Creating traditions and passing them down through the generations is the type of community Cadence at Gateway strives to create. One of the favorite traditions of the Color Me Cadence editorial team is reading beloved stories to our children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews.

Below are 44 books appropriate for young children, plus 6 more that older kids can read, or parents can read a chapter a night throughout the summer.

50 Great Summer Reads50 Best Children's Books

  1. Where the Wild Things Are: by Maurice Sendak

Sometimes we growl at our moms, make mischief and get sent to our rooms, but she still makes us dinner and that is why we love her and this story.

  1. The Biggest Bear: by Lynd Ward

Like Johnny, we’ve all wished we could bring a bear cub home, but what happens when the bear grows up? Your young children will love finding out.

  1. The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash: by Tinka Hakes Noble

Hilarity ensues when Jimmy brings his pet boa constrictor on a field trip to the local farm – Steven Kellogg’s brilliant illustrations make this a family favorite.

  1. The Jungle Book: by Rudyard Kipling

A classic, but long chapters make this more suitable for the 11-14 crowd.

  1. A Kiss for Little Bear: by Else Holmelund Minarik

Little Bear makes a terrific picture for his grandma and asks Hen to take it to her. Delivering Grandma’s thanks isn’t quite so simple.

  1. Are You My Mother?: by P.D. Eastman

Charmingly repetitive words and simple, silly illustrations tell the story of a baby bird asking everything from a cow to a “snort” (steam shovel) if they are its mother after falling (unscathed) from its nest.

  1. Pinkerton, Behave!: by Steven Kellogg

We love the Pinkerton books and the mischief this humongous, friendly dog seems to always find himself in. Plus, Steven Kellogg (one of our favorites) writes and illustrates the Pinkerton series.

  1. Corduroy: by Don Freeman

This creative story about an adorable bear’s perspective being locked in a department store overnight will capture your children’s hearts.

  1. Curious George: by Margret Rey and H.A. Rey

The story of George’s first adventures with the Man with the Yellow Hat is still a family favorite.

  1. The Rainbow Fish: by Marcus Pfister

A wonderful message beautifully told makes this a great choice for any age of child (and adult).

  1. The Story of Babar: Translated from Jean de Brunhoff’s original French version

The first (and probably best) book in the Babar series has been delighting children for decades.

  1. The Secret Hiding Place: by Rainey Bennett

An adorable little hippo tries to find his place. Beautiful illustrations make this one of our childhood favorites.

  1. Charlotte’s Web: by E.B. White

Great books don’t age as evidenced by this classic written in 1952. Interesting for kids to read the books that inspire the movies and shows they might have already seen.

  1. Bread and Jam For Frances: by Russell Hoban

If you love endearing badgers or jam, than you will be delighted with the adventures of Frances.

  1. Goodnight Moon: by Margaret Wise Brown

This is a great one to read to your babies as you point out the different rhyming pictures and whisper the final line, “Good night noises everywhere.”

  1. Rap a Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles – Think of That!: by Leo & Diane Dillon

The imagery and cadence of the words allows you to verbally tap dance through the bold paintings and timely message. A new favorite.

  1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

We love rhythmic books that teach children their letters! Fun to read and fun to share with little ones.

  1. Frog and Toad and Friends: by Arnold Lobel

From swimming to finding lost buttons, these polite amphibians teach children that best friends are always there for each other.

  1. If You Give a Moose a Muffin: by Laura Numeroff

If you’re over mice and cookies, try this moose, whose antlers provide comical imagery throughout the story. Silly fun for younger kids – older children might learn a bit about consequences.

  1. Green Eggs and Ham: by Dr. Seuss

Silly fun and great practice for young readers. Plus the story is a classic!

  1. 1 Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: by Dr. Seuss

Great for learning numbers and colors, plus the imaginative illustrations foster children’s creative thinking.

  1. James and the Giant Peach: by Roald Dahl

A well-written and fantastical tale that is great for older children.

  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar: by Eric Carle

How hungry can a caterpillar be? Kids love finding out and interacting with the images as they peak through the holes with their fingers and eyes.

