Summer is a great time for reading. There are usually lots of free reading programs with fun prizes.
While some of us can’t make it to a beach vacation, we can read about adventures!
These fun summer reads are all about beaches, pools, camping, adventures. There’s something for everyone and all ages.
Our Favorite Summer Books:
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. One of the local teens – just a couple of years older than Rose and Windy – is caught up in something bad… Something life threatening.
It’s a summer of secrets, and sorrow, and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.
The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud
When the bears seek warmth from their chilly perch atop the Paris Opera House, Little Bear is mistaken for a toy bear and whisked away . . . to a tropical island! Papa Bear sets out on a frenzied journey to find Little Bear, traveling to a bustling wharf, beneath a sea brimming with coral and mermaids, onto a busy beach, and all the way to a sun-drenched island. As in The Bear’s Song, Little Bear is featured in every spread. Will Papa Bear—and the reader—find him?
Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole
As the summer ends, six-year-old Garmann’s three ancient aunts visit and they all talk about the things that scare them, in an award-winning story that ponders fear and courage, life and death, beginnings and endings.
Weslandia by Paul Fleischman
School is over and Wesley needs a summer project. Having learned that every civilization has a staple food crop, he decides to plant a garden and start his own—civilization, that is. He turns over a plot of earth in his yard, and plants begin to grow. Soon they tower above him and bear a curious-looking fruit. As Wesley experiments, he discovers that the plant will provide food, clothing, shelter, and even recreation. It isn’t long before neighbors and classmates have developed more than an idle curiosity about Wesley and exactly how he is spending his summer vacation.
The Summer Visitors by Karel Hayes
This follow-up to the successful The Winter Visitors, traces the interactions between a family of bears and a human family during their summer stay at a lake cottage. Told primarily through illustration, with only a few dozen words in the book, children and parents (and grandparents) alike will delight in following the antics of the bumbling bears as they enjoy the comforts of cottage life, but also try to avoid detection by their human hosts.
The Toy Boat by Randall de Sève
A little boy has a toy boat. He made it out of a can, a cork, a yellow pencil, and some white cloth. The boy and his boat are inseparable, until one day when the wind pushes the toy boat out into the wide lake. Alone now, the little boat must face fierce waves, a grumpy ferry, a sassy schooner, and a growling speed boat. How the little boat misses the boy! But if he is going to survive, he must figure a way to do it on his own.
The Lost Lake by Allen Say
Luke and his father, who is disgusted by the tourists surrounding the once secluded lake of his childhood, hike deeper into the wilderness to find a “lost lake” of their own.
Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
The spell of rain, gulls, a foggy morning, the excitement of sailing, the quiet of the night, the sudden terror of a hurricane, and the peace of a Maine island as a family packs up to leave are shown in poetic language and vibrant, evocative pictures.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Deep in the sea lives a happy school of fish. Their watery world is full of wonders, but there is also danger, and the little fish are afraid to come out of hiding . . . until Swimmy comes along. Swimmy shows his friends how—with ingenuity and team work—they can overcome any danger.
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
Mama, Is It Summer Yet? by Nikki McClure
One little boy can’t wait for summer to arrive. He keeps asking, “Mama, is it summer yet?” Mama responds saying, ”Not yet,” but there are plenty of signs that indicate spring is changing into summer: The earth is soft and there are seeds to plant, birds singing, ducklings in the pond, and pink blossoms blooming. The young boy even wears his bathing suit and carries a beach pail in preparation, but will it ever be summer?
Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sis
Summer is going well. I am very busy. But don’t worry, I am not forgetting about school! I read every day. I practice my math facts. And I am even studying world history!
The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer by Davide Cali
What really happened over the summer break? A curious teacher wants to know. The epic explanation? What started out as a day at the beach turned into a globe-spanning treasure hunt with high-flying hijinks, exotic detours, an outrageous cast of characters, and one very mischievous bird! Is this yet another tall tale, or is the truth just waiting to be revealed? From the team behind I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . . and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School . . . comes a fantastical fast-paced, detail-rich illustrated summer adventure that’s so unbelievable, it just might be true!
