Islands of Summer: Books to read


Summer is here, when school is just a memory, and it’s time for kids to explore islands – reading new and favorite children’s books.

It’s a time of sun and water, warm breezes, cool fogs, adventures to be had, staying up late on long summer days, secret huts in the forest, imaginary pirates, picking huckleberries or wild strawberries, moonlight on the water, going to sleep listening to the waves. And it’s your very own island.

Step onto islands off the coast of Finland and Sweden, islands in England’s Lake District, islands of the Pacific Northwest, Maine and Canada:


  • Island Morning by Rachna Gilmore, Brenda Jones. The sun isn’t up when a girl and her grandfather tiptoe out of the house, and walk along the cliffs above the ocean. Seagulls swoop through the air, cows lazily graze in the fields, you can hear the sounds of insects chirping and waves dashing against the shore. As they turn back on the path to their house, the day is waking up. (Picture book)
  • Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey. A family spends the summer on an island in Maine, exploring the shore on a foggy morning, sailing around the islands, swimming when the tide is up, building castles out of rocks on when the tide is out. Late in the summer, weather begins to change, and a storm blows in, rain and wind pounding the island. The next morning, the storm has brought new places to explore, and a heap of white clam shells, left by the Indians years before. And then the summer is over – smell the salty sea, and take a last look at the waves and sky. (Picture book)
  • Jessie’s Island by Sherly McFarlane, Sheena Lott. If you come to Jessie’s island, bald eagles perch on giant fir trees, there are seals, whales, otters, birds and tide pools, you can pick huckleberries, dig for clams and watch the ferries go by, and “you might never want to leave.” Perfect for all the Pacific Northwest islands. (Picture book)
  • Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson. The Moomin family sail off to live in a lighthouse on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland. This is no ordinary island – Moominmamma paints a garden, and then disappears into it, Moomintroll finds a silver horseshoe on the beach and talks to sparkling sea horses dancing in the waves. When storms lash the island, and trees pull up their roots to shelter around the lighthouse, Moominpappa silently speaks to the angry foaming ocean, telling the sea to protect and comfort, not frighten, the island. Absolutely magical, our favorite Moomin story! (Illustrated chapter book)
  • Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. In England’s Lake District, delightful adventures of four Walker children, camping on Wild Cat Island, and sailing Swallow, their boat, around the lake. Island life has lots of responsibilities, hoisting the flag, setting up tents, tending the fire, cooking and tidying up, getting provisions from the mainland. One morning, another boat, the Amazon, sails by their island – are they pirates? (Illustrated chapter book)
  • Seacrow Island by Astrid Lingren. From Stockholm, the Melkerson family (teenage girl, three younger boys, and disorganized father) take the boat to Seacrow Island for the summer. The wooden cottage they’ve rented may be leaky, but the family loves swimming in chilly water of the Baltic Sea, picnicking on other islands, adopting a baby seal, staying up on Midsummer’s Eve, and “still water in the light of dawn, the gray stones on the shore.” (Chapter book)

    “And then at sunset, with porpoises puffing and playing around your boat, you come about and set a course for the island that is home.” (Time of Wonder)