Summer is deeply nostalgic for me. Perhaps more than any other season, summer carries vivid childhood memories of long days spent outdoors, adventuring in muddy creeks, plucking blueberries from bushes warmed by the sun, and collecting seashells from sandy shores.

The summer books I selected are stories about bravery, curiosity, play, and the exploration of the natural world. Grab a glass of lemonade, a stack of books, and sit under a tree to read to your preschooler.

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd

This is a beautiful story about two children on a quest to discover what “wild” is and where they can find it. From the country to the city, the children discover that “wild” is all around us when we open our eyes and search for it. My three-year-old and I treasure this story.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

It wouldn’t be a summer booklist without this book. I grew up reading it, and it makes me immeasurably happy to read it to my girls now.

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and Barbara Cooney

A classic for your home library, this book will spark your child’s imagination and leave you misty-eyed. Celebrating the magic of imagination and the beauty of childhood play, this story will be cherished by readers of all ages.

The Golden Glow by Benjamin Flouw

This is the story of a whimsical fox who makes pâté sandwiches, reads botany books, identifies types of trees, and sketches flowers in his nature notebook. Your preschoolers will love this imaginative look at the natural world. Bonus points for a story adults enjoy, too.

Bees: A Honeyed History by Piotr Socha

This is such a fun book! It is filled with fun illustrations and entertaining facts about bees, beekeepers, and honey, even discussing the role bees have played throughout world history. This great resource will grow with your children.

Over and Under the Pond by Kate Messner

If you’ve been following my preschool book lists, then you know how much I love the Over and Under series. Each book by Kate Messner is a delight to read aloud. With poetic, dreamy descriptions, it identifies the hidden world underneath the water.

Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

I’m a fan of all Robert McCloskey books and this one is no exception. I think every child should grow up on his books. Time of Wonder is a beautifully written, long story about dreamy summer days. It will evoke memories of your own childhood days and hold a special place in your heart.

The Keeper of Wild Words by Brooke Smith

“When the wild wraps around you, it stays forever in your heart.” The Keeper of Wild Words is my favorite book on this list. In this story, a young girl named Brook goes on a walk with her grandmother to find wild things and become a keeper of wild words, like “violet” and “wren” and “blackberry.” Brook’s grandmother tells her that words not often used become forgotten and forgotten words disappear from our collective memories. Words that are remembered and shared become safe, preserved for future generations. This book reads almost like a poem and will inspire you and your preschooler to become keepers of wild words.

Sea Story by Jill Barklem

Brambly Hedge stories are perfect for older preschoolers or young children able to sit through long books. Whimsical and beautiful, these stories help cultivate a love of nature and the world around us. If your child enjoys Sea Story, consider introducing them to Summer Story, another wonderful tale from the world of Brambly Hedge.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen

This classic story should be read to every child. It will inspire adventure and teach young listeners about sounds and experiences. After reading this story, my preschooler and I went on a bear hunt of our own, in search of a bear we made from a brown paper bag.

How Does My Garden Grow? By Gerda Muller

Gerda Muller’s books are always some of my favorites. Through this inspiring story of a girl gardening with her grandfather, preschoolers will learn where food comes from and how things grow.

Night Sounds (Usborne Sound Books)

Who is awake at night? What sounds do they make? From the whistling wind to fluttering bats, children press buttons on each page to learn about night sounds. Although this book is great for toddlers and very young preschoolers, my three-and-a-half-year-old still loves reading it, and of course, loves pressing all the buttons.

The Little House by the Sea by Benedict Blathwayt

This is a sweet and simple story about a fisherman who moves into a house by the sea and welcomes neighboring critters to his home and land. The illustrations in this book are lovely.

Summer by Gerda Muller

Filled with European-inspired illustrations, this is a book about summer without any words. If you are reading with a young child, encourage them to point out what they see on the page, as identifying objects is a great way to spark language development. Ask older children to tell you what is happening on each page and then talk through the illustrations.

Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

For small children not quite ready for the Little House books, the “My First Little House” picture book series is a perfect introduction. The text is taken directly from the chapter books and is accompanied with beautiful illustrations inspired by Garth Williams’ pictures. Summertime in the Big Woods is a look at summer days through the eyes of Laura and Mary.

Peek Inside Nighttime (Usborne Peek Inside)

This lift-the-flap book gives children a look at what happens after the sun goes to sleep. My preschooler loves lifting the flaps to learn about nocturnal animals and jobs that require people to work during the night.

What are your favorite summer books?

—Chelsea

Follow me on Instagram @chelsearmoore to see how we are enjoying summer. 

Photo credit: iStock.