How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
Some kids spend their summer vacation at camp. Some kids spend it at Grandma’s house. Wallace Bleff spent his out west…on a ride, a rope, and a roundup he’ll never forget.
Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse
“Come on, rain!” Tess pleads to the sky as listless vines and parched plants droop in the endless heat. Up and down the block, cats pant while heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway. More than anything, Tess hopes for rain. And when it comes, she and her friends are ready for a surprising joyous celebration…
“May 17: I was born today! It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day!” This is the diary of P. Mantis, one of 150 praying mantis brothers and sisters born on a garden bush. P. Mantis is an amazing bug: she can make herself look like a stick to hide from predators, she can swivel her head all the way around, and when she’s grown up she’ll even be able to fly! Told in dated entries, P. Mantis describes the entirety of her life, sharing the fun and beauty of her world as well its little ups and downs (“I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two”).
Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee
On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she’s fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined.
While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.
Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
John Henry swims better than anyone I know.
He crawls like a catfish,
blows bubbles like a swamp monster,
but he doesn’t swim in the town pool with me.
He’s not allowed.
Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black, and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.
Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach by James Dean
Pete the Cat is one groovy cat at finding shells and building sand castles at the beach. But when it gets too hot, there’s only one way to cool off—jump into the ocean! Except Pete might be a scaredy-cat when it comes to the water.
A day at the beach supplies any child with a lifetime of memories. In this new picture book by award-winning author Elisha Cooper, the simple magic of building sand castles, collecting seashells, and running from the waves is brought to life through poetic text and lively illustrations.
Good Night Beach by Adam Gamble
Good Night Beach features building sand castles by the ocean, boating, swimming, exploring the seashore, waves, tidal pools, surfing, fishing, snorkeling, crabs, seagulls, picnics, campfires, sunsets, and more. Grab your beach ball and towel, it’s that time of year again! This charming book guides little ones in discovering all the wonderful things the seashore has to offer.
Beach Bugs: A Sunny Pop-up Book by David A. Carter by David A. Carter
From picnic bugs and fireflies to rollercoaster bugs on a warm summer night, this next installment of the wildly popular Bugs series captures what everyone loves about summer!
Mouse’s First Summer by Lauren Thompson
Mouse and Minka invite you to celebrate summer with a picnic in the park. Roll down the hill on tickly green grass. Fly fluttery kites high in the sky. Enjoy some juicy watermelon! And before it’s time to go home, a summer surprise sparkles in the sky.
Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe
A young boy is proud of having caught a jar full of fireflies, which seems to him like owning a piece of moonlight, but as the light begins to dim he realizes he must set the insects free or they will die.
S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet by Helen Foster James
Next to baseball and fireworks on the Fourth of July, nothing else seems as American as the family camping trip. From what to pack, where to go, and what to do when you get there, S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet takes readers on an A-Z trail exploring this outdoor pastime. Veteran camper Helen Foster James tackles topics such as unique camping environments, equipment necessities, famous conservationists, and national parks and other attractions. Whether your idea of “roughing it” is a blanket in your own backyard or the subarctic ecosystem of Alaska’s Denali National Park, S is for S’mores is a fun and informative guide that is sure to help campers of all ages make the most of their wilderness adventures.
A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when all of a sudden they find themselves plunging down a mountain and teetering on the edge of a huge waterfall! How will they find their way out of this slippery situation? Chris Van Dusen, the creator of Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, has filled this new adventure with charming illustrations and a playful, rhyming text.
The brother-sister pairs who arrive for the summer at Camp Happy Harmony are almost too busy fighting with each other to notice how strange the camp really is. Not only are the campers forced to wear bizarre uniforms, eat gross food, and do chores all day, but the members of the family that runs the camp fight constantly–with each other. Are the campers in danger? Or–in spite of sibling wars–do they need to stick together to solve the mystery humming under the surface of Camp Happy Harmony?
With their new cameras
a brother and sister
take pictures of their vacation.
