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8 Books to Read When It’s Too Hot to Go Outside

The first order of business when we moved in was a trip to the grocery store.

I need my yogurt and granola (and sriracha sauce – my mom thought it was hilarious that when I picked up the essentials our first morning in Arizona, sriracha was one of the 20 things I purchased).

The second order, obviously, was to procure library cards and max them out immediately.

During this first week of school, as we’ve been transitioning into our new routines, we’ve spent most afternoons snuggled up on the couch, reading piles of books.

It’s so nice to be settled again, with all our belongings together in one house, and no move looming ahead of us.

Here are some picture books for summer that have made themselves welcome in our new home:

picture books for summer


picture books for summer

Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda – Oh man, I love these books so much. We read and laughed ourselves silly over the Santa Cat one and the Easter cat one last year, and I’m so happy to have a non-holiday one that we can read without apology all year round. In these books, the cat interacts with the narrator via picket signs and their dialogue is just really amusing. I love how the cat is feisty and a little bit tricky, but also sweet and lovable. If you like Mo Willems (and who doesn’t?), you’ll like these books.

Naptime by Iris de Mouy, translated by Shelley Tanaka  We’re entering that dreaded phase of resisting naps, so it is no surprise that this was Ani’s favorite book. All the animals insist that they are not a bit tired as they are rounded up for naptime, making all the same old excuses every child tries. The color palette, the style of art, and the unusual shape of the book all made this just such a delightful read. (Plus it’s a French book, translated in English, which makes me feel extra smart, even if that feeling is completely unfounded).

Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! from National Geographic – This one is definitely the odd-ball on this list because it’s a large book of poetry, rather than a picture book. Bart’s parents gave this to us for Christmas and I thought, “Well, THIS will never get read” because I am a model of optimism. And then it was Ella’s FAVORITE book. She’d read us poem after poem while we made dinner or did the dishes, and the poems were so clever and fun and interesting. Plus, the photographs of the animals are stunning. Don’t be a doubter like I was.

Time Flies by Eric Rohmann – In this wordless tale, a bird flies into a natural history museum after hours and through the dinosaur exhibit. When the dinosaurs come to life and the bird is transported with them back into the Jurassic age, it’s more of an adventure than she bargained for. My girls LOVED this one and we read it over and over.

Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton – What is it about dogs that makes for such good picture books? I first discovered Chris Haughton with Shh! We Have a Plan, and this one is even more delightful, I think. Harry is leaving George the dog home alone and instructs him to be good. George, of course, has every intention of being very good. But then there is a cake. And a cat. And some trash. What’s a dog to do? (You know what a dog will do. . . ).

Sylvie by Jennifer Sattler – When Sylvia asks why flamingos are pink and learns it is because they eat pink shrimp, she wonders what will happen if she eats something purple. Or brown. Or striped. After I read this book, I Googled to see if that’s why flamingos really are pink. The answer is yes. We are also big fans of Sattler’s Pig Kahuna.

Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer – I love Olivia so much (well, in the book form – I’ve never seen the television spin off, so I have no comment on those). She’s just so hilariously rascally but basically good-hearted. This one may be my favorite of the whole series (especially when her teacher probes her about whether or not her story of the circus adventure is true).

Home by Carson Ellis – I might be at exactly the right place in my life to love this book as we settle into a long-term home after six years of living in limbo. I love the calm but interesting and detailed illustrations of every sort of home you can think of, from real to imaginary. And I maybe want to frame every page for a whole series to hang in some room of my own home.

And if you’d like a printable copy of this list that you can take to your library or screenshot on your phone for easy access, just pop in your email address below and it’ll come right to your inbox!

P.S. I share more book recommendations every day or two on Instagram, so if you’re looking for more suggestions, feel free to follow along!

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  1. My kids are really into poetry lately (which I never thought would happen) so I'm so happy to see a poetry book on this list. We'll definitely check it out.

  2. On the couch with a stack of books seems to be your go-to entertainment, and I'm not being facetious when I wonder how you do this. My boys are about the same ages as your girls, and my older two sons love when I read to them, but the older one (5.5 years) only wants non-fiction or chapter books. Picture books bore him. The younger one (3 years) only wants picture books and gets bored with the longer books. The baby (7.5 months) has about a five-minute window of attention before EVERYTHING bores him, and he wants me to stand him up so he can jump on my lap.

    Do you have these issues? Or does everyone really just sit with you and read? If so, I am envious.

    1. The baby is definitely the live wire – she is just wiggly, but the other two really do sit and read for as long as I'm willing (I'm definitely the one that's ready to move on first). We switch back and forth between who picks the books, but they tend to like similar things, so it's not too tricky. Sorry that's so unhelpful!

  3. We're definitely going to have to check out Oh No George soon! I can't even imagine how nice it must be to know you're not moving anywhere for a good long time!

  4. Henry's new favorite book is Deep Deep Puddle, to the point that he cried when I couldn't renew it from the library anymore and I got it for him for his upcoming birthday.

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