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Summer Books and Activities for Kids

Bugs, Birds and Animals

Bugs, Birds and Animals

How to explore this theme:

  1. Choose books and book-related activities
  2. Explore more hands-on activities
  3. Try some summer writing
  4. Dig deeper with these websites
  5. Play and learn with interactive mobile apps

#1: Choose kids' books and book-related activities Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

"Let's Get a Pup," Said Kate

"Let's Get a Pup," Said Kate

By: Bob Graham

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Kate is understandably sad when her cat dies, and so her parents are thrilled when she asks to go to the animal shelter to find a new family pet. They all fall in love with not only Dave, an energetic puppy, but also the older, subdued Rosy. Cartoon-like line and wash illustrations depict a young, contemporary family (the parents sport tattoos) as well as authentic emotions in this sympathetic story.

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999 Frogs Wake Up

999 Frogs Wake Up

By: Ken Kimura | Illustrated by: Yasunari Murakami

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

998 of the 999 frogs (who were once 999 Tadpoles awaken their big brother for an action-packed spring. Simple, childlike illustrations on open backgrounds leave plenty of room for imagination as the frog family and other animals celebrate the season.

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Animal Dads

Animal Dads

By: Sneed Collard | Illustrated by: Steve Jenkins

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Lush collage illustration and clear text share information about male animals and how they care for their young. Text is presented so that it can be shared readily briefly or in greater detail.

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Animals: A First Art Book

Animals: A First Art Book

By: Lucy Micklethwait

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Young children will delight in seeing familiar animals in their natural habitats, portrayed in the distinct styles of various artists. Lively descriptions accompany the illustrations, and endnotes include artist, time period, and owning museums.

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Beetle Bop

Beetle Bop

By: Denise Fleming

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Beetles come in many shapes and sizes — revealed in rhyming text and luminous illustrations. Readers will enjoy the dynamic interplay of words and pictures in this lively book.

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Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why

Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why

By: Lita Judge

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Birds communicate by the sounds they make and the way they act. Playful illustrations and text combine to present a range of birds and their behavior not only is a visual treat but is sure to enliven everyday observation of our feathered neighbors.

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Can You See Me?

Can You See Me?

By: Ted Lewin

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Sharp eyes are needed to see most of the well-camouflaged creatures in the Costa Rican rainforest presented in stunning, realistic illustrations. A simple, repeated sentence lets emerging readers know what (e.g., bird, snake) to look for in each double page spread. The animals are specifically identified on the final page.

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Cat Says Meow and Other An-i-mal-o-poe-ia

Cat Says Meow and Other An-i-mal-o-poe-ia

By: Michael Arndt

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The sounds familiar animals make (squeak, meow, oink, etc.) are each presented in a simple sentence. The letters used in the onomatopoeic sound are embedded in a strong graphic image of the animal. Colors of the image and animal sound correspond, placed on an uncluttered white page. Some jump out, others require careful examination; all are clever.

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Crustacean Vacation

Crustacean Vacation

By: Brian Benoit | Illustrated by: Marty Kelley

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Humans are sure to see themselves in the beach vacation taken by a crab family. From playing in the sand to waterpark slides, energetic, humorous cartoon illustrations continue until "Another crustacean vacation is done,/Filled with marvelous memories of fun in the sun."

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Diary of a Worm

Diary of a Worm

By: Doreen Cronin | Illustrated by: Harry Bliss

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

What icky creature looks the same from both ends? The worm, of course! For the first time ever, get the insider's view of life from this creepy crawler's perspective. He lives underground with his family, eats his homework and does his best to annoy his sister — documenting it all in a diary. Simple illustrations are the ideal complement to the understated humor (though nonetheless laugh-out-loud tone) of the text.

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Fleabag

Fleabag

By: Jessica Stern

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A dog with no name and no home meets a boy with a ball but no dog. Boy and dog play in the park every day until one day the little dog — a small fleabag — helps the boy and finds a home. Loose lines and bright colors convey city activities and the affectionate relationship between child and hound and ultimately, a warm family.

