As a former English teacher, I love to read. And I firmly believe that books are nourishing to the spirit in the same way that real foods and time in nature is nourishing to the body. We need stories of bravery, kindness, adventure, sillyness, beauty, and love to make sense and meaning of the world and our place in it.
One tradition I’ve had with my sons is seasonal books. We have books in a basket in our living room year round, library books in a nook by our stairs, books in the bedroom, and seasonal books that I switch out four times a year. The boys always get excited when the basket comes down after a year of not seeing them. So I thought I would share a few of our favorite summer seasonal reads, since I am bringing the basket down next week.
Pictured above Children of the Forest and Peter in Blueberry Land both by Elsa Beskow. I love these because they are nature based and alight the imagination for summer hikes. Maybe it’s also something within my bones or heritage that makes me love these stories so as they were first published in Swedish in 1910. Much of my family tree is Scandinavian in origin. They are both longer stories of children in close communion with the natural world with more than a touch of fairy tale magic woven throughout. Also pictured is a classic—Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey. We don’t have a place to pick blueberries nearby, so my sons and I live vicariously through this beautifully illustrated book about mothers and children picking blueberries with a fun surprise that the boys love.
Not necessarily classics like Blueberries for Sal, but well loved from my childhood are the Little Golden Books Smokey the Bear and Little Bunny Follows His Nose. I have vivid memories of my Grandma reading me the Little Bunny book while camping—such a beautiful story of a Bunny finding friendship and beauty and wonder by following his nose on a summer day. The only bad part is that the stickers have lost their smell. So the first time we bring it down, it always prompts a day of re-creating the smells in the book—which really leads to a rich sensory memory that endears the book to the reader. And of course Smokey—which inspires conversations about how humans can impact the natural world both positively and negatively, and Bear play ensues.
Two favorite board books that even though my boys are 5 & 3, we just can’t part with and read again and again. We have all the seasonal books by Gerda Muller. They are beautifully illustrated and contain no words. Just illustrations of all the things one might be doing each season. Sometimes I let the boys lead and narrate the story, sometimes we make connections to past summer activities, and it also leads to excitement over what we will do each season. And Pout Pout Fish is an adorable story of a fish who learns his lips aren’t for pouting and gloom, but kissing and cheer! Both boys have loved the rhythm of it since they were babies.
These aren’t solely summer related, but they seem to have made their way into the summer basket, and they are both beautifully illustrated stories we love to read again and again. We love any book by Jan Brett, and each season has at least on of her books. And The Golden Glow is a beautiful books about a botanist fox who is on the hunt for a rare flower. He doesn’t pick it, just goes on a long journey to find it, and then returns home seeing the mountains from his window with a new light. I love that it teaches botany, teaches preparedness of hiking, teaches to leave flowers and capture them through photographs, and inspires children and adults to connect more with nature by noticing small details. But mostly, I’m an herbalist plant lady who wants her children to get excited about plants too!
And of course, no summer would be complete without fun adventures of the beautiful characters in The Wind in the Willows. We have several versions of it, but this is my oldest’s favorite of all of them.
Do you have favorite summer reads we should add to our list?