Welcome back to the season of summer reading challenges! Kids all over the UK will be tucking into new stories and getting lost in their books, and to celebrate we’ve compiled a great list of kids books covering a wide range of authors, places and themes for them to enjoy. Keep reading for the books every kid will want on their TBR this summer, for key stage 1!
By Julie Merberg
9781950587261 / Downtown Bookworks / BOARD BOOK / £11.99 / Ages 1-3 / Out now
Fun illustrations and entertainingly rhyming text provide an overview of some of the most influential, iconic Jews in recent history, providing context on how each made their mark. Parents, grandparents, and their little ones will enjoy this look at the Jewish impact on the fields of entertainment, literature, musical theatre — and even super heroes!
By Kai Cheng Thom & Kai Yun Ching
9781551528625 / Arsenal Pulp Press / HB / £17.99 / Ages 3-8 / Out now
By two of the co-authors of the acclaimed children’s book From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea: the moving beautifully told story of Laika, the dog who learned the names of the stars. Part fable, part dog story, part history lesson, young and older readers alike will find themselves captivated by Laika’s brave and loving heart, and by her story, which holds important lessons about world peace, science, and the deep bonds between humans and every other creature with whom we share the planet.
By Rachel Katstaller
9781525305061 / Kids Can Press / HB / £17.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
Itzel loves to hear her nana tell the story about the giant snake that must be awakened to bring the rain. But most people no longer believe in the snake, so it has retreated. And now Itzel and her nana, and all the creatures of the jungle, are desperate for rain for their crops. So Itzel decides she must find and awaken the snake herself. Though she sets out in the night alone, Itzel is soon joined by an ocelot and other jungle creatures in need of rain. But will their search be in vain? Kids who travel with Itzel deep into the nighttime jungle will not soon forget the amazing journey.
By Debbie Zapata & Yong Ling Kand
9781525304415 / Kids Can Press / HB / £17.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
A boy with Down syndrome lifts spirits all over town! It’s the day after the big storm. Adam and his dog, Up, are finishing breakfast when the mayor appears on TV asking everyone to help with the cleanup. She says, ‘Now, it’s time to get to work. Up and at ’em!’ When Adam hears the mayor tell him and Up to get to work, he’s on it! ‘We can help!’ Adam says. And as everyone in the town is about to discover — they really can! With kindness in his heart and a smile on his face, Adam shows readers that everyone can make a difference in their community!
By Raeann Brown
9781551528878 / Arsenal Pulp Press / HB / £16.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
In Bedtime in Nunatsiavut, a little girl named Nya yearns to fly, swim, and wander like the goose, salmon, bear, fox, and other animals that populate her world. Each night, her loving AnaAn¡nak nak (mother) tucks her into bed and gives her a kunik (nose-to-nose rub) to help Nya dream and transform into the animals she longs to be like. In Nya’s dreams, she moves with the wonder and the freedom of the natural world, dancing beneath the dark Nunatsiavut skies, empowered and emboldened by her Ananak’s constant love. Written and illustrated by first-time author Raeann Brown, Bedtime in Nunatsiavut is a beautiful and joyful tribute to an Inuit childhood.
By Lourdes Heuer & Sara Palacios
9780735268609 / Tundra / HB / £16.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
On this airplane… Someone travels solo, two travel as one, three return, and four set out. In this simple and moving book, a young family takes a plane to their new home. While on board, they encounter all the people you meet on a plane: a bookworm, a businessperson, tourists, crying babies and daydreamers… all with their own stories and all heading somewhere special.
By Taghreed A. Najjar & Charlotte Shama
9781623718091 / Crocodile Books / HB / £17.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
Just imagine all the things you can do with a green piece of cloth. Will you turn it into the sail of a pirate ship or into a small tent? Just imagine. Will you turn it into a beautiful butterfly that will fly from one flower to another or into a super heroine that will protect everybody from evil? Just imagine… Raya and Samar just imagine and have great fun playing with a green piece of cloth. This delightful picture book from the Middle East celebrates the imagination and creativity of children.
By Taghreed Najjar & Hassan Manasra
9781623719456 / Crocodile Books / PB / £8.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
The villagers are afraid of the ‘Ghoul.‘ For years, they’ve tiptoed around the village for fear of disturbing it. The monster doesn’t look like them, and it is believed to eat humans. One day, the brave Hassan embarks on a dangerous mission to face the long-feared Ghoul. When Hassan finally meets the Ghoul living on top of the mountain, he discovers that the Ghoul is just as terrified of people as they are of him. Hassan and the Ghoul realise that they can still be friends, despite their differences. This beautiful story can be used as a springboard to discuss how prejudices may be built on false assumptions.
By Willie Poll & Chief Lady Bird
9781551528892 / Arsenal Pulp Press / HB / £16.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
In this beautifully illustrated book, a determined young Anishnaabe girl in search of adventure goes on a transformative journey into a forest on her traditional territory. She is joined by a chorus of women and girls in red dresses, ancestors who tell her they remember what it was like to be carefree and wild, too. Soon, though, the girl is challenged by a monster named Hate, who envelops her in a cloud of darkness. She climbs a mountain to evade him, and, with the help of her matriarchs and the power of Thunderbird, the monster is held at bay. The women and girls together beat their drums in song and support, giving the girl the confidence she needs to become a changemaker in the future, capable of fending off any monster in her way. Together We Drum, Our Hearts Beat as One is a moving and powerful book about Indigenous resistance and female empowerment.