But when they look at their photographs they see:
1. The back of Dad’s head
3. A container of noodles
Does 1 + 2 + 3 = summer vacation?
What about how it felt to swim in the lake? What about the stories their cousins told and the taste of a just-invented strawberry and whipped cream dessert?
For those memories—the memories of summer and the memories of family that mean the most—they need to look someplace else. Someplace deep inside. Someplace permanent.
The Raft by Jim LaMarche
Nicky is convinced that his summer with his grandmother in the Wisconsin woods is going to be the worst summer ever. She cooks food that he doesn’t like, there’s an art studio where her living room should be, and he’s expected to do chores—including fishing, the most boring chore ever.
But one afternoon, while Nicky is trying to catch their dinner, a raft drifts down the river towards him. The raft has a calming magic about it, affecting both Nicky and the wildlife of the river and woods. Through the raft and the adventures it brings him on, Nicky finds new common ground with his grandmother, a fellow river rat, who encourages him to explore his newfound talent for art.
Frogs are supposed to be great swimmers. “Not me!” says Froggy, who’s afraid of the water. But with a little encouragement, some practice, and the help of a silly song or two, Froggy becomes an expert frog-kicker!
A house is a home for you, a nest is a home for a bird, and a cave is a home for a bear. But for some animals a shell is a home. Snails and turtles and crabs and clams all have shells that act as their homes and protect them from harm. In this book you’ll learn all about these and other crustaceous creatures, for whom a shell is just the right sort of home.
The Moon Jumpers by Janice May Udry (Author), Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)
A lyrical story of night-time, in which four small children and a black cat find themselves enchanted with the loveliness of the hot summer night and the magic of the moon.
Relive a day at the beach with this lovely book of memories. You can almost feel the salt spray on your face and smell the musky scent of ocean in the cool morning air. Remember how the sand squishes between your toes as the tide rushes to shore and taste the tang of the ocean on your lips. Spirited language evokes a sense of closeness and nostalgia for an old friend. The inspiration of the ocean will make learning the five senses as easy as a day at the beach.
Beach Day by Karen Roosa
A cheerful family tumbles out of the car and onto the beach, ready for a perfect day. Buoyant verse just right for reading aloud and bright, playful illustrations capture the singular feeling of a hazy, lazy day by the ocean, complete with a ball game with new friends, water-skiers and sailboats, and a picnic lunch of fried chicken and deviled eggs.
Patricia Hubbell’s light verse skips merrily along, while Lisa Campbell Ernst’s playful scenes picture a sea that is just waiting to be splashed in!
A Day at the Seashore by Kathryn Jackson
Nancy and Timmy hop out of their beds one summer morning and help pack their swimsuits and lunch. And then it’s off to the seashore! In a charming rhyme, this Little Golden Book from 1951 (then titled A Day at the Beach) describes what preschoolers will find there: “You can catch little crabs—if you’re quick! You can draw great big pictures right on the beach with a piece of a shell or a stick.” Oh, what fun!
Indi Surfs by Chris Gorman
From surfer dad and photographer Chris Gorman comes Indi Surfs, the story of a little girl who braves the ocean to find the perfect wave. Gorman’s evocative images and text capture the essence of beach culture and the surfer’s journey in the story of a young girl who takes to the waves. Challenged by the ever-changing ocean, Indi shows how patience and persistence pay off in pursuit of the ultimate surfing goal.
Wave by Suzy Lee
In this evocative wordless book, internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee tells the story of a little girl’s day at the beach. Stunning in their simplicity, Lee’s illustrations, in just two shades of watercolor, create a vibrant story full of joy and laughter.
Pool by Jihyeon Lee
What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation—but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends.
A Drive in the Country by Michael J. Rosen
The car has been stocked with drinks and snacks, maps and joke books, treats for horses and ducks — and now it’s time for three kids, two parents, and one excited dog to set off on that most favorite day trip, a drive in the country. The destination? Oh, here, there, and home again, with a fresh appreciation of family togetherness.