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Good Dog Carl

Good Dog Carl

By: Alexandra Day

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A lovable Rottweiler named Carl has everthing under control while Mom steps out on an errand. Or does he?

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Here Come the Humpbacks!

Here Come the Humpbacks!

By: April Sayre | Illustrated by: Jamie Hogan

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A mother humpback whale and her calf travel from the Caribbean Sea to the coast of New England and back over a year. Informative text is formatted to be read as a whole or in chunks and illustrated with luminous pastel illustrations. Additional information is included.

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If You Want to See a Whale

If You Want to See a Whale

By: Julie Fogliano | Illustrated by: Erin Stead

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

If a whale is what you want to see — as does the boy in this expressive, delicately illustrated tale — then patience (plus an ocean) is needed. Images combine with poetic language to create a quiet, deeply satisfying book rich enough for multiple readings.

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Just One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size!

Just One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size!

By: Lola Schaefer | Illustrated by: Geoff Waring

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A dot of "dirt (and everything in it)" is a meal for the earthworm seen in a stylized, double page illustration. Four pages open with gatefolds to show the giant squid which is the sperm whale's feast. Actual sizes of what animals eat are dramatically presented with additional information on the last spread.

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Leopard & Silkie: One Boy's Quest to Save the Seal Pups

Leopard & Silkie: One Boy's Quest to Save the Seal Pups

By: Brenda Peterson | Illustrated by: Robin Lindsey

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join Miles, a young Seal Sitter at the Salish Sea (aka Puget Sound) in Seattle, Washington, as he works to help Leopard until his mother returns from finding food. How the baby seal named Leopard grows with a bit of help (but no interference) from humans is revealed in full-color photographs and crisp text. An author's note provides additional information.

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Let's Get a Pup! Said Kate

Let's Get a Pup! Said Kate

By: Bob Graham

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Her parents are receptive to Kate's suggestion, "Let's get a pup!" and head to the shelter. They bring home a puppy, but ultimately return to add Rosey, an older dog, to their family. Line and wash illustrations depict a very contemporary and loving family with wit and compassion.

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Meet the Howlers

Meet the Howlers

By: April Sayre | Illustrated by: Woody Miller

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Meet a family of howler monkeys (who get their name from the loud calls they make "Woo-hoo-hoo! AH-UH-OH!"). An engaging, rhyming text that introduces their habits and where they live combines with soft-lined, richly colored illustrations. Additional factual material is presented on each double-page in a different typeface. A map and greater detail conclude this informative, appealing book.

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One Gorilla: A Counting Book

One Gorilla: A Counting Book

By: Anthony Browne

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Whether or not the primates introduced from 1 to 10 are familiar, readers are sure to appreciate meeting them in arresting portraits. A self-portrait of the illustrator and other humans are accompanied by concluding text: "All primates. All one family. All my family … and yours!"

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Orangutan

Orangutan

By: Susi Eszterhas

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In the rainforest of Sumatra, a baby orangutan is born. Photographs chronicle her life with mother and the baby's growth. At about five years old, the baby is old enough to live independently though she still occasionally sees her mother. Brief general information about orangutans concludes this accessible photo essay.

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Out on the Prairie

Out on the Prairie

By: Donna Bateman | Illustrated by: Susan Swan

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The prairie is home to lush and unique plants and animals. Here they are introduced in the cadence of a familiar rhyme ("Over in the Meadow") which is followed by brief factual information. All is accompanied by eye-catching, textured mixed media illustrations that inform and engage.

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Sounds of the Wild: Bugs

Sounds of the Wild: Bugs

By: Maurice Pledger

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

With delightful sounds and pop-up panoramas, this book lets kids hear the hum of bees, the ticking of beetles, and the snap of scorpions. They'll see the two-spotted tree cricket and the monarch butterfly, who make their homes in woods and fields, and the desert tarantula and the striped hawk moth, who make their homes in the desert. Bugs from mountains, water, and wetlands are all included.

