With summer it’s almost too easy to lose track of your nighttime routine. But reading with your child shouldn’t disappear just because it’s summer! This kids summer reading list for Kindergarten through Grade 2 will keep your family connected and enjoying books all summer long.
Can you keep a secret? Even though my boys are entering 4th and 6th grade, they sometimes still like to look at picture books and easier chapter books. Sometimes summer doesn’t mean taking a break, but it can mean sprinkling in some fun and “easy” reads.
You can find the books on this kids summer reading list for Kindergarten through Grade 2 at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. And a special thanks to the Association for Library Service for the wonderful summer reading inspiration.
Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!
Kids Summer Reading List, Kindergarten – Grade 2
A personal favorite I can’t recommend enough is What Do You Do With a Problem? Author Kobi Yamada has written a family favorite – What Do You Do With an Idea? – as well as What Do You Do With a Chance?. Seriously, all of these books are not to be missed!
What Do You Do With a Problem?: #1 New York Times Best Seller. This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. What Do You Do With a Problem? is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem… and yourself.
After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again): 2018 A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2017. A New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2017. A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Kids. A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017. A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2017. An NPR Best Book of 2017
Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most. Will he summon the courage to face his fear? After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.
The Book of Mistakes: A memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration. As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.
Beastly Verse: A Booklist Editor’s Choice for 2015. A Book Links magazine choice for the top classroom picks for 2015. Beastly Verse aims to help return the wonder of poetry to children’s lives through sixteen exquisitely illustrated poems, four of which have the surprise and pleasure of being foldouts. Consisting of playful as well as powerfully memorable poems, Beastly Verse transports the reader into a richly worded world of tigers, hummingbirds, owls, elephants, pelicans, yaks, snails, and even telephones! A playful romp through verse, rhyme, and gorgeous images, this book carries children into the poetic realm in a way that is not only fun and inviting, but inspiring as well!
Jabari Jumps: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.
The Bad Seed: An Amazon Best Children’s Book of the Year selection. This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! Perfect for young readers, as well as anyone navigating their current world, The Bad Seed proves that positive change is possible for each and every one of us.
Now: A Neal Porter Book. Follow a little girl as she takes you on a tour through all of her favorite things, from the holes she digs to the hugs she gives in Now, a clever and poignant picture book by award-winning artist Antoinette Portis.
Strictly No Elephants: Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet. When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book. Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.
My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis: This is the diary of P. Mantis, one of 150 praying mantis brothers and sisters born on a garden bush. P. Mantis is an amazing bug: she can make herself look like a stick to hide from predators, she can swivel her head all the way around, and when she’s grown up she’ll even be able to fly! Told in dated entries, P. Mantis describes the entirety of her life, sharing the fun and beauty of her world as well its little ups and downs (“I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two”).
Good Night, Planet: New York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2017. When you go off to sleep, your toys go out to play! After a long day of jumping in leaves and reading her favorite books, this little girl is wornout, but her favorite stuffed animal, Planet, is just getting started. Planet befriends a dog, gobbles a cookie, and takes a leap into the unknown. This tender, gorgeous tale by the internationally renowned cartoonist Liniers will reveal to early readers the wonders that exist at night, in secret, after they close their eyes.
A Piece of Home: A child-friendly story about the trials and triumphs of starting over in a new place while keeping family and traditions close. Lyrical prose and lovely illustrations combine in a gentle, realistic story about finding connections in an unfamiliar world.
When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. His eyes are not big and round like his classmates’, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says, even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly at him. As he lies in bed at night, the sky seems smaller and darker. But little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. And one day he is invited to a classmate’s house, where he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea — mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him — and Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a “piece of home” in their new garden.
Fly Guy Presents: Castles (Scholastic Reader, Level 2): Children across the nation voted for the topic of this Fly Guy Presents book, and the winning topic was… CASTLES! On their latest field trip, Fly Guy and Buzz learn all about castles: from drawbridges and dungeons to kings, queens, and knights! Award-winning author/illustrator Tedd Arnold brings nonfiction to life for beginning readers. There are humorous illustrations and engaging photographs throughout. The front cover features eye-catching holographic foil!
