Big Summer Read
Summer Reading Guide 2015
Travel to from Paris to Provence. Find out what it's like to be a young person in Zimbabwe. Observe Arctic birds. Meet dragons or follow a story thread or maybe share your room with a brownie. You can do all of these things while on vacation — abroad or at home. These and lots more are available to you when you start with a book! Find a story in a book, on an e-reader, or listen to audio version!
You'll find our recommendations for wonderful fiction and nonfiction picture books as well as audio books — all perfect for outdoor reading, warm summer evenings, and family road trips. Enjoy!
Browse through the 2015 summer lists online or download and print the PDFs before you head out to the library or store.
- Download the 2015 guide for all ages (324K PDF)
- Books for 0-3 Year Olds or download the list (301K PDF)
- Books for 3-6 Year Olds or download the list (294K PDF)
- Books for 6-9 Year Olds or download the list (298K PDF)
- Books for 9-12 Year Olds or download the list (299K PDF)
- Audio Books or download the list (299K PDF)
For 3-6 Year Olds
A Bird Is a Bird
What makes a bird different from other animals that also have a beak, wings, and lay eggs? It is feathers, of course — bright or dull, on birds tall or small. Easy text and realistic illustrations show familiar and less well known birds in this appealing and informative book.
It's summer! A family of five (plus dog) pack up their van and head to the beach, unpack and begin their first day of vacation. Watercolors depict the exuberant family and are a fine complement to the staccato, rhyming text.
Follow a honeybee as it travels to a prairie in bloom to gather nectar and return to let other bees know of the place. Bold collages of honeybees from varied perspectives present the environment and hive. Additional information about the honeybee dance concludes this compelling look at a fascinating process.
Everybody Says Shalom
A family tours Israel and its sights, learning the multiple meanings of "shalom." Illustrations create a sense of place and combine with brief evocative language in this travelogue. Additional information about sites visited concludes this sweet look at Israel.
Some kids are adopted, others live with one parent, other children live with two moms or two dads; still others live with a mom and dad. Lots of different families are celebrated through a simple text and full-color photographs.
Frog and Fly: Four Slurpy Stories
Frog meets fly. Frog eats fly — in each of four stories. Cartoon illustration in comic book style, are fast, funny, and very satisfying. Story predictability and comic drawings make readers realize the absurdity and humor in the tale.
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat
A boy learns from his art teacher at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that "anything can be in an art exhibit" when it tells a story, is unique, makes the viewer feel good, and more — making his grandmother the ideal subject for a painting! Cartoon illustrations combine with reproductions of actual work from the Met for an intriguing introduction to museums and art.
Hippos Are Huge!
Hippos are indeed huge. They can also be dangerous as they're fast and have razor-sharp teeth. An informal narrative and dramatic illustrations combine with factual information in this engaging and fascinating look at a very big creature.
Travel through time, imagination, literature, and more for a unique look at "home" in any number of richly imagined ways. Stylized illustration and text present homes that are tall, short, messy, clean, real, or fantastic. The detailed illustrations are sure to get readers thinking about homes of all types and what they can represent.
Hudson in Provence
Hudson, a small dog, narrates his travels from Paris by train to Provence with his human mom. Although a tourist, Hudson tries jobs done by local dogs but finds the magic of Provence in his ability to paint portraits of the canines. Impressionistic paintings glimpse the French countryside and its goings-on.
Last Stop on Market Street
A slightly grumpy CJ asks his grandma why they have to take a bus across town every Sunday after church. Her answers are playful, wise, and effective; CJ admits he's glad they came to see their friends at the soup kitchen where they serve. Bright, stylized illustrations and rich, well-paced language presents a warm relationship and a diverse urban locale. (2016 Newbery Medal Winner)
From fish to produce, the detailed maps and a list of things to find on each double page spread, demystify how the produce sold at a farmers market gets there. Sophisticated children will be able to follow the maps; younger children will look for specific objects in this attractive book that requires keen sight and much examination.
Red: A Crayon's Story
Red is misunderstood. He's a red crayon with a label that says blue so he can't draw a strawberry or even a stoplight. But when Red learns that he's really blue, well, he regains his self-confidence. Child-like drawings combine with precise collages for a memorable and humorous take on expectations, labels, and self-confidence.
Some creatures that live in oceans have skeletons, others don't. Meet a colorful variety of them in this exploration of sea animals from jellies to clown fish in this playful but informative introduction. A chart of "sea facts" concludes this book that can be read with or without the extra information presented in a different typeface on each double-page spread.
Many animals on land and in the water, familiar and exotic, have spots — seen here through brief, poetic language and carefully crafted illustrations: "Spots with purpose, spots with flair. Spotted creatures everywhere!" Additional information about the animals and where they live concludes this handsome informational book.
