It’s almost summer, and these picture books about summer capture the carefree vibe of beach days, building sandcastles, pool visits, and entire days spent wandering. If you’re looking for picture books to load up on all summer, this list is for you!
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The Best Picture Books About Summer
Here are 35 of the best summer picture books you’ll find:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s First Summer
Published: May 3, 2022
Celebrate summer with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and his friends in this exploration of the season. Young readers can learn all about seasonal sensory experiences, like listening to noisy bugs, feeling the warm sunshine, smelling the yummy scents of a cookout, and so much more!
When Lola Visits
Published: May 18, 2021
For one young girl, summer is the season of no school, of days spent at the pool, and of picking golden limes off the trees. But summer doesn’t start until her lola—her grandmother from the Philippines—comes for her annual visit.
Summer is special. For her lola fills the house with the aroma of mango jam, funny stories of baking mishaps, and her quiet sweet singing in Tagalog. And in turn, her granddaughter brings Lola to the beach, to view fireworks at the park, and to catch fish at their lake.
When Lola visits, the whole family gathers to cook and eat and share in their happiness of another season spent together. Yet as summer transitions to fall, her lola must return home—but not without a surprise for her granddaughter to preserve their special summer a bit longer.
And Then Comes Summer
Published: May 9, 2017
When the days stretch out like a slow yawn, and the cheerful faces of Johnny-jump-ups jump up . . . then it’s time to get ready for summer! From flip-flops and hide-and-seek to fireworks and ice-cream trucks, from lemonade stands and late bedtimes to swimming in the lake and toasting marshmallows, there’s something for everyone in this bright and buoyant celebration of the sunny season. Tom Brenner’s lovely, lyrical ode to summers spent outdoors will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever counted down the days until school gets out, and Jaime Kim’s jubilant, nostalgia-soaked illustrations leave little doubt that summer is indeed a time unlike any other.
It Began with Lemonade
Published: May 25, 2021
One scorching hot summer day, a spunky young girl decides to sell lemonade . . . only to find there are too many other young entrepreneurs on her street with the same idea. So she sets off with her lemonade stand and ends up at the river’s edge, where she discovers a most unexpected, quirky, and very thirsty clientele.
Published: May 8, 2018
From sowing seeds in spring to savoring succotash, follow the creation of a family meal from the farm to the picnic table on a warm summer evening. Told entirely in words beginning with the letter “s,” this book will give children an appreciation for the process by which their food travels to the dinner table.
Published: June 2, 2020
I’m ready to pull off the perfect cannonball, but everyone has advice.
“You need more weight”
As one boy searches for the secret to executing the perfect cannonball, it’s only by listening to his own voice that he finds his unique style and pulls off a truly awe-inspiring CANNONBALL.
The Little Blue Cottage
Published: May 12, 2020
The little blue cottage waits each year for summer to arrive―and with it, the girl. Through sunny days and stormy weather, the cottage and the girl keep each other company and wile away the long days and nights together. Until one year, and then another, the cottage is left waiting and empty season after season.
How to Catch a Mermaid
Published: July 17, 2018
Many claim to have caught a mermaid, but can YOU? Perfect for mermaid lovers, summer reading, and gifts for kids ages 4-7, this funny mermaid picture book is brimming with fun STEAM-based traps and offers an irresistible under-the-sea adventure that parents, educators, and children will love! Filled with plenty of laughs to go around, this under the sea adventure is the a fun gift book for kids!
How do you catch a mermaid?
You must be very clever.
With mirrors, crowns, and pearls galore,
this quest can’t last forever!
Published: April 24, 2018
Dude! You have to read this book.
It’s totally about this platypus and this beaver who are friends. They want to go surfing but dude, there’s this shark who’s in the ocean, too.
But don’t worry. This shark approaches and you’ll never guess what happens.
