Summer is quickly approaching…

This may mean the end of school for the year but that shouldn’t mean a break from reading.  Reading, and being read to, is critically important for children’s language development.  Reading to infants and toddlers gives parents a chance to model our spoken language.  Preschoolers and kindergarteners are learning about sounds and words; your reading aloud to them will help them delight in the magic of the written word, eventually leading them to begin decoding for themselves.  As children get older, it is important for them to spend time reading independently, but reading together can continue on into the preteen years (and perhaps beyond!)  Children appreciate spending time with their parents, and there’s something special about slowing down and enjoying a book together. 

Read on for some fun summer suggestions.

Cocoa Ice by Diana Karter Appelbaum, illustrated by Holly Meade

Cocoa Ice is the story of two young girls who live in very different climates.  One child helps her family harvest and prepare cocoa beans to eat, sell, and trade.  The other child watches as ice is cut into large blocks and loaded onto a schooner that heads to the tropics.  While the children never meet, they are connected by their curiosity about each other as well as their love of the sweet treat, cocoa ice.

The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell

This book will be loved by anyone who has ever had a house full of relatives.  The character’s family comes to visit from out of town, and while life may feel a little cramped, the time spent together in the hot summer sun makes it more than worth it.  The illustrations are wonderful, but even the words themselves create a vivid visual.

Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe

At first glance this book tells a story that so many of us have experienced as a child: the joy of running outside on a warm summer night to catch fireflies in a jar.  While that simple theme is the main plot, the character’s internal experiences offer great opportunities for discussion with children.  Parents may want to note that on one page the child misuses a pair of scissors without his mother’s permission to cut holes in the lid of the jar.  At the end of the book, he is also confronted with the challenging decision about what to do with the fireflies as their blinking light begins to fade within the jar.  (Spoiler: he makes the right choice and releases them!)

Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes

This book will be especially appealing to younger siblings.  Bailey’s older brother and sister are gearing up for a camping trip, but Bailey doesn’t get to go because he’s too young.  Luckily his parents have some ideas to help him have his own camping experience.

Watermelon Day by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Dale Gottlieb

Jesse can hardly wait to take a bite of sweet, cool, refreshing watermelon.  All summer long she watches as the melon grows larger in the garden.  When her father finally decides it’s ripe enough to cut off the vine, she must wait all day while the melon cools in the chilly water.  Her family gathers for a summer celebration, capped off, off course, with a delicious treat.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Sal and her mother head out to pick wild blueberries one warm summer day.  On the other side of the hill a mother bear and her cub are doing the same.  The two youngsters wander off, meet up with the wrong mothers (much to the mothers’ surprise!), and eventually find their way back.  This book will charm parents and make little ones giggle.

One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Sal (from Blueberries for Sal) is a little older in this story, but she brings readers on a journey that many children (and their parents) will be able to relate to.  Sal wakes up with her first loose tooth one morning, and while she initially upset she quickly becomes excited at this sign that she is growing up.  Sadly, she very literally loses her tooth, and spends the day learning

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA Centennial Edition

Planning a family trip to one (or more!) national parks this summer?  Pick up this guide for your children and they can help plan, as well as get excited to learn about and visit these amazing places.