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summer reading

Summer reading: book picks for kids from Seattle booksellers

Local kids' lit experts share their top picks for keeping kids reading all summer long.

Summer reading: We asked local booksellers — those folks who live and breathe children’s literature — about their tip-top picks for keeping kids engaged with reading all summer long. Some books are new, some have been around a while; all are guaranteed to delight. 

Ages 0 to 2


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


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

Ages 2 to 4


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 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


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

Ages 4 to 6

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

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

summer readingShe 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

Summer reading: Ages 6 to 8

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

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.

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 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 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

For more summer reading ideas and advice on raising a reader (and a writer) see 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