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Fresh Librarian-approved Kids’ Reads for Summer 2021

Two black children enjoying reading together on a couch

Looking for great summer reads for the young readers (and pre-readers) in your life? This list of librarian-recommended books for babies through fifth graders is a great place to start. Compiled annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, this list is meant for parents and caregivers and can be used to explore titles that may match or spark their child's interest. Check these out at your local library!

Babies - Preschoolers

Antiracist Baby
by Ibram X. Kendi, illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
Racial consciousness develops younger than many people realize, and this picture book will give parents and caregivers a launchpad for having these important conversations with their little ones.

Families Belong
by Dan Saks, illustrated by Brooke Smart
A celebration of families loving, singing, and belonging together.

Future Doctor
by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Allison Black
A board book teaching the basics of being a doctor and encouraging Baby that they can be anything.

The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish
by Lil Miss Hot Mess, illustrated by Olga de Dios
Written by one of the first Drag Queen Story Hour performers, this picture book will get kids moving and proudly flaunting their most glamorous selves.

Hurry Up! A Book about Slowing Down
by Kate Dopirak, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
With repeating refrains, this picture book follows a busy morning and afternoon of a young girl. After school, she learns to slow things down and enjoy what is around her.

I Love My Tutu Too!
by Ross Burach
Every animal loves their tutu and wants to find more animal friends who love their tutus as well. Clever rhymes and a vibrant color palette make this a highly re-readable board book.

I Love You, Baby Burrito
by Angela Dominguez
With a mix of both English and Spanish languages, this book takes you through the act of swaddling a newborn.

Me & Mama
by Cozbi A. Cabrera
A young child enjoys a day with her mama, splashing in the rain and being cozy at home.

A New Green Day
by Antoinette Portis
Poetic riddles create a guessing game as readers explore nature during a summer day.

Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak
by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers
The sounds of the Pacific Coast are shared in this board book with simple text accompanied by colorful illustrations from an Indigenous artist.

Sing with Me / Canta conmigo
by José-Luis Orozco, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Enjoy six classic children’s songs in both English and Spanish, with charming illustrations.

The Solar System with Ellen / El sistema solar con Ellen
by Patty Rodríguez and Ariana Stein, illustrated by Citlali Reyes
Text in English and Spanish brings our youngest bookworms on a trip through outer space with Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina astronaut.

This Is a Book of Shapes
by Kenneth Kraegel
This board book begins as a simple introduction to shapes and gets sillier and more complex as other shapes that might not be so simple get added!

Two Many Birds
by Cindy Derby
A monitor shouts rules as birds line up to sit in a tree, but when the tree reaches capacity and two more birds hatch, things start to get a little wild.

We All Play
by Julie Flett
With a simple text in English and Cree and soft, beautiful illustrations, this book explores how both animals and humans play.

We Are Little Feminists: On-the-Go
by Brook Sitgraves and Archaa Shrivastav
A board book celebration of how we move, featuring colorful photographs of a variety of people moving in many different ways, highlighting the diversity of people and abilities in our community.

What Sound Is Morning?
by Grant Snider
This simple and beautiful book encourages its readers to consider their morning routines, paying special attention to the sounds and silences that accompany them.

Whose Bones? An Animal Guessing Game
by Gabrielle Balkan, illustrated by Sam Brewster
An informative board book about animal bones and anatomy in the form of a fun guessing game.

You Matter
by Christian Robinson
An uplifting and inspiring book encourages readers to explore the many different people we encounter in our world and our connection to them, highlighting the important mantra of the title, “You matter.”

Kindergarteners – Second Graders

Baloney and Friends
by Greg Pizzoli
This funny graphic novel for beginning readers stars Baloney the pig alongside his friends Bizz (a bee), Peanut (a horse), and Krabbit (a very cranky rabbit).

Black Is a Rainbow Color
by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
There’s no black in rainbows, but Black is more than a color. It’s a culture. This picture book celebrates African American history and identity.

Carpenter’s Helper
by Sybil Rosen, illustrated by Camille Garoche
A sweet story about a girl and her family bonding while building a birdhouse in their home.

The Electric Slide and Kai
by Kelly J. Baptist, illustrated by Darnell Johnson
Kai’s family is excited for his aunt’s upcoming wedding, but since every family celebration means dancing, Kai’s worried he will make a fool of himself on the dance floor again. A picture-book celebration of family, love, and overcoming one’s fears.

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners
by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
A picture book filled with wonderful illustrations that encourage children to be proud of who they are and how they look.

A Hatful of Dragons: And More than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems
by Vikram Madan
A silly collection of interactive poems and rhymes in a variety of formats with fun illustrations about mummies, dragons, and more!

I Am a Bird
by Hope Lim, illustrated by Hyewon Yum
A little girl, riding on the back of her father’s bike, is wary of the mysterious woman with a bag they pass. One day, she finds out what the bag is for, and her wariness grows into kinship.

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend
by Dawn Quigley, illustrated by Tara Audibert
This early chapter book follows Jo Jo, a young Ojibwe girl, as she navigates the troubles and tribulations of being in elementary school. This story also includes snippets of the Ojibwe language with more information in the back matter.

by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
Frustrated with her little brother taking over her job of pushing the elevator button, a girl takes a discarded button to transform her closet door into a magical elevator. In the process, she discovers that adventures are more fun when you share them.

Milo Imagines the World
by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson
While on the subway, Milo imagines different stories for the people he sees, but he soon realizes you can’t tell who people really are just by their appearance.

A Place inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Noa Denmon
A Black boy, shown all over his neighborhood, experiences a range of emotions: fear, pride, sorrow, and joy.

