With kids still enjoying school holidays at the moment and a lot of parents starting to run out of ways to keep the young ones occupied, now is a great time to stock up on books. While any books will help take children’s minds away to amazing places and situations, and teach them valuable language skills while they’re at it, there’s something to be said for reading summer and outdoor-related titles as this time of year. Here is a selection you might like to add to your kid’s reading list:
The Puffin Book of Summer Stories: Eight favourite Australian picture books
A 200-plus-page hardback collection from Penguin which would make a beautiful present and keepsake, The Puffin Book of Summer Stories contains numerous classic, along with some more recent picture book stories that all celebrate summer. The book’s design has a rather nostalgic feel, and I can see parents reading to their little ones at bedtime on hot summer nights or after relaxing picnic lunches in the park.
Inside you’ll find Summer by June Factor and Alison Lester, Grandpa and Thomas by Pamela Allen, My Hippopotamus is on Our Caravan Roof Getting Sunburnt by Hazel Edwards and Deborah Niland, Eve and Elly by Mike Dumbleton and Laura Wood, Castles by Allan Baillie and Caroline Magerl, Seadog by Claire Saxby and Tom Jellett, There’s a Sea in My Bedroom by Margaret Wild and Jane Tanner, and Max by Marc Martin.
A picture book that celebrates “the joy of imagination and the wonders of the natural world”, and which should help encourage children to explore nature and their local environment during the holidays is Collecting Sunshine.
Published by Penguin, written by Rachel Flynn and illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie, this sweet book follows two children as they collect objects (such as leaves, berries, flowers, sticks and later, memories) on a day out in their neighbourhood. Flynn’s text is simple and has a lyrical feel, and provides lots of lovely repetition for young children to get swept up in. The illustrations by Ainslie are whimsical and joyful and even include two small animal characters for readers to search for on each spread.
Another book sure to evoke a feeling of nostalgia in parent readers is Why I Love Summer, written by Michael Wagner and illustrated by Tom Jellett. The picture book, published by Penguin, reminds us of all the things which make this time of year great.
There are ice-creams and days at the beach, of course, plus backyard cricket and water fights. But, as the main character notes, the best thing about summer holidays is time spent together as a family. The book will inspire you and your children to go have some fun in the sun straight after you finish reading it, or to plan your next day’s adventures. Wagner’s text has a distinctly laid-back Aussie style, and Jellett’s always-recognisable illustrations also match the larrikin, matey feel that seems to distinguish a summer in this part of the world.
For slightly older children who are reading on their own, comes a wonderful new series by Trent Maxwell (AKA Maxi the Lifeguard from the Bondi Rescue TV series) and comedian and author David Lawrence. In the first book in the fast-paced junior-fiction series published by Affirm Press, Maxi the Lifeguard: In Deep Water, we’re introduced to a young Maxi who joins Buckler Ocean Swimming Club and signs up to compete in the Junior Ocean Challenge swim.
The action-packed series revolves around beach life in Australia. It showcases Lawrence’s always-impeccable comic timing and utilises Maxwell’s lifesaving knowledge to not only entertain and educate kids , but also teach them real-life swimming tips they can use to stay safe and have fun at the beach over summer and beyond.
The book has themes of friendship, family, perseverance, dealing with bullies, hard work and determination. It has large text and short chapters, plus plenty of funny, cartoon-style black and white illustrations by Peter Baldwin to break up the text, so it’s perfect for children who are currently building their reading skills. The second book in the series, Maxi the Lifeguard: The Stormy Protest, is also out right now, so kids will really be able to immerse themselves in this fun world.
Another book for older readers, but this time a non-fiction hardback one published by DK, is The Bee Book by Charlotte Milner. With 45 pages of text in total, this isn’t so big that kids will get overwhelmed by too much information, but it does contain a wealth of facts, presented in an entertaining way, about bees and how they live and work. It explains the importance of these creatures to the world, and looks at different types of bees, how their bodies work, their hierarchy, how they’re being threatened, and much more.
The layout is bright and clear and includes lovely, modern illustrations on each page, which help to break up the text. There are diagrams and breakout boxes and other methods to showcase the information in an easy-to-digest way, too. The book will teach kids everything they need to know about bees, and encourage them to go outside and be on the lookout for these fascinating insects. There are tips for ways children can help bees, too, plus details of some activities to undertake.