By the Book: Top Summer picks for young readers

reading3The joy of imagining

Summer-themed books for young readers on school break


By Jonah Berkowitz

Photo special by Juan Alonso


There’s nothing quite like laying out on the beach with a good book, relaxing and enjoying all that summer has to offer. We adults love it, so why not grab some summer reading for your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or neighborhood rapscallions? Teach them the joys of reading during the summer, whether you are at the beach, sitting on your front porch, or sitting on a boat in the middle of Lake Oconee. Here are three books for three different age groups. Stop by your local library to see if they have these or other summer themed books around!

Fetch, by Jorey Hurley (Pre-reader)

If you’re looking for a summer book for your pre-reader Fetch by Jorey Hurley is a fun little book about a dog’s day at the beach. The book has vibrant color blocked illustrations showing a golden Labrador’s attempts to retrieve its ball. Each page features a single word, such as “search,” “dive,” or “shake.” Your toddler will quickly be able to say the words themselves as they recognize the action that the dog is taking. The general age range for this book would be from birth all the way up through early readers, who can get enjoyment out of reading the simple words all by themselves, but older readers might appreciate the illustrations as well.

Duck & Goose Go To The Beach, by Tad Hills (Preschooler)

For your preschoolers and early elementary school-aged kids, give Duck & Goose Go To The Beach, by Tad Hills, a try. This is another picture book that tells the story of two friends, Duck and Goose, who decide to go on a hike from their meadow. They eventually find a beach, where they go swimming, make new friends, explore a tidal pool, build a sand castle, and listen to a seashell. The two friends are cutely illustrated with each wearing a summer hat, and kids of any age will enjoy the back-and-forth between the two friends as they try to make decisions about what to do next with their day.

Summer at Forsaken Lake, by Michael D. Beil (Elementary/Middle Grades)

But what about older kids? They need books too! If you need a good read for your older elementary and middle grades kids, grab a copy of Summer at Forsaken Lake, by Michael D. Beil. This is a chapter book that has it all: a mystery, a blossoming friendship, and a summer aboard a sailboat on a lake. The plot sees Nicholas Mettleson and his two younger twin sisters spending the summer at their Uncle Nick’s house. Much of the novel is concerned with all of them learning how to sail, and it goes into great detail about technical aspects of sailing in a way that will be accessible to kids that age. The mystery of the novel concerns a sailing accident that occurred 25 years earlier when Nicholas’ own father was a teen. As Nicholas and his new friend, Charlotte “Charlie” Brennan, slowly unravel the mystery that has been unsolved for so long, they also find a friendship that they both need in their lives.

So grab a book, whether it’s one of these, or one of your own choosing, and read with the next generation. After all, while summer may be about swimming pools, beaches, and getting a good tan, it’s also about the relaxation that comes with a good book.


– Jonah Berkowitz is a part-time educator/part-time stay-at-home dad in Athens who loves reading by himself, and with his 4-year old daughter. You can see more of his writing at where he occasionally writes about reading and being a father.