Menu

Big Summer Read

Summer Reading Guide 2009

bird and lizard graphic

Books — physical, audio or eBooks — tell lots of tales. These stories can be true or imagined; they can be historical or contemporary; they can be illustrated with photographs or with paints. And most important, they can be shared at home, on vacation, in the car, on a plane or boat, here or there — anywhere, actually!

Books and stories of fact and fiction make great summer companions for children and are ideal for adults to share with children. So grab a book, find a comfy place, and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For 0-3 year olds

A Garden of Opposites

By: Nancy Davis
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Simple, colorful graphics are used to illustrate paired opposites seen in a garden: short caterpillar and long snake; mama bird asleep, hatched eggs awake, and more, until a final foldout encourages readers to identify even more.

Beep Beep

By: Petr Horacek
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

What better way for a family to travel to grandma's house than by jumping in their yellow car? Though the town, over the crosswalk, down the hill — to their destination: "Beep! Beep!"

Cat

By: Matthew Van Fleet
Illustrated by: Brian Stanton
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

There are all kinds of cats — cool, copy, striped, furry, bald, and more. They're shown in all their glory in full color photographs on sturdy, interactive pages that can be touched, unfolded, etc. Playful language and silly humor create a broadly appealing book.

Choo Choo

By: Petr Horacek
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A train of children "chuff" and "choo choo" down the tracks, through a tunnel, and into the sun — until they get to the beach. "Hooray!"

I Know a Lot of Things

By: Ann Rand, Paul Rand
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

All children know a lot of things like when "I look in a mirror/what I see is me" and that they will continue to grow and learn. Poetic, child-like realizations combine with strong, uncluttered graphics to affirm and maybe even instruct.

Maisy Bakes a Cake

By: Lucy Cousins
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Maisy takes to the kitchen in an apron and with washed hands to bake a cake in this interactive and informative book. She gathers ingredients, measures, mixes, bakes, and decorates. Then best of all, she shares it with her friend!

Oscar and the Bat: A Book about Sound

By: Geoff Waring
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Oscar, a young cat, learns from his friend Bat that "our ears help us know what's around us, even when our eyes can't." Thus begins a fascinating sound adventure filled with information in an attractive format.

Planet Earth: Baby Penguins

By: Quinlan B. Lee
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

This appealing, sturdy book presents photographs of emperor penguin chicks (and adults) going about their daily business of fishing, cuddling, and generally taking care of one another. It is sure to create warm feelings regardless of the snowy landscape.

Please Pick Me Up, Mama!

By: Robin Luebs
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A young raccoon seeks attention from her ever-patient mother. She wants to be held then put down throughout their day together, until the youngster whispers "good night." Soft illustrations in warm hues show their cozy world and affectionate relationship.

Seymour and Henry

By: Kim Lewis
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When their mother tells them their day of play is about to end, two ducklings run away — "pit-a-pat" — until it starts to rain. Gentle illustrations depict the appealing toy duck family.

Shake It Up, Baby!

By: Karen Katz
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Chubby, rounded children in bright colors whish and swish, shake and bang in this sturdy board book with its built-in rattle. The rattle adds to the playfulness, though the language alone will get the young children moving.

The I Love You Book

By: Todd Parr
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A heart shaped cut-out on the front cover invites readers into the book in which child-like illustrations in primary colors depict adults' unconditional love for children. Round-faced, smiling adults love them when they are shy or sharing, stinky or squeaky clean.

For 3-6 year olds

1-2-3 I Can Collage!

By: Irene Luxbacher
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A brief explanation of what collage is and a list of readily available materials begins a can-do approach to collage projects. Suggested activities and a note for adults are included in this handsome and useful how-to book.

A Walk in New York

By: Rubbino Salvatore
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A boy and his father share the wonder of a visit to the sites of New York City, from the Empire State Building ending with a taxi ride to Grand Central (and a postcard to the reader) with lots in between. Energetic illustrations complement the informative text.

Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire

By: Jane O'Connor
Illustrated by: Robin Preiss
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Fancy Nancy is back, this time exploring in her own backyard. Photographs combine with signature illustration to introduce the wonders of real butterflies, birds, leaves, and more — that young explorers anywhere will find and appreciate.

