The long, hot days are here and what better way to cool off than by reading about all aspects of summer: bugs and animals, the growing season and vacation? Just cozy up under the shade of a leafy tree or while sipping a cold glass of lemonade and read these picture books and chapter books that can be enjoyed by all ages. All are picture books except for the last two books.
Go, Go, Grapes! A Fruit Chant, by April Pulley Sayre, celebrates the many varieties, colors and shapes of fruit in simplistic rhythm and rhyme. “Cheer for cherries, tart or sweet. Bananas. Oranges. Peel and eat!” The photos of each type of fruit look very appetizing and each page features a different background of color. And chances are you’ll even learn about a new fruit. This book is a companion to “Rah, Rah, Radishes! A Vegetable Chant”.
Secrets of the Garden (Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard), by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, and wonderfully painted with pen and watercolors by Priscilla Lamont, is the perfect introduction to how a garden planted by a family works from the beginning with seeds to the end result. This profile includes the impact of bugs and worms and how each depends on the other. Be sure to check out the end pages which outline this family’s backyard.
Isabella’s Garden, by Glenda Millard, and painted with mixed-media by Rebecca Cool, is a cumulative tale describing the process of seed to full-grown plant. The rich colors fill each page with the splendor or the growing season. The repeating sentences help secure the concept of how gardens grow.
10 Hungry Rabbits: Counting & Color, by Anita Lobel, has ten young rabbits sent out to the garden to gather vegetables for Mama Rabbit’s soup. Each page highlights a particular vegetable and the location of that plant in the garden. The gouache and watercolor used here are bright and colorful just like the vegetables.
The Beetle Book, by a favorite non-fiction picture book author/illustrator Steve Jenkins, should satisfy all those bug-loving kids. These collage-torn beetle illustrations are labeled with a vast variety and includes a page devoted to labeling the parts and opposite this page is a page dedicated to defining the make-up of a beetle. The book begins with an amazing statement that one fourth of all living matter is a beetle. Mr. Jenkins is a genius in his ability to depict these insects by using white as the backdrop which makes these pictures pop out. The front and back covers are amazing.
Bugs Galore, by Peter Stein, and colorfully illustrated by Bob Staake, make their way through rhyming pleasure as different pairs of children take notice. By the book’s end, awareness of the many types, shapes and sizes of bugs will be galore!
Step Gently Out, by Helen Frost, and photographed by Rick Lieder, is like looking at summer close up with a text that reads like a lyrical breeze and envisioning enlarged bugs as they roam over fields of green. The spinning of a spider’s web encased by morning dew will surely evoke memories of summer throughout colder weather.
Gem, by Holly Hobbie, has a format that I am always in search of: wordless books. If the pictures successfully tell the story without words, children who can’t read yet can spin the tale instead of the adult. Older children can formulate different aspects of the story by picking up on different threads and creating or recreating a new story. These types of books build a person’s imag-ination. This story features a toad exploring his world but finding himself in the middle of a road. How he survives this, and other struggles, will be easily deciphered by the glorious watercolors.
Little Bee, by Edward Gibbs, is a rich board book covered in bright colors. It’s a simple, yet informative, story that begins with a simple rhyming question: “Little bee, little bee…why do you flee?” The bee answers, “Because there’s a hungry frog chasing me!” Then the frog is fleeing and the question asked is answered because a snake is chasing him. And so it goes. The bee on the cover has sparkly wings that project off the page.
Where’s Waldo? The Search for the Lost Things, by Martin Handford, is filled with games, mazes, word puzzles, searches, doodles and much more. This paperback book is packaged like an extra-thick coloring book but with the colorful format typical of this series.
Disney Trivia From the Vault (Secrets Revealed and Questions Answered), by Chief Archivist Dave Smith, is filled with trivia and is the perfect book to have while waiting in those long lines at Disneyland or Disney World. I found myself not being able to put the book down once I opened it because the trivia facts are fascinating! For instance, where does the story of Cinderella take place? “We can assume France, since it is from a French fairy tale, but we never mention a location in our film.” This book is a Must!
Here is a list of more great summer chapter books:
For ages 5 – 6: “Robin Hill School: Summer Treasure” by Margaret McNamara
For ages 6 – 9 “Zigzag Kids: Bears Beware” by Patricia Reilly Giff; “Hooey Higgins and the Shark” by Steve Voake and “Daisy Dawson at the Beach” by Steve Voake
For ages 8 – 12 “Amelia’s Are-We-There-Yet Longest Car Trip Ever” by Marissa Moss and “Alice-Miranda on Vacation” by Jacqueline Harvey