School might be out, but even for young readers a nice pile of summer vacation chapter books can be a fun part of going out of town. Whether in the back of the car, on a plane, or tucked into a beach bag, these illustrated chapter books are sure to capture the interest of beginning readers this summer. All five are great for solo reading or reading aloud as a family!
Magic on the map: Let’s Mooove! by Courtney Sheinmel and Bianca Turetsky, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
When Finn and Molly’s dad bring home a camper, the twins are not happy about it. It looks boring, and they agree with their mom—the RV needs to go. But when curiosity brings them both inside the vehicle to explore, they discover this is not a normal camper. The PET (Planet Earth Transport) begins talking to them and transports them instantly to Colorado. Before Finn and Molly can return, they must complete their mission. This involves an adventure working on a dude ranch and saving a prize-winning cow from dimwitted kidnappers. But it also means Finn and Molly learning to appreciate each other’s different forms of intelligence. Along with the second book in the series, The Show Must Go On where the twins visit New York City, this series starter is perfect for geography lovers and young readers going on a road this summer.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic
Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi’s Japanese American family makes mochi together every year. But they won’t let Jasmine roll the mochi balls because she’s not old enough. And they won’t let her pound the rice into mochi because that’s a job for boys. Independent, spunky, and a little bit defiant, Jasmine shows them all that she is old enough and strong enough to help with this family tradition. The fun illustrations and mochi recipe in the back will delight young readers this summer, especially youngest children who might feel left out from their older sibling’s adventures.
The Great Louweezie by Erica S. Pearl, illustrated by Chris Chatterton
Arnold is a big bear and Louise is a small chipmunk. And they are best friends. But when rain clouds threaten their picnic, a new afternoon pastime must be found. Louise takes charge, creating a game where she becomes a fortune teller named the Great Louweezie. The only problem is Arnold doesn’t want to play. As he gets more and more frustrated, the two have to work out if friendship is still a part of their future. This book is great for readers who are just starting to read chapter books. It reminds me so much of neighborhood games at the end of summer, right when boredom is about to set in.
Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina
Juana loves living in Bogota Columbia with her big family and her dog Lucas. She usually likes school, but when her teacher announces they will begin learning English that changes quickly. English, she decides quickly, is much too confusing. As she puts it, “Why are read and read written the same way but sound different? How can I know when people are talking about eyes or ice when they sound about the same? And what about left hand and left the room? So many words, so little sense?” Determined to hate this new language, Juana goes on a journey through the neighborhood to ask people what they think of English. To her surprise, most of them think it’s a good idea that she’s learning it in school. But Juana isn’t convinced, until her abuelos tell her about a special trip to Florida they have planned. Peppered with Spanish vocab and gorgeous, color illustrations, this is a beautiful book about learning a new language and travel!
Stinky Spike the Pirate Dog by Peter Meisel, illustrated by Paul Meisel
Spike is a shipyard dog with a superior sense of smell. He uses this talent to sniff out rats and seagulls who might try to take the cargo he’s protecting. But one day, after landing in the water, he finds himself on a pirate ship. To get back home, Spike makes a deal with Captain Fishbeard to sniff out treasure for the crew. But Spike and Fishbeard have very different ideas of what constitutes treasure. The result is some hilariously smelly loot, sure to give any reader a good case of the giggles. With the ocean focus, I can see this being a particularly charming read on a summer beach vacation.
For more summer vacation chapter book ideas, try one (or ten) of these books perfect for beginning readers or ask your local librarian and bookseller.