It’s June and we are officially enjoying summer in Michigan. Now that we’re both retired, we can spend a lot more time at our lake house. Our greyhound, Brandy, is spending her first summer here and is loving the freedom, the breezes and the laziness of it all (of course that pretty much describes her life at home, too, but there’s just something about this lake air that makes us all relax a little bit more!).
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I frequently post about new books on Instagram. In case you’ve missed those, I’ve gathered some reviews of my latest favorite picture books to share with you. I learn about picture books by reading fellow instagramers posts and publisher newsletters, which literally takes hours every week, and I’ve narrowed my findings to these favorites in order to help you find the perfect picture books for your kids. All of these books came from my local library, thanks to their great collection, so I hope you can easily find them, too. If there’s a picture book you would really like to read, but it isn’t in your library’s collection, talk to your librarian. Very often they can help you borrow it from another library, or they might even order it for you! I may be a little prejudiced, but librarians are a book lovers best friend!
By Gaia Cornwall
Jabari reminds me so much of myself when I was his age. I was terrified of jumping into a pool, even though my mother had sent me to countless swim lessons. To stand on the side of a pool, let alone a diving board as everyone was expecting me to jump, was completely overwhelming. Even though Jabari feels the same way, he announces to his dad “I’m jumping off the diving board today.” Of course, though, that’s a little easier said than done! Gaia Cornwall’s illustrations capture his fear, but also his determination and courage. I loved that every page included “pool turquoise” in some way, whether it was the sky, the water or the surrounding trees. This helped me feel like I was standing right there on the board with Jabari as he curled his toes around the edge. If you have a little one who may be wondering if they have the courage to jump in, this is a wonderful book that might provide just the encouragement they need to succeed.
Written and Illustrated by R.J. Palacio
A few years ago I was part of a parent child novel study of Wonder, an amazing middle grade book about kindness, empathy and accepting differences. This remarkable book opened up many meaningful conversations among the students, their parents and the staff member participants. In fact, the saying from the book, Choose Kindness, was featured all over our elementary school. Now R.J. Palacio has worked her magic again and has written a picture book to help our little ones gain a better understanding of these concepts. The main character is “an ordinary kid”, who just wants to be accepted by everyone around him, despite his different appearance. He helps us to understand how it feels to be excluded, stared at, pointed at or laughed at and how much it hurts his feelings. Ms. Palacio gently points out that we are all different and all special in our own way. This book will be a great pathway to conversations with all of your kids from toddler through elementary school to help them to understand, “We’re all wonders!” and to “look with kindness and you will always find wonder.”
By Daniel Miyares
This is a heartwarming wordless picture book about a friendship that develops between a boy and a girl when she moves in next door. They are both a little lonely until they collaborate on building a tree house together. The drawings are black and white in the beginning, but as their friendship blossoms and each of them contributes to building their playhouse, colorful leaves begin to appear. The illustrations show us the sweet expressions on the friends’ faces as they dream and relax together in their new hideaway. I love wordless picture books, because it gives so many opportunities for discussion as you share the story with your little ones. I hope this is a good one for your family!
By Phil Cummings
Illustrated by Owen Swan
Do you remember making newspaper hats? I certainly do! My dad and I had so much fun creating these. It was especially fun using the comics from the Sunday paper when we actually had lots of those! In Newspaper Hats Georgie is visiting Grandpa and wonders if Grandpa will remember him today. Grandpa, who is surrounded with newspapers from bygone years, remembers lots of things from the past such as his mom’s warm bread bread and honey and his fun escapades with his little brother, but he doesn’t know Georgie. That is until Georgie shows him a picture, with Georgie, his dad and Grandpa, all wearing newspaper hats. Then Georgie and Grandpa can’t stop making lots of hats for all of Grandpa’s friends! This poignant story is a special one to share with any of your little ones who are trying to understand why Grandma or Grandpa doesn’t remember them, but also offers hope that somehow your kiddo might be able to find that missing connection with their loved one.
By Matthew Paul Turner
Illustrated by David Catrow
We all want our children to know they are loved and have their own special gifts. This book is a wonderful reminder to your kids that we are all unique, we all fit into God’s divine plan and without them the world would not be the same. The story will help your little ones understand that we are all given talents, and we need to use our talents to create our special place in the world.
David Catrow’s vibrant illustrations bring you joy before you even open the book. When you do, you’ll find the playful and happy drawings just add to the charming verse on every page.
In addition to being a great book to read to all kids, it would also be a perfect baby gift for a special little one, or perhaps a gift for a Christening or Baptism.
By Sophy Henn
This colorful, joyful picture book follows a little girl on a walk through her neighborhood. It begins with the command, “When you see something terrific…smile a smile and pass it on.” She can’t contain her joy when she sees a rainbow, frolics in a pool, swings through a jungle or rides a roller coaster and has to share it with everyone she meets. She discovers that when you “pass it on” a smile or a chuckle makes the world a better place.
What are some new picture books you’d like me to know about? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Meanwhile, enjoy your summer with your families in the park, at the pool or curled up with a book. These perfect days fly by so quickly!