Children reading on summer day

5 Summer Family Read Alouds


Every year, school ends, and summer begins. But, after a season of family vacations and school breaks, kids aren’t always prepared to return to the rigors of the classroom.

“Summer reading setback” is the loss of academic skills that occurs while school’s out due to a lack of reading. Worse still, the effects are cumulative. By the time a struggling reader reaches sixth grade, they are two years behind their peers. Research suggests that summer reading setbacks might hinder academic achievement even more than low socioeconomic status.

Homeschoolers aren’t immune, either. Many homeschool curriculums follow the academic calendar, and learning loss can occur when school is paused.

This school year may be drawing to an end, but that doesn’t mean our kids have to stop learning. Part of raising lifelong learners means constantly finding books that teach valuable lessons and that our kids will actually want to read! So, how do you find good, enjoyable books when your curriculum ends?

Here are my top five books for reading this summer…

Best Picture Book For Summer: Hot Dog

book cover Hot Dog by Doug Salati

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” and with Caldecott-winning illustrator Doug Salati, this is certainly true. Hot Dog is a picture book in the truest sense: it’s a story told through pictures. In fact, Doug Salati is such a master at visual storytelling that many pages of Hot Dog require no words at all.

Hot Dog by Doug Salati follows a dachshund getting walked around the chaotic summer streets of New York City. The illustrations are crowded with lots of sharp corners, jagged edges, and everything and everyone crammed too close together. You can feel the claustrophobia and the heat radiating off the blacktop.

Overwhelmed by the crowds, noise, and heat, the dog refuses to take another step and plops herself down in the middle of the street.

In the case of this dachshund, however, her owner knows just what to do.

After an escape by taxi, train, and then ferry, the dog and her owner find themselves at the beach. When Hot Dog is allowed to run free across the sand and surf, things transform. The illustrations are open and spacious. Whereas the pictures of the city are contained in thick black borders, the beach pictures are borderless and unrestrained.

As Hot Dog frolics on the beach, words cease. I can almost hear the waves breaking and feel the wet sand between my toes. There’s a sense of release after the chaos of downtown—and of peace.

Whether you’re on summer vacation at the beach or just trying to survive the heat, Hot Dog is a great book of summer fun.

Best Lyrical Book for Summer: We Were Tired of Living in a House

book cover We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak

We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen and illustrated by Doris Burn, tells the story of four rambunctious children who (spoilers!) are tired of living in a house.

Their parents seem a little tired of it, too.

So, they pack their bags and go for an adventure, looking for a new place to live. Should they live in a treehouse? Perhaps by the sea? A cave could be nice—except for the bears! Each place they stop is delightful, fun, and, ultimately, not the right fit. Will they ever find a place to call home?

Children are meant to be unleashed, explore, and make messes—but at the end of the day, there’s no place like home.

Liesal Moak Skorpen’s rhymes are absolutely delightful, but you must get this book with the original art by Doris Burn. Between the two of them, this book is an experience like no other, and it demands to be retold again and again.

We Were Tired of Living in a House captures the heart of being a child and sets it free for us all to enjoy. This summer, relive the freedom, joy, and (mis)adventure of childhood.

Best Summer Anthology: Frog and Toad Storybook Favorites

Frog and Toad Storybook Favorites edition book cover

First published in 1970, Frog and Toad is a literary gem that stands the test of time.

Arnold Lobel’s humorous storytelling and whimsical illustrations create a world that readers will want to revisit again and again. Whether you’re a child discovering these tales for the first time or an adult reminiscing about the joy of childhood, Frog and Toad is a heartwarming journey into the magic of friendship and the beauty of life’s simple pleasures.

Lobel’s genius lies in his ability to weave each tale with valuable life lessons, charming characters, and humorous storytelling. Expect themes like friendship, patience, courage, and self-control.

Frog and Toad Storybook Favorites edition compiles many of Frog and Toad’s most loved escapades into a single volume. What more could you ask for?

Best Summer Read-Aloud: The Children of Noisy Village

The Children of Noisy Village book cover

Astrid Lindgren may be best known for Pippi Longstocking, but my favorite story by the celebrated Swedish author is Children of Noisy Village.

Not so much a village as a cluster of three farmhouses, Noisy Village is home to 9-year-old Lisa, her brothers Karl and Bill, and her neighbors Anna, Britta, and Olaf. Together, they cause all sorts of ruckus. I’ll give you one guess as to how their homestead got its nickname.

From catching crayfish on Lake Nocken to a shopping trip plagued by mishaps, The Children of Noisy Village is a glimpse into childhood in 1920s rural Sweden—a time before the widespread adoption of automobiles, much less smartphones and social media.

The Children of Noisy Village perfectly captures the charm of childhood. If you like Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables, then you’ll love this book. It’s fun, it’s humorous, and it’s filled with childhood fairy charms.

Best Middle-Grade Novel for Summer: The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

book cover of The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams

Three things matter in this world: life, death, and love. Life and death are all around us, but love can be as challenging to grasp as a desert mirage.

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams by Daniel Nayeri is a love story. But not just any love story. This is a story about family.

The orphan Omar is being stoned to death for the first time when a passing merchant intervenes.

After swindling the mob out of their execution, Samir the Seller of Dreams travels the Silk Road with Omar, looking to earn his Merchant’s Crown.

But selling dreams makes a lot of enemies, and they’ve all hired assassins to kill Samir.

It’s up to Omar to save his new master and buy his own freedom. But what chance does he have against a Viking berserker, the Rogue Legion, a Persian mystic, an entire Bedouin clan, a Mongolian gunner, or a Chinese ablutionist?

Life has taught Omar that “to everyone we love, we give a knife.” But, while Omar always assumes the worst, this is a story of hope. The Silk Road may be crowded with assassins and tricksters, but Omar finds his family in the end.

Omar’s master is a flawed man who makes his living by cheating others. Omar is appalled. He’s an honest boy in a world of thieves. He has a lot to learn, but his pure heart is his greatest strength.

However, Samir is not without his virtues, too. To Samir, the caravan is his family; in his heart, Samir is a family man. He will do anything for those he calls family—even if they are his worst enemy.

If Omar and Samir’s growing father-and-son relationship isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps Daniel Nayeri’s humor will. If a secret chess club called “The Brotherhood of the Checkered Pastime” makes you laugh, then this book is for you.


These books are among the best and will make great additions to any library—whether it be for summer reading or at any other time.

Still looking for more books to read this summer? Check out this extensive collection of book lists: Homeschool Connections Reading Lists.

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