Brought to you by ReadingRockets.org
With support from the Park Foundation, Inc.
WETA.org

Start with a Book

Loading
Summer Books and Activities for Kids

Passport to the World

Passport to the World

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

A Walk in New York

A Walk in New York

By: Rubbino Salvatore

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

A boy and his father share the wonder of a visit to the sites of New York City, from the Empire State Building ending with a taxi ride to Grand Central (and a postcard to the reader) with lots in between. Energetic illustrations complement the informative text.

Purchase book

Adventures of Polo

Adventures of Polo

By: Regis Faller

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

The rollicking adventures of Polo, a bright and resourceful pup, are told through lively, detailed pictures that warrant multiple examinations. Quick-paced and engaging, Polo brings all the right supplies for exploring the wider world by boat, plane and spaceship!

Purchase book

Along a Long Road

Along a Long Road

By: Frank Viva

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

A bicyclist rides begins his outing near the sea and rides through cities, towns, and the country with the water always in view. Restrained but effective language complements the highly stylized illustrations in limited colors accentuated by the glossy yellow road the bicyclist rides on.

Purchase book

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

By: Ginnie Lo | Illustrated by: Beth Lo

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

While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40 year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.

Purchase book

Follow That Map! A First Look at Mapping Skills

Follow That Map! A First Look at Mapping Skills

By: Scot Ritchie

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

One day when Sally and her friends are playing, they notice that her dog and cat are missing. The children use map skills to explore their neighborhood and beyond to locate Sally's pets. Information and fun combine in this easy informational book.

Purchase book

Green Is a Chile Pepper

Green Is a Chile Pepper

By: Roseanne Thong | Illustrated by: John Parra

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

Colors introduce foods and more Mexico and other Spanish-speaking counties. Naïve style illustrations accompany bouncy rhymes that incorporate Spanish words; all colors appear in both Spanish and English.

Purchase book

Just Fine the Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates

Just Fine the Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates

By: Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge | Illustrated by: Richard Walz

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

Folks often resist change, even when it came to improving roads and modes of transportation in a growing United States. An informal text and informative but relaxed illustrations capture the essence of this history, suggesting what may be next. Additional resources are included.

Purchase book

Kimonos

Kimonos

By: Annalore Parot

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

Traditional wooden Kokeshi dolls inspired this introduction to Japanese words and culture while presenting a participatory book with flaps to lift, fold-outs and more.

Purchase book

Line 135

Line 135

By: Germano Zullo | Illustrated by: Albertine

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

A child travels to visit her grandmother, "practically on the other side of the world" on a lime green train with orange doors. The scenes from urban to rural to imagined are depicted in delicate black and white line drawings narrated by a confident, perceptive child.

Purchase book

Montessori: Map Work

Montessori: Map Work

By: Bobby George, June George

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

"Our world is made of land and water." The land is called CONTINENTS; the water OCEANS. Select animals that live on each continent are presented on sturdy, textured pages that will hold up to multiple readings and handling by young children while providing a visually appealing introduction to maps and animals.

Purchase book

On the Road

On the Road

By: Susan Steggall

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

A family trip begins with everyone piling into the car. They then travel through the city with its traffic, over a bridge, through a tunnel, and more, stopping only when the family reaches the sparkling sea. Torn paper collage illustrations and simple text chronicle the gratifying outing.

Purchase book

On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World's Weather

On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World's Weather

By: Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by: Frane Lessac

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

On the same day that it's icy cold in the Artic, it's foggy in Louisiana, sunny in Barbados, and blowing wild winds called willy-willies in Austrailia. In this poetic exploration of longitude and weather, with bright and detailed paintings of seventeen different places, the author and illustrator show us what's happening from the poles to the equator — all on the same day in March. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

One World, One Day

One World, One Day

By: Barbara Kerley

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

Every day children around the world awake to begin their days having breakfast, going to school, coming home to families. A poetic text combines with photographs from myriad countries to visually highlight the richness of the world and its people.

Purchase book

Redwoods

Redwoods

By: Jason Chin

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

Giant redwoods are usually found in the Northwest United States, so how does a boy on a New York subway get to the redwoods canopy? That's just what happens in this informative, illustrated journey from underground to atop the world's tallest trees. The redwoods can be found in national parks in northern California and southern Oregon.

Purchase book

Rhymes Round the World

Rhymes Round the World

By: Kay Chorao

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

Children everywhere enjoy similar things, celebrated here in rhymes from around the world. Some are traditional while others are by credited authors; each is accompanied by soft illustrations until it's time to say good night (in many languages).

Purchase book

Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes

Round Is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes

By: Roseanne Thong | Illustrated by: John Parra

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

Circles, squares, triangles, ovals and stars are all around! The rhyming text incorporates Spanish words which are defined in illustrations reminiscent of folk art. A glossary of Spanish words concludes this engaging glimpse into Mexican culture.

Purchase book

Subway Ride

Subway Ride

By: Heather Lynn Miller | Illustrated by: Sue Rama

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

Down, down, down...now off we go! begins a journey on city subways from Washington DC to Moscow and more. This short, fantastic, colorfully illustrated trip ends with a brief description of the real transit systems described.

