Summer is a great time to keep reading to your young ones, whether it’s reading inside in the air conditioning on a 90-degree day or taking refuge from thunderstorms by reading and snuggling. Here are six fabulous picture books that can kick off great discussions with your kids.
“This Story is For You” by Greg Pizzoli is about friendship and appreciating what is special about each and every one of us. The two characters in the story have different skin color and there’s a cute dog on almost every page. It’s about how special we are — each of us — being the “only one with your ears, your toes, your laugh and your smile.” It’s about friendship and its enduring quality, and as a whole, the book is just a sweet and touching ode to friends. (Disney-Hyperion)
Another picture book about needing others is “If I Didn’t Have You” by Alan Katz. It’s about a cute exchange between a father alligator and his son regarding what they could and couldn’t do if they didn’t have each other. “So you could have a custom-built sports car with racing stripes…if you didn’t have me?” asks Mike. And his dad assures him that he’d rather have Mike. Then Mike says, “I could stay home from school and play video games all day…if I didn’t have you.” And on it goes with each imagining things that they could do…if they didn’t have the other. But at the end, they agree — they’d rather have each other. This one is a great choice for reading at bed time. It will make kids laugh and open up a discussion about love and choices. (Simon and Schuster)
“Emma and Muse” by Nancy Lemon tells the story of a young artist and the dog who means everything to her. Emma is a serious artist, and there’s one thing she loves to draw more than anything else — her beloved dog, Muse. She draws him, she paints him, she sculpts him out of clay. The girl and her Muse are inseparable — until one day when Muse gets an idea, picks up a paintbrush, and angers Emma by painting on her canvas. She screams and nearly breaks his heart. But when Muse leaves, so does Emma’s creativity. She is angry and worried and sad. Is it too late for Emma to find Muse and heal their rift? Lemon ends their story with a lovely twist that readers will certainly enjoy. Fabulous picture book about love, sharing, forgiveness and collaboration. (Albert Whitman & Company)
Everyone can sympathize with the hedgehog in “Hedgehog Needs a Hug” by Jen Betton. When Hedgehog wakes one morning feeling “down in the snout and droopy in the prickles,” he knows that a hug would make him feel better. But no one in the forest will hug him. Everyone gives an excuse, and fox offers a hug but then tries to eat him. Will Hedgehog ever get a hug? The ending is sweet as two animals who are ostracized hug each other. The story is enhanced by the lovely watercolor illustrations, including a raccoon with a very expressive face who does not want to hug poor Hedgehog. It’s all about kindness and sympathy and doing the right thing. A great question would be to ask a child what the animals should have done instead of rejecting Hedgehog. (Putnam Books for Young Readers)
“Off & Away” by Cale Atkinson is the inspirational story of Jo, whose dad has delivered messages in bottles all over the ocean. And while Jo wants to be like her father and venture out onto the ocean, she is terrified of what may lurk in the mysterious depths. But one day when her dad gets a very bad cold and just can’t sail out, the bottles began to pile up, and Jo realizes that someone has to deliver the messages if her father can’t. She bravely decides to deliver the bottles and learns that it’s easy to be frightened of what you don’t know, but once you meet the strangers who might seem like monsters, they actually turn out to be pretty darned nice! Certainly a cautionary tale for our times. (Disney-Hyperion)
A sweet, silly tale is “Pippa and Percival, Pancake and Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies” by Deborah Diesen. It’s a happy story of four puppies who escape from their yards to go on a grand adventure. But all good things must come to an end, and when they encounter a surprise scary animal, they all scurry back to the safety of home. It’s told in rhyming text and is a fun story to read aloud. Kids will love the repetitive text and will jump in with the written words after just a few times reading the book. (Sleeping Bear Press)
Please note: These reviews are based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publishers for review purposes.