The Golden Glow
Published: May 15, 2018
Fox loves nature. There’s nothing he enjoys more than reading about and picking flowers. One evening, he comes across a rare specimen in his old botany book — the golden glow, a plant from the Wellhidden family, found only in the mountains . . . a plant that has yet to be described. Fascinated, Fox decides to set off on a quest in search of the mysterious golden glow. He packs his knapsack, a map, a compass, a flashlight, a sleeping bag and other items for his hike. Along the way, Fox observes many different kinds of trees and plants. He also encounters woodland friends who help him make it to the summit of the mountain. But when Fox eventually stumbles upon the object of his quest, he makes a surprising decision.
Published: April 20, 2021
When a girl and her family travel four thousand miles from home, it’s not your typical summer vacation. Everything is different on the Alaskan tundra―where the grizzly bears roam and the sockeye salmon swim―including the rules. A girl can do things she wouldn’t, and couldn’t, do at home.
She can wake up at midnight to work with her mom on a fishing crew. She can learn what it means to be an essential part of a team. She can become a braver, stronger, and ever-more capable version of herself. She can take her next big step.
She’s ready for her first real sunrise.
Froggy’s Lemonade Stand
Published: May 15, 2018
Froggy has great plans for all the money he’s going to make from his lemonade stand. But there’s a problem: he was so thirsty that he drank all the lemonade. Luckily lovable Froggy has lots of good friends to help him find a solution. Even if they don’t get rich, they all have a very good time!
The Wonders of Summer
Published: October 18, 2021
Such a delightful book, that follows an adventurous girl, and her dad, as they enjoy the simple pleasures of summertime. They have a picnic, watch the clouds, wade in a river, eat ice cream, and catch fireflies. The illustrations are stunning, and the lyrical text creates the perfect ode to the season.
Readers will feel the excitement of this spunky girl, and relate to the special bond that she has with her daddy. Their sweet, tender moments, celebrate the timeless love between a parent and a child.
And in a flowered field,
they giggled, then fell down.
They picked some daisies, too.
Then Dad made her a crown.
The Sandcastle That Lola Built
Published: May 15, 2018
Lola is building her dream sandcastle–one with a tall, tall tower and sea glass that sends signals to mermaids. But the beach is crowded, and soon enough, a boy steps on her castle. Not to worry! Lola recruits him to build a wall. When a toddler with a bulldozer starts digging too close the walls, Lola decides he can be in charge of digging the moat. As the sandcastle grows, so does Lola’s friendly group of helpers. There’s only one thing that Lola doesn’t want near the sandcastle: a wave! Will the new friends be able to salvage the mermaids’ castle when their hard work is washed away?
How to Code a Sandcastle
Published: May 15, 2018
All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!
With renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios use humor, relatable situations, and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding.
I See Summer
Published: April 1, 2014
Pea pods, cucumbers, and strawberries provide plenty of opportunities for counting in the garden! Follow Dad, Grandma, and other family members as they pick and count. Hidden numbers on every page give readers an opportunity to search and learn.
Sea Glass Summer
Published: May 14, 2019
One summer, a boy named Thomas visits his grandmother at her seaside cottage. She gives him a magnifying glass that once belonged to his grandfather, and with it Thomas explores the beach, turning grains of sand into rocks and dark clamshells into swirling mazes of black, gray, and white. When his grandmother shows him a piece of sea glass, Thomas is transfixed. That night he dreams of an old shipyard and the breaking of a bottle. Could the very piece of sea glass on his nightstand have come from that bottle? For the rest of the summer, he searches for more sea glass and hopes to have dreams that will reveal more of the sea’s secrets. A stunning ode to stories and the seaside, this picture book invites readers to imagine the ocean of possibility that lives in every small or forgotten treasure.
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read
Published: July 5, 2016
It’s not easy to teach a cat to read, but one boy tries to anyway in this sweet and silly picture book debut that captures the challenges and rewards of learning to read.
Nick loves to read books–and he loves to play with his cats, Verne and Stevenson. So naturally Nick decides it’s a great idea to teach his cats to read. But Verne and Stevenson don’t appreciate when Nick wakes them up with a flashcard that says NAP. Nick finally piques Verne’s interest with words like MOUSE and FISH. But not Stevenson’s. While Nick and Verne go to the library, Stevenson hides under the porch. Will Nick ever find a way to share his love of reading with his feline friends?
