Whether your kids’ summer break is packed with car trips, plane rides, train treks, or fun-filled family staycations, there’s plenty of free time to occupy with some stellar summertime stories. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite books for all ages about a variety of wacky warm-weather adventures—including a pair of odd birds headed to the beach, a kid being snatched up by a giant octopus (allegedly!), Judy Moody’s determination to have a not-bummer summer, and more. Check out our picks and let us know what summer vacay reads your young readers are diving into.
Duck & Goose Go to the Beach, by Tad Hills
It’s high time that author and illustrator Tad Hills’s beloved bird duo enjoyed a vacation! But there’s just one catch: Although Duck is eager to head out and explore the wide, wide world, his best pal Goose never wants to leave their comfortable meadow. But once the pair hike to the beach, Goose surprisingly finds that he loves the ocean, while Duck is none too thrilled with the loud waves and hot sand. The pair encounter plenty of adventure and other animal friends during their beach trip. But at the end of the day, they’re both happy to return to the place they love best—home. (Ages 3–7)
The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer …, by Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud
Students everywhere are accustomed to that typical first-day-of-school question from their teachers: What did you do this summer? And the little boy from David Cali and Benjamin Chaud’s I Didn’t Do My Homework Because … returns for this exciting and fast-paced picture book with a pretty unbelievable (with good reason!) tale of his summer vacation adventures. The boy’s trip begins with a typical day at the beach with his dog but soon spins into a globe-trotting treasure hunt with a giant octopus, pirates, a yeti, a flying machine, and more! Kids will love this silly and imaginative story about all the possibilities summer holds—with a little help from their imagination. (Ages 6–9)
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Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, by Megan McDonald
Judy Moody’s summer break in this 10th installment of Megan McDonald’s popular chapter book series is proof positive that you don’t have to travel the world to have a fun time. Judy thinks this is going to be a super-fun summer—until she finds out her parents are going to California and leaving her and her little brother, Stink, with Aunt Opal—or Aunt Awful, as Judy thinks of her. Plus, Judy’s two best friends are going away for the summer too?! Ugh! But Judy is determined to turn this bummer of a summer around with one of her super wacky plans involving a tightrope walking race, a treasure hunt, a runaway ice cream truck, and even Bigfoot! (Ages 6–9)
Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation (Charlie Joe Jackson Series #3), by Tommy Greenwald and J.P. Coovert
Reluctant reader Charlie Joe Jackson is headed to camp in this third installment of Tommy Greenwald and J.P. Coovert’s funny series, which will have kids laughing—and rapidly reading!—away their summer days. But this isn’t just any camp Charlie Joe is headed to; it’s Camp Rituhbukkee—pronounced “read-a-book-ee”—where the camp song is “Learning to Love, and Loving to Learn.” He’s sure that he’s in for a miserable three weeks, but with a cast of zany characters and the tricks Charlie has up his sleeve, camp proves to be more fun than Charlie Joe could have ever expected. (Ages 9–12)
The Long Haul (Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series #9), by Jeff Kinney
If everyone’s favorite middle school underdog Greg Heffley is the one headed out on vacation, then readers know hilarity will ensue. And the ninth book in Jeff Kinney’s crazy-popular series finds the Heffleys hitting the road for a trip inspired by his mom’s subscription to Family Frolic, which means “real food” (ugh!) rather than fast food and educational experiences rather than Greg’s preferred video games (boo!). While the fam may be expecting a fun-filled trip, fans of the series know that where the Heffleys go, laugh-out-loud disaster follows. This time it’s in the form of a seagull attack, a runaway pig, Greg getting medical care from a vet, and his little brother causing a fender bender with the family car. (Ages 8–12)
What summer vacation stories for kids would you recommend?