Summer Reading Picks from Your Local Bookstore

It’s hard to believe that summer vacation is already upon us. What’s that song again? “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks”? But what is summer without books! There’s finally time to get lost in a good book without interruption, to really let your imagination soar.

Here, we’ve got picks from your favorite local bookstores – Annie Bloom’s Books, Powell’s Books, Grasshopper Store, and Green Bean Books – to keep your kids excited about reading throughout the summer. Have more to add? Share the knowledge in the comments below.

Age Ranges:
Newborn to Age 2
Ages 2-4
Ages 4-6
Ages 6-8
Ages 8-12
Ages 10 and Up
All Ages

Newborn to Age 2


It’s Nice to Be an Otter, by Molly Woodward.

Celebrate summer and nature with this loveable board book in rhyme with an adorable animal that also teaches fun basic facts. Recommended by Powell’s



b is for bearB is for Bear, By Hannah Viano

Full of stunningly beautiful paper cut illustration, this alphabet book informs and shows the many wonders of nature, this one is a treasure to share with the whole family. Recommended by Powell’s



Ages 2-4

thunder boy jrThunder Boy, Jr., by Sherman Alexi, illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that’s all his own. But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name. National Book Award-winner Sherman Alexie’s lyrical text and Caldecott Honor-winner Yuyi Morales’s illustrations celebrate the special relationship between father and son. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books


barnacle is bored

Barnacle is Boredby Jonathan Fenske

A perfect remedy for when summertime boredom kicks in! Barnacle is bemoaning the lack of excitement in his daily life, until it becomes clear that maybe being bored is not the worst thing to be. Kids will love the whimsical pictures and relateable lead character in this clever tale about summertime doldrums! Recommended by Green Bean Books


thank you and good night

Thank You and Good Night, by Patrick McDonnell

Patrick McDonnell is a cartoonist best known for his newspaper strip Mutts. He won a Caldecott Honor in 2012, and his illustrations have appeared in publications such as Time, Sports Illustrated, and many more. This book is every bit as sweet and engaging as Mutts, and will be the perfect way to end the day. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books


Ages 4-6

the bear and the piano

The Bear and the Piano, by David Litchfield

One day, a bear cub finds something strange and wonderful in the forest. He learns to play beautiful sounds, delighting his woodland friends. Then the bear is invited to share his sounds with new friends in the city. But he knows that if he leaves, the other bears will be very sad. Charming illustrations add to a sweet story of perseverance and friendship. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books


finding wild

Finding Wild
, by Megan Wagner Lloyd, Illustrated by Abigail Halpin

This gorgeously illustrated book is an invitation to celebrate the joy of finding nature everywhere. Bright, appealing drawings and lyrical prose expertly engage all five senses, leaving the reader with a sense of wonder at the fact that the beauty of the wild really can be found all over.  Recommended by Green Bean Books


the whisperThe Whisper, by Pamela Zagarenski

Step inside the pages of a little girl’s magical book as she discovers the profound and inspiring notion that we each bring something different to the same story. Two-time Caldecott Honor artist Pamela Zagarenski debuts as an author in this tender picture book about the joy of reading. The reader uses her imagination to create a story from Zagarenski’s captivating illustrations. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books

Ages 6-8

Flutter and Humflutter and hum/Aleteo y Zumbido: Animal Poems / Poemas de Animales, by Julie Paschkis

All sorts of animals flutter and hum, dance and stretch, and slither and leap their way through this joyful collection of poems in English and Spanish. Julie Paschkis’s poems and art sing in both languages, bringing out the beauty and playfulness of the animal world. Poetry in two languages. Bueno!  Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books


the princess in blackThe Princess in Black, by Shannon and Dean Hale

Princess Magnolia lives in a castle and wears pink frilly dresses but goes out as a superhero to fight monsters as the daring Princess in Black! The first of three books in this lively series that’s perfect for a read-aloud or a beginning reader. Recommended by Powell’s



strange treesStrange Trees: And the Stories Behind Them, by Bernadette Pourquie and Cecile Gambini

Discover the rarest, and most bizarre trees in the world! The Bubblegum Tree, Ghost Tree, and Dwarf Willow might sound like they’re straight out of an imaginary and magical world, but they’re not! These trees are 100% real and can be found all across the globe, proving that Mother Nature has the most vivid imagination of all. Recommended by Grasshopper Store

there is a tribe of kids

There is a Tribe of Kids
, by Lane Smith

Playful yet poignant, we follow a lone boy meeting up with different creatures- a colony of penguins, a smack of jellyfish, just to name a few. His journey in search of his true  tribe takes him from snow-capped mountains, the depths of the seas, and to a most unexpected place of all… home. Recommended by Green Bean Books


atlas of adventuresAtlas of Adventures, by Rachel Williams, illustrated by Lucy Letherland