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Stripes of All Types

Stripes of All Types

By: Susan Stockdale | Illustrated by: Susan Stockdale

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Stripes are found in nature in a variety of flora and fauna in many habitats. From exotic to domestic, revel in observing stripes in carefully crafted illustrations and lyrical text. Additional information and a playful call to match animal with stripe ends this handsome volume.

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Suryia Swims! The True Story of How an Orangutan Learned to Swim

Suryia Swims! The True Story of How an Orangutan Learned to Swim

By: Bhagavan Antle, Thea Feldman | Illustrated by: Barry Bland

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

How Suryia, a highly photogenic orangutan, learns to swim with other animals in the South Carolina wildlife preserve is presented as a photograph album. Though most orangutans dislike water, Suryia enjoys swimming with the tigers and his best friend Roscoe (introduced in Suryia & Roscoe). Color photographs and simple text are sure to engage a range of readers.

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Swamp Chomp

Swamp Chomp

By: Lola Schaefer | Illustrated by: Paul Meisel

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As swamp residents move, water ripples and the creatures munch, gulp, swallow and more. Short, rhythmic sentences and simple but realistic illustrations present a wetlands food chain. A brief endnote describes the environment and "balance of nature." The language in this informational picture book reads well aloud, likely to engage listeners.

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The Honey Makers

The Honey Makers

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Thousands of bees visited more than a million flowers to gather the nectar that went into that one-pound jar of honey. Here's the buzz on how these remarkable insects work together to create this amazing food.

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The Honeybee Man

The Honeybee Man

By: Lela Nargi | Illustrated by: Kyrsten Brooker

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Fred is an urban beekeeper who shares the fruits of his work with neighbors. Information about beekeeping and bees is included.

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The Icky Bug Alphabet Book

The Icky Bug Alphabet Book

By: Jerry Pallotta | Illustrated by: Ralph Masiello

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

For many children, "icky" bugs are endlessly fascinating. This alphabet book helps children discover why farmers like the praying mantis, how the water spider breathes underwater, and other intriguing facts about the world of bugs and insects.

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Trout Are Made of Trees

Trout Are Made of Trees

By: April Sayre | Illustrated by: Kate Endle

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As two children and their fathers explore a stream and its natural riches, a straightforward text explains how trout are made of trees — just like the bears and people who catch and eat the trout. Warmly hued, textured collages illuminate a down-to-earth, understandable story of a stream habitat.

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Waiting for Wings

Waiting for Wings

By: Lois Ehlert

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Every spring, butterflies emerge and dazzle the world with their vibrant beauty. But where do butterflies come from? How are they born? What do they eat — and how? With a simple, rhyming text and glorious color-drenched collage, Lois Ehlert provides clear answers to these and other questions as she follows the life cycle of four common butterflies. Complete with flower facts and identification tips, as well as a guide to planting a butterfly garden, this butterfly book is like no other.

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When You Wander: A Search-and-Rescue Dog Story

When You Wander: A Search-and-Rescue Dog Story

By: Margarita Engle | Illustrated by: Mary Morgan

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A golden retriever with a "smart nose" is doing his job: tracking down a young child lost in the woods. The dog's narration is gentle with the child he's tracking seen in the dog's thought bubbles. Additional "dog nose facts" and advice for teachers and parents are presented after the child and parents are reunited.

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Who Has These Feet?

Who Has These Feet?

By: Laura Hulbert | Illustrated by: Erick Brooks

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A clearly illustrated pair of feet is shown with the title question. On the next page, the entire animal is seen with a basic characteristic of the foot, sure to intrigue and inform.

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Whose Chick Are You?

Whose Chick Are You?