Two toddlers and their mothers spend a day at the beach. The children share activities that involve a seagull, a sandcastle, a crab, and a wave — until the moms dry them off and pack the kids and the car up. Loose pastel illustrations capture the airiness and adventure in the day's simple pleasures.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt
Even when it's too early to plant, there's a lot going on underground. When a grandmother and her grandchild do plant, they tend the garden until it's harvested and even then there's a great deal of activity down in the dirt. Richly colored illustrations show both on top and underneath the garden.
Water Is Water
Lyrical language and handsome, realistic watercolors present water in its many forms, from liquid to snow. Water is also in things like mud and even apples. Additional information about the processes seen and further readings concludes this striking and informative look at water.
A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Miss Drake, a strong-willed dragon, has a new pet, a girl named Winnie who thinks Miss Drake is her pet. When Winnie's sketches come to life, can dragon and girl work together to put things right? Read in an appealing British accent, this is sure to delight listeners of all ages.
Farmer Tubb wants to sell Ace and his siblings when they reach eight weeks of age. Can Ace, a very bright porker, save them all?
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring
The combined talent of three geniuses — Martha Graham's choreography, Isamu Noguchi's art, and Aaron Copland's music — brought the ballet "Appalachian Spring" to life in October 1944. Graceful illustrations combine with poetic, highly detailed narrative for a riveting account of this achievement. Notes and sources are included.
Everything for a Dog
Bone, a stray dog, narrates the sometimes harrowing tale of how he finds a permanent home, effectively and evenly read.
Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories
Classic Seuss rhymes and illustrations of stories that have only been published heretofore in magazines are put together in a new collection. Adults will appreciate the introduction by Seuss scholar, Charles Cohen, while children will enjoy seeing well-loved characters (Horton and the Grinch, for example) in "new" stories.
Once Upon a Timeless Tale Collection
Familiar tales such as "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Princess and the Pea" have been faithfully retold and dramatically read.
For 6-9 Year Olds
A Nest Is Noisy
Birds aren't the only animals to make their homes in nests. Other nest-dwellers include insects, turtles, even orangutans. Handsome, detailed illustrations and an informative text (which can be read either in detail or for the main theme) appealingly present these animal homes and their residents.
Animals, like people, have faces. And faces have amazing features; for example, a panda's furry face keeps it warm, a ladybug's antennae smells, and large ears help bats hear. Explore these and other senses in crisp text and lots of photographs in an attractive, accessible format. A code for a supplemental digital book is included to continue the exploration.
Babymouse Bad Babysitter
Babymouse wants to earn money and she knows she can do it because she'll he best babysitter ever. But things never go quite as planned for Babymouse with results that are sure to make young readers laugh — and maybe even recognize some familiar goings-on. Signature comic book illustrations are used in this installment of the series.
Clementine hates change. And there’s a lot of change about to happen: summer is approaching and the end of third grade means goodbye to her beloved teacher, Mr. D’Matz. Plus her family expects a new baby. Like other books in the series, this seventh and final one is sure to cause laughter as Clementine works to come out successfully on the other side of change.
Dear Mr. Washington
Could one of Gilbert Stuart's 12 children get President George Washington to smile while having his portrait painted? In this richly imagined, humorous fictional account of what the president experienced while sitting for his portrait in Stuart's home is revealed through a lively correspondence and expressive line and wash illustrations.
Flowers Are Calling
Poetic verse alternates with information about the flowers that attract a variety of animals and insects. Text appears on evocative illustrations in a horizontal format that suggests the expanse of the gardens and fields. A bit of additional information and link to a guide appear at the conclusion.
It's Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden
An entire community comes together to create and learn from a garden. Students with their teachers plant a variety of edible plants from tomatoes to radishes. They explore insect residents of the garden and more. Finally, everyone comes together to enjoy the harvest. Photographs and a conversational text document this pleasure of a garden project.
Mrs. Noodlekugel and Drooly the Bear
While their father is attending a speed-knitting competition, Nick and his sister Maxine stay with Mrs. Noodlekugel. Together they share outrageously silly experiences that involve talking animals, a bear learning to dance, and a lost-but-found Mr. Noodlekugel. Line drawings enhance the absurd humor and add great appeal.
A boy in a fedora uses his pen to travel, grow, “make giants of old men/who have seen better days” (an homage to his late father, Walter Dean Myers), and visit places real and imagined. Black and white line drawings and sophisticated, poetic language effectively convey the power of art and imagination and are sure to spark conversation.
