With several friends having their youngest heading off to kindergarten next year, I thought this was the perfect time to offer up a summer reading list for kindergarten. That said, this summer reading list ultimately became a wonderful reading list for any child in kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade.
You will love having reading out loud through the summer reading list for kindergarten to your little one, working on vocab and early reading with your 1st grader or independent reading with your 2nd grader.
You can find these books 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 wonderful summer reading lists for all the kiddos, from birth through high school!
Summer Reading List for Kindergarten, 1st Grade and 2nd Grade
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music: Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.
They All Saw a Cat: A 2017 Caldecott Honor Book. The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .In this glorious celebration of observation, curiosity, and imagination, Brendan Wenzel shows us the many lives of one cat, and how perspective shapes what we see. When you see a cat, what do you see?
Beastly Verse: Poetry and children belong together, and for a long time, the music and playfulness of verse wove itself through children’s days and lives. 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! Representing poems from Anonymous, as well as some lesser well-known poets.
Waiting for High Tide: For one young boy, it’s a perfect summer day to spend at the beach with his family. He scours the high tide line for treasures, listens to the swizzling sound of barnacles, and practices walking the plank. But mostly he waits for high tide. Then he’ll be able to swim and dive off the log raft his family is building. While he waits, sea birds and other creatures mirror the family’s behaviors: building and hunting, wading and eating. At long last the tide arrives, and human and animal alike savor the water.
Freedom in Congo Square (Charlotte Zolotow Award): 2017 Caldecott Honor. 2017 Coretta Scott King Honor. 2017 Charlotte Zolotow Award. A 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated Book. This poetic, nonfiction story about a little-known piece of African American history captures a human’s capacity to find hope and joy in difficult circumstances and demonstrates how New Orleans’ Congo Square was truly freedom’s heart. 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.
Strictly No Elephants: 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. Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.
Duck, Duck, Dinosaur: Meet Feather, Flap, and Spike. They’re three unlikely siblings who each want to stand out. But together, they make the biggest splash! Perfect for families of all kinds, this playful, clever story has a dino-sized heart.
We Found a Hat: Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike.
Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! The Cookie Fiasco: Four friends. Three cookies. One problem. Hippo, Croc, and the Squirrels are determined to have equal cookies for all! But how? There are only three cookies . . . and four of them! They need to act fast before nervous Hippo breaks all the cookies into crumbs!
Get a Hit, Mo! (Mo Jackson): Mo Jackson is a small boy with a big passion for sports. He may not be the biggest, the fastest, or the strongest kid on the team, but he won’t let that stop him from playing! 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?
Ballet Cat Dance! Dance! Underpants!: Ballet Cat is getting her friend Butter Bear ready for her big ballet debut. “Leap, Butter Bear, leap!” Ballet Cat prompts. But Butter Bear would prefer to just point her toe. When Ballet Cat keeps pushing, Butter Bear gets hungry, then thirsty, then sleepy . . . The bottom line is that Butter Bear would rather do almost anything to avoid making a big leap. Why? Because her bottom is covered in silly underpants! This second entry in the Ballet Cat series will have beginning readers rolling on the floor with laughter.
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.
Treat: As the old saying goes, “Give a dog a ball, and he’ll beg to play for days. But give a dog a treat, and he’ll never stop begging.” In this companion to Mary Sullivan’s Geisel Award-winning Ball, there’s a new dog in town and he is focused on finding a treat, no matter the cost. But endless tricks and futile searching (you can’t eat Grandma’s dentures!) can be pretty exhausting. Just when he’s about to give up hope . . . what’s this? TREAT!
Olinguito, de La A a la Z!/Olinguito, from A to Z!: With lyrical text in both Spanish and English, we travel to the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. Not your usual ABC book, the alphabet works as an organizing feature and provides children with a vehicle to encounter rich vocabulary as they learn about a unique environment. Thoroughly researched and exquisitely illustrated with colorful, realistic images, the book is a visual delight while it provides a wealth of information. Backmatter includes articles about cloud forests and the discovery of the olinguito in 2013, and an extensive glossary with the scientific names of the species pictured. This is truly a unique book to treasure on many levels.
Ice Cream Summer: Peter Sís’s delicious tongue-in-cheek vision of summer dishes up the whole scoop on everyone’s favorite frozen treat, and proves that ice cream is every bit as enriching for the mind as it is for the taste buds. Readers everywhere will be begging for seconds and thirds!
Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume Three: Baby Lincoln’s older sister, Eugenia, is very fond of telling Baby what to do, and Baby usually responds by saying “Yes, Sister.” But one day Baby has had enough. She decides to depart on a Necessary Journey, even though she has never gone anywhere without Eugenia telling her what to take and where to go. And in fact Baby doesn’t knowwhere she is headed — only that she was entirely happy in the previous night’s dream, sitting aboard a train with a view of shooting stars. Who might Baby meet as she strikes out on her own, and what could she discover about herself? Will her impulsive adventure take her away from Eugenia for good?
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.
Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! We Are Growing!: Walt and his friends are growing up fast! Everyone is the something-est. But . . . what about Walt? He is not the tallest, or the curliest, or the silliest. He is not the anything-est! As a BIG surprise inches closer, Walt discovers something special of his own!
The Quickest Kid in Clarksville: t’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid? The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.
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!
The Night Gardener: In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Curious Garden comes a stunning debut picture book filled with whimsy and creativity from brothers Terry and Eric Fan. 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. With breathtaking illustrations and spare, sweet text, this masterpiece about enjoying the beauty of nature is sure to become an instant classic.
Itsy Bitsy Spider (Urgency Emergency!): Miss Muffet finds an injured spider beneath a waterspout and brings her to City Hospital. This wacky hospital adventure based on the classic Itsy Bitsy Spider and Little Miss Muffet nursery rhymes will have young readers laughing till they fall off their tuffets!
Little Elliot, Big Fun: In this third story of Little Elliot and Mouse, the friends head off in search of adventure . . . and lots of 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!
Surf’s Up: Surf’s up! Not yet, Dude! Books are boring! Not this one! Bro and Dude have very different ideas about how to spend the day at the beach. But as Bro continues to gasp and cheer as he reads his book (Moby Dick), Dude can’t help but get curious. Before you can shout ‘Surf’s up!’ both frogs are sharing the same adventure, that is, until they get to the beach.
What Do You Do With a Problem?: From the same author and illustrator as the #1 nationally best-selling What Do You Do With an Idea? comes a new book to encourage you to look closely at problems and discover the possibilities they can hold. 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.
Like this summer reading list for kindergarten through 2nd grade? Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!