Seattle's Child

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summer reading

Summer reading: Picks from local booksellers and reviewers

Kids' lit experts share book picks books that will keep kids reading this summer

Summer reading: Over the years, we’ve asked local booksellers and our book reviewer at Seattle’s Child  — folks who live and breathe children’s literature — about their top picks for keeping kids engaged with reading all summer long. Some of the books they have recommended are new, some have been around a while, and all are guaranteed to delight. This list just keeps growing!

Summer reading ages 0 to 2


Summer reading picksPeek-a WHO?

By Nina Laden

For more than two decades, this little board book by a Washington author and illustrator has been delighting little ones and parents alike, becoming a staple for baby showers and first libraries. Simple rhyming text and peek-a-boo cutouts take the most loved baby and toddler game and puts it in children’s book form, with a surprise ending.

— Cheryl Murfin, Seattle’s Child Book Corner

Goodnight World: Animals of the Native Northwest  

Illustrated by First Nations and Native Artists

This delightful book features bright drawings of Pacific Northwest wildlife by Native American artists. It encourages curiosity about the sleeping habits of local wildlife, and helps ease young children into their own nighttime routine. Bonus: partial proceeds support aboriginal early childhood development.

— Justus Joseph, Elliott Bay Book Company

I love music

by Marion Billet 

The reader presses a button on the different instruments and a short tune plays. It’s a fun introduction to instruments, and it enforces the idea of engaging with the page. It has an on-and-off switch to boot! 

— Lillian Welch, Island Books


by Olivier Dunrea

When Gossie’s adorable red boots go missing one day, she looks high and low to find where they might be hiding!

— Lillian Welch, Island Books

Summer reading ages 2 to 4

Summer reading House in the Woods

by Inga Moore

When two little pigs need a new place to live, they band together with Bear and Moose, and some helpful beavers, to build a home they can all enjoy.

— Lillian Welch, Island Books

An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things

 by Wee Society 

This is a cool board book filled with stylized pictures on each page of awesome things: Pluto, dandelions, fool’s gold, and lots more. 

— René Kirkpatrick, University Book Store

Hug Me, Please!

by Przemyslaw Wechterowicz & Emilia Dziubak 

This is a sweet and simple story about spreading joy that will put a smile on your face. I particularly love that a father bear and his son bring the hugs around a great example of gentle giants! 

— Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Co.


by Joyce Sidman & Taeeun Yoo 

I wish every shape in the world could have a book as compelling and lyrical as Round, which manages to be poetic, instructive, joyful and magical. I recommend it most for this age group because there are a few fantastic pages at the back about roundness in nature that could inspire conversations during summer nature walks. 

— Lillian Welch, Island Books


Summer reading ages 4 to 6


summer readingThe Tea Party in the Woods

by Akiko Miyakoshi

Beautiful illustrations follow Kikko, walking through the woods to bring a pie to her grandmother, and coming upon a charming collection of animals taking tea.

— Lillian Welch, Island Books

Goldfish Ghost

by Lemony Snicket & Lisa Brown 

This is one of my favorite picture books of the year. Coming from Lemony Snicket (author of the Series of Unfortunate Events series), it’s as strange as you’d imagine. Goldfish Ghost rises out of his bowl and floats around town, looking for someone interesting to talk to. Parents may have to explain what a ghost is, but it’ll be worth it to share this book.
— Lillian Welch, Island Books

Van Dog

by Mikolaj Pa and illustrated by Gosia Herba

Van Dog rides their bike to the park one morning to paint with an easel and art supplies. What should be a calm, quiet day turns into the opposite when talkative creatures emerge. Each page is chaotic and colorful, and worms, ants, frogs and other animals lie hidden in the flora, waiting to be found by observant readers. This is the perfect picture book for those who like to get lost in the details of intricate illustrations.

— Rekha Kuver, Seattle’s Child Book Corner

Little Fox in the Forest

by Stephanie Graegin

An absolutely wonderful, wordless picture book, in which a young fox makes off with a little girl’s stuffed fox. With the help of a friend, the little girl finds her way into the woods populated by all sorts of woodland creatures and tracks down her beloved toy.
— Georgiana Blomberg, Magnolia’s Bookstore

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

by Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger

This uplifting picture book works well for a variety of situations: as a “grow-into” title for baby showers, an inspiration for the little people in your life, and even as a pick-me-up for adults who might need it.
— Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Co.

Strictly No Elephants

by Lisa Mantchev & Taeeun Yoo

It starts with “The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in” and ends with “Because that’s what friends do: never leave anyone behind.” The story in between shows there’s more than one way to make friends. On a side note, Lisa Mantchev will launch her newest picture book, Sister Day!, at Ballard’s Secret Garden Books on June 17.
— Christy McDanold, Secret Garden Books

Group Hug

by Jean Reidy, illustrated by Joey Chou

A slug travels along a leaf in search of someone to hug in Reidy’s cheerful picture book. Along comes a lonely beetle, and then a grumpy mouse, and the slug offers each a warm embrace. Along the way, others join the hug. This sweet story is punctuated with funny rhymes and cute characters, and its simple descriptions of emotions will help kids learn about feelings and how to talk about them.

