Whoever said that the “livin’ was easy” in the summer didn’t have kids. With school out, kids’ lives suddenly become filled with summer camps, the beach, amusement parks, and more. But living in constant motion can be exhausting and even the most tireless of toddlers are going to want to nap eventually, which is where these excellent summer reads come in. For the youngest of readers: Rebellious crayons are back with more mayhem than ever, there’s a steed with mighty flatulence, and kids will love the picture-book equivalent of Jurassic World. For those who can handle taking the pages into their own hands, there are faeries waiting for their boy prince to rescue them, a young scientist out to stop a Californian plague, and a circus with a magical secret. Whether you’re looking for rainy day reads or books to bring on picnic outings, we’ve got the perfect picks for readers of all ages.
A tall order for a little girl
Perfect for precocious pet-wanting readers, this book tells the story of Sophia and her relentless pursuit of a pet giraffe. Using what she knows of her family members, she cleverly tries to alter her presentation: providing legal background for her mother the judge, showing graphs to her businessman father, and polling her stuffed animals for her politician uncle. Unfortunately, her mother ruled against her argument, her father wouldn’t invest in her idea, and her uncle voted no. Will her Grand-mamá be on her side? Or should she trim down her verbose argument in favor of one magic word?
On shelves: June 16
Somewhere beyond the sea
Parents, you might want to pull out the tissues for this powerful and moving read about the love between a parent and a child. Buckley the beaver spends his days collecting driftwood at the beach by his house and using it to make elaborate boats. With encouragement from his mother, he sends the boats out to sea with letters attached for his father. It’s assumed that Buckley’s dad has passed away, though since it is never said explicitly little readers can easily project their own ideas about what the situation is. What is clear, however, is the strong bond between Buckley and his mom. One day, Buckley discovers a secret about his boats that shows just how deeply his mother’s love runs.
On shelves: June 30
Onward, my flatulent steed
Internet- and comic-savvy parents have likely come across Kate Beaton’s hilarious “Hark! A Vagrant” webcomics, and they’ll be happy to see that she’s brought that same charm and humor to her debut picture book: The Princess and the Pony. Pinecone, a Viking princess, desires nothing more than a noble and valiant steed for her birthday. What she gets instead is a chubby, farting pony. Appearances can be deceiving, though, as this little princess and readers learn when Pinecone and her pony go into battle.
On shelves: June 30
Jurassic World hits theaters on June 12 and this madcap comic book is sure to be the perfect antidote for little dino-enthusiasts who just can’t get enough. Things get out of hand on the first day at Mad Scientist Academy and a group of young monsters are tasked with restoring order before a T-Rex wrecks Dr. Cosmic’s lab. With plenty of information packed in and students using their smarts to safely navigate this adventurous world, parents will have no qualms indulging when their kids demand to read it again.
On shelves: July 7
Cast your ballot
Well into the 20th century, many black women and men were kept away from the polls when they failed to pass literacy tests or pay poll taxes. It wasn’t until 1965 that the Voting Rights Act passed, outlawing such tests and protecting American citizens’ right to vote. With election season around the corner, this is an important book that recalls the history behind the Voting Rights Act through the eyes of 100-year-old Lillian. As Lillian climbs a literal hill to the voting center, she recalls the uphill battle faced by her people as they fought for their freedom, their liberty, and the right to vote. This book gives readers a glimpse back at the long and trying road that has led us to this moment and an author’s note offers insight into the current voter ID laws. It’s a book that should make any reader eager to head to the polls.
On shelves: July 14
Crayons 2: Back to the box
Do you remember where you were on the day the crayons quit? In this follow-up adventure to the New York Times bestseller, young coloring connoisseur Duncan is faced with a new catastrophe: Crayons have gone missing and need to be rescued! Maroon is broken in two after being sat on, Turquoise has been through the dryer, and Pea Green’s sick of being named after a food no kid likes. They beg and plead to be brought back to the crayon box. Can Duncan help them? If any kid can handle this colorful cast of characters, it’s Duncan.
On shelves: August 18
The greatest show on Earth
Fifth grader Micah Tuttle has grown up listening to his Grandpa Ephraim’s magical stories of the Circus Mirandus: tales of the birdwoman who could fly, the invisible tiger at the gates, and the Lightbender, a powerful magician. It isn’t until his grandfather gets sick, however, that Micah realizes these stories may be more than mere bedtime stories. With the help of his friend Jenny, Micah sets out to find the Lightbender and to ask for a miracle. An extraordinary tale of the power of belief and the importance of finding magic in everyday life, this book is sure to be a hit with readers who know that there’s more to life than what we can see.
On shelves: June 2
On the other side of the bars
Starting middle school is intimidating enough, but it’s worse when you’re keeping a secret. With her mom in prison, Ruby Danes feels completely alone in the world. At first she thought it was best to keep the outside world as far from her personal life as possible. But when she meets Margalit, she realizes that having a friend isn’t so bad. She can’t tell her new friend about her mom, but for a while she doesn’t feel so alone. That is until she realizes that her mom and Margalit’s family may somehow be tied together.
On shelves: June 16
Curiouser and curiouser
For Women’s History Month in March, we talked about the importance of encouraging young girls to enter math and science fields. Thankfully, budding scientist Calpurnia Tate is here to help the cause in her second adventure! Living in 1900, Callie unfortunately knows all about being treated differently because she’s a girl. Even her mother wishes that her only daughter would work on mastering the “domestic arts” rather than volunteering for an injured veterinarian. But with her grandfather’s support, Callie continues to discover more about the wonderful world around her and proves to everyone that being a girl is an asset, not a disadvantage.
On shelves: July 7
After the storm
Zavion and his father lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. Hungry and tired, they even had to steal candy bars from a store. Trying to make things right, Zavion sets out to pay for what they took and there he meets Henry, a boy who has also lost a lot. After the death of his best friend, Henry travels from Vermont to New Orleans to help relief efforts and in search of a red marble that ended up in a pair of jeans his mother donated. Though they seem so different, these two boys find that they have more in common than they thought. This debut is sure to touch readers of all ages with its touching story of loss, friendship, and healing.
On shelves: July 14
I do believe in faeries, I do, I do
Ideal for young Tim Burton fans, this is the story of a 12-year-old graverobber who unearths more than he has bargained for. Victorian London can be a harsh and cruel world, and few know that better than Thomas and his father Silas, who steal valuables from graves in order to eat. One night while out on a job, Thomas uncovers the body of a boy who looks exactly like him—right down to the same facial birthmark. This discovery leads him into a magical and extraordinary world of faeries and royalty, and a rescue mission that only Thomas can accomplish.
On shelves: July 28
Golden city’s dark problem
Her papa denies it, the newspapers deny it, but Lizzie Kennedy knows that something is wrong. Eager to escape from her stuffy finishing school, Lizzie’s favorite pastime is traveling with her father, a physician. It’s on one of their house calls that she begins to discover San Francisco’s hidden truth: It’s infested with plague-carrying rats. Based on the true story of San Francisco’s bubonic plague outbreak, this new title from Newbery-winner Gennifer Choldenko features the fledgling friendship that occurs between Lizzie and Jing after Jing’s father is quarantined in Chinatown.