Summer Poetry Books & Activities July 2023


Whether you’re building a sandcastle with your child on the beach, exploring a hidden garden, or playing soccer in your backyard, these summer poetry books for children will transport young readers to imaginative worlds and spark their creativity. To celebrate summer, I’ve curated some of my Top Summer Poetry Book Picks and paired each one with an inspiring activity that complements the themes and poems within. So get ready to dive into a world of poetic wonder and embark on a summer reading adventure like no other!

Happy reading and happy summer!

Georgia Heard

Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

These joyful poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich will make you feel the tangy sweetness of a cold glass of lemonade and capture the essence of summer with colorful illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. From playful jump rope rhymes to backyard adventures, this collection is a refreshing treat for the senses.  

Activity: Grab a glass of lemonade and head outside to your backyard or a sunny spot. Take a moment to observe your surroundings and write a poem inspired by the vibrant colors, sounds, and flavors of summer, just like the poems in the book. They might even inspire you to create your own lemonade stand and donate the proceeds to Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer.

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems by Leslie Bulion

Planning a trip to the beach or just curious about critters that live beneath the sea? These humorous poems about sea creatures will make every child smile. Accompanied by astonishing facts and a glossary of scientific terms.

Activity: Visit your local aquarium or beach and see if you can spot any of the sea creatures mentioned in the book. Observe one sea critter, notice its unique features and behavior, and then write a poem about it.

Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs

Explore the wonders of the sea, its enchanting depths, and its timeless allure through this delightful book of poems.

Activity: Grab some art supplies and create your own ocean-inspired masterpiece! Use watercolors or colored pencils to bring to life the vivid creatures and scenes from the book. Let your imagination swim in the depths of the sea and create a beautiful artwork that captures the magic of the ocean.

Summersaults by Douglas Florian

Summersaults will take you on the best summer vacation ever! Let the magic of the season come alive through Douglas Florian’s poems and vibrant illustrations. 

Activity: Get inspired by the joys of summer and create your own poem about your favorite summer activity, whether it’s swimming, building sandcastles, or enjoying ice cream. Use colorful markers or crayons to illustrate your poem and share it with your friends or family to spread the summer fun.


When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano

Celebrate all the seasons, including summer, in this gorgeous poetry picture book with vibrant watercolors and journal entries in poetic form. 

Activity: Buy or create a special notebook and capture summer memories in your journal. Don’t forget to date each entry, creating a treasure trove of memories to cherish for years to come. 

Summer Song by Kevin Hankes

During the summer, you can hear buzzing insects, birds singing, and children enjoying the warmth of the sun while rolling in the grass. In this poetic picture book, Kevin Henkes uses descriptive words and sounds to teach us about summer, and the colorful paintings show us all the amazing things that happen during this season.

Activity: After reading the book, go outside and explore the wonders of summer! Listen for the buzzing of insects, try to identify different bird songs, and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Observe the colors of nature and create your own artwork inspired by the beauty of the season.

Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell George

From cozy mornings in sleeping bags to encounters with wildlife and nighttime tent conversations, these poems and beautiful illustrations capture the joy and adventure of camping, creating cherished memories for readers, whether they’ve been camping or not.

Activity: After reading “Toasting Marshmallows,” gather your family or friends and create your own indoor camping adventure. Set up a cozy tent, share stories, and toast marshmallows over a pretend campfire, immersing yourself in the camping experience from the comfort of your home.

Sail Away by Langston Hughes
Experience the beauty of the ocean through the powerful words of Langston Hughes and the captivating illustrations of Ashley Bryan. Dive into this collection of poems about the sea, from its majestic presence to its calming charm, and celebrate the wonders of the ocean.

Activity: After reading the book, choose a favorite poem or image that inspired you. Use it as a starting point to write your own poem about the ocean or a sea-related theme. Let your creativity flow and express your own imaginative thoughts and feelings through your words. Enjoy the process of crafting your own poetry inspired by the book!

