The school year is winding down, and the kids will soon be trading in their backpacks for swim suits, lunch boxes for popsicles, and books for… books! We’ll be spending lots of active time outside at the park and in the swimming pool, but there will be quiet time too, and I like to kick off summer vacation with some new books for the kids to enjoy on lazy summer afternoons.
Take a look at some of Owlkids Books’ most engaging children’s books this summer, then scroll all the way down to enter to win this same collection for your own kiddos!
Click on the titles or cover pictures to see these books on Amazon.
Crackerjack Jack by Bowman Wilker
Codecracking jackpotter – look at all he took!
Jack the bank robber has a clever plan. Catch a duck with crackers, train said duck to set off firecrackers in a bank vault, and make off with the loot. Unfortunately for Jack, things don’t work out quite how the way he planned. (Life lesson: never trust a duck in pants.)
The playful, snappy, rhyming text and big, colourful illustrations make this one of our favourite bedtime read aloud books! (Suggested ages 3-7.)
What Happens Next by Susan Hughes
Tee has been having problems with a particular peer at school, and she relates to this picture book about one child’s experience of bullying. The book is written like a bullet journal:
Blocks my way.
Asks me questions that aren’t really questions. Like, “Why are you so weird?”
What Her Friends Do:
What Everyone Else Does:
The unnamed protagonist in this book represents every child struggling with bullying. He feels alone, invisible, angry, afraid to tell anyone. His perceptive mom notices something is wrong, but gives him the time and space he needs to tell her what’s going on when he feels ready.
Mom helps her child understand the bully’s behaviour without falling into the trap of excusing it. She offers to help by talking to the principal, but also encourages him to take action himself if he feels comfortable. With his mom’s support, he decides to talk to his bully and uses his “weirdo” obsession with science trivia to help her realize they have more in common than either of them may have thought before.
Not everything. But enough.
What Bully B. Doesn’t Call Me Anymore:
What I Call Her:
Simple illustrations in a limited range of muted blues and greens convey the emotional tone of this story and the child’s loneliness. He’s coloured all in blue, and the bully in green. It isn’t until they begin to talk and to see each other as more than a single characteristic (“weirdo”, “bully”), that they appear in full colour.
Tee and I read this book together and talked about what happens when the child asks for help. How he takes comfort in his family and his dog’s affection. How he starts to understand why the bully behaves the way she does, and how he regains a sense of control, without ever implying that it is his responsibility to fix the situation. Use this as a jumping point to talk about bullying from both perspectives. (Suggested ages 5-8.)
Simone: Even More Monstrous! by Remy Simard
This is the second graphic novel featuring best friends (or is it best fiends?) blonde-haired, rosy-cheeked Simone and green, googly-eyed Morris. In Morris’ monster world, Simone is the repulsive monster with only two eyes. Eww!
Every page is a cute and hilarious mini-story about how the friends navigate their differences in the topsy-turvy monster realm where you eat the delivery man instead of the pizza, fierce dragons deliver babies, and monsters decorate the Christmas broccoli. The comic book illustrations and gentle humour are cute and not scary at all, so even the most sensitive child should enjoy this charming volume. (Suggested ages 6-8.)
Little Brothers & Little Sisters by Monica Arnaldo
We have a little sister in our house. My youngest, Kay, is very familiar with feeling left out and wanting what her big sister has.
This warm and friendly book follows a day in the life of a quartet of younger siblings just like Kay. It starts out cataloguing the downsides of being the youngest – being bossed around, feeling left out – then gradually shifts to a realization that good things come with having a brother or sister too. Big brothers and sisters make great bodyguards, helpers, teachers, and best friends.
This realistic yet touching narrative is what every parent wants for their children. It’s a favourite in our house with both older and younger sister, and inspo for parents wanting to foster a better sibling relationship in the kids. (Suggested ages 3-8.)
Wallpaper by Thao Lam
This wordless picture book uses gorgeous paper collages to tell the story of a young girl too shy to say hello to the kids in her new neighbourhood. Sitting in her room alone, she peels back a corner of loose wallpaper and discovers a fantastic world of imagination and wonder behind the plain paper… and a big yellow monster.
The frightened girl runs away through a colourful jungle full of bright yellow birds, swims in a deep blue pond full of frogs and lotus flowers, and hides in a herd of black, fluffy sheep. Eventually the little girl comes to the realization that the scary monster isn’t scary at all. He’s just lonely, like her, and wants to be her friend. Once her wallpaper adventure ends, the experience inspires her to take a risk and say hello to the kids in the real world. (Suggested ages 4-8.)
Not ‘Til Tomorrow, Phoebe by Julie Zwillich
Not ‘Til Tomorrow, Phoebe is Zeillich’s second book about charming, relatable kindergartner Phoebe. As every 5-year-old knows, everything is always tomorrow. Pancakes, a class party, going out for ice cream – it’s always tomorrow, never today. Phoebe is frustrated. It’s so unfair!
After school, Phoebe goes to Grandma’s house and breaks down into tears. Sympathetic Grandma brings cookies and tells Phoebe a secret: to turn tomorrow into today, just add a good night’s sleep. This gentle story is one way to help impatient children feel understood and appreciate the passage of time a little better. (Suggested ages 4-8.)
Why?: The Best Ever Question and Answer Book about Nature, Science and the World around You by Catherine Ripley & Scot Ritchie
Why does my tummy growl? Why do stars twinkle? Why does popcorn pop? Why do horses sleep standing up? Why why why?
My kids ask eleventy billion questions every day, and since I don’t know all the answers (shocking, but true), this book offers over 70 of them. Organized by everyday activities like bath time, going to the supermarket, bed time, and playing outside, Why? provides those answers using basic science in accessible language. This is the perfect book to keep the kids curious this summer. (Suggested ages 4-8.)
Win a Summer Collection from Owlkids Books
One of my readers will win the entire mini-library we reviewed here. Enter to win in the giveaway widget below. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada, 18+. All the winner’s entries will be verified.
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Disclosure: I received sample items for review. All opinions expressed are completely honest and my own, based on my personal experience. Your experience may differ. This post contains affiliate links. This West Coast Mommy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link, at no additional cost to you. This income helps pay for the operating costs of my website – thank you for your support!