Follow That Map! A First Look at Mapping Skills

By: Scot Ritchie
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

One day when Sally and her friends are playing, they notice that her dog and cat are missing. The children use map skills to explore their neighborhood and beyond to locate Sally's pets. Information and fun combine in this easy informational book.

Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond

By: Belle Yang
Genre: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As Foo, a frog, grows larger, so does his conviction that he is the biggest animal in the world. Of course, when Foo deflates, his friends assure him he's still a fine size for a frog. Onomatopoeia and jaunty illustrations distinguish this retelling.

Good Dog, Aggie

By: Lori Ries
Illustrated by: Frank Dormer
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ben is trying to train Aggie, a small brown and white dog, but she doesn't listen very well at all. But "bad dog" turns to "good dog" when Aggie finally understands what her human friend expects of her in this warmly illustrated and told tale.

Heart of Texas: A Lone Star ABC

By: Laura Krauss Melmed
Illustrated by: Frané Lessac
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Get to know Texas from A to Z in this attractive and informative book (continuing the author's A to Z looks at cities). Short poems introduce one aspect of the state with lots of factual nuggets sprinkled on each vibrantly illustrated page.

In My Backyard

By: Valarie Giogas
Illustrated by: Katherine Zecca
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A backyard is the ideal place to count animals and their young. Rich language and attractive illustrations encourage readers to count from one doe with her fawn to ten grasshopper nymphs.

Little Chick

By: Amy Hest
Illustrated by: Anita Jeram
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Little Chick is impatient and oh-so-child-like in each of her three short adventures. Wise Old-Auntie provides gentle guidance to Little Chick. Large pages support expressive, open, and winning watercolors to complement the satisfying story in three chapters.

Mirror to Nature: Poems about Reflection

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Jason Stemple
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A variety of animals in their natural habitat are presented here in handsome full-color photographs accompanied by a range of short poems that they inspired. Both words and pictures present reflections, literal and figurative, and will likely generate discussion.

Mole Rat Gets Dressed

By: Mo Willems
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Wilbur is a different kind of mole rat. Instead of always being naked, he dons sporty clothing much to the chagrin of others. That is until his Grand-pah also asks "Why not?" Willems' understated humor in both text and illustration will delight readers of all ages.

One World, One Day

By: Barbara Kerley
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Every day children around the world awake to begin their days having breakfast, going to school, coming home to families. A poetic text combines with photographs from myriad countries to visually highlight the richness of the world and its people.

Subway Ride

By: Heather Lynn Miller
Illustrated by: Sue Rama
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Down, down, down…now off we go! begins a journey on city subways from Washington DC to Moscow and more. This short, fantastic, colorfully illustrated trip ends with a brief description of the real transit systems described.

The Bones You Own

By: Becky Baines
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

There are 206 little wonders that are the reason that people stand up straight. Explore bones in photographs and playful graphics with limited text in an open format in this recent addition to this playful introductory science series.

The Imaginary Garden

By: Andrew Larsen
Illustrated by: Irene Luxbacher
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A little girl misses her grandfather's old house where he would tell her about the flowers. Sadly, his new apartment has only a balcony but together they create an imaginative, artistic garden one brush stroke at a time. Warmth abounds in this gentle tale.

The World Almanac for Kids Puzzler Deck: Kindergarten Skills!

By: Molly Smith
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Based on a well-known almanac, these portable, colorful cards will engage children as they play with the riddles, games, and more presented on sturdy cards. An answer card is included for challenged adults.

Thump, Quack, Moo: A Wacky Adventure

By: Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by: Betsy Lewin
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Farmer Brown needs help as he prepares for the annual Corn Maze Festival. Of course, all of the animals rise to the occasion — though Duck prepares a small surprise revealed on a final — and very funny — fold out.

Undersea Animals: A Dramatic Dimensional Visit to Strange Underwater Realms

By: Jane Buxton
Illustrated by: Jerry Pinkney
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Though not for the youngest hands, stunning colors, and amazing pop-ups are used to introduce sea life — kelp, fish, coral, and other creatures — from unique perspectives. This attractive book is sure to engage readers of all ages.