My Tata's Remedies / Los remedies de mi tata
A boy spends the day enjoying and learning with his grandfather, his tata, who is known in the community to help people feel better with his knowledge of herbal remedies. Realistic illustrations depict the minor mishaps (e.g., a bee sting, a bump on the head) and the apparently botanically accurate plants from which they are derived. The culturally rich text is in both Spanish and English.
Poems in the Attic
A girl discovers her family's history, sharing some of her mother's childhood experiences by reading what her mother wrote as a child. A series of short poems and handsome illustrations juxtapose past to present: "Memories can be like sandcastles/the waves wash away./My mama glued her memories with words so they would last forever." As the family history unfolds, the connection between generations becomes clear in this engaging and very timely book.
A boy with a swim cap and goggles stands at the edge of a colorless pool which is soon invaded by plump adults. Nonetheless, he takes the dive and finds friendship, fantastic adventure, and amazing color beneath the surface. This wordless picture book is just right to spark imaginations and original stories as you make them up anew with each reading.
Simple Machines: Wheels, Levers, and Pulleys
Simple machines are all around us! They can be seen in a flag pole (a pulley), a faucet (a wheel and axle), and even on the playground (a seesaw is a lever!). Flat illustrations and an understandable narration introduce and explain three types of simple machines most of which are in a young reader's experience.
Super Snifferes: Dog Detectives on the Job
Because dogs can actually "see" with their sense of smell, they have been trained to work in various fields to help humans. A crisp text accompanied by color photographs shows dogs working in different ways: from the military and police duties to locating invasive plants to pointing to particular medical issues. Additional resources are included at the end.
The Most Amazing Creatures in the Sea
Which is more amazing, the vampire squid or the blue whale? Could it be the leafy sea dragon or the wolffish? Characteristics of these and many other amazing sea creatures suggest that it is the most amazing but it is the reader who must decide. Stunning, realistic illustrations of each animal in its likely environment and fascinating facts present a host of remarkable beings.
The Walrus Who Escaped
Creatures of the far north can call on the Strength of the Land to do what they want. When Raven becomes jealous of Walrus' useful curved tusks, Raven freezes the sea, trapping Walrus. Walrus breaks free, making his once curly tusks short and straight, which they remain to this day. This is a dramatically illustrated and well-told pourquoi (why) tale.
Whale Trails: Before and Now
A girl explains how her family once hunted whales but now use their family-owned boat to take tourists out to whale watch. Illustrations in color show the contemporary narrator and boat, while sepia-toned images depict the history. Interesting bits of African American history are embedded in this engaging, educational, and accessible story.
For 9-12 year olds
Abe Lincoln: His Wit and Wisdom
Learn tidbits of information about our 16th President, the times in which he lived and more. Brief entries for each letter of the alphabet present Lincoln the man and the president. Detailed illustrations are both informative and humorous.
Danger in the Darkest Hour
Jack and Annie are transported back to Normandy, France, when Europe is in danger of falling to the Germans and the D-Day invasion is about to begin. Though necessarily simplified, this adventure gives an age appropriate introduction to WWII. "Track the Facts" concludes this "super edition" of the popular Magic Tree House series.
Diary of a Mad Brownie
When the human to whom Angus (a brownie) is bound dies, he must leave his native Ireland to serve Sarah's nearest relative. Serving an American girl named Alex means she must acclimate to having a magical creature and whose slovenly habits are in stark contrast to a cleanliness-obsessed brownie.
As he did in his earlier collections, Silverstein presents the world with shrewd humor, a bit of rebellion, loads of lively language, and endless reader appeal. His signature line drawings add to the comic appeal of the classic poems presented in this collection.
Serendipity Smith is the pseudonym used by Tuesday McGillicuddy's mom. Serendipity is a famous children's author who goes missing while working on the last of her adventure series. On their quest to find her mom, Tuesday and her faithful dog find myriad adventures involving writing, mystery, mayhem, and pirates in a breathtaking, satisfying, often humorous fantasy.
First Flight Around the World: Adventures of the American Fliers Who Won the Race
In 1924, four biplanes from the United States were the first to circumnavigate the world. The journey is presented through well-researched narrative in a handsome format and highly illustrated with maps, period graphics, and photographs. The epilogue concludes the amazing trip where it started — in Seattle, Washington — where a memorial to the flyers remains.
Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems / Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales
Short poems about animals appear in English and Spanish accompanied by textured illustrations reminiscent of folk art. An author's note reveals that she is neither a poet nor native Spanish speaking but was launched into both Spanish and poetry when she discovered the work of Pablo Neruda.
Frank Einstein and the Electro-Finger
Frank Einstein must figure out an alternate source of power or succumb to his archenemy T. Edison's exorbitant prices for electricity. In this latest of over-the-top funny Einstein series, actual science fact is couched in humorous fiction.
