Last year, I put together a list of 100 picture books to read with your kids over the summer (or, you know, on your own – I won’t judge).
It turned out to be one of the most popular book posts I’ve ever done, and I loved hearing from families that printed off the list and worked their way through them all during their summer vacation.
So if you need another list to keep your library card maxed out this summer or ideas for a few new books to stick in a backpack for an airplane trip, here are 100 more picture books, none of which are repeats from last year (so if you missed last year’s list, you can check that one out too and have more picture books than you know what to do with this summer).
All 100 of these are books I’ve read myself, so if you hate one of them, it’s all on me – I can’t pass the buck to anyone else or blame rave reviews from Amazon.
I like every last one of them, whether it’s non-fiction, an easy reader book, a wordless story, or a classic.
I hope you love them too!
100 of the best picture books to read this summer
- Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. When Harry runs away in the classic, he has all sorts of adventures, but when he comes home, he’s so filthy that his family doesn’t recognize him!
- There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith. A little boy sets out alone and discovers different groups of animals (with lots of fun collective nouns introduced along the way), but he’s happiest when he finally finds his own tribe.
- When Dads Don’t Grow Up by Marjorie Blain Parker, illustrated by R.W. Alley. My kids have a dad who didn’t quite grow up and still knows how to be extra-fun and imaginative (good thing, because I think I was born aged 42). This is a fun celebration of dads who are the best.
- The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers. This one is so magical. In a dreary little town, orphan boy William starts to watch his village come to life after a mysterious gardener comes in the night and trims the trees into beautiful animals.
- The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. I remember this one from my childhood, about a neighborhood where every house looks exactly the same until a bird carrying a can of orange paint (don’t ask – just go with it) drops that orange paint on the roof of one of the houses and then everything starts to change.
- Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley. I love Ed Emberley and this is my favorite, with a monster that grows with die-cut pages and then starts to disappear piece by piece.
- I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur! by Heath McKenzie. A little dino-obsessed boy is thrilled when a T. Rex shows up and is willing to show him how to be a dinosaur. But as they play together, the dinosaur decides he’d maybe rather be a human instead!
- Silly Wonderful You by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. Life is a little different when you have a child and this book sweetly illustrates all the differences that come along with that new baby (and why it’s wonderful).
- I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia. This non-fiction book will have your kids howling with laughter (plus, each page offers three different cures people have used over the centuries and then on the next page tells which ones actually worked).
- All We Know by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Jane Dyer. This is the perfect bedtime story, with a lyrical exploration of what different parts of nature know instinctively how to do.
- King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood. The king is in the bathtub and he won’t get out, no matter who tries to convince him. Instead he eats lunch, holds a ball, and fights a battle all from his porcelain tub, until the clever page finds a solution.
- Mom School by Rebecca Van Slyke, illustrated by Priscilla Burris. This fun story imagines moms going off to mom school where they learn the basics of being a parent (while the narrator wishes her mom had missed the day about feeding your children vegetables).
- RRRalph by Lois Ehlert. Dog lovers will be delighted by all the funny responses that normal dog sounds can make as if they are really answering questions. It’s the perfect read-aloud.
- One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey. This one is a little long, so save it for a morning where you have nowhere to be, but this story of Sal, who is headed out with her father on his boat, is so sweet and fun from first page to last.
- When Your Elephant comes to Play by Ale Barba. It seems like all fun and games when an elephant comes to play, but it’s actually surprisingly tricky to find activities you can do together. And the last page makes me laugh every time.
- Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Steam shovels are falling out of fashion, but Mike Mulligan is still convinced his beloved steam shovel is faster and better than anyone else, and he’s out to prove it when the new town hall needs a cellar dug.
- A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long. This is part of a whole non-fiction series and I love that you can read just the big text or dive in deeper with the explanations and information on each page about various nests.
- Puddle by by Hyewon Yum. A little guy is unhappy that he doesn’t get to go play outside because of the rain, but his mom comes up with a fun drawing game that makes the rain seem more fun after all.
- Alice the Fairy by David Shannon. David Shannon is most well-known for his No, David! books, but Alice gives David a run for his money with her amusing antics as she tries to become a fairy.
- I’m Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton. But it’s hard, because spiders are a little bit scary. Full of both humor and tons of spider facts, this book is perfect for the spider lover or fearer.
- A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins. This reminds me of Jon Klassan, with a sly and slightly dark sense of humor. The lion is just one of many animals, but that group keeps getting smaller and smaller. Who is to blame?
- The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. I’d never read this one until we had children and Bart mentioned it was one of his favorites from his childhood. Now I love this book about a bunny who wants to run away and a mother who keeps assuring him she’ll find him wherever he goes.