By: Nancy Tafuri

Age Level: 3-6 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As the sun rose, an egg was ready to hatch but whose chick was it? "Whose egg is this?" quacks, chirps and honks each different bird. But the swan knows who the little gray cygnet belongs to; it's her much loved hatchling! Children will empathize with the simply told, realistically illustrated tale.

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

A Horse in the House and Other Strange but True Animal Stories

A Horse in the House and Other Strange but True Animal Stories

By: Gail Ablow | Illustrated by: Kathy Osborn

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

A nearsighted greyhound? False teeth for an elephant? Strange-but-true animal stories on bright pages (with sources noted) make fascinating and entertaining reading, definitely proving that truth is stranger than fiction!

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About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children

About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children

By: Catherine Sill | Illustrated by: Jon Sill

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Easy to read text and lush, realistic illustrations provide an accessible but authoritative look at hummingbirds' lives and habits.

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Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective

Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective

By: David Biedrzycki

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ace Lacewing — whose business is bad bugs — narrates the saga of how he and his trusty sidekick and girlfriend foil the plot to overturn Queenie Bee. The exaggerated illustrations combine with staccato, pun-filled language to create this funny parody of detective stories.

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Amazing Animal Adventures Around the World

Amazing Animal Adventures Around the World

By: Brian Keating

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Travel with Canadian naturalist Brian Keating on a journey around the world to meet some of the animal inhabitants of the different continents. From kookaburras and kangaroos in Australia to the Arctic's wolf population, this book's informal, diary-like approach creates an exciting armchair expedition with photographs, facts, and more.

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Ants (A Denver Museum of Nature & Science Book)

Ants (A Denver Museum of Nature & Science Book)

By: Deborah Hodge

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

What has six legs, is very strong, always busy, and probably lives in your neighborhood? The ant, of course! Find out more about this small insect, then try your hand at some ant-related projects. Clear photographs and readable text in this attractive book will start your ant-venture. (For an ant's eye view of the insect world in photographs, take a look at In Front of the Ant: Walking with Beetles and Other Insects by Ryuichi Kuwahara).

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Beaks!

Beaks!

By: Sneed Collard | Illustrated by: Robin Brickman

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

How can a toucan fly with such a large, cumbersome beak? A toucan's beak is actually light as a feather due to its honeycomb construction. And not only is it beautiful, but it's an extremely useful tool in foraging for food. Find out more fascinating facts in this remarkably illustrated study of bird beaks. Learn about several different birds, their habitats, and how their beaks are uniquely styled to help them survive.

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Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

By: Jane Yolen

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning, full color, close-up photographs of birds combined with evocative poems in different forms present memorable portraits of birds. Factual material about each feathered creature is inserted on every double-page spread to complete the picture.

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Butterflies

Butterflies

By: Seymour Simon

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning full-color photographs and tantalizing text introduce these fascinating creatures and how and where they live.

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City Cat

City Cat

By: Kate Banks | Illustrated by: Lauren Castillo

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The travels of an independent black cat parallel that of a family of four. Both start and end in Rome but intersect as they visit landmarks in other European cities. Lyrical text and delicate, detailed illustrations evoke the wonder of travel. The trip concludes with brief information about the places visited; end pages include a rough map of the travel.

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Crocodile Safari

Crocodile Safari

By: Jim Arnosky

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Noted naturalist, Arnosky, trekked through Florida's Everglades to count crocodiles, the once endangered reptiles. Through informal narration and arresting, large paintings, these toothy creatures come alive. A DVD with highlights of the author's trek is included.

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Eggs

Eggs

By: Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by: Emma Stevenson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

What is "...a quiet crib, ...a bobbing boat, ...breakfast, lunch and dinner"? An egg, of course. Many types of eggs from insects, reptiles, and even mammals, in various environments are introduced in crisp text and clear illustration in this handsome, informative book.

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Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin

Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest: Where Birds Begin

By: Irene Kelly

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Birds live all over the world, but their nests come in many sizes, shapes, and some even borrow (or snitch) homes in which to lay and hatch their young. This lively introduction to various birds and their habits will likely absorb, inform, and inspire.