Out of This World: Star-Studded Haiku by Sally M. Walker

Get ready for an incredible journey beyond Earth as this captivating combination of haiku and stunning artwork takes us through lunar eclipses, orbiting planets, and dazzling galaxies. Explore constellations, the universe’s birth, stars, the solar system, and more in the detailed back matter, complete with a glossary, bibliography, and online resources.

Activity: Why not take advantage of the summer nights and go outside to observe the stars? Find a cozy spot in your backyard or a nearby park, lay back, and let the wonders of the universe inspire you to write your own space-themed haiku. Look through a telescope and see what more you can see. Capture the magic of summer and the beauty of the night sky in your words, and let your imagination reach for the stars!

We Are Branches by Joyce Sidman

These beautiful and imagistic poems and luminous illustrations explore the significance of branches in our world, highlighting their strength, hope, and beauty as the very shape of life itself. 

Activity: Summer is a perfect time to take a nature walk in a park or forest. Look closely at different plants and creatures to find and observe branches in action, connecting and spreading life all around you. Take pictures or create drawings to capture your favorite branch moments and share them with friends and family.


Behold Our Magical Garden: Poems Fresh From A School Garden by Allan Wolf

There’s so much more to gardens than what meets the eye! In this delightful book filled with playful poems and whimsical illustrations, young nature enthusiasts and budding gardeners will be inspired to grab their gardening tools, plant seeds, explore nature, and gather fresh vegetables while learning valuable lessons along the way.

Activity: Get your hands dirty and create your own summer garden! Choose a sunny spot, plant some seeds or seedlings, and watch as your garden grows. Or get creative and use pots or containers to create a garden on your balcony or inside your home. Keep a journal to record your observations and write a poem about what you notice, and don’t forget to water, nurture, and enjoy the magic of watching your plants grow.

I wanted to share with you two of my own books that, although they may not be specifically about summer, I believe would be wonderful additions to summer reading. 

Welcome to the Wonder House by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard illustrated by Deborah Freedman

Enter the Wonder House and embark on a journey of curiosity and imagination. Explore the fascinating realms of geology, paleontology, physics, astronomy, and more, through engaging poems and beautiful illustrations that will ignite your sense of wonder and inspire you to go deeper into the world of STEAM.

Activity: Embark on a summer nature scavenger hunt! Explore your summer surroundings and find objects or elements that represent each room in the Wonder House, such as a colorful flower for the Nature Room or a seashell from a beach visit for the Room of Mystery. Use your findings to create a nature-inspired artwork or poem that captures the sense of wonder and the joy of summer exploration.

Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices (now in paperback) by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt

Explore the amazing world of animal sounds with these playful and humorous poems for two or more voices. From frogs to elephants, the poems cover a wide range of animals and teach readers fascinating facts about their sounds, including how they communicate and adapt to their environments. 

 Activity 1: Gather your friends or family and create your own animal sound puppet show. Use puppets or make your own with simple materials like paper bags or socks. Take turns bringing the animals to life and imitating the sounds you learned about. 

Activity 2: Head outside on a warm summer evening and find a spot where you can hear the chirping of crickets. As you listen to their rhythmic sounds, try counting their chirps and see if you can estimate the temperature using the poem “Cricket Arithmetic” as your guide. It’s a fun way to connect with nature and practice your math skills at the same time!

Note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


  • Ramona
    Posted at 18:30h, 13 July Reply

    Great books!
    Remember when a table full of bloggers tried to talk you into blogging at the All Write Conference?
    I love so many of these books too. Toasting Marshmallows, Summersaults (I have all his seasonal poetry books), When Green Becomes Tomatoes, and Lemonade Sun. They were favorites in my classroom & now I love sharing them with the grands.

    • Georgia Heard
      Posted at 18:56h, 13 July Reply

      Hi Ramona! Yes! Better late than never:) Stay tuned for many more blogs. It’s great you have so many of the books on the list!

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