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The 14 Best Kids' Books of the Summer

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • August 10, 2021

Ah, the familiar rhythms of August: end-of-summer camping trips, back-to-school preparations, and restless kids who are ready for a return to routine. All of these things point to one great solution: new books! Our roundup of the best new children's books offers a variety of options for young readers, from nature-themed board books to thrilling, middle-grade fantasies, and everything in between.

Board Books

These simple, durable volumes offer lots of engaging details for the rapidly developing brains of babies and toddlers. We're certain that they will quickly find their way into your rotation of favorites. Note: Each of these listings includes a two-book series.

Words of the World: Ocean Animals & Words of the World: Birds
Fish. Poisson. Pez. Learn the names of a variety of animals in six different languages, alongside gorgeous collage art from Motomitsu Maehara.

Little Observers on the Farm & Little Observers In the Park
Clare Beaton's colorful nature-inspired series offers simple narratives introducing babies and toddlers to the big world around them.

Picture Books

From humor and history to kindness and courage, here are five picture books that will leave kids thinking about fresh ideas and feeling inspired to try something new.

Kindness is a Kite String
Michelle Schaub's lyrical narrative demonstrates how empathy can ripple through a community. Plus, it's an opportunity to introduce the idea of metaphor to young readers!

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice
From Jasmine Stirling and illustrator Vesper Stamper, comes the unlikely story of a girl who defied the expectations of the time to become one of the most beloved authors of all time.

Wishes
Inspired by his own journey, pens the story of one Vietnamese family's search for a new home. Beautifully Illustrated by Victo Ngai.

Turtle in a Tree
From Neesha Hudson comes a laugh-out-loud story about seeing only half the full picture...and being able to admit when you're not quite all the way right.

Strange Planet: The Sneaking, Hiding, Vibrating Creature
Based on his popular Instagram comics, Nathan W. Pyle draws humor from his unique perspective on human activity with an ode to cats and humans alike.

Middle-Grade Books

The ages of middle-grade readers may range from seven to thirteen, a time of colossal development and growth. This mixture of fact and fiction runs the gamut from science and technology to the arts and human dynamics.

Maya and the Robot
Award-winning author Eve L. Ewing's story about a forgotten homemade robot who comes to life just when aspiring fifth-grade scientist Maya needs a friend—and a science fair project.

Wow in the World: The How and Wow of the Human Body
Join Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, hosts of the mega-popular podcast of the same name, as they take you on a hilarious, fact-filled adventure from your toes and your tongue to your brain and your lungs. Illustrated by Jack Teagle.

Starfish
This poignant novel-in-verse by Lisa Fipps tells the story of a girl who is tired of being fat-shamed. Bullied by her peers, Ellie does her best to take up as little space as possible. But is she ready now to let her own fabulous self be free?

Mightier Than the Sword
Rochelle Melander's collection will inspire aspiring authors with the stories of a diverse mix of forty writers, like Frederick Douglas and Helen Keller, who changed the world with their pen. The book also includes writing tips and activities.

Rea and the Blood of the Nectar
Join twelve-year-old Rea and her friend Leela as they embark on a secret quest into an otherworldly realm to find Rea's missing twin brother Rohan. This fantasy by Payal Doshi is the first in a new series.

There are always so many great options to consider when putting together these lists. It's nearly impossible to narrow it down! We've tried to include a good mix of reading levels, genres, and interests here. Hopefully there's something that will appeal to the young readers in your life. And if we've missed any of your favorite kids' books from the summer, let us know!

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