Up, Up, and Away

By: Ginger Wadsworth
Illustrated by: Patricia Wynne
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A batch of garden spiders hatch each spring and those who survive hungry predators release threads and wind to blow into new places to begin their cycle of eating, reproducing, and dying again. Crisp illustrations enhance the information.

Watch Me Throw the Ball!

By: Mo Willems
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Gerald the elephant can throw a ball a long distance but to his surprise, Piggie delights in just throwing the ball no distance at all. Willem's signature humor and cartoon style using dialogue balloons reminds readers that Piggie and Gerald have a great deal to share.

For 6-9 year olds

A Puffin's Year

By: Katherine Zecca
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Follow the life of a puffin pair as they nest, hatch, care for, and teach their "puffling" until it can live independently. A note about the Puffin Project concludes this handsome and dramatic book.

Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles into Comics

By: James Sturm, Alexis Frederick-Frost, Andrew Arnold
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A comic book story is used to introduce the basics of comic book making and cartooning. Here, a princess tries to make a comic but needs help. And help comes in the form of a Magic Cartooning Elf — for a appealing and instructive result.

Bizarre Dinosaurs: Some Very Strange Creatures and Why We Think They Got that Way

By: Christopher Sloan
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

What experts know about various dinosaurs is presented with a brief overview of 11 less well known dinosaurs and an image of what it may have looked like. An overview of dinosaur "stomping grounds" and a glossary concludes this unique look at the popular (and happily extinct) monsters.

Butterflies and Moths

By: Nic Bishop
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Arresting photographs and understandable text introduce a wide range of moths and butterflies. Not only will readers gain an understanding of what differentiates them, but come to appreciate them as they learn about a variety of Lepidoptera.

Crocodile Safari

By: Jim Arnosky
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Noted naturalist, Arnosky, trekked through Florida's Everglades to count crocodiles, the once endangered reptiles. Through informal narration and arresting, large paintings, these toothy creatures come alive. A DVD with highlights of the author’s trek is included.

Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings

By: Douglas Florian
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Mixed-media illustrations and playful poetry portray a range of mostly well known dinosaurs from their start to extinction. Wordplay and poetry combine to present prehistoric creatures in a large format just right to support the subject.

Face to Face with Sharks

By: David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Underwater photographers, Hayes and Doubilet, provide basic information about their work as photographers as well as about sharks, their habitats, and the challenges faced by sharks in lucid text and stunning photographs, the latest in this captivating series.

If America Were a Village: A Book About the People of the United States

By: David Smith
Illustrated by: Shelagh Armstrong
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

If all of the 300 million people were simply one village of 100 people, its diversity is easier to understand. That's just what the author has done to make the complex make-up of the U.S. residents (in terms of languages spoken, ages, and more). Colorful illustrations accompany the understandable text. Additional resources complete the book. If the World Were a Village: A Book About the World’s People, also by Smith, looks at the inhabitants of the world as a village to allow its diversity to become more understandable for adults and children.

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel

By: Nikki Grimes
Illustrated by: R. Gregory Christie
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Self-confident, cheerful, and bright but friendless, Dyamond is the newest kid in Mrs. Cordell's 3rd grade. That is, until a grumpy boy named Free moves to town — and a friendship begins. Lively, believable, and likeable characters introduce this new heroine.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

By: Brian Floca
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Relive the journey of the Apollo 11 where the first people stepped on the Moon's surface and saw Earth from a very different perspective. Eloquent language and illustrations combine to present this historical event in a unique, unforgettable way.

Naming Liberty

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Jim Burke
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The story of a Russian family's emigration to the United States parallels the travel from Paris of Bartholdi’s statue of Lady Liberty. Both tell moving sagas and intersect in a unique way. poignant illustrations make this a memorable presentation.

Pop-Up House of Inventions: Hundreds of Fabulous Facts about Your Home

By: Robert Crowther
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Each room of every house holds items, objects, and other surprises that were invented at one time or another. A kitchen calendar, for example, comes from a 16th century. Detailed, interactive pages are filled with fascinating tidbits sure to intrigue and inspire.

