Inside: Kim Fernando and the other Our Everyday Parables authors share a list of delightful summer children’s books to enjoy with kids as you soak up the season. They also offer some ideas for chatting with kids about God’s love in the everyday moments of summer.
There’s something extra special about summer. Whether it’s the extended hours of daylight, the less-structured schedules, or just the hours of outdoor play, summer provides a wealth of opportunities for us to experience God’s love in His creation and in relationship with the people around us.
Family Faith Moments for Summer
Summer also gives us many beautiful chances to spark conversations about God with our kids.
- The warmth of the sun and crashing of the waves remind us of God’s goodness and love for us, as well as His power and majesty (Matthew 8:27).
- Sandy beaches and starry skies recall His promise that just as we can’t count the grains of sand or the number of stars, so too will God’s children be beyond count one day (Genesis 15:5).
- And like those stars, we can shine with the love of Jesus to everyone around us (Philippians 2:15), which of course comes in handy when we’re enjoying so much extended family time. From road trips to campouts, summertime can mean a lot of time with the ones we love.
SUMMER CHILDREN’s BOOKS
Reading together can make these summer moments even more special. That’s why Valerie, Karey, and I are excited to bring you a diverse selection of summer children’s books. Of course it wouldn’t be summer without a little fun and silliness, which is why we’re also including books for wild imaginations where it seems anything is possible—from bats at the beach to surfing sharks and swimming dinosaurs.
Keep reading for some of our favorite summer picture books that capture the carefree days of beach trips, outdoor adventures, and endless play while fostering connection, imagination, laughs and most of all opportunities to come together and delight in the goodness and presence of God all around us.
Beach BOOKS FOR KIDS
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for products we love. If you purchase, we get a small commission at no cost to you. We’re just as happy for you to buy local or thrift, and we’ve provided some links on our Resources page.
Swashby and the Sea
by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez-Neal
This book makes me smile every time I think of it. When an energetic girl and her mom move seaside next to a grumpy neighbor, he answers her attempts at friendship by writing leave-me-alone messages in the sand. But the sea helps bring them together by strategically washing away letters so the messages are friendly and fun. This delightful book, released in May 2020, has multiple starred reviews.
by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat
Kids and grownups will giggle while reading this silly book that manages to tell an entire story with just one word—dude! Follow along as two surfing creatures make an unlikely friend and enjoy a day at the beach.
There Might Be Lobsters
by Carolyn Crimi and Laurel Molk
Eleanor’s little pup Sukie experiences more than a few fears on their trip to the beach. But when her little stuffed toy gets in trouble, she finds the bravery she needs to save the day. This book is kid-friendly and beautifully written.
by Elisha Cooper
This artsy book starts with a carefree invitation to the shore and zooms in on quirky moments often experienced during a day at the beach. (Since in this post we are talking about different regions of the country, check out this description of the illustrations from the author.)
Day at the Beach
by Tom Booth
I don’t know about you, but I love books that encourage my kids to appreciate each other. This story about a big brother’s goal to build the best sandcastle ever WITHOUT his little sister is a great beach tale with a timeless sibling theme.
Out of the Blue
by Alison Jay
This wordless picture book shares the adventures of a young lighthouse resident: tide pooling, beachcombing, and…octopus rescuing? This is a super fun choice for preschool to second grade. P.S. Wordless picture books can be powerful tools for developing literacy, comprehension, and writing skills. And if your child is learning a second language, asking them to retell the story in that language is wonderful practice (so says our Spanish teacher).
by David Wiesner
Find it: Amazon
A great wordless picture book for elementary kids, Flotsom is about a boy who investigates all kinds of treasures that wash ashore including a mysterious time capsule of sorts.
Bats at the Beach
by Brian Lies
Enticing rhyme and rhythm weave a fanciful description of bats enjoying all their favorite beach activities–at night of course. Though your kids probably have never used “moon-tan lotion” or roasted “bug-mallows,” they are sure to relate to this beachy book.
by Molly Idle
A sister, a brother, and a collection of fun dinosaur friends go to the beach! This book is a perfect example of how picture book illustrations can add a whole other—in this case, comic—element to the storytelling.
