Islands of Summer: Books to read

Summer is here, school is just a memory, and it’s time for kids to explore islands – with 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, shimmering moonlight on the water, going to sleep listening to the waves. And it’s your very own island.

  • Seacrow Island by Astrid Lingren.
  • Melkerson family (a teenage girl, three younger boys, and disorganized father) take the boat from Stockholm 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, kids exploring other islands, staying up on Midsummer’s Eve, and the “still water in the light of dawn, the gray stones on the shore.” (Chapter book)
  • Timeless joys of summer!
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Breil.
  • Lark and her family are spending the summer at Swallowtail Island on Lake Erie. There’s a mystery in the air – what caused the speedboat accident on the rocks at Ada’s Reef, can the missing will be found in time, why was a silver bird hidden inside a used book owned by Lark’s mom? Wonderful local color, biking and horseback riding, no cars on the island, snack shack, wildlife habitats, shimmering moonlight on the lake. (Chapter book)
  • Old Wood Boat by Nikki McClure.
  • A family restores an old wooden boat – then they pack provisions, raise the sails and head for an island with a quiet bay. They picnic, pick heritage apples, swim, climb to the top of the island. A wonderful summer adventure in the Salish Sea. (Picture book)
  • The moon rises, then the stars. Then there is silence except for her quiet gentle creaks. Old Wood Boat rocks her family to sleep.
  • 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)
  • To Live On an Island by Emma Bland Smith and Elizabeth Person.
  • Off the coast of Seattle are the San Juan Islands – each one is different. We’ve visited these islands (Orcas Island) in summer, but what is it like for a family to live on an island year round? The ferry is your school bus, beaches are filled with drift wood, orcas swim in the water off your front yard. Rhythms of life in each season.

  • 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.”