Stink-O-Pedia: Super Stink-y Stuff from A to Zzzz

By: Megan McDonald
Illustrated by: Peter Reynolds
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stink, Judy Moody's bright but short little brother presents his version of an encyclopedia. It begins with the Anatomy of Stink and continues through to Z (Zero, ZZZs, until Zee End!). Fun, fact-filled and fully sourced, just right for Stink fans.

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors

By: Chris Barton
Illustrated by: Tony Persiani
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ever hear of psychedelic colors? Meet Joe and Bob Switzer who invented interesting new colors — which not only defined a generation but helped save lives. Cartoon-like illustrations complement the tone of this picture book biography.

The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood

By: Agnese Baruzzi, Sandro Natalini
Genre: Fiction, Fairy Tales and Folk Tales
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Wolf makes peace with Red Riding Hood and soon the repentant wolf becomes vegetarian and becomes popular. A jealous Red re-introduces the wolf to carnivore delights and regains her status as the forest's nicest resident. Pop-ups and pull outs and sophisticated humor make distinguish this very funny book.

The World Almanac for Kids Puzzler Deck: Dinosaur Science

By: Christine Economos
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Based on a well-known almanac, these portable, colorful cards will engage children as they learn more about dinosaurs through activities, games, and more. Each is presented on sturdy cards as is the accordion answer card included for challenged adults.

Vacation: We're Going to the Ocean

By: David Harrison
Illustrated by: Rob Shepperson
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sam's clear, boyish voice becomes clear from the first poem and as he and his family take to the car traveling toward an ocean vacation. Sam is all boy — reflected in his candid observations, his often humorous actions, and black/white illustrations.

Who Was Walt Disney?

By: Whitney Stewart
Illustrated by: Nancy Harrison
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Have you ever wondered about the creator of Mickey Mouse; the man whose name is synonymous with theme parks and family films? Meet Walt Disney in this readable (though unauthorized) biography.

Audio Books

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

By: Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by: Helen Oxenbury
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Lewis Carroll's classic story of Alice and her fantastic journey has been freshly illustrated. Gentle, full-color illustrations retain the original tone and make the story appealing and accessible for modern children.

Alice down the rabbit hole comes to life in this masterful, unabridged reading of the classic fantasy, bringing it to life all over again.

Boxcar Children

By: Gertrude Chandler Warner
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Four orphaned children, Jessie, Henry, Violet and Benny, make a home for themselves in an abandoned red boxcar — that is, until they find they need a caring adult. This is the first in the gentle, ever-popular, now classic mystery series. Now more than 60 years since it was published, the story of four orphans who make their home in an old railroad car comes to life again.

Diary of a Spider

By: Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by: Harry Bliss
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Sound effects and dramatic reading make the humorous saga of an eight-legged hero come to life. Based on the picture book of the same name.

Scarecrow and His Servant

By: Phillip Pullman
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A not-too-bright scarecrow accompanies Jack on the adventure of a lifetime, far away from the field and birds.

T. Rex

By: Vivian French
Illustrated by: Alison Bartlett
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child and his grandfather visit a museum to meet the T. Rex and explore what happened to the creature. Additional information is included on the CD.

The Willoughbys

By: Lois Lowry
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers (and fans of Lemony Snicket) will appreciate the sly humor and word play in this outrageously funny take-off on novels of yesteryear. Here, the Willoughby children must overcome their self-centered parents who ultimately meet their rightful — and very satisfying — end.

Think of an Eel

By: Karen Wallace
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An eel from the Sargasso Sea is a fascinating subject as presented in this brief look at an eel’s lifecycle. Further information is included on the CD.

Proceeds from the sale of books purchased at Amazon.com help support the Reading Rockets project. Thank you!

Sign up for our free newsletters about reading

Summer Reading Tips to Go! Delivered to your mobile phone in English or Spanish. Sign up today!

Our Literacy Blogs

Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
September 14, 2017
Book Life
Rachael Walker
September 19, 2017

Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.

"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln