Rad summer books for kids of all ages

If your kids made their way through this reading list this summer, you may now confiscate all the books so you can read them yourselves. Hey, one man’s summer reading is the other man’s fall.

Okay, I’m just going to come right out and say it: some children’s books suck. There are times when my daughter happily picks up a book from her shelf and I cringe because I just cannot read that book again (looking at you, book about the wheels on the bus). I know I’m supposed to be all “Rah rah, every word you read to your child is priceless,” but let’s face it: some books are more priceless than others.

Luckily for me (and you!), I work at a library. I see a lot of stuff come across the desk, and I’m here to share with you my top “you won’t hate it!” suggestions for summer reading with little ones.

For the littlest itty-bits

Puppies & Kittens • by Laura Ellen Anderson

Oh. My. God. These board books are the perfect board books.

They have what I consider to be three great attributes of a good board book:

  1. A decent number of pages (I don’t want a four-page board-book!)
  2. ADORABLE puppies and kittens drawn doing various silly things like chasing butterflies, making messes, eating shoes, and clawing at quilts, etc. They’re silly!
  3. They end the same way–with the animals cuddling up for a snooze, which is great if you’re reading the book before bed and you could use help with the transition. Plus, it makes the books predictable to a little kid

For the slightly older but still little little ones

The Princess and the Pony • by Kate Beaton

Are you a comics nerd? Then you’re probably already familiar with the hilarious Kate Beaton of Hark, a vagrant. But just in case you aren’t, go read her Fat Pony comics, and then her Secret Garden comic, and then…well you’ll probably fall down that rabbit hole for a while. But when you’re done you should pre-order The Princess and the Pony, which comes out June 30. BECAUSE PONIES.

The Book with No Pictures • Ryan the Temp I mean B.J. Novak

This book is hilarious. Your kid will probably make you read it again and again. I could watch this over and over (and not just because I might have a tiny Office/writer crush on Novak).

Yes, Let’s • Galen Goodwin Longstreth

This book never got the attention I feel it deserved when it came out in 2013! It’s all about camping as a family, it rhymes, it’s upbeat and positive, and it celebrates low-key summer activities and togetherness.

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath • Mac Barnett

Don’t try and tell me you didn’t laugh when you were a kid and heard the story of President Taft getting stuck in his own bathtub. Fess up. It’s OK. Clearly this tale is the history gift that keeps on giving, because here we have it again, and I think it’s just plain funny. Maybe I have the sense of humor of a preschooler but if that’s the case, I think I’m in good company. Naked bathtime shenanigans and problem-solving and a little bit of history (there’s a section at the very end about the real Taft in the bath story) all combine to make this a winning read-aloud.

Tea Rex • Molly Idle

Idle worked for DreamWorks and it definitely shows. You may already be familiar with her Caldecott-winning Flora and the Flamingo, but don’t think for a second that’s the only one you should be reading! Her work is charming and imaginative, and whenever I see it, I immediately smile. Who doesn’t think fancy tea parties and T. rex go hand-in-hand?

For older kids and maybe you, too

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun • Joshua Glenn, Elizabeth Foy Larsen, Tony Leone, Mark Frauenfelder, Heather Kasunick, Mister Reusch

Kids complaining about being bored? Hah! Take this, whiners! This book has everything: science experiments, crafts, and more radical things like yarn-bombing, all written with kids in mind. The Unbored site is a great resource too!

Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz

This book is the perfect gift for every little feminist and/or budding history buff. There’s a huge array of women represented here, and they aren’t all the ones you’d expect! It’s never lazy. A isn’t for Amelia Earhart, it’s for Angela Davis. That pilot on the cover isn’t Earhart either, it’s “Queen Bessie” Coleman. I’m 28 and I learned about women I’d not known about before when I read this book.

Puffin In Bloom series

My mom and I read books together even when I was a tween, and I plan to continue that with my own daughter. I can’t think of a better place to start than with some classics. And these classics reprinted by Puffin with covers designed by Rifle Paper Co. make my heart go pitter-patter with joy. If you’re the type to buy a book based on the cover, this is a superb treat, since the filling is just as good as the icing.

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Hayley DeRoche

Hayley DeRoche is a librarian with a penchant for cardigans and corduroys. Luckily, her professional life revolves more around technology & information than fashion.

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