Summer Picture Books to Make You Smile

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As an elementary librarian, my countdown to summer is everything. Even without the promise of a prolonged vacation, the summer excitement starts pumping up with weather changes, public pool openings, and music of the ice cream truck coming from down the street. Even if you’re not a fan of beach trips or hot weather, there’s still garden fresh produce and extended daylight to look forward to. Every season deserves to be celebrated, but children, especially, tend to go all out for summer.

I currently live in a four-season area of the United States, but a brief time living in Florida made me realize that not all sections of the globe have crisp changes between winter, spring, summer, and fall. So what do we do when natural cues aren’t going to energize us for what’s to come? We turn to books! From the chaotic ending of a school year to the foods and feels of a lazy summer to the gradual blend into autumn, I’ve gathered summer picture books for every occasion. No matter where you live or what your summer holds, use these books to bid farewell to the classroom, swim, meet mermaids, taste ice cream, investigate shells, put your toes in the sand, and embark on endless adventures in your own backyard.

cover of Goodbye for Now

Goodbye For Now by Madison Rowe and Diana McDermott

A hallmark of summer is a school year coming to a close. This sweet book shares the jumble of feelings that come with this milestone from the teacher’s perspective. It’s only goodbye for now!

cover of Jabari Jumps

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Many children associate summer with trips to the public pool. In this endearing story, Jabari works to gather the courage to jump from the diving board. A great title to encourage growth mindset!

cover of Cannonball

Cannonball by Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan

Another classic harbinger of summer: the cannonball! In this story, a young Maori boy is peppered with advice on how to pull off the perfect jump into the water, but is only able to achieve what he hopes to when listening to his own voice.

cover of And Then Comes Summer

And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner and Jaime Kim

This nostalgic overview of the season is a perfect read-aloud to get kids excited for a summer spent outdoors, covering fireworks, lemonade stands, swimsuits, flip flops, and more!

cover of Summer Days and Nights

Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee

Following a curious girl on her day’s summer adventures, this title takes you from dawn to moonrise, inside and outside, with hopping excitement and quiet wonder.

cover of The Sweetest Scoop: Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Revolution

The Sweetest Scoop: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Revolution by Lisa Robinson and Stacy Innerst

Is it even summer without ice cream? This picture book biography introduces us to the famous duo way back when they were kids, and gives a glimpse into the invention of some of the most famous ice cream flavors ever!

cover of Saffron Ice Cream

Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin Kheiriyeh

This is a delightful comparison of summer trips in the main character’s native Iran to an outing in her new home of New York. It’s a wonderful way to explore what summer looks like in other places, and to remember the universal thrill of being with friends in the summer.

cover of The Sandcastle Lola Built

The Sandcastle That Lola Built by Megan Maynor and Kate Berube

A evolution of the classic The House That Jack Built, this sandy story follows Lola as she comes up against constant setbacks when trying to build the perfect sandcastle. Eventually friendship and teamwork prevail!

cover of Oona

Oona by Kelly DiPucchio and Raissa Figueroa

Seriously, have you ever seen a more magical mermaid? Dreamy illustrations and spunky adventure seeking combine to introduce you to your new favorite underwater character. This summer, it’s definitely time to meet Oona.

cover of What Lives in a Shell

What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and Helen K. Davie

The timeless Let’s Read and Find Out science series has been a staple in homes and classrooms for decades. This installment has us heading to the beach and peeking inside shells! Take it with you on your trip to the shore!

cover of Goodbye Summer Hello Autumn

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak

As the heat fades and the lushness of summer begins to dry, break out this book from Kenard Pak’s series honoring the changing of the seasons. After months of hard play and celebration, settling into the quietness of the fall is easier with a beautiful book like this.

Hopefully these summer picture books have you excited for the season! Looking for more summer reading magic? Check out these summer reads for preschoolers. Want to rack up rewards while you read? These summer reading programs might pique your interest. Happy reading!