It's Summer reading time! Here are the 101 Best Picture Books to Read This Summer. Get your library cards and this printable list and you're all set.
It's that time of year again! Summer is definitely the season of maxing out library cards and reading on picnic blankets outside.
This month our libraries here finally opened up for normal book browsing for the first time in over a year! This time last year, our libraries were all still completely closed. It makes this year's list of the Best Picture Books to Read feel even more special.
This is one of my most favorite posts to put together every year! It's been our privilege and absolute delight to read every single book on this list and pick the very best picture books to read this summer. A collection of books, both new and old, funny and serious, fiction and non-fiction.
There's a little something here for everyone and I can't wait for you to enjoy them all as much as we have. If you need MORE BOOKS, check out past year's lists too.
Happy Summer Reading!
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The 101 Best Picture Books to Read This Summer
- Lights on Wonder Rock by David Litchfield | I think this is already my favorite picture book of the year! It's the best UFO story I've ever read.
- Watercress by Andrea Wang | This book actually inspired us to go find some actual watercress and give it a try. It's a beautiful story about a Chinese American family.
- On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex | This hilarious story about a mishap with gum stuck in hair is laugh-out-loud funny.
- Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho | We love this book about a young Asian girl learning to love and appreciate her eyes that kiss in the corners.
- Itty-Bitty Kitty-Corn by Shannon Hale | This is such a sweet book! Itty-Bitty Kitty thinks she might be a unicorn, but when she meets an actual unicorn her confidence wavers. It has a perfect ending.
- A Most Clever Girl by Jasmine Stirling | A really wonderful picture book about Jane Austen!
- The Midnight Fair by Gideon Sterer | This wordless book is stunning. At the end of the night, the fair empties out . . . but only until all the animals from the nearby woods come for their turn at the fair.
- Let's Get Sleepy by Tony Cliff | With cats looking for a mouse named Sleepy, rhyming text, and a seek-and-find element, this book is tons of fun.
- Who Loves the Dragon by Bianca Schulze | We love interactive picture books and this book about a Dragon missing his friends is great.
- A Night Walk to the Sea by Deborah Wiles | I first picked this up because the illustrator (Daniel Miyares) is a favorite of mine, but the story about the environmental activist Rachel Carson is fantastic too.
- In a Jar by Deborah Marcero | This charming picture book is everything I want in a children's book! Two little rabbit friends love to collect things together, but what will happen when one of the rabbits moves away?
- Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon by Kat Zhang | After her teacher reads the class a book about dragons, she gives them an assignment to create their own. Amy Wu is excited to try, but she doesn't figure out how to make her dragon exactly what she wants until she gets help from her family. A great story!
- Crossings by Katy S. Duffield | This non-fiction picture book is a fascinating look at the wildlife crossings that have been created to keep animals safe.
- Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor | A bird falling from its nest can be disastrous, but in this adorable story, a little bird learns that sometimes you might fall down before you learn to fly up.
- Wishes by Muon Thi Van | This is a phenomenal book about a Vietnamese family's search for a new home across the world. The illustrations are incredible!
- Oh Look, A Cake! by J.C. McKee | Sloth and Lemur find a cake, but they don't really want to share. The hilarious twist at the end reminded me of a Jon Klassen book!
- The Bear in My Family by Maya Tatsukawa | A really great sibling story! I mean if you've ever lived with an older sibling, then you'll probably relate to the "bear in the house" analogy.
- There Must Be More Than That by Shinsuke Yoshitake | This is a really thoughtful and empowering book about looking to the future without fear. When her older brother tells her that the world is doomed, the main character goes to her grandma for some perspective.
- Unstoppable by Adam Rex | A fun book about the power of teamwork.
- Ohana Means Family by Ilima Loomis | A cumulative story about Hawaiian culture. It's a perfect read aloud book!
- Bunnies on the Bus by Phillip Ardagh | This fun rhyming story about the mayhem that ensues when bunnies take over the bus is a favorite bed time read aloud at our house right now.
- The Friday Night Wrestle Fest by J.F. Fox | I think bed time wrestling is a thing at a lot of houses, right? We loved this cute story about a family wrestle fest.
- Nerp! by Sarah Lynne Reul | Picky eaters and nonsense language. This book is so much fun!
- Rita and Ralph's Rotten Day by Carmen Agra Deedy | A great book about conflict resolution.
- The Barnabus Project by Terry Fan | We're big fans of just about everything the Fan Brothers create! This book about a little creature that is part mouse - part elephant is amazing.