Journey beyond your own backyard with this gorgeously illustrated book that takes readers across the globe. River raft down the Grand Canyon, explore the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, dance through Carnival in Rio, and discover many more activities, celebrations and awesome destinations. Recommended by Grasshopper Store


the night gardenerThe Night Gardener, by Terry and Eric Fan
One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. Though the mysterious gardener soon disappears, William and his town are changed forever. The book allows children to consider how they might contribute to the happiness of others. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books


rosie the raven
Rosie the Raven, by Helga Bansch

There’s something very different going on in the raven’s nest.
When the eggs hatch, a pink girl emerges from one of the shells, along with her black raven siblings. Loving raven parents take their little Rosie just the way she is. In the beginning, Rosie tries to do everything her siblings do. Rosie finally realizes she is different. Maybe she can’t caw or fly, but a world of discovery awaits her nonetheless. A lovely book to show that our differences are important and wonderful!  Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books

Ages 8-12

the wild robotThe Wild Robot, by Peter Brown

In the aftermath of a shipwreck, robot Roz washes ashore on a wild and remote island. Determined to survive, Roz must adapt to her new environment. She learns the landscape, studied the nature surrounding her, and slowly befriends the animals who once ran from her in fear. When her past comes back to threaten her peaceful island home, Roz must make a difficult decision to ensure her friends’ safety and her own future. How would a robot survive in the wilderness? From award winning picture book author Peter Brown comes his first novel for middle readers. A wonderfully  written  book about community, kindness and finding life’s purpose.  Recommended by Grasshopper Store and by Powell’s


paxPax, by Sara Pennypacker, Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. Now 300 miles from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war to be reunited with his fox. Read this book with your child. The language is rich. The topic is important. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books

Ages 10 and Up

the blackthorn keyThe Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands
Until he got a cryptic warning, Christopher was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice. But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to his shop. Kevin Sands mixes history, murder, and magic to provide an exciting first novel. Recommended by Annie Bloom’s Books


last of the sandwalkersLast of the Sandwalkers, by Jay Hosler

Wonderful illustrations and interesting insect facts take you on a journey with a brave band of beetles exploring the desert. A great blend of adventure and non-fiction in a gorgeous package of a book. Recommended by Powell’s



bookedBooked, by Kwame Alexander

Nick loves soccer and hates reading. Unfortunately, his dad is making him read the whole dictionary when all he wants to do is to play soccer. Nick also has some serious life issues to confront including his parents impending divorce, his first crush, and some bully twins who won’t leave him alone. Add to the mix a charismatic former rap star turned librarian with the goal of finding Nick the perfect book and you’ve got another lyrical winner from award winning writer Kwame Alexander. Told entirely in verse, sports and non-sports fans alike will find this book a riveting read about family, friendship and finding your passion. Recommended by Green Bean Books


it ain't so awfulIt Ain’t So Awful, Falafel, by Firoozeh Dumas

It’s the summer of 1978 and sixth grader Zomorod Yousefzadeh has just moved to Newport Beach California and wants nothing more than to fit in. Labeled as a brainy Iranian American girl in the past she tries to blend in by renaming herself Cindy (from the Brady Bunch), joining the Girl Scouts, and learning to sail. It’s not so easy to find acceptance however, as US tensions with Iran grow and the Iranian hostage crisis becomes headline news. Cultural misunderstandings abound, but Cindy’s plucky response to them give her story levity while still addressing issues of isolation, racism, tolerance, and ultimately human kindness. Every child who has felt different in some way will relate to this heartfelt summer read. Recommended by Green Bean Books

All Ages

wherever you goWherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Gorgeous illustrations and lilting rhymes accompany this story of an adventurous rabbit and his friends as they discover the world that awaits them. As they set off down the road, new adventures and experiences await them at every turn, proving that life can be full of wondrous surprises, as long as you’re willing to take the first leap. Perfect for anyone embarking on a new journey. Recommended by Grasshopper Store


flyawayFlyaway, by Lesley Barnes

A young princess chases her escaped songbird throughout the castle, only to realize that in order for him to sing, she must give him his freedom. Will she be rewarded in the end? Find out in this ornately illustrated lift the flap, which also doubles as a counting exercise, with seek and find prompts on each spread. Recommended by Grasshopper Store

Ali Wilkinson
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Ali Wilkinson

Online Editor at PDX Parent
Ali Wilkinson is the Online Editor for PDX Parent, and is one of the founders of PDX Kids Calendar. She loves exploring Portland with her three small children, especially when the explorations lead outdoors, to music or to ice cream. You can read more from Ali at
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