- The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone, illustrated by Michael Smollin. Grover is very concerned about the monster promised at the end of this book and will do just about anything to keep you from turning the pages. Because, you know, monsters are scary.
- The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee. When the new baby arrives, he rules with an iron fist, keeping everyone on their toes, but after a while, the weary parents are no longer able to keep up. Until the Boss Baby discovers two magical words that revive them.
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert. I never read this brilliant alphabet book with some of the most catchy text imaginable until I was an adult, but I’ve become a huge fan.
- The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems. I love all the Pigeon books, but this is my favorite. My girls would read this 100 times in a row if I was willing.
- Owen by Kevin Henkes. Owen loves his blanket and he has no intentions of giving it up, despite his nosy neighbor insisting he’s getting too old.
- How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Lee Wildish. Babysitting a grandpa can be fun, but it’s best if you know what to expect and how to keep that grandpa happy. This amusing book makes me AND my children laugh.
- Jennie’s Hat by Ezra Jack Keats. This is a lesser-known book by Keats, but I love this sweet story about Jennie who anxiously awaits her annual Easter hat from her aunt and is disappointed when a very plain one arrives.
- Let’s Play by Hervé Tullet. Tullet does it again with a brilliant interactive book where a dot is ready to run, jump, make art, and just generally make book reading the kind of experience you didn’t know was possible.
- The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola. Tommy cannot WAIT to go to school and take art lessons, but he’s horrified to discover that art lessons comes with a bunch of rules. Fortunately, his art teacher is very understanding and helps them come to an agreement that keeps everyone happy.
- Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen. When a little girl finds a box of yarn, she is surprised to find that it never seems to run out and soon she’s knitting gifts for everyone (and everyTHING) in town. Until a greedy outsider wants that magical yarn for himself.
- The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka. It turns out that the Frog Prince didn’t actually want to be a prince – he’d rather stay a frog and eat flies. Is it too late to turn back?
- Arthur’s Loose Tooth by Lillian Hoban. Arthur’s tooth is EXTREMELY loose, but he’s too nervous to actually pull it out.
- My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann. Mouse lets Rabbit play with his brand-new airplane, but Rabbit quickly gets himself into trouble and it’s going to take a whole crew to help him out.
- D is for Dress-Up: The ABC’s of What We Wear by Maria Carluccio. For your dress-up obsessed child, this is the perfect alphabet book.
- Apples and Robins by Lucie Felix. The die-cuts in this page are so beautiful and clever. After you read it, you’ll probably want to create some of your own.
- The Truth about My Unbelievable Summer by Davide Cali, illustrated by Benjamin Chaud. My girls are obsessed with this series and we’ve read them over and over again – this one is the best for the summer holidays.
- Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. If you want to introduce your child to poetry, these very very short little poems that follow the seasons are the perfect way. And the illustrations from Melissa Sweet are the cherry on top.
- Small Pig by Arnold Lobel. Small Pig loves his soft muddle puddle, but when the farmer’s wife vacuums it up, he runs away and finds a new puddle which turns out to be cement. This is classic Lobel.
- Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. How big is a gorilla’s hand actually? And how about an elephant’s foot? This book is just so fun and clever, perfect for any animal lover.
- Maggie and Wendel Imagine Everything! by Cori Doerrfeld. You don’t need a lot to have a really fun playdate as long as you have a friend and some big imaginations!
- The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller, illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. What could be better than a story about how doughnuts were invented? Just make sure you’re ready to make a doughnut run after you read this non-fiction title.
- Mustache Baby Meets His Match by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang. Mustache Baby knows he’s strong and fast and amazing. But when Baby Javier shows up for a playdate sporting a beard, things get competitive pretty fast.
- Froodle by Antoinette Portis. Little Brown Bird is tired of the same cheeping and chirping. She decides to start sprinkling in some fun new words like “froodle.” But some of the other birds are very annoyed by this change to the routine.
- Fabulous Frogs by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Tim Hopgood. I don’t care about frogs at all, but I couldn’t help loving reading this really beautiful book all about the different kinds of frogs and learning some pretty amazing facts.
- Little Red Henry by Linda Urban, illustrated by Madeline Valentine. In this spin on the Little Red Hen, Henry lives in a family where everyone wants to help him ALL THE TIME. And he’s just like to do some things for himself, thank you very much.
- The Pea Blossom by Amy Lowry Poole. Based on a Hans Christen Anderson tale, a pea blossom turns into a pod with five peas, each of which have different dreams for their lives.
- I Spy Fantasy by Jean Marzallo and Walter Wick. Perfect for car trips, airplane trips or just a lazy afternoon on the couch.
- Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian. When you just can’t take another hot day, a book about snow and snowflakes is just the ticket. Make some paper snowflakes afterward and pretend you need a scarf.
- Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca. My girls are fascinated by space and astronauts, and this beautiful book about the Apollo 11 mission is perfectly kid-friendly.
- Oops Pounce Quick Run: An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy. A mouse is minding his own business when a ball bounces into his hole, quickly accompanied by the nose of a rambunctious dog.
- Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. This won the Newbery this year (it’s very unusual for a picture book to win) and this story about a little boy and his grandmother riding the bus is full of great discussion topics and has a very sweet ending.
- Rufus the Writer by Elizabeth Bram, illustrated by Chuck Groenink. Rufus doesn’t want a lemonade stand – instead he starts a story stand and each of his friends comes and trades small items for a custom story starring them!
- The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein. When the cat wakes up a small child in the night, he gets a glimpse at the world when everyone and everything is sleeping. And then the magical moments as the world starts to come back to life.
- Alan’s Big, Scary Teeth by Jarvis. Alan the alligator loves scaring everyone in the jungle with his big scary teeth. Until someone discovers his secret – his teeth aren’t real!
- Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg. Two bored children find a board game in the park and when it comes to life, find that their lives are now in mortal peril.
- Tales of Amanda Pig by Jean Van Leeuwen, illustrated by Ann Schweninger. I love Oliver and Amanda Pig so much, and this one is probably my favorite, as she deals with foods she doesn’t like, faces the scary monster in the hall, and puts her mother to bed.
- Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira, illustrated by Poly Bernatene. When a pond of frogs discover a pig in their midst who says “Ribbit,” they think he’s making fun of them. But maybe he just wants to be friends?
- The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, illustrated byTony Persiani. Ever wondered where fluorescent colors came from? A pair of brothers with wildly different skill sets!
- Mind Your Monsters By Catherine Bailey, illustrated by Oriol Vidal. When monsters invade town, it looks like the humans might have to flee. Until one little boy discovers a magic word.
- Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas. You can always rely on Jan Thomas to bring ridiculous humor to any picture book, and this is a counting book that will make you laugh so hard you might not reach ten.
- Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni. A little inchworm loves measuring everything, even the birds that might want to eat him. When he gets into a sticky spot with the hungry nightingale, the inchworm comes up with a clever solution to save himself.
- Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins. All Bruce wants is a little breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, but when those eggs hatch and the goslings think he is their mother, Bruce is NOT happy.
- Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. This is such a sweet and interesting book about young Jane Goodall and how she dreams of helping animals when she grows up.
- Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber. Ira can’t wait to sleep over at his best friend’s house, until his sister wonders aloud if he’ll take his beloved teddy bear. What’s a boy to do?
- The Odd One Out by Britta Teckentrup. This cleverly illustrated book requires you to find the one item on each page the doesn’t match the rest. Some pages are hard, some are easy, and all of them are fun.
- And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin Stead. Winter can be brown and ugly, but as it fades away, you plant and hope that someday, it will be spring.
- The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. In this story about a city coming back to life, thanks to a garden, make sure to look for little Liam on each page.
- The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett, illustrated by Poly Bernatene. When a princess and a pig accidentally switch places, the mistake is noticed years later, but the king and queen can’t be convinced that their darling daughter is actually a pig.
- A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Amos McGee takes good care of the animals at the zoo, but when he has a sick day, the animals come to his house and care for him instead.
- Maple by Lori Nichols. Maple’s parents planted a tree in her honor when she was born and the tree and Maple are best friends. But will a new baby ruin everything?
- That’s Not Mine By Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant. Do you have a chair in the house that everyone fights over? You’ll relate to this silly story.
- Bedtime Monsters by Josh Schneider. Arnold does not want to go to bed because there are monsters and he is afraid. But it turns out that the monsters are afraid of something too.
- I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. After you read this story, you’ll probably have to march around and name all the things you’re bigger than too.
- Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman. Rainy days home alone are a bummer until you find a mysterious key.
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Check this book out at the library and buy a box of kleenex on your way home.
- Ask Me by Bernard Waber, illustrated by Suzy Lee. A neighborhood walk with a father and his daughter gives them both a chance to ask each other questions.
- Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Suçie Stevenson. I love an easy reader series with a lot of books, and Henry and Mudge is just that, plus a classic to boot.
- Flashlight by Lizi Boyd. A little boy explores the night with his flashlight, illuminating all sorts of fun things until he drops the flashlight and the animals shine it on him instead!
- Boo Hoo Bird by Jeremy Tankard. When Bird gets bonked on the head during a game of catch, nothing will make him feel better, no matter how many suggestions his friends offer.
- Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Scott Magoon. Chopsticks belong together until one of them gets broken and while he’s recovering the other chopstick has to make it on his own.
