The long, warm days of June signal the end of school and the beginning of summer. This month we’ve chosen three brand-new selections that put us in a June mood: One showcasing one of America’s universally adored father figures and the timeless lessons he teaches us; the rest harnessing the spirit of summer, (and also inspiring everyday ways to incorporate STEAM outside of the classroom!)
For Infants and Toddlers
by Fred Rogers, illustrations by Luke Flowers (Quirk $19.99) Age 2-6
The “poetry” of Mister Rogers is actually the song lyrics the late, beloved host performed on his iconic television program—indeed, they strike a new chord on printed page. You needn’t worry if you remember any of the tunes, for the power of messages such as “It’s You I Like,” “Be the Best of Whatever You Are,” and “It’s Good to Talk” carry their own weight. Children will begin to memorize their favorites after constant repetition, making this book a natural reading primer for young learners.
Rogers had a gift for tackling serious subjects (as well as those that only seem serious when you’re young) in an accessible and non-threatening way; an almost fatherly approach reflected in the songs that range from silly to smart, uplifting to energizing. Affectionate illustrations scattered throughout reaffirm the simplicity and moral sweetness of Rogers’s outlook.
For Preschool and Beyond
by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Candlewick $16.99) Age 4-8
We think this imaginative and thought-provoking storybook is destined to be an instant classic, with a tale of seaside discovery and family continuity that offers treats for children across a broad age spectrum.
The story magically connects the past and the present: young Thomas uses his grandfather’s magnifying glass to examine the fascinating objects he collects on the beach. Could this sea glass be a champagne bottle remnant from a long-ago ship christening? A little girl named Annie shares similar passion for discovery and finds her own sea glass on the very same beach. Is there a link between them? (shhh…no spoilers!)
Featuring vivid water color illustrations so realistic you can smell the salty breeze and feel the smoothness of sea glass in your palm, this book will definitely inspire children to hunt for their own summertime treasures—perhaps weaving their own creative origin stories for each new prize.
by Susan Choi, illustrated by John Rocco (Putnam $17.99) Age 4-7
Everyone loves a good coming-of-age story, and this summer-themed tale is rooted in a rising first-grader’s fear of the school year looming after the end of his family’s camping trip. It’s a story about family connection, burgeoning independence, and embracing the unknown.
But it’s also a story about a tiger. In a seamless blending of the realistic and the impossible, their trip is punctuated by the arrival of the big jungle cat, who—because he can talk, naturally—forges a bond with the boy and encourages him to share and confront his feelings.
Dazzling mixed media illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winner John Rocco jump off the page; panels are frequently wordless, advancing the story for pre-readers and providing a great jumping-point for creative conversation.