Big Cat, Little Cat: A 2018 Caldecott Honor book. This is a poignant story, told in measured text and bold black-and-white illustrations about the act of moving on. A story of friendship, following two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.
The Night Gardener: With breathtaking illustrations and spare, sweet text, this masterpiece about enjoying the beauty of nature is sure to become an instant classic. One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.
This Is My Dollhouse: A little girl proudly walks the reader through her handmade dollhouse, pointing out the bricks she painted on the outside, the wallpaper she drew on the inside, the fancy clothes she made for her dolls, and the little elevator she made out of a paper cup. She’s proud of her house and has lots of fun using her imagination to play with it—until she discovers her friend Sophie’s “perfect” storebought house. Sophie thinks her house, with everything matching and even a toilet seat that goes up and down, is pretty perfect too, until both girls discover that the narrator’s handmade dollhouse is really a lot more fun.
Get a Hit, Mo! (Mo Jackson): Baseball season has arrived and Mo is all set to play with his team, the Lions. But Mo always bats last, and he always plays right field—and no balls ever come to right field. Will Mo ever get his chance to help the Lions win? This Level 2 reader about a little African-American boy with a big passion for sports is a funny, motivational companion to the winner of the 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award – Don’t Throw It to Mo!.
Flowers Are Calling: Flowers are calling to all the animals of the forest, “Drink me!”—but it’s the pollinators who feast on their nectar. In rhyming poetic form and with luminous artwork, this book shows us the marvel of natural cooperation between plants, animals, and insects as they each play their part in the forest’s cycle of life.
My Beautiful Birds: A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.
Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons―will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last.
Blue Sky White Stars: Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread, sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson, depicts a stirring tableau, from the view of the Statue of Library at Ellis Island to civil rights marchers shoulder to shoulder, to a spacecraft at Cape Canaveral blasting off. This book is an ode to America then and now, from sea to shining sea.
Freedom in Congo Square (Charlotte Zolotow Award): New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2016. As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.
Robinson: Discover what surprises await in this beautiful dreamlike exploration of courage and loneliness, independence and friendship. Lush, transporting paintings float from reality to fantasy and back again as Peter Sís blends a true story from his childhood with the fictional adventure of Robinson Crusoe to create a moving, magical picture book that readers will want to return to again and again.
Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug: Hank is a pill bug with a busy life—for a pill bug, that is. His daily routine involves nibbling a dead leaf, climbing up a long stick, avoiding a skateboarder, and playing pretend with his best friend, a human girl named Amelia, in her backyard. And when day is done, Hank likes nothing better than returning home to his cozy rock.
Marta! Big & Small: A School Library Journal Top 10 Latinx Book 2016. With simple Spanish and a glossary at the end, this fun read-aloud picture book, Marta! Big and Small,teaches little ones to identify opposites and animals and learn new words.
Marta is una niña, an ordinary girl . . . with some extraordinary animal friends! As Marta explores the jungle, she knows she’s bigger than a bug, smaller than an elephant, and faster than a turtle. But then she meets the snake, who thinks Marta is sabrosa―tasty, very tasty! But Marta is ingeniosa, a very clever girl, and she outsmarts the snake with hilarious results.
Little Elliot, Big Fun: Little Elliot, the polka-dotted elephant, and his friend Mouse go to the amusement park to see the sights and ride the rides―water chutes, roller coasters, carousels, and more. But Elliot isn’t having much fun―the rides are too wet, too fast, too dizzy, and just plain too scary―until Mouse figures out a way to help him overcome his fears. Together, Mouse and Little Elliot can do anything!
La Princesa and the Pea: Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru. El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree. The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too…
Like this kids summer reading list for Kindergarten through Grade 2? Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!