- The Library by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small. Elizabeth Brown has no interest in anything besides books, and as she grows older, her collection becomes unmanageably large. What’s a book lover to do?
- Blizzard by John Rocco. In 1978, Rhode Island had a blizzard that dropped 53 inches of snow. This book is a delightful reproduction of John Rocco’s experience as a child during that storm.
- Ballet Cat and The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea. Ballet Cat loves ballet (surprise!) but when her friend tells her a very secret secret, she discovers that there is something she loves even MORE than ballet.
- Leonardo, the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems. Leonardo isn’t as terrible or scary as he wants to be, so he determines that the best course of action is to find the wimpiest kid in the world and scare him. But. . . as usual, it doesn’t go quite as planned.
- Float By Daniel Miyares. This wordless picture book about a little boy and his paper boat will have you hoping for a rainy day too. In the meantime, brush up your boat folding skills.
- “More More More,” Said the Baby: Three Love Stories by Vera B. Williams. I’ve always loved this sweet baby book about three little babies with caretakers who interact with them in different and equally sweet ways. Perfect baby gift.
- Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. Officer Buckle is supposed to teach safety tips to children, but he’s so boring. Fortunately, Gloria the dog is there to keep things lively, except that Office Buckle thinks all the laughs and applause are for him!
- A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson, illustrated by David Roberts. So you like bears, do you? You’ll want to read this book so you don’t get yourself eaten if you ever run into one.
- This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Licthenheld. When a movie director comes to make a moose documentary, he’s shocked to find that the moose does NOT want to moose-type things (whatever those are) but actually wants to be an astronaut instead. This could be a problem.
- The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. How can you not love naughty little Peter? This is the classic Beatrix Potter tale, and I love the tiny size, just right for toddler hands.
- Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina. I grew up on this story about a peddler trying to sell caps but, on a slow day, wanders out to the countryside, takes a nap under a tree, and wakes up to discover all his caps have been stolen by naughty monkeys in the tree above him.
- Chicken Lily by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden. Chicken Lily has lots of talents, but being brave is not one of them – when the school announces a poetry event, she is terrified, but decides she’ll do her best to perform anyway.
- Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Mélanie Watt. Scaredy Squirrel is terrified of basically everything, so even making a friend turns out to take a huge amount of preparation. Of course, as friendship usually does, nothing goes quite right.
- Freight Train by Donald Crews. I’ll admit we don’t read a ton of vehicle books in our family, but this one is just gorgeous, with the colored train cars and then the movement of that train through the landscape. It’s a classic.
- Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman. The stunning photographs in this alphabet make it just as much fun for adults as kids.
- Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Betsy Thompson. My kids love solving the riddles on each page, trying to guess what animal will hatch from the eggs.
- Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. This one is such a classic about a baby bird who wanders out of his nest and wonders if each animal he meets is his mother.
- A Pig, a Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske. A little bit weird, but my girls couldn’t get enough of this book about a fox who keeps trying to trick his friend pig but accidentally gets the worst of every trick.
Heather @ Heathers Hurrah says
I'll definitely be sharing this with friends and family. What a great list!! I'm going to check out last year's post too!
Marisa M says
This is a great list! I teach summer reading classes with the Institute of Reading Development, and I can personally vouch for King Bidgood's in the Bathtub. I have never seen a class of Pre-K students so excited as when I read that book to them.
I'm so glad to see that you have mixed in some classics. Harry, the Dirty Dog is one of my all-time favorites. Some nonfiction titles too! Also, when we were in Belize, we saw some Capuchin monkeys, one of which stole somebody's cap and ran up into the trees with it, which reminded me of Caps for Sale!
Great list! I will definitely look for some of these. The day my daughter graduated from board books was so exciting for me! Right now her favorite is Snappsy the Alligator which I think you recommended earlier this year! She really gets a kick out of the goody bags/garbage bags line for some reason. 🙂
Thank your for this list! We've been using last years as our library guide and I'm so happy to have more children's books to discover!
Can't tell you how happy I am that you made another list this summer! Making our way through last year's list was one of our summer highlights.
I LOVE Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. As a kindergartner, I checked it out all the time and my mom was always so upset that I didn't expand my horizons.
Also from last year's list, Miss Nelson!
And can your girls stop growing? I've been reading since before Ani was born.
Jennifer Noble says
This is fantastic and so timely! My son has been on a reading kick (yay!) And your suggestions have been keeping us going 🙂
Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com says
So happy to find my book Eggs 1, 2, 3: Who Will the Babies Be? on this list. Happy Summer Reading!
Alysa Stewart says
Ooh, so many good ones on here! This reminds me I should read Mike Mulligan to my boys again this year. My second son is the perfect age for it.