21 Fun Picture Books to Delight Young Readers | We Are Kid Lit Collective

From traditional Indigenous stories to the truth behind the Mexican jumping bean, these picture books, selected by the We Are Kid Lit Collective, offer entertaining and memorable reading experiences for kids over the summer break.

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School Library Journal has proudly partnered with We Are Kid Lit Collective to share and promote the group's annual summer reading recommendations. In the last couple of weeks, SLJ has published individual posts featuring their recommendations for picture books, transitional books, middle grade, and young adult titles.

From traditional Indigenous stories to the truth behind the Mexican jumping bean, these picture books, selected by the We Are Kid Lit Collective, offer entertaining and memorable reading experiences for kids over the summer break.


Asoyuf, Morgan. Learning My Rights with Mousewoman. Native Northwest, 2021.
Mousewoman, a grandmother figure in Northwest Coast Indigenous Cultures, informs young people of their basic human rights.

Basseru, Etan. A Persian Passover. illus. by Rashin Kheiriyeh. Kalaniot Bks., 2022. 
In a small town in Iran, a brother and sister lose their family’s matzah just hours before their Passover seder. Luckily, their neighbor Mrs. Pirnazar has plenty of matzah to share. The family decides to share their seder with Mrs. Pirnazar.

Bolling, Valerie. Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun. illus. by Sabrena Khadija. Abrams Appleseed, 2022. 
After school is time for fun with our friends! This inclusive celebration of kids in motion highlights young people with disabilities playing alongside their friends.

Brown, Keah. Sam’s Super Seats. illus. by Sharee Miller. Penguin/Kokila, 2022. 
Sam is excited about going back to school with her mom and her two best friends. With a few needed breaks because of Sam’s disability, this caring group has a good time preparing for the year.

Caines, Jeannette. Just Us Women. illus. by Pat Cummings. HarperCollins, 1982. 
It’s time for niece and auntie’s annual road trip. They’ll walk in the rain, stop for peaches, pose for pictures, and create lasting memories. And they’ll take their time, just the two of them. 

Carranza, Leonarda. Abuelita and Me. illus. by Rafael Mayani. Annick, 2022.
Home is a safe space for the young narrator and her loving abuelita, but the pair must deal with racist microaggressions when they venture out. After an especially egregious episode, the brave child, with Abuelita by her side, decides to take a stand.

De la Fuente-Lau, Shuli. How We Eat. (We Are Little Feminists). Little Feminist Pr., 2022. 
Simple text and bright, inviting photographs show the many ways kids eat their food in this board book for young readers.

Ebeid, Rifk. Baba, What Does My Name Mean?: A Journey to Palestine. illus. by Lamaa Jawhari. Tablo Pub., 2020.
When Saamidah asks her Baba what her names mean, she learns and remembers the existence and resistance of Palestine and its peoples.

Kamanda, Ali and Jorge Redmond. Black Boy, Black Boy: Celebrate the Power of YOU. illus. by Ken Daley. Sourcebooks, 2022. 
Using rhyming text and boldly colored illustrations, this empowering book affirms Black boys through the examples of Black men, such as Colin Kaepernick, Chinua Achebe, and many others.

Lee, Sophia N. Holding On. illus. by Isabel Roxas. S. & S./Atheneum, 2022. 
When Lola starts changing her energy to stillness, her granddaughter finds ways to hold on to the music, food, and memories they once shared.

León, Amyra. Freedom, We Sing. illus. by Molly Mendoza. Flying Eye, 2020. 
A mother and child dance and breathe through a series of earthy scenarios to question life, love, and the meaning of individual and collective freedom.

Marshall, Linda Elovitz. Measuring a Year: A Rosh Hashanah Story. illus. by Zara González Hoang. Abrams Appleseed, 2022. 
The Jewish New Year begins with Rosh Hashanah, and it gives us an opportunity to measure all we’ve done in the past year.

Martinez, Claudia Guadalupe. Not a Bean. illus. by Laura González. Charlesbridge, 2019. 
Intersecting numbers with the Mexican desert, this nonfiction book portrays the life cycle of the jumping bean moth by counting concepts and a little Spanish vocabulary.

Millán, Isabel. Chabelita’s Heart/El corazón de Chabelita. Reflection Pr., 2022.
When a new girl arrives at school, Chabelita’s heart starts to pound. The connection between Chabelita and Jimena grows as the author portrays the sweetness of first loves. 

Nambi, Shoshana. The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda. illus. by Moran Yogev. Kalaniot Bks., 2022. 
Shoshi and her family work to build the best sukkah in their Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda, but Shoshi discovers that winning a contest is far from the most important part of Sukkot, her favorite holiday.

Parra, John. Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son. illus. by author. S. & S./ Paula Wiseman, 2022. 
Juanito accompanies his dad to his job as a landscaper and learns about the hardworking people, communities, and land that eventually inspire him in his work as an artist. 

Robertson, Joanne. Nibi Is water/Nibi aawon nbiish. tr. by Shirley Williams & Isadore Toulouse. Second Story Pr., 2020. 
Short, simple, and bilingual (English and Anishinaabemowin) text about what all the water around us does and the importance of protecting it. 

Shange, Ntozake. Ellington Was Not a Street. illus. by Kadir Nelson. S. & S., 2004.
Nelson’s award-winning illustrations pair beautifully with Shange’s poem “Mood Indigo,” showing a child’s-eye-view of Harlem Renaissance–era luminaries who spent time at her home.

Tamaki, Jillian. Our Little Kitchen. Abrams, 2020. 
This little kitchen is stocked with food from the garden and donations from the food bank. Every Wednesday, it’s filled with volunteers who prepare food for anyone and everyone who wants a hot meal.

Vandever, Daniel W. Herizon. illus. by Corey Begay. South of Sunrise Creative, 2021. 
This wordless book follows a Diné girl on a journey to help retrieve her grandmother’s wayward flock of sheep, using a magical scarf to assist her. 

Wong-Kalu, Hinaleimoana, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson. Kapaemahu. illus. by Daniel Sousa. Penguin/Kokila, 2022. 
This native Hawaiian legend tells the bittersweet story of four dual male and female spirits who imbued boulders with their powers, only for time (and colonization) to bury the stones of Kapaemahu on the beach of Waikiki.

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