— Rekha Kuver, Seattle’s Child Book Corner

Summer reading ages 6 to 8


summer readingSee the Cat

by David LaRochelle

Absolutely hilarious early chapter book about a dog who accidentally stars in three stories about a cat.

— Lillian Welch, Island Books

Curious Kids Nature Journal: 100 Ways to Explore the Outdoor Wonders of the Pacific Northwest

by Fiona Cohen, illustrated by Marni Fylling

This beautiful book by a Seattle author will only keep them reading, but writing and deeply observing the world around them. The journal is a colorful, interactive guide that affirms the Pacific Northwest as a world of wonder and wondrous detail when it comes to the great outdoors. Between these pages is the perfect place for kids ages 6-11 to document what they see and learn in nature, whether at a park near home, in a forest, or along a beach.

— Cheryl Murfin, Seattle’s Child Book Corner

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors

 by Drew Daywalt & Adam Rex 

This book is a perfect read-aloud for older children (preferably done in a monster-truck-show voice). Neither Rock nor Paper nor Scissors has ever lost a battle. Hoisting up their battle pants, they each set out to find the one who will finally defeat them.
— René Kirkpatrick, University Book Store

Snail and Worm

 by Tina Kugler

Three warm and funny stories (even for grown-ups) about two friends named Snail and Worm that’s ideal for the pre-Frog and Toad set.
— René Kirkpatrick, University Book Store

Summer reading ages 8 to 10


Alcatraz vs The Evil Librarians

by Brandon Sanderson

Starring a sarcastic and witty foster teen who learns he’s from a long line of adventurers who fight against the knowledge withholding evil librarians, it has adventure and magic galore.

— Lillian Welch, Island Books

A Boy Called Bat

by Elana K. Arnold 

Bat got his nickname from his initials (Bixby Alexander Tam), his sensitivity to noise, and the way he sometimes flaps his hands when he gets excited. Readers can infer that Bat is on the autism spectrum, but the empathetic narration shows that we can all relate. Animal lovers and kids who like realistic stories will love this book. Although the story is emotionally rich and the author uses some fantastic vocabulary, the font is comfortably large, and there are charming illustrations throughout, so it should appeal to a range of readers and listeners.
— Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Book Co.

Galloping Gertie

by Amanda Abler, illustrated by Levi Hastings.

Set in Washington! This nonfiction picture book doesn’t just tell the story of how the Tacoma Narrow Bridge was built and then collapsed, it shows how. Pictures illustrating the science behind the collapse are sure to fascinate budding engineers.

— Jenna Vandenberg, Seattle’s Child Book Corner

Fish Girl

 by Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner

A fairy-tale graphic novel with wonderful illustrations, this book is about a mermaid who appears in a boardwalk attraction. When she befriends a human girl, she begins longing for freedom, and with the help of an octopus, makes her escape.
— Georgiana Blomberg, Magnolia’s Bookstore


Summer reading ages 10+

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

by Kelly Barnhill

A tiny dragon who is convinced he is Absolutely Ginormous, a swamp monster, and an old witch take in a baby girl who turns out to be more than they bargained for — 2017 Newbery winner.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

by Julie Berry

In the long tradition of boarding-school stories comes this one, deliciously populated by a requisite horrid and greedy headmistress and seven plucky young women tasked with solving a murder and gaining their deserved independence. Quite a romp!
— Christy McDanold, Secret Garden Books

The Dire King

by William Ritter 

The fourth (and final!) book of the incredible Jackaby series comes out in August, which means kids have just enough time to feast on the first three books in this highly imaginative, smart and lively series. Together with his intrepid colleague Abigail Rook, R.F. Jackaby solves preternatural mysteries in 19th-century New England.
— Holly Myers, Elliott Bay Book Company

The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming

by J. Anderson Coats.

This historical fiction follows Jane as she leaves the Civil War-torn eastern side of the United States and comes to Washington Territory. Jane arrives via Mr. Mercer’s ship of widows (including her stepmother) who are expected to marry the men residing in the muddy frontier town of Seattle. Too young to marry and unsure of her place in her family, Jane eventually finds belonging in Seattle and the isolated cabins of Bellevue.

— Jenna Vandenberg, Seattle’s Child Book Corner

*Seattle’s Child staff contributed to this article, which we add to every year

More summer reading at Seattle’s Child:

13 Seattle Children’s Book Authors Share What They’re Reading and Tips for Young Writers

Book Corner: 4 great kids’ books about strong, smart, brave women

Emily’s Book Picks: ‘Goodnight, Veggies’ is a wonderful bedtime story

About the Author

Andie Powers