Tuesday, July 14, 2015

8 Summer Picture Books for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Welcome to the July 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Summer Fun
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about how to get out and enjoy the warmer season as a family.

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It's officially summer, and what better way to celebrate than with a good book?
July is when the temperatures really start to heat up in Southern California, and on days when we don't have a car, going out to parks or the beach isn't really an option. So instead, we fall back upon our favorite pastime: reading.

With that thought, here is a (short) list of eight picture books that I feel really embody the feel of summer. If you're looking for something new to add to your bookshelves at home, or even just something to borrow from your local library, give one of these a try.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

A little girl goes blueberry picking with her mother, while a little bear goes blueberry eating with his mother. But little ones sometimes get tired of walking, and before they know it, the families have gotten separated and all mixed up! I loved this book when I was a child, so I made sure to find a copy after I had a child of my own. And, not surprisingly, my son loves this story! Blueberry season is in full swing around here, and he just loves curling up with a big bowl of blueberries and our battered well-loved copy of Blueberries for Sal. The story is sweet, and my three-year-old loves the pictures, despite the fact that they are black-and-white. This is a year-round favorite for us, but it just seems extra perfect during the warm months when blueberries are freshly available.

Poppy the Pirate Dog by Liz Kessler

When the Brown family goes on vacation to the seashore, they bring along their dalmatian dog, Poppy. And when Poppy finds a skull-and-crossbones scarf at a local store, it doesn't take long for the kids to dub her "Poppy the Pirate Dog." The family tries all kinds of boat trips that week, but none of them seem quite right to Poppy. Will she ever find her pirate ship? Aside from the fact that this story takes place during summer vacation, Poppy the Pirate Dog has a sense of adventure and playfulness that just embodies the summer season. This book consists of five short chapters, and this format combined with its simple vocabulary make it a great choice for early readers, although even non-readers will love the story and adorable pictures.

Let It Shine by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

If you're looking for a short, easy read, then Let It Shine has you covered. Except reading this book is, for us anyway, anything but short! Sure, there aren't a huge amount of words, but just exploring the gorgeous illustrations in this book will keep little ones busy for a good while. These pictures invite so many questions, both on the part of parents (as an educational thing) and on the part of curious youngsters. Some people think that this book (and the others in the seasonal series) are best suited for really young kids, but don't be surprised if your child continues to enjoy it through preschool and beyond.

Biscuit's First Beach Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

It's time for a beach adventure with Biscuit, everyone's favorite yellow puppy! (Well, perhaps not the favorite of everyone... I know a lot of parents who quickly get tired of the endless "Woof, woof!"s, but we continue to enjoy this series in our home.) Biscuit plays in the ocean, hunts for seashells, and has a picnic with his friend, Puddles, and the little girls who love them both. Biscuit's First Beach Day is great for younger readers, although most preschoolers will love it too, especially if they are a fan of other books featuring this undeniably adorable puppy.

Llama Llama Sand & Sun by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama is off to the beach with his mama! This cute, short (did I mention it's short!?) board book is full of touch-and-feel action. There isn't much of a story, per se, but there is plenty for little fingers to explore, and the simple rhyming words make it potentially a good teaching book for learning readers. This one probably won't hold the attention of little ones over the age of four or five, but for really, really little kids, especially kids who already love other books about Llama Llama, this one is pretty fun.

Baby Loves Summer! by Karen Katz

What kinds of fun summer things can baby discover in this lift-the-flap book? How about ice cream, an inner tube, and, of course, the sun! Here's another one that's great for young readers, but probably won't really be enjoyed too much by older preschoolers or kindergarteners. Karen Katz's bright illustrations and fun patterns are much loved by children (my three-year-old son still adores her books!), while the lift-the-flap format is great for babies and toddlers (so long as parents can accept the fact that the flaps will most likely be torn off at some point...). Personally, I am less fond of this book than some of the others by this author, but my son loves it all the same.

The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp by Stan & Jan Berenstain

A list of summer picture books wouldn't be complete without one celebrating the honorable tradition of summer camp, even if most preschoolers are still years away from the experience. When Brother Bear and Sister Bear agree to try out Grizzly Bob's Day Camp, they're not sure what it'll be like. But it only takes a few days before they discover just how much fun camp is, and soon they're playing games, making crafts, and developing new skills! Like all Berenstain Bears books, The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp is a big lengthy for a picture book, but my son, at least, loves it anyway. The book has a nice message and the usual cute illustrations, and it's in heavy rotation in our home.

The Sunchildren: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Ancient Amber

For families who are interested in celebrating the season in a nontraditional way, the books in "The Sunchildren" series have you covered. Celebrating the Summer Solstice is about just that: creative thanksgiving for the beginning of summer. The artwork is friendly and fun, and the clever story will appeal to all children, while parents will find themselves charmed by the idea, even if they themselves don't celebrate the solstice.




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12 comments:

  1. Thank you for the recommendations! We are huge book readers, we finished our library's summer reading program very quickly. :) We haven't read everything on this list - we'll put them on hold!

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    1. What is your summer reading program like? I always feel that ours sets the bar pretty low (ten books... we usually read more than that on a daily basis!), but I do appreciate the free food we get after (gives us an excuse to go out for lunch a few times!), and this year my son got a little toy flute, which he just loves.

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  2. I love the Llama Llama and Bernstein bears books, I'll have to look for these specifically! Great book recommendations :)

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    1. Thank you! My son has gone through every Llama Llama book at the library, and we have dozens of Berenstain Bears books (no, seriously). Definitely well-loved by little ones everywhere!

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  3. I need to put these all on hold at the library! I know for sure my little pirates will love the Poppy story. :)

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    1. Thank goodness for library holds, right? :)

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  4. Oh what a good idea reviewing children's books. I would really like to read The SunChildren now as I'd like to introduce my children to different ways of celebrating the summer. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I hope you like it! There really aren't a lot of books out there to help explain the solstices and equinoxes to little ones, so the Sunchildren books definitely help to fill a void there.

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  5. I loved reading your book recommendations, Holly. Blueberries for Sal was one of my favorite books as a Montessori teacher in the 70s and 80s and with my own children. I'll look forward to sharing some of the new books with my granddaughter, too! :)

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    1. I've always loved "Blueberries for Sal"; that was one of the first picture books I sought out after my son was born, and our copy is pretty beaten up by now. :) My mom tells me all the time about how much my siblings and I loved that book as kids.

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  6. Another book about Sal — I had no idea, I’m so excited! We have One Morning in Maine, which was especially enjoyed when my older son started losing his teeth.

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    1. And I've never heard of that one! Thanks for sharing; I am definitely putting it on hold at the library!

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