Hello families! Summer is here, and New Mexico’s great outdoors are calling to us, but that doesn’t mean we should stop reading! We’re thrilled to be launching our blog this summer, and to kick things off, we thought we’d share some of our favorite books for you and your kiddos (of all ages) to tuck into in these coming months. Take a break from the heat, curl up, and lose yourself in a good book. Have some recommendations? Leave them in the comments!
Toddler (aged 2-4)
Press Here by Herve Tullet
This interactive book is great for toddlers to learn about cause and effect in a simple and engaging way. Harness the power of imagination by pressing the dots, following the instructions within, and embarking upon a magical journey of multiplication and growth. We love the delightful giggles that this book never fails to bring about!
The Hike by Alison Farrell
The Hike is a plucky and sweet adventure story about three intrepid young female explorers who set out to conquer the outdoors in their local forest. This spirited picture book is filled with lyrical language that captures the majesty of the natural world, coupled with a fun narrative. Our favorite part is the nifty scientific glossary in the back of the book, and your children are sure to want to pack a bag and hop out onto the trails after looking through this book.
Boxitects by Kim Smith
A STEAM-centered, adorably illustrated picture book about Meg, a brilliant and creative boxitect who creates extraordinary things out of ordinary cardboard boxes. Make sure you have those old Amazon boxes handy when reading this book, as your kiddo will surely jump into engineer mode and construct their own creation (or five!).
Usha and the Stolen Sun by Bree Gallbraith
Inspired by the idea of civil discourse, this book offers a timely message of communication and compassion. Usha lives in a town where the sun hasn’t shone for as long as anyone can remember. Only her grandfather remembers its brilliance and tells Usha stories about the time before other people took the sun away, building a wall to keep it all to themselves. So Usha decides to do something and sets off in search of the sun.
The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano
Primary (aged 4-7)
Born to Ride by Larissa Theule
Firefly July by Paul B. Janeczko
It only takes a few words, if they’re the right words, to create a strong image. Whether listened to in the comfort of a cozy lap or read independently, these 36 very short poems in this collection remind readers young and old that a few perfect words and pictures can make the world glow. Selected by an acclaimed poet and accompanied by gorgeous illustrations, this anthology invites children to sample poems throughout the four seasons.
Evan and the Skygoats by Vanessa Vassar
This book is by a local New Mexico author, and is a wonderful, insightful and heart-warming story to comfort children of all ages. Based on the author’s own personal experience healing from the loss of her daughter, she shares a list of Love Thoughts, useful advice for those grieving and for the family and friends helping them. We highly recommend this touching story to both teach your children about unexpected loss and also to navigate them through it.
Adventures of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel
Who doesn’t adore Frog & Toad? This classic is an excellent choice for early readers, with a hearty dose of friendship, witty humor, and summer fun. Follow this beloved duo on a journey as they discover the true meaning of friendship.
A Different Pond by Bao Phi
This ages-old graphic novel tells an unforgettable story about a simple event – a long ago fishing trip between a young Vietnamese boy and his father. This is a powerful, poetically illustrated tale that offers a glimpse into meaningful relationships and cultural differences throughout time.
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
This bestselling picture book focuses on pursuing one’s passion with persistence and learning to celebrate each failure on the road to achieving one’s dreams. Sure to be an inspiring hit with your young child, this tale follows Rosie, a young girl who dreams of becoming a great engineer and experiments with all manner of wacky inventions.
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou’s unforgettable poem is matched with the daring art of Jean-Michel Basquiat in this powerful ode to courage, defiantly celebrating each and every one of us. From the scary thought of panthers in the park to the unsettling scene of a new classroom, fearsome images are summoned and dispelled by the power of faith in ourselves. We find this to be a brilliant introduction to both groundbreaking poetry and contemporary art.
Elementary (aged 6-10)
The Tea Dragon Society by K. O’Neill
This gentle fantasy follows the story of a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons. Undeniably whimsical and extremely cute, this early reader is sure to be a hit with your dragon-loving kiddos!
Bunnicula by Deborah & James Howe
Vampire bunnies? Eek! Before it’s too late, Harold the dog and Chester the cat must find out the truth about the newest pet in the Monroe household — a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits…and fangs! This silly, animal-centric fantasy will entertain your child on even the laziest of summer days. And the best part? It’s a series!
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Maybe your child has seen the movie, but has yet to read the book. Either way, this is a Roald Dahl classic, and is a great choice to get through the long summer days – perhaps while eating a juicy summer peach?! Between evil aunts and talking insects, this tale has captured young readers’ imaginations for generations.
The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Paul B. Janeczko
Perhaps better suited for winter, though this tale will surely take you out of the desert heat! In this classic true story, find out if Balto, the incredible sled dog, can carry medicine to sick children miles away in Nome, Alaska during a brutal winter blizzard. A perfect choice for your dog-loving kiddo… though don’t be surprised if they ask to take a trip to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter after reading this!
The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman
With a simple, lyrical text and richly layered illustrations, this is a beautiful introduction to the world of math and a fascinating look at the unique character traits that made Paul Erdos, the famous Hungarian mathematician, a great man. A perfect choice for your number-loving child to learn more about a historical figure and how to pursue a passion.
Elementary (aged 10-12)
Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz
Welcome to ancient Greece as only a genius storyteller can conjure it. In a warlike land of wind and sunlight, “ringed by a restless sea,” live Rhaskos and Melisto, spiritual twins with little in common beyond the violent and mysterious forces that dictate their lives. This book is a performance in verse and a profoundly original epic, pitched just right for young fans of poetry, history, mythology, and fantasy. The perfect summer read to escape into, as you journey through an otherworldly landscape.
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
This genre-shattering, critically acclaimed gem is also widely recognized as a classic of young adult literature, having captivated readers for generations. In this coming-of-age novel, follow Weetzie Bat and her best friend Dirk as they navigate life and love in a timeless, dreamlike version of Los Angeles. We love this book for being such a brilliant introduction to magical realism in younger preteen readers.
Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eagar
Can a clever young inventor uncover a ruthless pirate’s heart of gold? This thrilling sea adventure takes on a hint of steampunk, and is the perfect companion for summer, filled with pirates, other seafaring beings, and vast oceanic adventures!
Swallows & Amazons by Arthur Ransome
Friendship, resourcefulness, adventures! Here’s a classic tale of two families of children who band together against a common foe. This series has stood our test of time. More than just great stories, each one celebrates independence and initiative with a colorful, large cast of characters. Like the entire series that follows, this book is for children or grownups, anyone captivated by a world of adventure and imagination, exploring and setting sail.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
With one of the most inspiring protagonists ever written, this novel about a spunky girl born without arms and a boy with Tourette syndrome navigates the challenges of middle school, disability awareness, and the meaning of friendship—all while solving a mystery in a western theme park. Sure to make your child laugh and simultaneously educate them, we can’t recommend this witty tale enough!