S is for Sea Glass
by Richard Michelson and Doris Ettlinger
S is for Sea Glass is a collection of beachy poems, one for each letter of the alphabet. This summer picture book is great for enjoying the quintessential beach things like screechy gulls, sand castles, and the waves that knock them down. Some of the poems are funny like “M is for Mosquito” and “R is for Rain.” Many also use items associated with the beach as metaphors or springboards into other topics. One of my favorites is “U is for Umbrella,” which describes an umbrella garden of different patterns and colors.
SUMMER SWIMMING BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
by Jacqueline Davies and Sonia Sánchez
This summer book is just as fun and buoyant as a bubble. It uses several poetic devices to beautifully describe a family’s fun afternoon at the swimming pool.
by Gaia Cornwall
There’s a reason this picture book gets lots of attention: it’s a special one. In this summer children’s book, we see Jabari, ready to jump off the diving board. Or is he? Jabari’s alternating confidence and hesitancy is so true to life. The way his dad both encourages and lets Jabari choose is wonderful. And the ending is pure fun!
Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory
by Julie Abery and Chris Sasaki
When I learned about this story of an unlikely 1940’s olympic swim team, I did not expect it to rhyme! But it was a pleasant surprise. This nonfiction picture book tells how a science teacher’s care and advocacy for children in Maui—children who found relief from the heat in irrigation ditches—led him to start training them as a swim team. Through their innovation and determination, Sakamoto’s swim club not only went to the Olympics but also won several gold medals. An extensive author’s note tells a more complete version of this amazing story.
WANT MORE BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS?
Here are more than 75 picks for kids ages 0 to 12
CAMPING BOOKS FOR SUMMER (PICTURE BOOKS & EARLY READERS)
Fatima’s Great Outdoors
by Abreen Tariq and Steve Lewis
Fatima’s parents both grew up in India, and now they are taking their two school-aged daughters camping, which according to Fatima’s father is the “great American pastime.” This gem of a book takes us from Fatima’s classroom (where kids make faces at her box lunch and she struggles on quizzes) to the family’s campsite (where she helps solve camping challenges, recalls family stories, and has lots of fun). Even going back to school might not be so bad after such an adventure.
The Camping Trip
by Jennifer K. Mann
This is a sweet and simple book about a girl’s first camping trip, with all its fun and challenges. It’s a wonderful summer read for kids.
Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night
by Cynthia Rylant and Sucie Stevenson
Part of a beloved series of books about a young boy named Henry and his large dog, Mudge, this early reader tells the story of a family camping trip. Henry imagines all the wildlife he might see. Will there be bears? What follows is a fun, safe, and quiet night under the stars.
Charlie and Mouse Outdoors
by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes
This hardcover early reader shows the antics and adventures of two brothers as their family goes camping. Short sentences create an enjoyable, kid-like cadence delivering tons of imagination, wonder, and family fun.
Kids’ Books on Hiking
Hiking is another fun way to spend family time during summer. You can find our recommendations for hiking books for kids right here in our fall books post.
Children’s Books about Summer Travels and Visitors
Let Me Fix You a Plate
by Elizabeth Lilly
Mom and Dad have built a family in the city, but early one summer morning they pile the kids in the car for a long drive to visit the people and places that formed them. From Dad’s beginnings in coal country West Virginia to Mom’s Colombian roots in South Florida, this is the story of a family road trip culminating in warm hearts, warm hugs, and warm plates.
Goldfish on Vacation
by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Leo Espinosa
This story is so whimsical and fun, so silly and sublime, you may think it can’t possibly be true, but it is. This is the story of Hamilton Fountain in New York City, which was cleaned and filled every summer from 1992 to 2005 for no other reason than for children to bring their goldfish for summer vacation. Every detail is delightful, and there are more fun, real-life facts in the author’s note. (And in case you missed it, the author is Sally Lloyd-Jones! She is amazing.)
Does God Go on Vacation?
by Amy Gannett and Nate Farro
Does God go on vacation? Little ones to early readers will delight in this simple exploration of God’s omnipresence and the comfort that wherever we go, He is with us.
by Emil Sher and Quin Leng
Told in post-it notes and filled with humor, this picture book is all about a boy who doesn’t want to go to summer camp. Through his mom’s and grandma’s encouragement, he takes the leap and has tons of fun.
