Best Summertime Reads

Best Summertime Reads to Get the Whole Family Reading

We all know it’s important to keep up with reading during the summer. But we also know it’s ideal to read books that capture the essence of summer and the adventures that families are bound to have.

You may be looking for new books to add to your collection, gifts for other summer-loving children, or even ideas for your own beach reads. We’ll feature some of our favorite books that reflect the freedom, fun, and independence found in the wayward days of summertime and we hope they will inspire your very own summer adventures, big and small.

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child reading on a park bench during summer

Summer Books for Toddlers

A collection of board books about summer

Baby Loves Summer by Karen Katz

A sweet lift-the-flap book in Karen Katz tradition that introduces young ones to all the summertime favorites.

C is for Camping by Greg Paprocki

A fun alphabet primer full of beautiful illustrations around camping concepts like fire, stars, exploring and “leave it clean.”

Everything Grows by Raffi

Based on the much-loved Raffi song, this book celebrates the earth and everything on it.

Go Bikes Go by Addie Boswell

A fun board book that introduces young kids to bikes and the diversity of the people who ride them using rhymes and detailed illustrations.

Hello World! Garden Time by Jill McDonald

Part of the Hello, World! series, this book dives in the soil, seeds, plants, and pollinators to introduce toddlers to gardening. 

Maisy Goes Camping by Lucy Cousins

Maisy and her friends go camping and realize that tent-pitching and squeezing into a tent isn’t so easy.

Mouse’s First Summer by Lauren Thompson

A simple and sweet story that focuses on colors as the mice explore summery things like kites, watermelon and green grass.

Summertime by Jane Foster

A book full of bold, bright summertime images that introduces all of our favorite things about summer.

The Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle

This classic Eric Carle book follows a little firefly as he searches for his firefly friends. The last page will captivate little ones with its tiny lights.

Summer Picture Books

A collection of picture books about summer

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

In the second in the Mr. Magee series, Mr. Magee and his dog, Dee, are on nice, quiet camping trip when everything gets disrupted by a bear! Their unpredictable situation is brought to life with vibrant illustrations.

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner

In this book, the kids are getting ready for summer and all that it brings – flip-flops, swimming, toasting marshmallows, ice cream trucks, late nights and so much more. 

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

A sweet tale about Sal and her mother searching for blueberries alongside a mama bear and her little one doing the same.

Everything you Need for a Treehouse by Carter Higgins

For kids ready to imagine and build the treehouse of their dreams and for their parents who remember doing the same. The illustrations are top notch – colorful and magical. 

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

In this story, two kids find adventure away from the city and in the natural world. They see so much “wild” there, but when they come back to their noisy neighborhood, they find that it has its own unique bit of “wild.”

Fletcher and the Summer Show by Julia Rawlinson

The sounds of summer inspire Fletcher to put on a summer talent show, with the help of his friends.

Hike by Pete Oswald

A child accompanies his dad for a hike into the mountains, overcoming challenges and witnessing nature’s routines in the process. The book has few words, but beautiful images to linger on.

Our Great Big Backyard by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager

This book pays tribute to our national parks with Jane and her family as they road trip around the country. The take in the sights at parks like the Everglades and Big Bend National Park and understand more about what the outdoors can provide.

Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow

In this classic story, Peter searches for blueberries to give to his mother, but soon finds himself on a magical adventure. 

child reading on a picnic blanket in summer

Scout Moore, Junior Ranger on the Colorado Plateau by Theresa Howell

Scout Moore lives to be a Junior Ranger. With her family, she sets out on a road trip and gets to see all the Colorado Plateau has to offer and visits parks like Zion, Arches, Capitol Reef, and the Grand Canyon.

S is for S’mores by Helen Foster James

This camping alphabet shares all the things to love about camping A to Z. It’s informative and inviting, sharing the important parts of camping with children.

Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee

A little girl stays cool on a hot summer day while enjoying the small and slow activities of summer – picnicking, lemonade-sipping, butterfly-catching and more.

The Flowers Festival by Elsa Beskow

In this story, Queen Rose welcomes the flowers from the forest, meadow, lake, and garden into her party. The lovely illustrations introduce children to many types of flowers. 

The Golden Glow by Benjamin Flouw

Fox embarks on an expedition to find the golden glow, a rare plant from his old book. He packs for the journey and finds many different plants and friends along the way.

The Hike by Alison Farrell

Three young girls set out on an adventure in the outdoors in their own local forest. They each bring their own skills and interests to the adventure, making it fun and lively for the three exploring friends.

The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall

This book follows a honeybee as it makes its way from flower to flower, sharing the honeybee’s ever-important role to our ecosystem.

Sandcastle by Einat Tsarfati

This sandcastle is full of life, detail, and imagination. Readers can spend a day at this grand sandcastle discovering something for everyone.

The Sun Gnomes by Hayley Nystrom

In this poetic story, the Sun Gnomes love the long days, the warmth of the sun, and refreshing treats, all delivered in soft, colorful illustrations. This is one of four Magic of the Seasons books.

Waiting for High Tide by Nikkie McClure

A relaxing story of one boy patiently waiting for high tide so that he can swim and dive off of his family’s log raft. While he waits, he observes the other animals and creatures along the shore doing the same – waiting.

Wave by Suzy Lee

A book with no words that depicts a girl spending her day at the beach with simple watercolor images.

