1. Summer in the Forest by Rusty Finch
In this newly published lift-the-flap board book, a mother bear and her two bear cubs have the whole day ahead of them. In the morning the cubs eat blueberries while a spider's web glistens in the morning sun. In the afternoon the cubs go for a swim and stumble upon a a teddy bear picnic with cupcakes. Yum! At the end of the day, with the bees humming and two full bear tummies, it has been a good summer day. I particularly like the extra sturdy flaps.
2. Ocean Life by Jill McDonald
A good beach bag companion, Ocean Life is filled with fun facts about how whales breath, what dolphin groups are called, how octopuses have three hearts, and how sea turtles have lived since the time of the dinosaurs, among other fun sea creature facts.
3. Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
I have mixed feelings about Eric Carle's Mister Seahorse. I always appreciate Carl'e illustrations and Mister Seahorse is no exception, but the story is not his strongest in my opinion. As the reader is introduced to Mr. Seahorse and his important job of carrying baby seahorse eggs in his pouch until they hatch, the story quickly becomes a bit tiring as many of the pages start with "As Mr. Seahorse drifted gently through the sea..." followed by Mr. Seahorse meeting another father sea creature who also has a big job to do. The book provides a good awareness of how some sea creature eggs are carried, but overall, if it weren't for the fact that it's written and illustrated by Eric Carle, I don't think I would care for it that much.
4. Sally in the Sand by Stephen Huneck
While this book is about Sally and not children, the excitement for the beach in this book is completely relatable to children. Sally's energy for swimming, digging, and exploring is so strong that it's no wonder she's ready for a good night's rest at the end of the day. I find the illustrations particularly unique and they seem to have a distinct New England-themed color palette to them... which could make sense since Huneck's gallery is in Vermont. In any case it's a short, fun read about Sally and her trip to the beach.
5. Summertime by Jane Foster
With a talkative 19 month old in the house, she's always eager to point to objects and either tell us what they are, or wait for a response as we name them for her. With a single illustration on each page, Summertime is one of those books that provides big, easy-to-see-illustrations, while also being a great source of enjoyment for energetic toddlers who always seem eager to identify everything around them.
6. Find Spot at the Museum by Eric Hill
I love taking my kids to museums, especially when we have more flexibility to do so over the summer. Where's Spot was a favorite from when I was a kid -- mostly because of the lift-the-flaps and Spot's ongoing adventures -- so when I came across Find Spot at the Museum, I had to include it. And while your kids won't be finding Spot on any trips to museums, maybe they can be a detective like Spot and find all of the interesting, hard to find objects throughout the museum.
7. Anne's Numbers by Kelly Hill
I recently came across this series (Anne's Numbers, Anne's Colors, and Anne's Alphabet) by Kelly Hill and I'm really enjoying it! The hand-embroidered illustrations are a beautiful example of different ways to illustrate children's picture books and the color vibrancy and matte finish of the board book adds a nice high-quality feel to the book. Inspired by L. G. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, readers will notice familiar characters and themes from the original classic.
8. In the Rain by Elizabeth Spurr
I think we all like to think of summer as being a sunny time of year, but that's not usually the case, at least in New England. In this rhythmic board book, a girl and her dog head outside to enjoy all that rain has to bring. From making a boat out of sticks and leaves and sailing it in a stream, to splashing in puddles and making a mud pie, a rainy day provides endless outdoor entertainment for kids.
When the sun finally starts to shine, it's time to "Find more water from the hose. Clouds part. Rainbow bends. Make a wish. Rain come again!" Author Elizabeth Spurr as a number of other books in her weather series as well.
9. A New Day by Ronald Heuninck
I'm so glad I found A New Day by Ronald Heuninck. This beautifully illustrated board book (without words) is such a great way to show children all of the possibilities in a day and to give kids the opportunity to simply observe as opposed to being told what a book is about. I love the creativity portrayed throughout the book as well as the daily routines: getting dressed, having breakfast, or feeding the cat, etc..
Such an enjoyable read and while the illustrations may bring back memories of the 90's, this newly reprinted edition shows just how timeless childhood is. For those summer days when your littles ones aren't sure what to do next, maybe A New Day will spark some fresh ideas.
10. I Love Trucks! by Philemon Sturges
One of my Philemon Sturges and Shari Halpern duo favorites, it wouldn't be summer without a good truck book. With trailer trucks, tow trucks, sweeper trucks, crawling trucks, rolling trucks, mixing trucks, trucks that dig, and trucks that dump...I Love Trucks is full of toddler-pleasers as each truck seems to bring more and more excitement than the last.
Happy summer reading! What are some of your summer board book favorites?