There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi
Come on, Sukie, you can do it! A little dog’s paralyzing anxiety gives way to bravery when someone smaller is in need in this humorous, tenderly sympathetic story.
Lots of things at the beach scare Sukie. Lots. Because she is just a small dog, and the stairs are big and sandy, and the waves are big and whooshy, and the balls are big and beachy. And besides, there might be lobsters. With endearing illustrations and a perfectly paced text that captures a timid pup’s looping thoughts, here is a funny and honest read-aloud about how overwhelming the world can be when you’re worried — and how empowering it is to overcome your fears when it matters the most.
Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha
Young Mark spends a busy, noisy day helping out at Gram’s seaside hot dog stand. After the last customer is served and the grill is scrubbed to a silvery shine, Mark sails off with Gram for a promised surprise, and finds a nighttime sea full of shimmering moonjellies.
The scientific name for the creatures in this story is Ctenophore, they are also called comb jellies or sea gooseberries. In New England they are most plentiful in the late summer. They are not true jellyfish because they don’t have stinging cells or tentacles. Moonjellies are harmless.
Between work and school, homework and housework, a mother and daughter don’t always get to spend as much time together as they’d like. Add to that a little girl’s fears about leaving home for the first time, and the need to stay close through handwritten notes becomes even more important. As the camp departure date gets closer, Mom does her best to soothe her daughter’s nerves. A visit from her grandmother helps to calm her fears and convince her that she’ll have a good time, even away from her mother and beloved cat. Camp ends up being a wonderful adventure – but nothing is sweeter than a back-at-home reunion.
Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea by Lynne Rae Perkins
Alix and her sister, Jools, have never seen the ocean. When their parents pack them up for a week at the shore, Alix is nervous about leaving home, but excited, too. At the beach, the girls make friends, go exploring, and have adventures both big and small. They pick periwinkles, spot crabs, and discover that the beach is full of endless possibilities. As the week comes to an end, Alix is surprised to find she doesn’t want to leave!
It’s all about the rules. But what if the rules feel completely arbitrary? What if your older brother is the only one who gets to make them up all summer long? And what if he’s the only one who can save you when the darkness of winter comes rushing in?
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
The first title in Arthur Ransome’s classic series, originally published in 1930: for children, for grownups, for anyone captivated by the world of adventure and imagination. Swallows and Amazons introduces the lovable Walker family, the camp on Wild Cat island, the able-bodied catboat Swallow, and the two intrepid Amazons, Nancy and Peggy Blackett.
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
A few hours after nine-year-old Garnet Linden finds a silver thimble in the dried-up riverbed, the rains come and end the long drought on the farm. The rains bring safety for the crops and the livestock, and money for Garnet’s father. Garnet can’t help feeling that the thimble is a magic talisman, for the summer proves to be interesting and exciting in so many different ways.
There is the arrival of Eric, an orphan who becomes a member of the Linden family; the building of a new barn; and the county fair at which Garnet’s carefully tended pig, Timmy, wins a blue ribbon. Every day brings adventure of some kind to Garnet and her best friend, Citronella. As far as Garnet is concerned, the thimble is responsible for each good thing that happens during this magic summer―her thimble summer.
All Summer Long by Hope Larson
Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own. At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon
Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson—a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake—and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever.
As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that are manifested in Zephyr. From an ancient, mystical woman who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown—for his father’s sanity and his own life hang in the balance.
The Body by Stephen King
Author Stephen King’s timeless novella “The Body”—originally published in his 1982 short story collection Different Seasons, and adapted into the 1986 film classic Stand by Me—now available for the first time as a stand-alone publication.
It’s 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. Ray Brower, a boy from a nearby town, has disappeared, and twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends set out on a quest to find his body along the railroad tracks. During the course of their journey, Gordie, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio come to terms with death and the harsh truths of growing up in a small factory town that doesn’t offer much in the way of a future.
A timeless exploration of the loneliness and isolation of young adulthood, Stephen King’s The Body is an iconic, unforgettable, coming-of-age story.