Do you have a young reader who could use a break from screens? Here are a few book ideas that will keep your children (and you) engaged for summer reading fun! Enjoy the time together, whether on a park bench, front porch or backyard picnic blanket. These books are all fun family reads with a little bit of learning mixed in!
For the younger set (Pre-K–2nd grade)
Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds
For the budding young artist, who often sees the world from different perspectives, this is an ideal book. The main character, Marisol, finds herself challenged by trying to paint the sky for a school mural. (The name Marisol is literally translated from Spanish meaning “sea & sun.”) The problem? She has no blue paint! Find out how she manages to defy expectations, and use observation and problem-solving skills to create a masterpiece!
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Inspired by an origin myth from ancient Chinese culture, the story involves two mischievous brothers. Typically, a first-born son was given a long honorable name, while second-born sons were given shorter unimportant names. This charming story has a fun sing-song quality (you’ll quickly learn the older son’s name) and communicates a subtle message about the dangers of too much pride. Imaginative illustrations and suspenseful storytelling will keep your young reader curious about what happens next.
For early elementary-age kids (Kindergarten–2nd grade)
Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean by Arthur Dorros
Whether you plan a staycation or travel with your children this summer, read this book before you head into the great outdoors. Follow how the water from a local brook travels to the river and ultimately to the ocean, shaping the land as it moves. Study the difference between brooks, streams, rivers and deltas. Kids can identify wildlife that depend on the water ecosystems for life. They’ll learn how protecting water sources from pollution provides fresh water for humans as well. Visual illustrations of popular U.S. vacation sites like the Colorado River carving through the Grand Canyon and the Mississippi River Delta to the Gulf of Mexico help explain our country’s diverse landscapes.
For early readers (3rd–4th grade)
Wilma Unlimited – How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull
Despite contracting polio as a young girl in Clarksville, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph shed her leg braces to eventually become an Olympic Gold track and field champion. In 1960, she became the first woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. This book beautifully illustrates Wilma’s life journey. Born into a family with 19 older siblings, this is the story of her determination to persevere despite many obstacles. An early role model for black and female athletes, she helped elevate women’s U.S. track and field, but also served as an educator, coach, and inspiring civil rights and women’s rights pioneer.
For chapter book readers (3rd-4th grade)
Tornado by Betsy Byars
Dog lovers who appreciate a good adventure will enjoy this chapter book. Written by a Newbery Medal-winning author, this story confirms how an unexpected pet can touch our hearts. When faced with a looming tornado, a farm family frightfully huddles together. But Pete, the farmhand, realizes it’s an ideal time to tell stories about his dog named Tornado. So engrossed are the family in listening to his stories, they begin to forget their fear – allowing them to stay calm through the dangerous twister. The five chapters are short and include pencil illustrations with warm and humorous tales of this beloved dog, making the reader’s imagination soar.
Click here to search the full Cleveland School Book Fund recommended reading lists for students in grades Prek-4th grade students.