Book Lists

Summer Reading 2021

Thank you educators! You brought passion and enthusiasm to your students this year despite many challenges. We know reading is essential and enjoyable, and we’re thrilled to share our recommendations for teachers, librarians, and independent summer reading.

Picture Books

Chapter Books

Middle Grade

Young Adult

Additional Resources

Spring 2021 Paperbacks

Middle Grade

Young Adult

Artist Biographies from Caldecott Honor Team

Mornings with Monet

Mornings with Monet By Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre

A new picture book about the iconic artist Claude Monet, from the Caldecott-Award winning team that created The Noisy Paint Box.

Claude Monet is one of the world's most beloved artists--and he became famous during his own lifetime. He rejected a traditional life laid out clean and smooth before him. Instead he chose a life of art. But not just any art: a new way of seeing that came to be called impressionism.

Monet loved to paint what he saw around him, particularly the Seine River. He was initially rejected for using bright colors, tangled brushstrokes--condemned for his impressions. But soon art dealers and collectors were lining up each morning to see as Monet saw. Monet, however, waited only for the light. The changing light...each morning he had a dozen canvases on hand to paint a dozen different moments. His brush moved back and forth, chasing sunlight--putting in the arduous work to create an image that seemed to contain no effort at all.

The stellar team that brought you the Caldecott Honor book The Noisy Paint Box explores another influential painter, in a moving tribute to creativity, commitment, and new ways of seeing the world around you.

Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art

Through the Window: Views of Marc Chagall's Life and Art By Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre

A gorgeous, expressive picture-book biography of Marc Chagall by the Caldecott Honor team behind The Noisy Paint Box.

Through the window, the student sees . . .
His future--butcher, baker, blacksmith, but turns away.
A classmate sketching a face from a book. His mind blossoms.
The power of pictures. He draws and erases, dreams in color while Papa worries.
A folder of pages laid on an art teacher's desk. Mama asks, Does this boy have talent?
Pursed lips, a shrug, then a nod, and a new artist is welcomed.
His brave heart flying through the streets, on a journey unknowable.

Known for both his paintings and stained-glass windows, Marc Chagall rose from humble beginnings to become one of the world's most renowned artists. Admired for his use of color and the powerful emotion in his work, Chagall led a career that spanned decades and continents, and he never stopped growing. This lyrical narrative shows readers, through many different windows, the pre-WWI childhood and wartime experiences that shaped Chagall's path.

From the same team behind the Caldecott Honor Book The Noisy Paint Box, which was about the artist Kandinksy, Through the Window is a stunning book that, through Chagall's life and work, demonstrates how art has the power to be revolutionary.

Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky

Vincent Can't Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky By Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre

A gorgeous, lyrical picture-book biography of Vincent van Gogh by the Caldecott Honor team behind The Noisy Paint Box.
 
Vincent can’t sleep . . .
out, out, out he runs!              
flying through the garden—marigold, geranium, blackberry, raspberry—
past the church with its tall steeple, down rolling hills and sandy paths meant for sheep,
He dives at last into the velvety, violet heath, snuggles under a blanket of sapphire sky,
and looks up, up, up . . . to visit with the stars.

Vincent van Gogh often found himself unable to sleep and wandered under starlit skies. Those nighttime experiences provided the inspiration for many of his paintings, including his most famous, The Starry Night. Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime—but he continued to pursue his unique vision, and ultimately became one of the most beloved artists of all time.

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art By Barb Rosenstock; illustrated by Mary GrandPre

A Caldecott Honor Book

Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy: he studied math and history, he practiced the piano, he sat up straight and was perfectly polite. And when his family sent him to art classes, they expected him to paint pretty houses and flowers—like a proper artist.
 
But as Vasya opened his paint box and began mixing the reds, the yellows, the blues, he heard a strange sound—the swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a symphony! And as he grew older, he continued to hear brilliant colors singing and see vibrant sounds dancing. But was Vasya brave enough to put aside his proper still lifes and portraits and paint . . . music?
 
In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary GrandPré tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors—and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.
 
Backmatter includes four paintings by Kandinsky, an author’s note, sources, links to websites on synesthesia and abstract art.

A Garden of Picture Books

Everything Grows

Everything Grows By Raffi; illustrated by Nina Mata

Raffi’s beloved song celebrating the earth is available for the first time in a board book edition that readers will treasure as they grow.

From children to animals, from leaves on a tree to fish in the sea, everything grows. Raffi’s popular and catchy song encourages kids to take in the world around them and appreciate the way everything is growing together. Lush illustrations by Nina Mata show families interacting with a community garden and marveling at the interconnectedness of the earth in this timely and timeless song and story.

Toot & Puddle: How Does Your Garden Grow?

Toot & Puddle: How Does Your Garden Grow? By Holly Hobbie

Bestselling and beloved characters Toot and Puddle return twenty-five years after their debut with a brand-new story full of the same charm and whimsy that originally made they so popular.

Toot & Puddle, with help from cousin Opal, are planting the dream garden they’ve always wanted. But when the plants arrive, so does trouble. Someone or something keeps eating all of the spinach! Not wanting to share with the theif, they try everything from putting up signs to fencing the garden in, all to keep out the unwanted visitor. When the trio finally does find out who’s eating all the vegetables, they decide that maybe sharing is the best way to go after all.