The Little Red Fort
Published: March 27, 2018
Ruby’s mind is always full of ideas.One day, she finds some old boards and decides to build something. She invites her brothers to help, but they just laugh and tell her she doesn’t know how to build.”Then I’ll learn,” she says.And she does!When she creates a dazzling fort that they all want to play in, it is Ruby who has the last laugh.With sprightly text and winsome pictures, this modern spin on the timeless favorite The Little Red Hen celebrates the pluck and ingenuity of young creators everywhere!
Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn
Published: August 16, 2016
As trees sway in the cool breeze, blue jays head south, and leaves change their colors, everyone knows–autumn is on its way!
Join a young girl as she takes a walk through forest and town, greeting all the signs of the coming season. In a series of conversations with every flower and creature and gust of wind, she says good-bye to summer and welcomes autumn.
My Awesome Summer by P.Mantis
Published: May 8, 2018
“May 17: I was born today! It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day!”
This is the diary of P. Mantis, one of 150 brothers and sisters born on a garden bush. P. Mantis is an amazing bug: she can make herself look like a stick to hide from predators, she can swivel her head all the way around, and when she’s grown up she’ll even be able to fly!
In dated journal entries P. Mantis describes the entirety of her life, sharing the fun and beauty of her world as well its little ups and downs (“I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two”). Colorful, bold art helps illustrate the different stages of the mantis life cycle, and the engaging, narrative text is paired with more detailed information about praying mantises on the heavily-illustrated endpapers.
A Lullaby of Summer Things
Published: May 15, 2018
This simple, lyrical picture book is as warm, reassuring, and filled with joy as a vacation at the beach. Readers will join a little girl and her siblings as they wind down from a perfect day–hanging up towels, eating dinner, and getting ready for bed–each activity sparking a memory of their day–playing catch with the dog, chasing waves, and looking at sailboats along the shore. And when the lights of the family beach house go off–“In the dusky evening light, a sleepy house says goodnight”--young listeners will be lulled to sleep themselves.
Penguin on Vacation
Published: May 5, 2015
Penguin is tired of the snow and cold–so he decides to visit the beach! But when his favorite activities like skiing and skating don’t work so well on sand, can a new friend help Penguin learn how to have fun in the sun?
Seasoned, award-winning author/illustrator Salina Yoon’s charming text and bright, energetic illustrations ensure that readers will be clamoring for more Penguin stories–wherever they make their home!
The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer
Published: July 5, 2016
What really happened over the summer break? A curious teacher wants to know. The epic explanation? What started out as a day at the beach turned into a globe-spanning treasure hunt with high-flying hijinks, exotic detours, an outrageous cast of characters, and one very mischievous bird! Is this yet another tall tale, or is the truth just waiting to be revealed? From the team behind I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . comes a fantastical fast-paced, detail-rich illustrated summer adventure that’s so unbelievable, it just might be true!
Baby Loves Summer
Published: May 1, 2012
Little ones will love lifting the flaps in this new Karen Katz book to reveal a big yellow sun, flip-flops, an ice cream cone, and everything else that Baby loves about summer! The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps make this a perfect summertime treat for parents and children to share.
Featuring new Karen Katz branding that reflects her vibrant colors and patterns, this holiday favorite is sure to delight little ones!
A Perfect Day
Published: February 14, 2017
Today is a perfect day for Cat, Dog, Chickadee, and Squirrel.
Cat is lounging among the daffodils. Dog is sitting in the wading pool, deep in the cool water. Chickadee is eating fresh seed from the birdfeeder. Squirrel is munching on his very own corncob. Today is a perfect day in Bert’s backyard.
Until Bear comes along, that is. Bear crushes the daffodils, drinks the pool water, and happily gobbles up the birdseed and corncob.
Today was a perfect day for Cat, Dog, Chickadee, and Squirrel. Now, it’s just a perfect day for Bear.