- Two Dogs on a Trike by Gabi Snyder | A really delightful counting book!
- I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes | An upbeat, positive book about a Black boy celebrating everything that's good about himself.
- I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott | A powerful story about a boy with a stutter learning how to overcome his feelings of isolation.
- We Wait for the Sun by Dovey J. Roundtree & Katie McCabe | Dovey and her grandmother wake up before sunrise to pick blackberries in the forest. Beautiful!
- A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis | Fun riddles paired with bold illustrations. It's a celebration of nature!
- Old Rock (is not boring) by Deb Pilutti | If you think it's boring being a rock that always sits in the same place, then Old Rock has a few things to tell you.
- The Paper Kingdom by Helena Ku Rhee | When the babysitter cancels, Daniel gets to join his parents downtown at night while they clean an office building. It's very sweet.
- Bikes for Sale by Carter Higgins | Maurice and Lottie ride their bikes on separate paths everyday, but what will happen when a lemon peel and a branch make their paths cross?!
- Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman | This one is such a fun read aloud! Experience the joy of demolition on every page.
- Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow | When a little girl feels frustrated that no one at school pronounces her name correctly, her wise mother helps her see the beauty in her name.
- The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen | We can't ever get enough of Klassen's special brand of wry humor at our house!
- If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall | A beautiful story about everything you'd need to know if it was your first time coming to earth.
- Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry | This is an exceptional story about an old sea captain who has to overcome his own grumpiness to appreciate his new young neighbor.
- This Very Tree by Sean Rubin | A really moving story about 9/11 with phenomenal illustrations.
- The Wanderer by Peter Van den Ende | This wordless book about a paper boat's journey across the ocean is absolutely magical!
- What We'll Build by Oliver Jeffers | A really sweet father-daughter story about building a life together.
- Julia's House Moves On by Ben Hatke | If you haven't already read Julia's House For Lost Creatures, start there. This sequel to the first picture book is just as wonderful!
- Every Little Letter by Deborah Underwood | What if all the letters decided to only hang out with their own kind? This is a beautiful book about taking down walls and appreciating our differences.
- Something's Wrong! by Jory John | My kids, like most kids, really get a kick out of Jory John's humor. This book about a bear in underwear inspired lot's of giggles.
- Bubbles Up by Jacqueline Davies | This story about a day at the pool is perfect summer reading!
- Your Place in the Universe by Jason Chin | I think we love just about everything Jason Chin produces. This non-fiction picture book is a must read!
- The Old Truck by Jerome Pumphrey | We adore this clever story about an old truck on a busy farm, passing through generations.
- Avocado Asks: What Am I? by Momoko Abe | Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable? It really wants to know!
- I Dream of a Journey by Akiko Miyakoshi | After years of watching other people take journeys, this hotelkeeper decides it's time for a journey of his own. Stunning!
- Nanette's Baguette by Mo Willems | Nanette wants a baguette, but will she be beset with regret? Can't go wrong with a Mo Willems book.
- In the Half Room by Carson Ellis | This is a weird but ingenious book. I don't even know how to describe it.
- Sandcastle by Einat Tsarfati | This book is so good. Get ready for the best and biggest sandcastle ever!
- The Suitcase by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros | The story is simple, but man does it pack a big emotional punch. This is how we should welcome refugees.
- The Truth About Dragons by Jaime Zollars | A really great story about overcoming fears.
- Turtle Walk by Matt Phelan | Explore the seasons with a sweet and slow turtle family.
- The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha | This Caldecott Honor book is the true story of a man in Aleppo who saved the city's cats in the middle of the Syrian war.
- Saving the Countryside by Linda Marshall | A phenomenal picture book biography about Beatrix Potter.
- One Little Bag by Henry Cole | The incredible journey of one little bag that is used over and over again. So clever!
- One Summer Up North by John Owens | This wordless picture book about canoeing and camping in the woods is a perfect summer picture book.
- The Boy and the Sea by Camille Andros | A really gorgeous book about a boy and his connection to the ocean.
- How to Knit a Monster by Annemarie van Haeringen | Greta the goat is really good at knitting, but when she accidentally knits a monster she has to knit a way to safety.
- Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green | A funny book about a hippo who decides to act like a human.
- The Runaway No-Wheeler by Peter Stein | A very clever counting book about a trucking disaster.
- You Must Bring a Hat by Simon Philip | You are cordially invited to the biggest and bestest party of all time, but you must bring a hat!
