The easy, lazy days of summer are some of the best times to enjoy books; especially those books you can read with your children. The following books are all picture books with the theme of summer and are excellent for reading out loud. They are best suited for ages two through seven unless otherwise indicated.

At the Pond, by David Elliott and gorgeously painted using mixed media and finished digitally by Amy Schimler-Safford, is a wonderful collection of poems about the variety of animals and foliage that live in and around a pond. Each free-verse poem is dedicated to one of the animals or plant that lives there. The dragonfly:/ delicate, /diaphanous,/ dazzling,/ yet/ fundamentally/ ferocious/ as fierce/ as any fighter/ jet. Each open page features dazzling color that fills the pond scene with vegetation.The poetry flows with language as beautiful as the illustrations and is meant to be read out loud for all ages to enjoy! Be sure to check out more information about the animals and plant life found at the back of the book.

Poppy’s House, by Karla Courtney and beautiful atmospheric illustrations done with colored pencils and gouache and finished digitally by Madeline Kloepper, celebrates summer travels to visit family. A young girl travels to the northern land of Newfoundland to visit her Poppy. The sweet reunion that takes place when they meet is pure joy between grandfather and granddaughter. And their love and adventure will turn the heart of all who read this tender story. Life on this island is quite extraordinary and different from most who live in cities or even rural America. They pick berries, catch fish, count masts of ships and shop fresh cod in markets and even spot animal tracks. But what I love most is the relationship between these two, knowing the parting will be as brief as possible.

Swim, Jim!, by Katz Windness, shows how a young crocodile, Jim, overcomes his fear of swimming. He is taunted by his sisters who have no problems swimming in their mossy swamp. Jim decides to try a smaller swamp and happens upon a pool with youngsters surrounded by swim gear. He eventually overcomes his fear with the help of his sisters and becomes confident. The illustrations are vibrant and completely fill the pages. They were rendered using graphite on paper and then painted digitally. There are fun onomatopoeias found throughout and the text. The book is short making this a perfect bedtime read aloud.

Pega Sisters go to Camp, by Brooke Hartman and illustrated digitally by MacKenzie Haley, is a story that appeals to the many children who love Pegasus horses. But it also addresses summer camp and dealing with sisterly problems. The older Pegasus, Lilly, had been to camp before and is anxious to go again. However, her little sister, Filly, is finally old enough to go and has a bit of anxiety. Lilly must come to terms with her sister being young and never doing many of the activities before. The sisterly love finally prevails in this cheerfully bright picture book.

Lily Leads the Way, by Marci Preus and breathtakingly illustrated with oil by Matt Myers, is about a very small tugboat desiring to lead large cargo ships through the drawbridge. When she spies trouble ahead, she overcomes the large waves produced by the other ships and yells as loud as she can for the bridge to open. This beautifully illustrated book teaches a wonderful lesson to be persistent and never give up even when it seems too hard and out of reach. Be sure to check out the author’s note found at the back of the book about information concerning drawbridges.

Bee, by Charlotte Voake, is about a young boy who is observing a beehive wonders what the bees do inside the hive and where do they go when they leave. The bees hear his questions and magically transform him to their size and take him on their adventures. This is a perfect book to help children understand bees and what they are all about. The aesthetic illustrations of yellow and brown hues were done with cut paper and ink.

Iguana be a Dragon, by Maddie Frost, is the perfect story about overcoming doubt about yourself. Believe in yourself and be who you truly are. When Iguana is invited to a pool party put on by Cheetah, he knows that Cheetah is very fast. He wonders what he can be great at. Reading what he comes up will have giggles throughout the story. The illustrations are bright and created on a Wacom drawing tablet and digital brushes in Photoshop.