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Face to Face with Manatees

Face to Face with Manatees

By: Brian Skerry

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Two different environments, two different authors, one goal achieved: to bring alive the process of studying and documenting a fascinating mammal and insect. Both books use the same basic format and text features, stunning photographs, and an informal voice to great effect. This is a series not to be missed. See also: Face to Face with Butterflies

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Face to Face with Sharks

Face to Face with Sharks

By: David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Underwater photographers, Hayes & Doubilet, provide basic information about their work as photographers as well as about sharks, their habitats, and the challenges faced by sharks in lucid text and stunning photographs, the latest in this captivating series.

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Frog Song

Frog Song

By: Brenda Guiberson | Illustrated by: Gennady Spirin

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning, realistic illustrations of frogs and onomatopoeic language combine to present frogs and their songs from around the world. A brief warning about threats to frogs' environments and additional information conclude this engaging book just right to read aloud.

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Frogs! Strange & Wonderful

Frogs! Strange & Wonderful

By: Laurence Pringle | Illustrated by: Meryl Henderson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Many different types of frogs and the frog lifecycles are presented through brief but illuminating information and highly realistic watercolors. A concluding note about the impact of humans on frogs, insight into the author's interest and additional resources conclude this handsome and engrossing look at this animal.

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Help Me, Mr. Mutt! Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems

Help Me, Mr. Mutt! Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems

By: Janet Stevens, Suzanne Stevens

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Mr. Mutt responds to canine concerns, writing practical advice letters. He shares his Dogwood home with The Queen, a tiara-wearing cat who adds her distinctly feline advice on her own embossed stationery. The result is wildly different perspectives, lots of laughs, and action suggested by the correspondences and extended by realistic, outrageous, and very funny illustrations.

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Henry & Mudge: The First Book

Henry & Mudge: The First Book

By: Cynthia Rylant | Illustrated by: Sucie Stevenson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Beginning Reader

There are no other kids on Henry's block so his parents agree that a dog to play with will ease Henry's loneliness. This is the start of an unforgettable friendship between a boy and a big pooch named Mudge.

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Leaving the Nest

Leaving the Nest

By: Mordicai Gerstein

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

A baby jay, a small stripped kitten and a little girl with a bike come together in an unexpected way with wonderful results, as each grows and gains confidence. Dialogue in conversation balloons creates a comically paced series of events that reach a satisfying conclusion.

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Lizards

Lizards

By: Nic Bishop

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Known for his close-up, full-color photographs of animals in the wild, Bishop turns his lens to a variety of lizards from around the globe. The informative, striking book demonstrates that "lizards lead lives that are full of surprises."

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Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

By: Annette Cate

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

They can be observed anywhere; in fact, "You don't have to go anywhere fancy to watch birds!" The informative, informal and playful guide encourages close observation and identification as well as tips for recording and finding out more about these ubiquitous creatures.

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Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures

Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures

By: Jim Arnosky

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Author/illustrator and self-taught naturalist Jim Arnosky introduces mysteries that surround unknown animals: "cryptozoology." Dramatic illustrations combine with an informative, engaging text to present a range of land and water creatures, starting with ocean giants, sharks, and squids.

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Mosquito Bite

Mosquito Bite

By: Alexandra Siy, Dennis Kunkel

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Two children play hide and seek outdoors on a warm night. Little do they know that a culex, a newly matured mosquito, is also looking for them. Bordered, color photographs taken with an electron microscope are inserted on black and white photographs of the playing children. Additional information about mosquitoes, micrographs, and more is appended in this fascinating and informative book.

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Mrs. Harkness and the Panda

Mrs. Harkness and the Panda

By: Alicia Porter | Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ruth Harkness continued her husband's work after his death. She traveled alone to China alone, unusual for a woman in the 1930s. She found an abandoned panda cub, brought it back to the United States to begin "panda-monium." Handsome illustrations evoke the period and places of Mrs. Harkness' travel. An author's note provides more information.

