Armchair travel anyone? We’re sharing 50 of our favorite picture books for some Summer Adventure reading!
Last year we put together a list of 50 Picture Books for Summer. They were all books that conjured the very essence of summer – beaches, and ice cream, and camping tales. So many people enjoyed the list and I’ve heard from many how fun it was to print off the library list and work their way through them all summer long. Hooray!
So today, we bring you a book list sequel of sorts. While last year’s picture books invoked the magic of summer, this year’s list will inspire your summer adventures, even if they’re all just in your imagination. No matter what your family’s plans are this summer, here are 50 picture books to take you away – around Europe, on a bear hunt, over the ocean, and up to the moon.
And, like all of our book lists, we’ve read every single book we recommend. We, a book loving mama and her four little book worms, love these books and we hope you’ll enjoy them too.
You’ll find a handy printable book list at the end of this post to take on all your library/book store adventures this summer. Happy Reading!
50 Picture Books for Summer Adventures
Where the River Begins by Thomas Locker : Two boys and their grandfather go on an adventure to find where the river begins. Gorgeous illustrations!
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen : It’s the original song with fun illustrations. Swishy swashy, swishy swashy. So fun to read.
The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen : A circus ship crashes off the coast of Maine and the animals show up in town to surprise everyone. A rhyming story that is so fun to read with bright, colorful illustrations.
Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane : Lalla, a young girl, lives in the Muslim country of Mauritania and admires all the women wearing their traditional malafas. The book offers a lyrical explanation, with beautiful pictures, for the religious tradition of the malafa (the veil Muslim women wear).
Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska : Detailed, gorgeous illustrated maps that you and your kids can pore over for hours. A chic atlas for armchair travelers.
Dodsworth in Rome by Tim Egan : Technically this is an easy-reader beginner chapter book, but with only four short chapters it can be read easily in one sitting. Dodsworth and his duck are adorable and always into some funny mischief.
Charlotte in Paris by Joan MacPhail Knight : This scrapbook style picture book is set in 1892 Paris and is the perfect French experience.
Quest by Aaron Becker : Journey was on last year’s summer reading list, but the adventure continues with Quest. This gorgeous wordless book is the best kind of adventure – hidden doors, kings in trouble, a tropical paradise, and two brave kids.
Sebastian and the Balloon by Philip C. Stead : Sebastian is bored, but only until he turns his grandma’s quilts and afghans into a balloon and launches himself off the roof for a wild adventure.
Sally’s Great Balloon adventure by Stephen Huneck : Another charming Sally the Dog adventure, but this time with a hot air balloon!
A Giraffe goes to Paris by Mary Tavener Holmes : True story about the giraffe that the Pasha of Egypt gifted to the King of France in 1827. I adore the illustrations.
Off We Go to Mexico by Laurie Krebs : Bright, colorful photos and a simple story share all the best parts of Mexico.
A Walk in London by Salvatore Rubbino : Just like the title says, this book takes you on a walk through London – armchair travel for kids at its best.
Mirror by Jeannie Baker : This clever book follows two boy’s parallel days in Australia and Morocco. Look for what’s the same and what’s different.
Gorky Rises by William Steig : I have a special place in my heart for all of Steig’s books, especially this one. Gorky mixes up his own potion using ordinary household ingredients, but it turns into a quirky magical adventure.
My China Travel Journal by Laura Barta : Written from the perspective of two kids, Emma and Joe, on a trip in China. The travel journal style is fun and informative.
Finders Keepers? A True Story in India by Robert Arnett : Take a bus ride through India!
Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo : Louise is a chicken who longs for adventure and she’s determined to find it. This is such a good one!
The Boy, The Bear, The Baron, The Bard by Gregory Rogers : A hilarious romp through Shakespeare’s London. This is a wordless book, but so wonderful you’ll find yourself reading it over and over so you can enjoy it again and again.
Astronaut Handbook by Megan McCarthy : Everything you need to know to become an astronaut.
Round Trip by Ann Jonas : Reading this book is an adventure in itself. Once you travel to the city, you turn the book over to travel back again.
