? This joyous celebration of summer and youth embodies those quintessential days. The cheerful tale follows a group of neighborhood friends who spend carefree moments playing on their Brooklyn block, feeling like they rule the world.

    Also available from:
  • Good Job, George!

    by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Andrew Joyner

    Also available from:

    George prides himself on being a super helper. He relishes the praise from his parents for each good deed until he accidentally spills paint all over himself, the dog, and the wall. This lighthearted story has the perfect amount of comedy mixed in with the message that no one is perfect, and that’s okay.

    Also available from:
  • Counting to Bananas

    by Carrie Tillotson, illustrated by Estrela Lourenço

    Also available from:

    Counting has never been more fun than in this humorous rhyming book! What starts as a simple introduction to numbers gets turned on its head when an impatient banana disagrees with the narrator’s choices. Readers will laugh so hard at the expressive illustrations and clever rhymes they won’t even notice they are learning to count to 100!

    Also available from:
  • Grumpy Monkey

    by Suzanne Lang, illustrated by Max Lang

    Also available from:

    This New York Times bestselling story handles complex emotions with hilarity and skill. It’s a beautiful day in the jungle, but Jim Panzee wakes up on the wrong side of the tree branch and finds everything irritating, especially his well-meaning friends. This entertaining tale reassures readers that bad moods don’t last forever, and brighter days are right around the corner.

    Also available from:
  • The Serious Goose

    by Jimmy Kimmel

    Also available from:

    Prepare for lots of giggles in this goofy story! This interactive, rollicking story challenges readers to make a grumpy goose smile. Adults may think Jimmy Kimmel is the king of late-night laughs, but his sense of humor will strike a chord with younger audiences, too.

    Also available from:
  • With Lots of Love

    by Jenny Torres Sanchez, illustrated by André Ceolin

    Also available from:

    Moving is hard, especially when you leave loved ones behind. Rocio experiences this first-hand when she leaves her home and Abuela in Central America for a new life in the United States. While they can’t be together physically, her Abuela finds a way to connect. The rich, colorful illustrations capture Rocio’s memories of home and make this tender tale even more beautiful.

    Also available from:
  • The Year We Learned to Fly

    by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López

    Also available from:

    The team behind The Day You Begin is back with another extraordinary story! When two siblings complain of being bored, their wise grandmother teaches them to lift themselves out of hard times with their “beautiful and brilliant minds.” The stunning artwork complements the lyrical language, empowering readers to see that they can overcome obstacles with their imaginations.

    Also available from:
  • I’m Not Scared, You’re Scared

    by Seth Meyers, illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr.

    Also available from:

    Opposites attract in this hysterical friendship story. Bear may be afraid of everything, but his friend Rabbit is brave and ready for adventure. Readers will root for Bear as Rabbit helps him face his fears and try new things!

    Also available from:
  • Princess Charming

    by Zibby Owens, illustrated by Holly Hatam

    Also available from:

    Young Princess Charming worries she can’t live up to her expectations of perfection in this upbeat new story. She ultimately discovers that instead of focusing on being flawless, it’s better to concentrate on being herself.

    Also available from:
  • There’s a Rock Concert in My Bedroom

    by Kevin Jonas and Danielle Jonas, illustrated by Courtney Dawson

    Also available from:

    Engrossing onomatopoeia fills the pages of this charming story. Emma loves music and dance parties with her family. When she decides to perform in the school talent show, she worries she may not be a good enough musician to play for an audience. With support from her adoring family, she overcomes her stage fright and delivers a memorable performance.

    Also available from:
  • Uni the Unicorn

    by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager

    Also available from:

    Unicorn fans will rejoice at this enchanting friendship tale. While the other unicorns don’t believe humans are real, Uni has faith that they exist, and her dream of befriending one will come true. Wonderfully whimsical illustrations bring Uni’s world to life, and children will hold on to their own wishes for a unicorn friend.

    Also available from:
  • Always With You, Always With Me

    by Kelly Rowland and Jessica McKay, illustrated by Fanny Liem

    Also available from:

    This love letter to working moms and their children is poignant and powerful. A mother reassures her child that even though they may be apart during the day, they are always in one another’s hearts. Both realistic and encouraging, this heartwarming story is a must-have for working parents.

    Also available from:
  • The Colors of Summer

    by Danna Smith, illustrated by Amber Ren

    Also available from:

    Flowing rhymes describe the colorful sights of a day at the beach in this inviting Little Golden Book. With warm hues of yellow, red, and turquoise, readers will enjoy viewing their favorite colors in the sandy setting.

    Also available from:
  • Roly the Hedgehog

    by Frances Rodgers, illustrated by Ben Grisdale

    Also available from:

    Little animal lovers will adore this darling book that shares a hedgehog’s habits and informs readers how to help them thrive. This is the first in a series that introduces the idea of conservation to children and encourages them to learn more about backyard wildlife.

    Also available from:
  • Mako and Tiger: Two Not-So-Friendly Sharks

    by Scott Rothman, illustrated by Mika Song

    Also available from:

    What happens when two apex predators clash? In this case, a surprisingly funny friendship story! While initially competing for the same food, Mako puts his angry feelings aside when a fisherman almost catches Tiger. Before long, they discover that sharing a laugh is more enjoyable than fighting over fish.

    Also available from:

Looking for summer reading ideas for older kids? Check out our 2022 lists for Kids Ages 6 – 8Ages 9 – 12, and Teens.