Sadiq and the Green Thumbs
by Siman Nuurali, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Sadiq, a Somali American third-grader, starts a gardening club focused on helping neighbors. Part of a series.

Sharuko: El arqueólogo peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello
by Monica Brown, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
In this Spanish-English picture-book biography, readers find out about this Indigenous scientist who found skulls and artifacts in the mountains of Peru as a child and went on to become the founder of modern Peruvian archaeology.

Story Boat
by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh
Join a little girl and her younger brother as they leave behind the place they know as home and, along the way, make the best of times with what they find. A wonderful refugee story.

We Laugh Alike / Juntos nos reímos: A Story That’s Part Spanish, Part English, and a Whole Lot of Fun
by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez
Two groups of friends meet in the park, but one group only speaks English, and the other only speaks Spanish. Watch how they play together and discover all sorts of similarities!

What about Worms!?
by Ryan T. Higgins
Tiger is big and brave—except when it comes to worms! When faced with a worm-themed book and then a big group of worms, he must try to overcome his fear.

Your Mama
by NoNieqa Ramos, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara
This super fun book is a spin on the “yo mama” jokes. The twist with this book is that everything included here is pleasant, comforting, and warm, with more than just a hint of humor.

Your Place in the Universe
by Jason Chin
An introduction to size, scale, and distance that goes from comparing an eight-year-old’s height with a stack of books to examining the vastness of the universe.

Zonia’s Rain Forest
by Juana Martinez-Neal
Explore Zonia’s home, the Amazon rain forest, and learn as Zonia respects and protects the Peruvian wildlife and her heritage.

Third Graders – Fifth Graders

Any Day with You
by Mae Respicio
Kaia enters a filmmaking contest, drawing inspiration from the many Filipino tales her great-grandfather tells. When Tatang decides to return to the Philippines, Kaia will do whatever it takes to keep him in California.

by Ben Queen, illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton
This graphic novel follows a seeing-eye dog, Bear, as he loses his vision and embarks on an exciting adventure to return home after getting lost.

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch
by Julie Abe
Eva has only a pinch of magic, which makes passing the test to become a novice witch difficult. When she lands in a small coastal town, she sets up a magical repair shop to prove her worth.

The How and Wow of the Human Body: From Your Tongue to Your Toes and All the Guts in Between
by Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, illustrated by Jack Teagle
A fully illustrated comical tour of the human body focusing on disgusting, incredible, and hilarious facts about our very own, ever-oozing piece of machinery.

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero
by Kelly J. Baptist
Now the man of the house, a boy finds passion in poetry after discovering his late father’s journal while struggling to hold his house together.

The Last Bear
by Hannah Gold
April’s father has always told her that there are no more polar bears left on Bear Island. When April sees something that looks like a polar bear across the horizon, she is determined to save it.

Pepper Page Saves the Universe!
by Landry Q. Walker, illustrated by Eric Jones
Twenty-fifth-century Pepper Page is obsessed with old comics, but when a high-school science experiment goes wrong and Pepper lands in the middle of a cosmic adventure of her own, Pepper’s reading may not be enough to save her.

Shaking Up the House
by Yamile Saied Méndez
Two sets of First Daughters shake up the White House with hysterical pranks on each other that escalate into an international affair!

Skunk and Badger
by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen
No one wants a skunk as a roommate, but Badger doesn’t have a choice. His quiet, solitary life is turned upside down by cheery Skunk in this odd-couple tale of friendship.

A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games
by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Allan Drummond
Jewish neurologist Ludwig Guttmann, who escaped Hitler’s Germany, had a revolutionary idea—sports might help patients labeled as “incurables.” Discover how his work evolved into the international Paralympic Games in this biography that includes photos and other illustrations.

Stella Díaz Dreams Big
by Angela Dominguez
Stella learns how to navigate fourth grade, participate in several clubs, and have fun with her family and friends. Third book in a series.

Super Detectives: Simon and Chester Book #1
by Cale Atkinson
A hilarious first volume in a new graphic novel series centered around ghost Simon and human Chester solving the case of a mysterious dog who shows up in their house one day.

Three Keys: A Front Desk Novel
by Kelly Yang
The sequel to Front Desk finds Mia, now part owner of a motel, working to keep the motel afloat while facing anti-immigration sentiment and helping her best friend Lupe when her father is detained as an illegal immigrant.

The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez
by Adrianna Cuevas
Nestor wants to keep his ability to talk to animals a secret, but that’s a challenge when animals go missing in Nestor’s new town and rumors fly about a creature who lives in the forest.

Truman the Dog
by Debbi Michiko Florence, illustrated by Melanie Demmer
First in the My Furry Foster Family series of illustrated chapter books about eight-year-old Kaita, whose family fosters pets until they can find new homes for the animals.

We Are Still Here! Native American Truths Everyone Should Know
by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac
A creatively organized picture book gives both Native and non-Native readers an overview of important topics including forced assimilation, sovereignty, and language.

We Got Game! 35 Female Athletes Who Changed the World
by Aileen Weintraub, illustrated by Sarah Green
With amazing facts and detailed information, this nonfiction book shines a spotlight on amazing female athletes at the top of their game. New players and retired competitors alike are showcased for the mark they have made on the world.

When You Trap a Tiger
by Tae Keller
Lily makes a deal with a magical tiger in an attempt to heal her sick halmoni in this tale celebrating Korean folklore, strong women, and the power of the imagination.

The Year I Flew Away
by Marie Arnold
When 10-year-old Gabrielle moves from Haiti to Brooklyn, she finds that America isn’t quite what she expected. With the help of a magical friend, Marie transforms into the perfect American girl but makes sacrifices in the process.

For more top resources, visit the ALSC Book and Media Awards Shelf.Photo by Marta Wave from Pexels

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