Llama Llama Sand and Sun
Published: May 19, 2015
Splish, splash with Llama Llama in Anna Dewdney’s New York Times bestselling series! Llama Llama loves splashing in the waves, building sandcastles on the beach, and soaking up the sun! This casebound book includes 5 interactive touch-and-feel elements and a story that kids will want to read over and over again!
Daniel’s Day at the Beach
May 5, 20215
Daniel Tiger and Katerina Kittycat are spending the day at Jungle Beach with Mom Tiger! They’re doing lots of fun things like playing in the sand, splashing in the waves, and going on a hunt for seashells and starfish. But most importantly, they are learning how to stay safe at the beach, so they can keep playing all day long!
Published: June 12, 2018
It’s the hottest day of the year, hotter than broccoli soup, hotter than the Atacama Desert, hotter than the surface of the sun. It’s just the right kind of day for a boy and his granddad to go for a picnic. But as the sun beats down, Granddad keeps having to stop for a rest, and by the time they find the perfect picnic spot, some pirates have beaten them to it. Good thing they have enough food to share!
Goldfish on Vacation
Published: April 10, 2018
H, Little O, and Baby Em are stuck in the city for the summer with only their pet goldfish—Barracuda, Patch, and Fiss—for company. It’s looking like it might be a pretty boring vacation, but one day, something exciting happens. Someone starts fixing up the old fountain down the street—the one Grandpa says horses used to drink from before everyone had cars—and a sign appears: “Calling All Goldfish Looking for a Summer Home.” H, Little O, and Baby Em can’t wait to send their goldfish on vacation, and the fish, well, they seem pretty excited too. Based on the true story of Hamilton Fountain in New York City, this charming tale of one special summer will delight readers young and old. Author’s Note included.
When a Dragon Moves In
Published: May 1, 2011
On a beautiful day at the beach, a young boy brings his bucket, shovel, and imagination, and builds a perfect sand castle. Right away, a dragon moves in. The boy decides to befriend his dragon and they spend time roaming the shore, flying a kite, braving the waves, defying bullies, and roasting marshmallows—all while Dad is busy sunbathing and Mom is engrossed in her book. Unfortunately, no one believes the boy when he tries to share the news of this magnificent creature. That’s when the mischief begins, and the dragon becomes a force to be reckoned with. While adults will recognize the naughty antics as a ploy for attention, children will dissolve into giggles as the dragon devours every last sandwich, blows bubbles in the lemonade, and leaves claw prints in the brownies. Maybe the dragon really is running amok on the beach, or maybe it’s a little boy’s imagination that is running wild.
A Day at the Seashore
Published: May 11, 2010
A classic Little Golden Book—with a summertime theme!
Nancy and Timmy hop out of their beds one summer morning and help pack their swimsuits and lunch. And then it’s off to the seashore! In a charming rhyme, this Little Golden Book from 1951 (then titled A Day at the Beach) describes what preschoolers will find there: “You can catch little crabs—if you’re quick! You can draw great big pictures right on the beach with a piece of a shell or a stick.” Oh, what fun!
Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach
Published: May 21, 2013
Pete the Cat is one groovy cat at finding shells and building sand castles at the beach. But when it gets too hot, there’s only one way to cool off—jump into the ocean! Except Pete might be a scaredy-cat when it comes to the water.
Good Night Beach
Published: July 5, 2012
The beach, an iconic fixture of many children’s summers, is artfully celebrated in this boardbook. Designed to soothe children before bedtime while instilling an early appreciation for the environment’s natural wonders, the book features a multicultural group of people experiencing all that the beach has to offer. Rhythmic language guides children through the passage of a single day of fun at the seaside—splashing, playing in the waves, boating, fishing, identifying wildlife, and more.
The Night Before Summer Vacation
A little girl and her family are getting ready to go on vacation . . . or at least they are trying to. In the effort to pack everything that will be needed, there’s bound to be something overlooked, and what that is provides a funny ending to this meter-perfect “twist” on Clement Moore’s classic.
There they are: 35 of the best picture books for summer reading! Which of these summer picture books have your read? What did I miss?