Dr. DeSoto Goes to Africa by William Steig : Doctor DeSoto, the famous mouse dentist, is summoned to Africa to help an elephant with a toothache. Classic Steig, and so fun.
Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay : I adore Alison Jay’s illustrations and this book’s pictures tell the best story.
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann : This wordless book begins with a bird flying into a dinosaur museum one dark and stormy night. It’s quite an adventure from there!
Along a Long Road by Frank Viva : An adventurous bicycle ride with Viva’s graphic style illustrations to entertain.
Americanine by Yann Kebbi : A French dog takes a trip to New York City. It’s everything you love about New York City from a haute dog’s perspective.
Walk This World by Jenny Broom : A visual feast of cultures from around the world.
Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd : A sweet and simple reminder to appreciate the wild in nature that is all around us.
Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by DB Johnson : This book was inspired by a passage from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The book follows two characters living very different lives and who have two very different adventures on the way to meet each other.
Follow the Moon Home by Phillipe Cousteau : Baby sea turtles have quite an adventure on their way out to sea.
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burmingham : This book from the 1970’s never gets old. Mr. Gumpy agrees to take some children on a boat ride, but only if they behave. It doesn’t go quite how Mr. Gumpy plans, but it’s an adventure all the same.
Girl and Gorilla: Out and About by Rick Walton : Girl and Gorilla just want to make it to the park, but it’s quite an adventure – and so adorable.
Over the Ocean by Taro Gomi : A girl stands at the edge of the ocean and she wonders . . . just what is over the ocean?
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett : Barnett is a genius and so is this book. Two boys are on a mission to dig a hole, but it doesn’t turn out quite like they expect.
A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna : A lion is bored by his rural life on the savanna so he goes to Paris for an adventure. Oh, the pictures in this one!
The Town Mouse and The Country Mouse by Helen Ward : This is a fun retelling of the old mouse tale, with great pictures too.
A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva : A graphic novel style book for young kids. Well designed with a story the grown ups won’t mind reading more than once.
The Sea View Hotel by James Stevenson : Hubert is the only child at the hotel for his summer vacation and he’s terribly bored, until . . .
Locomotive by Brian Floca : A Caldecott winner and a really fun look at America’s railroad history.
Airport by Byron Barton : A simple, fun look at the inner workings of the airport.
The Secret Remedy Book by Karin Cates : Lolly is visiting her aunt for a whole month and has a real case of homesickness until she discovers her great grandmother’s secret remedy book.
Flashlight by Liz Boyd : This is a fantastically illustrated book about a really fun flashlight adventure.
The Night Gardener by Terry Fan : A magical story with a mysterious night gardener who transforms a town and an orphan boy’s life.
Seven Ways to Catch the Moon by M.P. Robertson : We love this poetic read. What’s the best way to catch the moon?
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena : The sweetest book about a boy and his grandmother and a bus trip with a perfect ending.
Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg : Two bored kids find a board game in the park and it’s a wild adventure from there. This is the book that inspired the movie.
The Treasure by Uri Shulevitz : When Isaac has a dream three times telling him where to look for a treasure, he finally decides to listen and goes on an unexpected treasure hunt.
Adelaide by Tomi Ungerer : Adelaide is an unusual flying kangaroo who leaves her family to fly off to an adventure of her own.
Tuesday by David Weisner : Another wordless adventure from Weisner that is irresistible. You’ll never believe what happens in this town on Tuesday.
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran : This is one of my favorites. A group of kids in a desert of sand and rocks who use their imagination to create a world of their own.
Tar Beach by Faith Ringold : A dream adventure in which Cassie flies above her apartment building and gets to see her 1939 Harlem life from a bird’s eye view.
There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith : A little boy sets out an adventure all by himself and encounters many different groups of animals along the way. He’s happiest, of course, when he meets his own tribe.
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey : This classic tale is the best kind of adventure. Sal has a big day ahead of her and it starts with a loose tooth.
Home by Carson Ellis : And after all the adventuring, home really is the best place to be. We adore this gorgeously illustrated book that takes a look at many different kinds of homes.
Click here for a Printable Book List so you can keep track of your summer adventure reading. And for more good summer picture book reads, check out last year’s book list as well.
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