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Picture Books for Summer Delight

Those of us with little ones who cuddle close know the pleasure of reading picture books in the best company. Though libraries have started opening again in a limited fashion, ordering picture books from them is still a challenge because browsing to facilitate discovery isn’t possible. I’ve turned the recent hardship into a justification to purchase more books than I normally would, and I’m so happy with the results. By perusing award lists and recommended titles, I’ve discovered a bunch of new books that have quickly become favorites. I’ve rediscovered Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches collection, too, which includes the spooky story about the pale green pants with nobody inside them.

If you haven’t discovered these yet, check out the following picture books. Once you reach the last page, your little ones are certain to say, “Again!”

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris and LeUyen Pham

As a bear floats down the river, collecting friends along the way, the illustrations gradually change from black and white to full color, and the sideways page is a nice surprise.

Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse by Nancy Campbell and Corinna Luyken

A story of compassion and imagination is beautifully illustrated, and for the careful observer, the negative space makes a horse magically appear.

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

Alma’s family heritage is captured in the people and stories behind her name, inviting readers to be curious about their own names and futures.

Truman by Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins

A brave turtle decides to follow a friend downtown.

Garden Sounds by Sam Taplin

With sounds and holes for poking, this book and others in the collection by Osborne Touchy-Feely Sound Books are especially popular with our 11-month-olds.

Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss

Brilliant and profound, these classic stories invite us to consider our humanity, our tribes, and our capacity for kindness.

Triangle by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

One of a charming trio of books about Triangle, Square, and Circle, this silly story about playing a trick on a friend lets us wonder what is a mistake and what is intentional. If you have not discovered Jon Klassen yet, I can’t recommend his hat trilogy (We Found A Hat) highly enough. Be prepared: he can get a bit subversive.

I Am Enough by Grace Byers

In this simple, affirming book, short rhyming phrases remind us to live in love, not fear, and the illustrations show children of diverse backgrounds and abilities playing as friends.

The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak

True to its title, this pictureless book compels a reader to say silly words in silly voices. It’ll crack you up.

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

A bunny and his friend save items and ephemeral experiences in jars, creating a magical bond. The illustrations are blissfully gorgeous. 

Disney’s Frozen

Fans of the film will enjoy this detailed telling of Anna and Elsa’s story. The Big Golden Book format has bright, familiar illustrations on big pages.

The Hike by Alison Farrell

Three friends set off on a hike, get lost, and find their way again. Labeled illustrations of the vegetation add an inviting, botanical accuracy that nature lovers will enjoy.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin

A little girl nibbles away at the mooncake she made with her mom until it shrinks away to nothing. Lovely illustrations bring the night sky close, and the story sent us on a quest to learn about traditional Chinese mooncakes.

Up North at the Cabin by Marsha Wilson Chall and Steven Johnson

With beautiful, evocative illustrations and lyrical poetry, this story perfectly captures a childhood trip to the cabin in Northern Minnesota. I am repeatedly awed by how fantastic this is.

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell

With minimal words, this adventure story brings together a child in a red jacket and a wolf pup. The deceptively simple illustrations create a captivating world of snow and evening light.

If you have other favorites, feel free to mention them in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for more good picture books. So much innovation is happening in this artform!

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