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Mush! Sled Dogs of the Iditarod

Mush! Sled Dogs of the Iditarod

By: Joe Funk

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Iditarod racers often run in families of humans and the dogs that run. The grueling, exciting race is introduced in clearly labeled photographs and crisp text just right for dipping in and out of for a glimpse at the brave animals and people who run it.

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National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America

National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America

By: Jonathan Alderfer

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

This handsome book invites readers to look at birds while learning about their habits and habitats; clearly organized by region and illustrated with illuminating photographs for identification. Easy activities, positive actions, and additional resources are also included.

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Nature Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record Their Birding Experiences

Nature Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record Their Birding Experiences

By: DeAnna Brandt

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Birds are everywhere — even the most urban neighborhood is a good place to look for birds and study their habits. This journal includes questions to prompt thinking and provides pages to write down observations, paste in photos, or add drawings. Also in the series: Nature Log Kids: A Kid's Journal to Record Their Nature Experiences.

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No Monkeys, No Chocolate

No Monkeys, No Chocolate

By: Melissa Stewart, Allen Young | Illustrated by: Nicole Wong

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Most kids like something chocolate-y, right? But there wouldn't be chocolate without cocoa beans that come from cocoa pods that rely on insects and other creatures in rainforests — even monkeys! A brief but engaging look at this interconnected habitat is realistically illustrated with informative but humorous asides by bookworms to encourage each page turn.

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Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

By: Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Paula Kahumbu | Illustrated by: Peter Greste

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

When a tsunami orphans a young hippopotamus, a group of concerned Malidi (on the east coast of Kenya) villagers figure out how to capture the 600 pound baby thus beginning his new life in an animal sanctuary with a new and unlikely companion — a 130 year old tortoise named Mzee. Full color photographs and straightforward text are used in this inspiring, appealing and true story told first by a young girl and her father.

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Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City

By: Janet Schulman | Illustrated by: Meilo So

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning watercolors evoke the height and breadth of New York City while a dramatic text relates the true story of a now-famous feathered resident, a hawk named Pale Male. The tension between the lifestyle of Pale Male and human residents as well as the fate of Pale Male's mates and offspring create riveting reading.

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Pika: Life in the Rocks

Pika: Life in the Rocks

By: Tannis Bill

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Planning a visit to the mountains of the American West this summer? If you're sharp-eyed, you may see a well-camouflaged pika. These 6-8 inch animals are related to hares and rabbits (although in the crisp, expressive pictures they resemble large hamsters!). Color photographs and snappy text provide a fascinating look into pikas' habitat, behaviors, and predators. Additional information is included at the end of the book.

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Polar Bears

Polar Bears

By: Mark Newman

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Striking photographs combine with readable text to provide an introduction to polar bears. Text appears in two fonts, allowing readers access to more information and enhancing its use with different ages and interests. Additional material about the animals and further resources conclude the book.

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Python

Python

By: Christopher Cheng | Illustrated by: Mark Jackson

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The Australian Diamond Python's day starts when the sun warms her and continues until she returns to her nest to warm her eggs. Large, mixed media illustrations combine with narrative, complemented by brief facts in this tantalizing introduction. It is noted that pythons live in Asia, Africa and in the Florida Everglades in addition to Australia.

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Snow School

Snow School

By: Sandra Markle | Illustrated by: Alan Marks

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

In the spring in Pakistan's Hindu Kush Mountains, two hungry snow leopard cubs wait for their mother. As they grown, they must learn to survive on their own in a harsh environment. Stunning illustrations and dramatic narration provide a glimpse of the animals' lives.

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Spiders and Their Webs

Spiders and Their Webs

By: Darlyne Murawski

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

A biologist introduces spiders and their webs through stunning full color close-up photographs and a lively text. Spider facts include the arachnids' common and scientific names, size, where they live, and what they eat. A technique to find webs and additional sources of information conclude this handsome volume.

