Picture Books to Inspire Summer Fun

The heat has hit the Pacific Northwest and pretty much everywhere else. Stay inside and read a great summer picture book — or use these books as inspiration for fun activities.

The cover of the picture book Blackout, which features a family standing on top of a brick apartment building looking at the stars

Blackout, by John Rocco

When the lights go out in the city, a family finds ways to enjoy a summer night without power.

Activity: Go out and stargaze! If the lights are too bright, see what else you can observe in your neighborhood at night.

Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey

Children have been enjoying the classic story of Little Sal and a baby bear’s summer berry-picking adventures for 75 years.

Activity: Pick wild berries in a national forest (here’s a guide to the berries of the Northwest), find a u-pick farm or buy homemade berry jam from a farmer’s market.

The cover of the picture book Blueberries for Sal, which features a small girl in a blueberry patch, with the drawing in blue in the background in yellow
The cover of the picture book Rules of Summer, which features a field with a boy standing by a dinosaur and another boy with a red and gold robot eye on his head

Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan

Tan’s strange and fantastical illustrations tell the story of a boy whose brother has a big imagination that shapes their summer adventures.

Activity: Pack a picnic and go looking for adventure.

It Began With Lemonade, by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Lian Cho

A little girl is disappointed to find she’s not the only kid selling lemonade on her street. But when her lemonade stand runs away to the river, she discovers unexpected customers.

Activity: Start a lemonade stand or make a pitcher of lemonade to share.

The cover of picture book It Began with Lemonade, which features a little girl at a lemonade stand with animals surrounding her
The cover of the children's book Jabari Jumps, which features a young Black boy in goggles standing on the edge of the diving board

Jabari Jumps, by Gaia Cornwall

Jabari has passed his swim test and is ready to jump off the diving board — or is he? Kids will learn handy skills for being brave in this sweet book. (And don’t miss this read-aloud video from the legendary Sheryl Lee Ralph.)

Activity: Head to the city pool, set up a sprinkler or splash in a cool bath — anything to beat the heat!