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2015 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Picture Books

Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2014–2015 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

For a handy take-along list of titles, download our printable PDF, or purchase them from our online bookstore at a 20% discount.

Early Readers and Primary Grades | Intermediate | Middle School | High School

Picture Books

Suggested grade level for all entries: PS–2

barnett_samanddaveSam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett; illus. by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
2015 Caldecott Honor Book
Sam and Dave hope to dig up “something spectacular” but, alas, they unearth nothing. Humorously, in the illustrations they’re repeatedly shown just missing some huge gems. When their dog, digging for a bone, ruptures the hole’s dirt floor, the explorers fall “down, down, down” and land in what appears to be their own yard. But is it? 40 pages.

barton_my bikeMy Bike by Byron Barton; illus. by the author (Greenwillow)
Tom is riding his bicycle to work. “On the way, / I pass trucks / and buses / and lots of cars…” The pictures (a truck with the word circus on its side) and then the text (“…and monkeys / and acrobats / and tigers…”) gradually reveal Tom’s destination — with a final surprise. A preschooler-perfect picture book. 40 pages.

boyd_flashlightFlashlight by Lizi Boyd; illus. by the author (Chronicle)
Silvery-gray gouache illustrations on black pages capture a boy’s nighttime nature walk. He trains his flashlight on various items, illuminating full-color details. In a gently fantastical turn, the animals he’s been observing use the flashlight to guide him safely back to his tent. 40 pages.

de la pena_last stop on market streetLast Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña; illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam)
“How come we always gotta go here after church?” CJ, a young black boy, asks his grandmother. At book’s end readers learn “here” is a soup kitchen where the two work every Sunday. On the bus ride there, CJ and Nana develop a kinship with the driver and their fellow passengers. 32 pages.

dyckman_wolfie the bunnyWolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illus. by Zachariah OHora (Little, Brown)
Dot isn’t pleased when a baby wolf foundling is left on the Bunny family’s doorstep: “HE’S GOING TO EAT US ALL UP!” At the market, Wolfie proves himself to his big sister when a bear lunges toward them yelling, “DINNER!” A story that reminds us that family is more than fur-deep. 32 pages.

frazee_farmer and the clownThe Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee; illus. by the author (Beach Lane/Simon)
In this wordless book, a grim-faced farmer comes to the rescue after a circus train hits a bump and ejects a jolly-looking toddler clown. At bedtime, off comes the clown makeup, revealing a scared child; the farmer makes a clown of himself to get a real smile from his guest. 32 pages.

godin_hula-hoopin' queenThe Hula-Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin; illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Lee & Low)
Kameeka is determined to win the title of “Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street.” But on the day of the contest, she’s supposed to help prepare a birthday party for her elderly neighbor, Miz Adeline. A funny, satisfying resolution reveals Miz Adeline’s own unsuspected talent. 40 pages.

mora_water rolls, water risesWater Rolls, Water Rises / El agua rueda, el agua sube by Pat Mora; illus. by Meilo So (Children’s Book Press/Lee & Low)
Fourteen three-line verses, in English and Spanish, celebrate water in its many forms. Each verse is accompanied by a majestic painting depicting a place in the world, from Arizona to Zambia. In either language, the poems, read aloud, are as attention-grabbing as the illustrations. 32 pages.

sarcone-roach_bear ate your sandwichThe Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author (Knopf)
An offstage narrator spins this entertaining tale about a missing sandwich’s fate: a hungry bear, a berry-eating binge, a nap in the back of a truck, and an unexpected road trip to the city. The narrator’s identity — and reliability — remain a surprise until the truth is unleashed (“Ruff! Ruff!”). 40 pages.

sisson_star stuffStar Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson; illus. by the author (Roaring Brook)
Young Carl Sagan’s general curiosity settles into a yearning to know more about stars and the solar systems. Shifting perspectives in the mixed-media illustrations capture his intellectual journey: for example, a vertical foldout depicts Carl studying, and as the page opens — and Carl’s knowledge increases — the universe above him expands. 32 pages.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.

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