Summer Picture Books You Must Read to Your Kids

Filed under: Activities: Babies, That's Entertainment, Books for Kids, Activities: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Gear Guides: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Activities: Big Kids, Gear Guides: Big Kids, Gear Guides: Tweens


In these hot, schedule-mangling summer months, it can be difficult to remember to read to your kids. Here are some of the more pleasantly surprising recent picture books -- breaks from the typical that will help keep you interested as you provide your pre-readers with a story-filled summer.


"Ladybug Girl at the Beach"
by David Somar and Jacky Davis (Dial, $17)
The original "Ladybug Girl" was a gorgeously illustrated, endearingly written tribute to the powerful imagination of an awkward little girl trying to find her own identity. It didn't really need a sequel, let alone two. But happily, this third book in the series is just as fabulous and dreamy as the first. It depicts a sweet and very realistic episode in Ladybug Girl's young life, in which her palpable enthusiasm for swimming in the ocean wanes rapidly as soon as she first reaches the beach and lays eyes on the surf. Kids and parents alike will smile as they watch her build up the courage to dip her feet.

"Three Ladies Beside the Sea" by Rhoda Levine, illustrated by Edward Gorey (New York Review, $15)
The setting may be the same, but the ladies in this 1963 reissue are nothing like "Ladybug Girl." In this decidedly different tale, a noble woman spends her days and nights up in a tree, hoping for a second glimpse of a shockingly beautiful bird she once saw land there. Her two neighbors try their best to coax her down and give up her Quixote-esque quest. Gorey's otherworldly art style makes this pleasingly eccentric story feel even more magical.


"My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil" by Hanoch Piven (Schwartz & Wade, $18)
Piven's picture books have all stood out, thanks to his unique illustration style which creates faces out of artfully arranged real-world objects. Here, he gives us classroom themed portraits in which an art teacher's hair is made of crayons, a class clown has rubber band hair and a brainy kid has a microscope nose. These pics should inspire readers to make some interesting art of their own.


"I'm the Best" by Lucy Cousins (Candlewick, $15)
The creator of Maisy the mouse offers up a quick, yet deliciously silly tale that's perfect for preschoolers. A braggy pooch learns an important lesson about humility in this high-energy romp, but there's a slightly subversive ending that makes the whole book all the more entertaining. Plus, there's something about the scrawly, splattery nature of Cousins' artwork that makes kids feel like they, too, can create books of their own. And that's never a bad thing.


"Beaver is Lost" by Elisha Cooper (Schwartz & Wade, $18)
There are a grand total of four words in this book, but even those may not have been necessary. Cooper manages to convey not just loads of plot and storytelling in his textless art panels, but some real emotion, as well. As the displaced title animal makes his way through the big city, he has intriguing and comical encounters with a leashed pup, a swan boat, an inflatable gator and even a zoo-housed beaver. There's a lot going on here, and the ability to put a bit of your own interpretation on it can make it all the more fun to "read" with your child.

Related: A Book With Its Own Soundtrack: Please Let This Be a Trend

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.