Summer is a time to soak up the sun and splash around in the pool, but it’s also the perfect opportunity for kids to develop their reading skills for the year ahead. In your child’s case, that might involve preparing for a big milestone like beginning preschool or kindergarten.
Reading books out loud together is a fantastic family activity, even if your child can’t read books by herself yet. That’s because it doesn’t just benefit kids cognitively: The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report found that more than 80 percent of kids and parents say they love or like read-aloud time a lot. In other words? It’s a bonding experience everyone enjoys.
As a mom of twin boys myself, I asked parents and teachers to hand-pick some of their favorite summer books for kids ages 3 to 5 (and also jotted down my own picks!) from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge — a fun, educational program you can join for free this summer. During the Challenge, your kids can enter your read-aloud time to unlock exclusive digital rewards and help donate books to kids in need across the country. Ask your child’s pre-K or kindergarten teacher if they are participating; your local library may also be taking part! If not, you can register your child individually. Then, get ready to dive into summer and invaluable read-aloud time with these ten incredible books.
1. Grow Up, David! by David Shannon
Most young children can relate to David’s misadventures and experiences as a little brother, whether it’s because they have older siblings of their own or because they recognize bullying themes that become relevant at this age, says Eileen Allaire, a preschool teacher in Orange, Connecticut. “This series always gets great class participation and a lot of giggles,” she adds.
2. We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands by Rafael López
Stunning illustrations and rhythmic verse celebrate friendships around the world in this storybook. Jennifer Donovan, a mom of three in New Fairfield, Connecticut, says she loves that it emphasizes diversity. “It helps teach my children about different people and ways of life,” she says. “It illustrates everyone working together, regardless of their differences, and I think that is really valuable for them to see.”
3. Perfect by Max Amato
This delightful story about a pencil and eraser that have two very different definitions of “fun” is a great pick for preschoolers learning to interact with classmates. When my twins can’t agree on how to play together, this is the book I reach for, thanks to its important messages about compromise and creativity.
4. Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
Indulge your child’s love of unicorns while teaching a powerful lesson with this read about an ordinary pony who dreams of becoming a unicorn — and one day has her wish granted! “I like Thelma the Unicorn because it shows you how important it is to love yourself as you are, and that sometimes having more isn’t so desirable,” says Donovan.
5. Try a Little Kindness by Henry Cole
Little readers learn various ways to be kind from hysterical cartoon animal characters in this book about compassion. “This is a sweet, rhyming story that always promotes a discussion about what we can do to show kindness within our classroom community,” says Allaire. Use it to help prepare your young child to be a wonderful classmate in the fall.
6. The Three Little Superpigs by Claire Evans
Donovan says her kids get a kick out of this updated take on the classic tale, in which three curly-tailed heroes who fight crime must save Fairyland from the Big Bad Wolf. “It’s a twist on an already well-loved and well-known story, and kids find the Superpigs funny,” she says.
7. I Need a Hug by Aaron Blabey
Animal lovers will adore this playful tale about a tiny, prickly porcupine that just wants a cuddly hug from another animal. It’s an easy way to review animal names with young children, while reinforcing the idea that everyone is deserving of love.
8. Unicorn Magic by Sabina Gibson
This book about dazzling unicorns with various magical powers (and one who can’t seem to find hers) perfectly illustrates how everyone is special in their own way. A bonus perk I’ve noticed: The dreamy illustrations help my kids settle down after a high-energy game like hide-and-seek.
9. Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman
If your kids love Baby Shark, they’ll adore this story, which reminds them to never judge someone by their cover. “I like this book because many kids love sharks (thanks, Baby Shark!), and it teaches that sometimes we don’t know everything like we think we do,” says Donovan.
10. Moby Shinobi: Ninja on the Job by Luke Flowers
My kids are big fans of all of the Moby Shinobi readers, but this one usually makes it to the top of our reading pile. The rhyming text and simple vocabulary encourage them to try reading a page or two on their own, and they love seeing Moby use his ninja skills to save the day — especially when they get home from taekwondo class.
Browse more great selections from the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge at the Scholastic Store Online.
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