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Spunky Tells All

Spunky Tells All

By: Ann Cameron | Illustrated by: Lauren Castillo

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Spunky speaks only Dog but understands Human and has a special affinity for Huey (first introduced in the Stories Julian Tells). Spunky's narration provides insight into Dog customs and human behavior as well has his frustration when they bring a snobby cat into the family as a friend for Spunky! Readers will laugh at Spunky's observations in this fast-paced family story.

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The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing?

The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing?

By: Shelly Rotner, Anne Woodhull

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Bees have been around for over 65 million years but have been in decline since early in the 21st century. This scientific mystery is better appreciated with a clearer understanding of the importance of these flying insects to humans. Mystery and background information are presented in handsome photographs and lucid text. Suggested activities are doable as is finding out more from recommended resources.

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The Life and Times of the Honeybee

The Life and Times of the Honeybee

By: Charles Micucci

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Detailed, full-color illustrations help explain the complex world inside a beehive and the fascinating process of making honey. Readers get the facts on the life cycle of bees, their work, and their relationship with people and plants.

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The Magic School Bus:  Inside a Beehive

The Magic School Bus: Inside a Beehive

By: Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

Readers know they're with Ms. Frizzle and her class when the bus is disguised as a bee and they figure out how to join a hive. Fact and fiction create a rollicking but educational adventure in the signature style of this creative duo.

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There's a Frog in My Throat:  440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me

There's a Frog in My Throat: 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me

By: Loreen Leedy, Pat Street

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

This inviting book is truly the cat's pajamas! Familiar adages are organized by animal and explained through text and lively illustrations that jump around and over each large page.

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Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators

Thunder Birds: Nature's Flying Predators

By: Jim Arnosky

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The author/illustrator's enthusiasm for the birds he observes is contagious in this artful and informative look at various birds of prey. Several pages fold out to showcase the splendor of these amazing flyers.

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Wanted! A Guinea Pig Named Henry

Wanted! A Guinea Pig Named Henry

By: Wendy Orr | Illustrated by: Patricia Castelo

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Nelly's family could no longer keep the small brown dog, she came to the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter and became a special part of it. Nelly quieted all of the anxious animals when they arrived and even inspired Sam (who met her pet there) to suggest a program to help reluctant readers. Warmly told, this engaging novel is just right for animal lovers.

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What's Your Favorite Animal?

What's Your Favorite Animal?

By: Eric Carle

Age Level: 6-9 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

When 13 well-known illustrators are asked about their favorite animal, the results are as varied in word and illustration as each artist's style. Eric Carle introduces a cat called Fifi, while Mo Willems' is "an Amazonia Neotropical Lower River Tink-Tink." A clever collection of the exotic and expected is rich and varied; plus it benefits Eric Carle's Picture Book Museum.

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon

Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon

By: Sy Montgomery

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The author joins several field scientists to find the mysterious encantado, the pink dolphins of the Amazon said to seduce people to an enchanted city underwater. An informal narration draws readers into the rainforest travelogue to introduce amazing animals, environmental issues, and more. Full color photographs add rich detail.

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The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea

The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea

By: Sy Montgomery

Age Level: 9-12 years old | Reading Level: Independent Reader

The author and photographer Nic Bishop join biologist Lisa Dabek and other scientists and volunteers including people from Papua New Guinea as they endure an inhospitable environment to study the reclusive Matschie's tree kangaroo. The wonder of this 10,000 foot high forest and its inhabitants is presented in enthralling text and amazing photos.

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More great summer resources for parents from Reading Rockets

Read Aloud Tips

Read Aloud Tips

Read aloud every day with your child and talk about what you're reading. These two simple activities help build your child's vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Get tips (In English and 10 other languages) >

Downloadables

Downloadables

Download these colorful ready-to-print lunch box notes, play date cards, and door hangers for the kids in your life.

Download and print >