Books and Play: Excellent New Picture Books and Activity Pairings

Now that it’s summer, you’re definitely going to want to check out these fantastic new picture books and some fun activities to go with them to soak up these school-free days.

The gifted books are indicated and the links are all affiliate, so thank you for using them or for shopping your independent bookstore.

  • Boat Adventures
    • Nikki McClure’s Old Wood Boat
      • Thank you, Candlewick! I can’t get over the hand-cut art in this beauty.  You are going to be in awe flipping through this one.  The story is about a family restoring an old boat and it’s like a love letter to boating and the magic it holds.  It immediately made me want to head to the coast and it has such a timeless, classic feel.
    • Margi Preus’ and Matt Myers’ Lily Leads the Way
      • Thank you, Candlewick! This one is so cute.  I love how, through telling the story of how Lily, a small sailboat, is able to help in a big way, your child is learning how to navigate asserting themselves. Perfectly summery and sweet.
    • Experiment with what floats!  Walk around outside or inside with your kid and gather up what you’re going to try out.  Fill up a bin with water and make your hypotheses!  Depending on the age of your kid, they can make a list with checkmarks and you can talk through more of the science, but, basically, you’ll be surprised by how easy this is and how much your kid enjoys it.
    • Make a boat out of a cardboard box.  Let your kid scribble away on it and then have fun using your imagination, whether it be finding treasure or trying to escape the sea monster (cute stuffed animal octopus?).
  • Nature Mysteries
    • Paddy Donnely’s The Vanishing Lake
      • Thank you, Yehoo Press! This one is a beauty. From the rich colors to the transportive tale, we’ve happily read this one over and over. I like that the book both leaves the mystery in its story about why the lake disappears and then includes additional pages with some interesting science. I can see many of you really enjoying this one!
    • Grab a small colander (or buy one, like this small, brass colander, if you don’t have one because it’s fun for water play, helping in the kitchen, pretend kitchen play, and you can use it for berries and things with less washing after). Find a towel and big bin or bowl to use on the floor if you’re not outside and a pitcher or cup for the pouring. Ask your kid to make predictions about what they think might happen when you fill the colander with things like a plastic bag, towel, different sized rocks, berries, etc. Talk about why each one behaves like it does and connect it to the final pages of the book. Afterwards, I have a sneaking suspicion your kid is going to want to keep playing with the water, so let them while away the morning!
  • Beach Fun
    • Leslie Patricelli’s Splash!
      • Thank you, Candlewick! This is the perfect gift for any beach loving friend having a baby or to add to your collection as that quintessential, classic feeling, cute baby summer read.
    • Make an indoor beach day.  I’m of the opinion that if you’re buying a toy, you should pick the ones that you’re going to use over and over and that are aesthetically pleasing to you.  These pretty beach pail and toys are silicone and look so much more charming, right?  Play away at the beach and in the tub with them, but there’s something about making something normally outdoors an indoor activity that kids love, so bring those out, grab a towel, make some beachy snacks, and put on the sounds of ocean waves.
  • Food Love
    • Hunter Liguore’s and Vikki Zhang’s The Whole World Inside Nan’s Soup
      • Thank you, Yehoo Press! There is something very nostalgic and sentimental feeling about the detailed, soft illustrations of this one. I adore how the book makes you think about everything that goes into your food
    • Our daughter immediately ran to her play kitchen after this one. I also think it would be so special to call a family member and ask them for a special recipe, or to go to the library and pick out a cookbook to flip through together to choose what you want to make.  Pretend you’re making a cooking show or opening a restaurant or cafe.  This is the kid’s knife we use with our daughter.
  • Celebrate Your Values
    • Brynne Barnes  and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh‘s Black Girl Rising
      • Thank you, Chronicle! In the vein of Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise, this is such an empowering, beautiful celebration of Black girls.
    • Make some chalk art together declaring something that’s important to your family values.  Try out making some chalk ice and then let your voices be seen!
  • Play School
    • John Schu’s and Veronica Miller Jamison’s This Is A School
      • A happy celebration of what a school should be like.  This is such a beautiful, positive, and joyful book through and through and I love how it sets the tone for your child as far as what they should expect their school experience to be and how they can be a part of making that community.
    • Considering I grew up to be a teacher, it’s probably no surprise that I liked to play school as a kid, but I don’t think that’s unique, plus it’s an actual fun way to get in a whole lot of learning.  Try a cute school playing set like that one from Melissa and Doug, or gather and make your own bell and clock and worksheets.  This Playmobil take along school house reminds me of one I played with for hours as a kid and that my three year old now plays with constantly.  A bonus about toys like that is that you can work in a lot of role playing where you’re helping your kid with how to handle different situations while at school, plus you’ll notice that they often do the same.
  • Space Travel
    • Kathleen Blasi’s Milo’s Moonlit Mission
      • A sweet story about the importance of carving special moments out with your kid.
    • Decorate a rocket ship made out of your big boxes or a laundry basket.  Make a star gazer out of a paper towel roll by covering the end with black construction paper and poking in holes.  Buy an inexpensive star projection light for some calming snuggling before bed or use it for dance parties like we do with ours, which is more similar to this one.
  • Similarities and Differences
    • Annie Barrows’ and Leo Espinosa’s Like
      • Click over to this one to get a quick idea of just how fun it is.  The colors, the humor, the conversations this one will start…magic. Pre-order it!
    • Have your kid gather up all kinds of things outside or inside and put them into a bag.  Then have your child reach their hand into the bag and pull out two things and put them onto a tray.  Talk about the similarities and differences. Once you’ve done that, try reaching in for a few more things, lining them up, and each telling  a story that includes each object as the story goes along.

More Wonderful New Releases

These are all thanks to the publishers, as well! Please feel free to message me with questions about any of them and, in the meantime, click over to check out what each of these is all about. So many fantastic topics!

If you would like to join in on the fun, please go to the submissions page!

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