When Lola Visits
by Michelle Sterling and Aaron Asis
What does summer smell like? Feel like? For this little girl, summer starts when Lola visits. Her grandma’s visit from the Philippines means cassava cake and songs in Tagalog and Ilocano. It means sharing fireworks and beach fun. This book will immerse you in beautiful family culture and caring.
The Summer Visitors
by Karel Hayes
This nearly wordless picture book shows a family’s vacation at a summer cottage and, unbeknownst to them, the adventures of a bear family too. So fun!
More Children’s Books about Summer Fun: Outside Play & Icy Treats
Khalil and Mr. Hagerty and the Backyard Treasures
by Tricia Springstubb and Elaheh Taherian
There are so many things to love about this book. It’s as if all the and’s in the title are giving you clues, saying, “You’re going to love the characters AND the intergenerational friendship AND the emphasis on words AND the sweet surprises AND the artwork AND… The book is set in the backyard in the summer, but you may have gotten a clue that I think it is great to read all year round. AND I do.
The World Belonged to Us
by Jacqueline Woodson and Leo Espinosa
It’s summer in Brooklyn, and Jacqueline Woodson’s rhythmic text gives us a taste of all the freedom, friendship, and play kids (and grown-ups) dream about: “But we had to run through the water, bookbags and all. Because our teachers’ final words had been ‘Have a good summer.’ Our only plan on that last day of school was to take what they said seriously.”
Playing ball, building forts, dreaming dreams. But also, learning to take turns, sharing ice cream money, scraping knees. One really special moment is when an older kid tells his story of crying over an injury to normalize the tears of a younger one. And Leo Espinosa’s illustrations on that page are particularly inviting and just so good. Love this book!
A Stick Is an Excellent Thing
by Marilyn Singer and LeUyen Pham
If you need to be reminded of the simple pleasures of outdoor play, this joy-filled summer picture book is sure to do the trick. I mean, there is an entire poem about walking on “the edges—the curves, the rims, the little ledges.” 100% yes! And then there’s a poem that ends “Everything’s a blast when you do it really fast.” Also, yes! These poems come alive with a diverse cast of kiddos doing everything from playing hide-and-seek to blowing bubbles to barreling down grassy knolls. And of course, there’s an ode to the excellence of sticks.
Ice Cream Summer
by Peter Sís
Ice Cream Summer has so many layers to keep kids engaged and giggling. It’s a story of an ice-cream-crazy child writing to his grandpa about how he’s passing the time during summer. The pictures reveal that all the summer fun somehow involves ice cream! It even includes math and history related to ice cream. At the end, the grandpa and grandchild share a “sweet” adventure.
|Another Summer Family Faith Moment|
|Have you ever made ice cream? If so, you know how much patience it requires. Check out Valerie’s Instagram post for one way to use this book to spark a spiritual discussion with your kids. And for more summery faith moment ideas, take a look at this reel about water and this reel about shade on the Our Everyday Parables Instagram account.|
by Lucky Diaz and Micah Player
This rhyming picture book with both English and Spanish phrases tells of a little boy going around town to look for the paletero man. He wants to buy an ice pop (paleta) to beat the heat! He passes his friends at the tamale cart, the Korean BBQ restaurant, and the bicycle shop and then finally finds “Paletero Jose.” But he’s lost something else—his money! You’ll love how the story ends with a message of friendship, and of course, everyone sharing a yummy summer treat.
My Papi Has a Motorcycle
by Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña
Talking about Paletero Man reminds me of My Papi Has a Motorcycle where a loving dad takes his daughter on a motorcycle ride through their neighborhood everyday. (We first mentioned it in our list of books with diverse characters.) It displays the beauty of families and neighborhoods, and—though not specifically a summer book—it ends with an icy treat.
And Then Comes Summer
by Tom Brenner and Jaime Kim
This summer picture book describes so much of what kids love about the season, starting with saying “bye-bye” to school for a while! It’s a great launching point to talk about your own family’s summer traditions. Though this is a general market book, you could pull out your own faith themes. For example, you could ask kids what parts of God’s creation they look forward to in summer.
What books and activities do you love to experience with your family during summer? We’d love to hear! Drop us a line in the comments.