- Please Don't Eat Me by Liz Climo | When a bear and a bunny meet in the woods, bunny has just one request: Please Don't Eat Me. Luckily, Bear has something else in mind.
- The Trouble with Time Travel by Stephen W. Martin | When Max accidentally smashes an heirloom vase, she resorts to time travel to set it right. But, time travel is tricky!
- Don't Worry Little Crab by Chris Haughton | A really gentle and sweet book about easing your way into something difficult.
- Firefly Home by Jane Clarke | Firefly is lost and needs your help to find her way home. A fun interactive picture book.
- Many Moons by James Thurber | This hilarious book is one of my all time favorite classic picture books. A princess asks for the moon and the king is determined to give it to her.
- Bird Hugs by Ged Adamson | This little bird has wings too long for flying . . . but they are really good for giving hugs!
- A Bear is a Bear by Karl Newson | When bear wakes up from hibernation, he's forgotten what he is. Is he a bird? A Fox? How will he figure it out?
- The Boy and the Giant by David Litchfield | Billy thinks the giant in Gableview is just a tall tale, but when his kite gets away from him, he discovers the truth. So good!
- Margaret's Unicorn by Briony May Smith | This is just the darn cutest book I've ever seen. Margaret finds a lost baby unicorn and brings him home to care for him.
- Agnes's Place by Marit Larsen | This is a really beautiful Norwegian picture book about friendship.
- The Sorry Life of Timothy Shmoe by Stephanie McLellan | Timothy really doesn't try to cause problems, but for some reason trouble follows wherever he goes. So funny!
- That Bear Can't Babysit by Ruth Quayle | I mean, would you let a bear babysit your little bunnies?
- The Poisoned Apple by Anne Lambelet | A wickedly funny twist on the classic Snow White fairytale.
- Ten Beautiful Things by Molly Griffin | My new favorite book about choosing a positive mindset.
- A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins | Another wickedly funny story . . . but what you think is happening isn't really happening . . . or is it?
- It's Not Little Red Riding Hood by Josh Funk | We love fractured fairytales and this funny version of Red Riding Hood is great.
- Blanket: An Extreme Journey to Coziness by Loryn Brantz | This one is for all my cozy, blanket loving people out there!
- The Best Worst Poet Ever by Lauren Stohler | SO FUNNY. A Cat and a Pug in a poetry showdown.
- I Am A Cat by Galia Bernstein | A little housecat learns that he's just as much of a cat as all the lions and tigers out there.
- Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems | Probably the very best version of the Goldilocks story.
- When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling | A really beautiful story about a girl enjoying her summer with a visit from her Filipino grandmother. We love this one!
- If You See A Lion by Karl Newson | A fancy lion is trying to narrate the story . . . but he keeps accidentally eating it. Ooops.
- Steve, Terror of the Seas by Megan Brewis | Steve isn't a very big fish, so why are all the other fish afraid of him?
- Land Shark by Beth Ferry | All Bobby wants for his birthday is a shark, so he's very disappointed when he gets a puppy. But, maybe a puppy is just what he needs.
- Hello, Rain! by Kyo MaClear | This bright, colorful book will have you so excited for the next rain shower!
- This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis | Jack the goat has always been a loner on Open Bud Ranch and he's not about to change for a new horse . . . or is he?
- Sincerely, Emerson by Emerson Weber | The inspiring true story of how 11 year old Emerson wrote a letter to her Postal Carrier and started a happy outpouring of gratitude.
- Scared of the Dark? It's Really Scared of You by Peter Vegas | The perfect book to unpack this common childhood fear.
- Agent Lion by Jacky Davis | Fluffy the cat is missing and Agent Lion is on the case!
- The Same, But Different Too by Karl Newson | A really cute book about embracing what makes us unique.
- Seagull and Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg | Both seagull and sea dragon are afraid to try something new, but they find out how nice it is to make a new friend.
- Fern and Otto by Stephanie Graegin | Three friends go searching for an exciting story in the forest and you're going to love every single page of it!
- Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Three kids think it's going to be a boring summer in the city, but when someone decides to fix up an old fountain everything changes. Based on a true story and so fun to read!
- Sumo Kitty by David Biedrzycki | This is a really fun, growth-mindset story about a stray cat who gets a job catching mice in a sumo stable.
- Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins | At first the art museum seems boring until a kind guard helps her see things differently.
- The Power of Yet by Maryann Cocca Leffler | A cute rhyming book about overcoming challenges.
- Be a Tree! by Maria Gianferrari | A beautiful book about all the wonderful things there are to love about trees.
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