Children’s Books About Summer: Elementary Age

A collection of summer books for elementary readers

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

An old favorite about a 10-year old and her new dog Winn-Dixie – the reason why almost everything happened that summer.

Camp by Kayla Miller

A graphic novel about two friends heading off to summer camp for the first time. This story discusses navigating friendship in the face of new experiences and learning how to embrace your own path.

Elliot Stone and the Mystery of the Summer Vacation Sea Monster by LP Chase

Elliot has to spend the entire month away from his friends in a Vermont cabin, but after hearing about a legend in the nearby lake, he’s a little more intrigued about what this summer away will become.

How Tia Lola Saved the Summer by Julia Alvarez

A fun story about the summer camp that Tia Lola starts for Miguel, his sister and the three sisters that his mother has invited to live with them for the summer. The summer camp transforms Miguel’s low expectations for the summer into one that’s full of fun and a big surprise.

Just Jake: Camp Wild Survival by Jake Marcionette

The story of Jake’s summer shake up – he wanted a relaxing summer but instead ends up a celebrity wilderness survival camp, full of intense, but funny experiences that are the opposite of what Jake wanted.

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

A 12-year-old’s account of the summer that he was gifted a lawnmower, started a business, and began investing – “that’s when my 12th summer got really interesting.”

Seashells: More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart

A non-fiction book that details thirteen different types of seashells, their characteristics, and what purpose they serve – often much more than simply being a home.

Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson

A girl’s summer away from the city. She’s ready for freedom from her normal, expected routine and excited to embark on an adventure with a new friend and their horses.

The Camping Trip by Jennifer Mann

A sweet story about a girl’s first camping trip, helping her step outside her comfort zone to sleep under the stars.

Summer Reads for Teens and Tweens

A collection of summer books for middle/high school readers

Downriver by Will Hobbs

An action-packed novel following Jessie and six others in her rafting crew as they “borrow” gear to raft through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado. The trip starts as fun, but gets serious, and a little dangerous, as they get pursued by a helicopter.

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

An easy read about Sam Gribley who leaves home – a cramped apartment – and heads out into the Catskill Mountains for freedom and space. He lives off the land making it work through different trials and challenges.

No Summit Out of Sight by Jordan Romero

A memoir from Jordan Romero, the youngest person to climb Mount Everest at age thirteen and the youngest person to summit the tallest mountain on each continent at age fifteen, this book details his experiences, training, and determination.

child laying on the grass reading a chapter book

Places We’ve Never Been by Kasie West

A YA novel about a family road trip for one girl and what she discovers along the way. It’s her first time out of California and she’s able to reconnect with her childhood best friend, which might turn into a budding romance. 

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

A non-fiction book that explores what we relied on before the times of maps, compasses, and GPS. It shows how to pick up on clues given by the wind, sun, moon, changing tides, shadows and more. It also shares interesting stories and anecdotes across history, cultures, and geographic locations.

Wildheart: The Daring Adventures of John Muir by Julie Bertagna

This graphic novel shares the life of John Muir – what piqued his interest as a young boy and how that translated across different chapters of his life as he ached for adventure and championed the natural world.

Summer Books for Adults

A collection of summer books for adults

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

A bestselling non-fiction book that gives the account of Christopher McCandless and his journey away from home. He disappeared into the wild until being found decomposed by a moose hunter only four months after he left. 

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

A thrilling novel that follows a languishing Juliet as her husband declares that he wants to buy a sailboat and leave everything behind. They take off with their two kids, ages seven and two, and for once, everything seems to be on the up and up. But as would happen on the open sea, they encounter fierce challenges.

Under the Stars: How America Fell in Love with Camping by Dan White

A well-researched account of the transformation of America’s natural world, from the vast wilderness to a respite for leisure and adventure. Dan White experiences different regions first hand as well as different types of camping, from glamping to a more “naturalist” excursion, while nodding to the environmental visionaries of the past. 

Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

Humans are the only animal that spends time in the water and is not a natural swimmer – it’s a tricky skill that must be taught. The author dives into stories around water and swimming across continents and a variety of activities, trying to uncover why we are so drawn to water.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

A memoir from Cheryl Strayed as she leaves everything behind to find herself again. Her mother’s death, an imploding marriage, and nothing to lose, she heads to the Pacific Crest Trail alone without training or any real hiking experience. This book details the tough, yet healing journey.

Wild Nights Out: The Magic of Exploring the Outdoors After Dark by Chris Salisbury and Chris Packham

A great guide for parents who want to get their kids outside after dark, exploring what happens in nature after the sun goes down. It includes activities and games to get families out at night, information to do it safely, facts, stories and fun illustrations.


Heading into long days of summer, these stories can inspire us to become explorers and adventurers, ready to tackle the nearest trail, find a new campsite or explore our own backyards. Whether the stories take us into action and adventure or lean into relaxation and freedom, there’s a summer book made for every state of mind and for every family member.

These books are best read in a swaying hammock, lounging on the beach, or in the shade of a tent. We hope readers will dive in regardless of what form their book takes – a picture book, a novel, or a non-fiction read. 

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  • Whitney, originally from northern Virginia, is currently living in Flagstaff, Arizona, (with solid stints in Paris, France and Los Angeles in between). Whitney, her husband and two kids can often be found outside, taking advantage of what mountain life has to offer. Most weekends, they embark on adventures big and small - hiking, biking, camping, and snowboarding happen often. Outside of that, you can typically find her in the kitchen baking goodies or working for her brand strategy clients.

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