Summer Reading: Noteworthy Kids Picture Books
Today we welcome local children’s book expert Melissa LaSalle who is writing a series of posts for us about summer reading. First up, some of her favorite new picture books.
Summer is the perfect venue for discovery: school is out, days are long, toes are bare, fireflies are magical, and water beckons. It’s also an opportunity to leave books lying around in every room of the house, waiting for little hands to discover in moments of idleness. Here are some unique new picture books celebrating summer for the preschool and elementary crowd (you also can see my picks from last year here).
Sea Rex, by Molly Idle (Ages 3-7)
Your kids will feel positively giddy about summer’s arrival after reading this witty homage to a day at the beach. Molly Idle’s new companion book to her previous Tea Rex and Camp Rex pairs cautionary reminders—“use plenty of sunscreen” and “wait to go in the water after eating”—with contagiously charming illustrations of a girl, a boy, and their dinosaur companions in reckless beachy abandon.
The sparse text is more than made up for in the multitude of pictorial surprises, like the boy-shaped silhouette on the T-Rex’s otherwise sunburned belly (from where the boy napped earlier), or the circling shark fins that turn out to belong to a submerged stegosaurus.
Ice Cream Summer, by Peter Sis (Ages 4-8)
It wouldn’t be summer without ice cream! For the boy in Peter Sis’ Ice Cream Summer, visions of ice cream are at the forefront of everything he does: He builds sandcastles with cone-shaped spires; he practices his reading on the flavors-of-the-day signage; he makes up word problems about ice cream mishaps; and he teaches himself the history of ice cream, including how cones were originally invented (when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups next to a waffle seller).
Information is packed into this deceptively simple book, although my children’s favorite part is spotting all the ice cream cones in every one of Sis’ swirling sherbet-toned illustrations.
Pool, by JiHyeon Lee (Ages 4-8)
Make use of summer’s relaxed schedule to pour over some wordless books with your children. Wordless books make wonderful pre-literacy tools (encouraging children to seek meaning from pictures); they allow for flights of imagination and rich discussion (you get to make up the story); and they only get better with repeated readings (“Hey, I never noticed that!”).
If your children are familiar with gems like Journey and Hank Finds an Egg, then you’re ready to move on to JiHyeon Lee’s weirdly fantastic Pool. An overcrowded public pool turns into a gateway to adventure for two children, when the bottom falls away and leads them to an ocean floor like none other.
Accents of color dot a muted blue background, as mysterious creatures of all shapes and sizes take form and then disappear on this unusual summer day.
The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond (Ages 5-10)
If you’ve got a fact lover in your house (or, for that matter, a snorkel enthusiast), they’re in for a treat. Following in the footsteps of other spectacular ocean-themed non-fiction picture books, like Katherine Roy’s Neighborhood Sharks and Jason Chin’s Coral Reefs, comes Jenni Desmond’s stunning and informative The Blue Whale.
The book takes us alongside a boy as he learns about the largest living mammal on earth (as long as a truck, digger, boat, car, bicycle, motorcycle, van, and tractor all lined up!). How blue whales eat, how they feed their babies, how they breathe, how they talk—it’s all covered here, and one page is as fascinating and gloriously illustrated as the next.
As always, check out my blog for weekly updates on what we are enjoying reading in our house. I’ll be posting all summer long!