  1. Moo, Baa, La La La!: by Sandra Boynton

Babies and toddlers love the different sounds you’ll make while reading this short rhythmic story.

  1. On the Night You Were Born: by Nancy Tillman

Let your child or grandchild know how special they are in this charming book with whimsical illustrations.

  1. The Bernstein Bears and The Spooky Old Tree: by Stan and Jan Bernstein

One of the best Bernstein Bears Books because of simple, repetitive words that young children can recognize, plus age appropriate suspense.

  1. The Story of Ferdinand: by Munro Leaf

What happens if a bull doesn’t want to fight but smell the flowers? Your kids will love finding out.

  1. The Velveteen Rabbit: by Margery Williams

This is a classic charming tale, but very wordy for little kids. Break it up into a few nights of reading, or share when they are a little older.

  1. Press Here: by Hervé Tullet

It doesn’t look like much, but it instantly captures kid’s hearts and imaginations. Great for all ages.

  1. The Mitten: by Jan Brett

Great to read in the summer and dream about colder locations than ours!

  1. Belly Button Book! by Sandra Boynton

Sandra Boynton writes and illustrates in a way that allows you to read to your kids creatively and keep them giggling (even if you don’t have a single drama club bone in your body.)

  1. My Truck Is Stuck!: by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk

Simple + rhythmic + trucks = kid pleaser 

  1. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel: by Virginia Lee Burton

This has been a classic for years and you’re kids will love cheering on Mike and Mary Anne through the end of the story.

  1. A Bear Called Paddington: by Michael Bond

Sweet Paddington has to be on this list. He is a classic your kids will love to read about!

  1. Madeline: by Ludwig Bemelmans

The pictures and rhyming in this book make it a classic. If they haven’t met Madeline yet, introduce your children and grandchildren this summer.

  1. Go, Dog. Go!: by P.D. Eastman

Great as kids are learning to read, but hilarious for any age, especially the illustration about the Dog Party in a tree.

  1. Olivia: by Ian Falconer

A Caldecott Medal winner, you can’t help but love this confident and funny little pig.

  1. Amelia Bedelia: by Peggy Parish

A great reminder of how literally children see things and that Amelia’s perspective seems silly, but is sometimes the best.

  1. Love You Forever: by Robert Munsch

We will love our babies forever and love to remind them of that through stories like these.

  1. The Snowy Day: by Ezra Keats

Explore a snowy world with Peter in his snowsuit – another story to help you think cool thoughts during piping hot Arizona summers.

  1. Alligator Baby: by Robert Munsch

Incredibly funny story about some mixed up parents and the babies they accidently bring home from the zoo. Thank heavens for an older sister who can make things right.

  1. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears:by Verna Aardema

Parents love this book for the amazing illustrations and lessons taught about telling the truth.

  1. Twenty-Four Robbers: by Audrey Wood

Sounds like it could be a little scary, but these funny looking intruders just want to make you something delicious. Children love the rhythmic words and silly illustrations.

  1. Make Way for Ducklings: by Robert McCloskey

Another Caldecott Medal winner, this tale of a duck family in Boston Public Park has been a classic for generations.

  1. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: by by E. L. Konigsburg

Your children will love reading about Claudia Kincaid’s adventures as she tries to run away from the life she knows. 

  1. MrsFrisby and the Rats of NIMH: by Robert C. O’Brien

Not typically known for their good deeds, the highly intelligent rats in this story help Mrs. Frisby and her family in a difficult time.

  1. The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe: by C.S. Lewis

Every C.S. Lewis book ever written should be on this list, but this is a good starter into the fantastical world of Narnia!

  1. Boxcar Children:by Gertrude Warner (the first few)

The first two or three books in this series are the ones you shouldn’t miss. We love the importance of loving family and caring for siblings the stories emphasizes.

  1. Island of the Blue Dolphins: by Scott O’Dell

Based on a true story and a Newberry Medal Winner, this is a great book for 10- 14 year olds with a sense of adventure.

  1. Camerons in the Train: by Jane Duncan

Although this book is hard to find, children and young teens will love reading about these three siblings’ adventures with their aunt in Scotland.