We Are a Garden

We Are a Garden By Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Victoria Tentler-Krylov

This lyrical and extremely timely picture book illuminates the many different migrants who have made their homes in North America through the centuries.

Long ago a strong wind blew. It blew people, like seeds, to a new land.

The wind blew in a girl and her clan, where herds of mammoths still wandered the frozen tundra. It later blew a boy and his family across frigid waters, and they spread across the new land. Over time, the wind continued to disperse newcomers from all directions. It blew in men who hoped to find gold, and slave ships, and immigrant families. And so it continued, for generations and generations. Here is a moving and tender picture book that beautifully examines centuries of North American history and its people.

Welcome Flower Child

Welcome Flower Child By Brigette Barrager

A beautiful gift book that reveals the meaning of birth flowers for babies born each month of the year.

Every child is a different kind of flower, and all together, make this world a beautiful garden.

Welcome to this celebration of nature and babies from New York Times bestselling illustrator of Uni the Unicorn, Brigette Barrager. A gorgeous gift book reveals the qualities of babies born in each month of the year, and the accompanying flower that blooms in each birth month. This text is sweet, and soft, and everyone who opens it can find the special personality traits of individuals born in their month revealed.

What's Inside A Flower?

What's Inside A Flower? By Written and Illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

From the creator of the New York Times bestseller Women in Science, comes a new nonfiction picture book series ready to grow young scientists by nurturing their curiosity about the natural world–starting with what’s inside a flower.

Budding backyard scientists can start exploring their world with this stunning introduction to these flowery show-stoppers–from seeds to roots to blooms. Learning how flowers grow gives kids beautiful building blocks of science and inquiry.

In the launch of a new nonfiction picture book series, Rachel Ignotofsky’s distinctive art style and engaging, informative text clearly answers any questions a child (or adult) could have about flowers.

Perfect Storytime Reads for Preschool and Beyond!

The 12 Days of St. Patrick's Day

The 12 Days of St. Patrick's Day By Jenna Lettice; illustrated by Colleen Madden

Count the 12 days of St. Patrick’s Day! On the first day of St. Patrick’s, I was lucky to find… This festive story starts with a shamrock in a field of green, then adds TWO pots of gold, THREE top hats, and so on through twelve busy days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Young readers and their caregivers will enjoy counting all the details of the fun preparation for the big day. This simple rhyming story is paired with cheery illustrations and a full page of stickers, making it the perfect springtime gift for kids.

Always By My Side

Always By My Side By Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Follow a little boy as he gradually outgrows the need for the constant presence for his comforting companion—a stuffed green dinosaur. But as the stuffed animal narrates, none of us grow out of loving our favorite toys, and, perhaps, they never stop loving us back. When you need a loving hug, or a cuddle of reassurance, or just someone to play with, fuzzy creatures big and small, short and tall, will always be your friend.

Goodnight, Astronaut

Goodnight, Astronaut By Scott Kelly; illustrated by Izzy Burton

Scott Kelly was born for adventure. But exploring takes a lot of enery—and sleep is the super fuel to turbocharge dreams. Luckily, sleeping can be exciting if you’re drifting off in the right place.

Scott has fallen asleep at the bottom of the ocean, in the cockpit of an F-14 fighter jet, in a yurt on Mount Everest, and of course in space! Join Scott on his many adventures, and maybe they’ll inspire dreams of your own!

This sweet and adventurous story is the perfect bedtime tale for future astronauts and adventurers!

Hooray for Helpers!

Hooray for Helpers! By Mike Austin

First responders are on the way! Every day, brave helpers are on full alert, ready to rescue people and animal friends in need. They work on land, go underground, and even parachute down from the sky. Buckle up and cheer for these heroes as they go the distance to keep everyone safe.

With bright, colorful art and labels of rescue vehicles and equipment in the style of Richard Scarry, this introduction to and celebration of first responders packs FUN and FACTS. Look inside for a Q&A with a real firefighter and an emergency supplies list!

Star of the Party: The Solar System Celebrates!

Star of the Party: The Solar System Celebrates! By Jan Carr; illustrated by Juana Medina Rosas

The planets are throwing Sun a birthday party! Mercury wants to thank Sun for how close they are. (Being the closest planet has its perks.) Earth enjoys Sun’s warmth. And all the planets want to celebrate Sun’s magnetic personality.

But party planning takes work. Do they even have room for all of Jupiter’s moon? Don’t space out. It’s time for this star-studded event!

Blast off with Jan Carr and Pura Belpre Award-winning illustrator Juana Medina’s quick-witted and fact-filled picture book about the solar system and all of its (inter)stellar inhabitants.

Together

Together By Charles Fuge

A parent and baby polar bear have a fun-filled, loving day together in their cheerful Arctic home, as the big bear reassures the little bear that they will be best friends forever. You’ll love snuggling up with your little one and this adorable and soothing picture book celebrating togetherness, friendship, and the unbreakable bonds of family.