By Khodi Dill & Chelsea Charles
9781644211861 / Triangle Square Press / BOARD BOOK / £9.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
Little Black Lives Matter empowers all children, but Black children especially, by affirming that their lives, however little they may yet be, matter. Featuring fifteen great Black heroes of the past and the powerful words they spoke and actions they took, Little Black Lives Matter is a rhyming board book that incorporates memorable quotations and a reminder to little ones that each of these great people once lived a little Black life themselves. From Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X to other inspiring freedom fighters like Marsha P. Johnson, Fred Hampton, and Frederick Douglass, writers James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Maya Angelou, musical artists Billie Holiday and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, athletes Wilma Rudolph, Jesse Owens, and Muhammad Ali, and Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., this little book encourages young readers to find their inner heroes and see their own self-worth and agency through the acts of great Black heroes who came before them.
By Karina Zhou
9781551529097 / Arsenal Pulp Press / HB / £18.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
Multicultural Day is coming up at school, and Kai is nervous about sharing her family’s Chinese food with her classmates. Kai’s mother is excited about making special dishes, but Kai doesn’t like feeling different from everyone else. Upset, she runs off on her own and meets Ming the dragon, who takes her on a magical journey to explore different parts of Chinese culture — especially all the different kinds of delicious food! With Ming’s help, Kai learns about her family roots and how to celebrate all that makes her unique.
By Leslea Newman & Maya Christina Gonzales
9781643792057 / Lee & Low / HB / £18.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out now
In this light-hearted story, a group of six, colourfully clad children exuberantly explore — through play — the many ways they can be themselves. They are free to embrace all kinds of activities, revelling in the fun of trying new things and discovering new ways of being. They can shoot baskets, dance around a room, weave ribbons through their hair, swim like a mermaid, and more. There is no right way or wrong way. There are no binary expectations. Children explore their individuality through whatever kinds of play appeal to them. With lively, gender-neutral rhyming verses and fun, gender-bending images, author Leslea Newman and illustrator Maya Christina Gonzalez invite young readers into a space where creativity and acceptance are enjoyed by all, and where each child will be inspired to say, ‘I can be… me!’
By Mabel Mnensa, Chantelle Thorne & Burgen Thorne
9781623717438 / Crocodile Books / HB / £17.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out 25th July 2023
‘There was once a beautiful little girl with a heart as big as her name, Kantiga. But Kantiga did not like her name.’ Hearing this, her gogo tells her a family tale of the magical clay pot that seems to be useless because it is cracked and broken. We learn how this flaw makes it more than perfect. Follow this beautiful tale, full of colour and folklore, as Kantiga tries to find the perfect name and on the journey learns a bit more about who she is and where she is from.
By Donn Swaby & Alejandra Barajas
9798985805178 / Cardinal Rule Press / HB / £16.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out 27th July 2023
Raymond can’t wait to move to America. He is determined to be the most American American ever! But when he gets to his new school his Jamaican roots show through and he must figure out how to be the most Raymond Raymond ever.
By Tina Arnus Pupis & Marta Bartolj
9781623717452 / Crocodile Books / HB / £14.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out 15th August 2023
A beautifully illustrated picture book that tackles themes of self-confidence and body positivity. A zebra is looking at her reflection in the lake. At first, she is happy with what she sees, but when she remembers a few mean remarks from other animals, her previously beautiful image suddenly seems ugly. This picture book offers an excellent starting point for conversations with children about self-confidence. Marta Bartolj’s illustrations masterly depict a whole range of emotions that the zebra encounters while looking in the water mirror.
By Hanako Masutani & Stephane Jorisch
9781926890203 / Tradewind / HB / £14.95 / Ages 6-8 / Out 31st August 2023
Emi gets a new pet, Mini, a loveable fat hamster. But unfortunately, Emi is not a huge fan of hamsters — she really wanted a dog. But after Mini escapes from her cage and hides somewhere in the house, Emi realises she loves her new little friend.
By Melanie Florence & Hawlii Pichette
9781525303203 / Kids Can Press / HB / £18.99 / Ages 3-7 / Out 5th September 2023
Benjamin loves the rain. He loves splashing through puddles in his bright yellow rain boots and watching the colours of a rainbow in the water as they ripple around his feet. But most of all, Benjamin loves thunder. To him, thunder — piyesiwak — sounds like his grandfather’s drum. It calls to him, like the songs his grandfather plays while his father and other powwow dancers spin and step in time to the drumbeat. As Benjamin hears the thunder rumble overhead, he imagines himself as a powwow dancer. He spins, he taps his feet and he lifts his knees. Faster and faster he twirls, delighted by and filled with the rhythm of piyesiwak.
This artfully written story from award-winning author Melanie Florence celebrates both the universal joys of playing in the rain and the connections to family traditions that center and ground us. Elements of Cree powwow culture and Cree words for colours and weather are interwoven into the story, with a pronunciation guide in the back matter.