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2016 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Picture Books

THB_Summer_reading_formNeed 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 2015–2016 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.

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

Picture Books

Suggested grade level for all entries: PS–2

alexander_surf's upSurf’s Up by Kwame Alexander; illus. by Daniel Miyares (North-South)
“SURF’S UP, BRO!” calls a surfer-dude frog. “Not yet, Dude,” responds his bookworm buddy (also a frog). While Dude and Bro (still with nose in book) make their way to the beach, Bro reveals tantalizing Moby-Dick plot points that pique Dude’s interest. 32 pages.

alexie_thunder boy jr.Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illus. by Yuyi Morales (Little, Brown)
“I HATE MY NAME!” complains Thunder Boy Smith Jr., a.k.a. Little Thunder: a nickname that “makes me sound like a burp or a fart.” As he considers new names, the accompanying mixed-media illustrations let us into his world and his dreams. 40 pages.

andrew_trombone shortyTrombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier (Abrams) 2016 Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner
Trombone prodigy Andrews relates growing up in New Orleans, making his own instruments, practicing constantly, appearing onstage with Bo Diddley as a child, and forming his own band. Textured collages echo the style of Andrews’s “musical gumbo.” 40 pages.

brown_airport bookThe Airport Book by Lisa Brown; illus. by the author (Porter/Roaring Brook)
A family of four heads off to the airport. Straightforward but lively main text provides basic airport information while the pictures tell a much more complex — and wildly entertaining — story, following dozens of characters who are all traveling on the same flight as our central, interracial family. 40 pages.

delacre_olinguito de la A a la Z¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z!: Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest by Lulu Delacre; illus. by the author (Children’s Book Press/Lee & Low)
Along with many other animals and plants of the Ecuadorian cloud forest, Delacre introduces the olinguito, a raccoon relative discovered in 2013. Alliteration in the parallel Spanish and English texts makes for an engaging, and occasionally tongue-twisting, read. 40 pages.

engle_drum dream girlDrum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle; illus. by Rafael López (Houghton) 2016 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award Winner
A young girl “on an island of music” dreams of becoming a drummer — but only boys play drums. The story is based on Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a “Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers.” 40 pages.

henkes_waitingWaiting by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author (Greenwillow) 2016 Caldecott Honor Book, Geisel Honor Book
Waiting is a huge part of every child’s life, and Henkes address the topic with a light touch. Five toys wait on a windowsill. Time passes slowly through seasons; small changes in body positions and eyes convey a range of emotions. A spare text offers little surprises, while the varied page design creates momentum. 32 pages.

isadora_i-hear-a-pickle_170x196I Hear a Pickle: (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!) by Rachel Isadora; illus. by the author (Paulsen/Penguin)
This book about the five senses is aimed perfectly at another sense — kids’ sense of humor. Separate sections visit each sense in double-page spreads containing small vignettes of children exploring their world, indoors and out. 32 pages.

kim_tiptoe tapirsTiptoe Tapirs by Hanmin Kim; illus. by the author; trans. from the Korean by Sera Lee (Holiday)
In this South Korean pourquoi tale, all the jungle animals are noisy except Tapir and Little Tapir. One day Little Tapir, risking her own life, helps rescue a frightened leopard from a hunter by teaching him to use quiet steps. 40 pages.

paschkis_flutter and humFlutter & Hum / Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales by Julie Paschkis; illus. by the author (Holt)
Each of these animal poems in Spanish and English is intricately connected to its corresponding painting, with thematic words woven throughout the pictures: for example, in “Fish / El Pez,” a boy sleeps on a boat that floats above fish swimming in a sea of lulling words: linger, flow; luna, burbuja. 32 pages.

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

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