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
An assigned pen pal correspondence between an American girl and a boy from Zimbabwe that started in grade school becomes a cultural exchange and a lifelong friendship. Sophisticated readers will appreciate the contrast between the cultures and how friendship can span great distances.
Twelve-year old Mai is reluctant to travel with her grandmother from California to Vietnam to learn more about her roots and to help Ba, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai struggles to understand the language and culture of her family's heritage in this poignant, often funny novel of being part of two cultures.
Melonhead and the Later Gator Plan
Adam Melon (better known as Melonhead) narrates the adventures he and his best friend, Sam, have during winter break. The boys stay with Melonhead's grandparents in Paradise, Florida. Their exploits include deciding to get Sam an alligator with very funny — and potentially disastrous results.
Presidential Misadventures: Poems that Poke Fun at the Man in Charge
A poetic form called the "clerihews" was established in 1890. It's the short form used to briefly present presidential factoids that are sometimes irreverent but always humorous and based in fact. Each four-line poem is accompanied by a black and while line caricature of the president to magnify the humor.
Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse
A variety of body parts are written about in different poetic forms — some humorous, some rhyming — accompanied by a factual insert on what appears to come from a notebook. Illustrations are as varied and serve to open the format and to illuminate the information for an entertaining and informative look at body parts.
Astrid realizes that her interests differ from those of her best friend but decides to pursue them anyway. How the girls’ friendship weathers this is key to this story as much as information about the sport in this engaging graphic novel.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
When a huge, rough man threatens King Arthur's court, it is the honorable, brave Sir Gawain who accepts the challenge and faces the Green Knight for what is sure to mean death. The cadence of a storyteller is used to highlight the adventure and tension of this traditional tale of honor and chivalry.
Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
In the early 20th century, an Irish woman named Mary Mallon worked as a cook. The New York home in which she operated was struck with typhoid fever to become the first of many incidents. The story of the cook who became known as Typhoid Mary is presented as a medical mystery which introduces the time and its history in a riveting narrative.
Rudger, Amanda’s imaginary friend, and Amanda, a human girl share adventure (and alternate telling the story) of their everyday adventures – and how they thwart an evil plot to rid the world of all imaginaries. Tension builds in this well-paced, inventive novel enhanced by evocative black/white illustrations.
Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom
Linda Blackmon was the youngest person to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, during the Civil Rights Movement. An informal tone in an open, heavily illustrated format provides insight into the time and events, sure to spark discussion among readers.
For 0-3 year olds
Are You My Mommy?
A puppy meets different animals asking each if she is his mother. Each responds in the negative but names her young — calf, duckling, etc. — until the puppy and his mommy are reunited.
What can you see at the beach? Lift the flap to find out then make repeat the animal's sounds in this bright, playful book sturdy enough for young hands.
A long format is ideal to introduce boats large and small and the sounds they make as they "chum-splish" and "GRRRRR BRRRR…" across the sturdy, colorful pages of this lively book.
One by one, five googly-eyed little chooky chicks come together to pull a stubborn worm but need the help of a big rooster. Energetic language and jaunty illustrations reveal the surprise.
Funny Face, Sunny Face
From morning to bedtime, cuddly animals echo young children, their feelings and appearance. Rhythmic language and soft, textured illustration add to the fun and verve of the day.
Guinea Pig Party
From 10 to one, guinea pigs celebrating a birthday are eliminated one-by-one through recognizable (but minor) disasters. With a wish, however, the 10 are reunited to continue the playful celebration.
Hi! (Animal Sounds)
"Chirp!" says a big-eyed bird; "Slurp!" responds the anteater. Animals both familiar and more exotic greet each other with one rhyming sound on opposite sides of each colorful spread.
On My Beach
Die-cuts in concentric circles on sturdy boards are used to focus on a small sand crab's beach. Small fingers can animate the crab with a finger puppet that is affixed to the book.
Spot's Favorite Shapes
Spot explores familiar shapes that can be seen in a child's everyday life — a book is square, for example. Shapes and objects are presented in easy language and a signature-style of illustration.
Stanley the Farmer
From planting to harvesting, Stanley grows wheat on a large farm. Cartoon illustrations of the charming hamster-as-farmer present a straightforward, simplified look at typical activities.
Although the booming storm frightens Bear, the cub tries different things by himself and with his parents, until the weather passes. Reassuringly, each kiss, snuggle, or song lets him feel better.
This ode to building a house from the ground up features six kinds of craftsmen and the 24 tools they use, accurately labeled. The answer to each inquiring refrain is revealed under a gatefold, seven in all, engaging the reader in an informative guessing game.
Proceeds from the sale of books purchased at Amazon.com help support the Reading Rockets project. Thank you!