Purchase book

Thanking the Moon

Thanking the Moon

By: Grace Lin | Illustrated by: Grace Lin

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

As they did for the Lunar New Year, each family member contributes to the preparations for the mid-autumn moon festival. Their special picnic includes mooncakes and tea as well as affection. An author's note not only informs but may inspire other celebrations.

Purchase book

The Last Train

The Last Train

By: Gordon Titcomb | Illustrated by: Wendell Minor

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

The train's illustrious past combines with realistic illustrations to successfully present a reverent homage and history. The rhyming text is from an original song. Additional resources to learn more about trains and their history concludes this handsome book.

Purchase book

The Scrambled States of America

The Scrambled States of America

By: Laurie Keller

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

Dorothy may have thought there's no place like home when she clicked her ruby slippers, but the wanderlust of her native state is what starts all the trouble here. Kansas is bored and gets best friend Nebraska to help stir things up. Soon they're throwing a potluck party for all the states and everyone delights in the idea of seeing another part of the country. Readers will unwittingly learn more than they would ever have thought while poring over the witty remarks exchanged over state lines.

Purchase book

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the World

By: Selby Beeler | Illustrated by: G. Brian Karas

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

Lighthearted illustrations provide just the right tone for brief looks at what happens when children lose their teeth in various places around the world. The title indicates what is done in Korea while an American child awaits the tooth fairy's exchange. A map provides a quick glimpse of this intriguing, quick world tour just right for browsing.

Purchase book

Tito Puente, Mambo King

Tito Puente, Mambo King

By: Monica Brown | Illustrated by: Rafael López

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

Tito Puente was born to be a musician. He grew up to become the Mamba King to whose music people danced the mambo, rumba and cha-cha. Rhythmic language and animated illustrations briefly present Tito's life and the impact of music throughout.

Purchase book

Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar?

By: George Shannon | Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis

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

The ingredients needed to make cookies launch a journey around the world to find out who contributed what from different parts of the world. Rhyming couplets and cheery illustrations reminiscent of folk art combine to answer the question posed as a title.

Purchase book

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia

By: Verna Aardema

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

The year Grace turned eight, her Mum and Dad took her and her siblings on a trip around Australia. The kids "missed school for the whole winter term" and Grace documented much of what she learned, where she went, and the adventures they had as they experienced the diversity of the continent. Grace's informal voice is informative yet engaging, completed by line drawings and simple maps.

Purchase book

Crouching Tiger

Crouching Tiger

By: Ying Chang Compestine | Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene

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

When Vinson's grandfather visits from China, the boy has conflicting feelings about his grandfather's old ways. A visit to Chinatown to experience the lion dancers celebrate the Chinese New Year bring Ming Da (Vinson) and his grandfather closer. Watercolor and ink illustrations add power to the warm, plausible story.

Purchase book

Everglades

Everglades

By: Jean Craighead George | Illustrated by: Wendell Minor

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

As an Indian storyteller guides a boat of children down the sea of grass, he reveals the story of the landscape's formation of what was to become a subtropical national park home to many unique animals. This carefully crafted and handsomely illustrated cautionary tale urges conservation, as the future of the Everglades depends on it.

Purchase book

Go, Go America

Go, Go America

By: Dan Yaccarino

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

This fun, fact-filled glimpse at the states begins with a warning that many of the facts are "wacky and outrageous" but buckle up and join the romp! (Leominster, MA, was the birthplace of the plastic lawn flamingo, for example.) Factoids combine with humorous illustrations to engage travelers on the go!

Purchase book

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

By: Giles Laroche | Illustrated by: Giles Laroche

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

People all around have homes in which to live, but not all of them look alike. Dwellings old and new, in the U.S. and around the world, small and large, are presented in highly detailed, colorful collages and brief but informative text. A final map places the locations on a simple world map.

Purchase book

Let's Celebrate: Festival Poems from Around the World Let's Celebrate: Festival Poems from Around the World

Let's Celebrate: Festival Poems from Around the World Let's Celebrate: Festival Poems from Around the World

By: Debjani Chatterjee , Brian D'Arcy | Illustrated by: Shirin Adl

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

Animated illustrations and a variety of poems from around the world celebrate well and lesser known occasions. From Arbor Day to Diwali, from Pancake Day to Purim — and lots in between — readers are introduced to a range of poets and poetic forms in this appealing book.

Purchase book

Mazes Around the World

Mazes Around the World

By: Mary D. Lankford | Illustrated by: Karen Dugan

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

Regardless of where they are found, mazes are amazing! Visit mazes that can be found around the world in this brief, informative, and intriguing look at these mysterious labyrinths.

Purchase book

Me on the Map

Me on the Map

By: Joan Sweeney | Illustrated by: Annette Cable

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

The United States is a big place which holds many children and their families. Maps and what they show are introduced by a girl who begins with a drawing of her room in her home. The house is then placed on a street, in a town, etc. until we see the U.S. as part of the world. This accessible book may help children understand their place on the map — and in the census.

Purchase book

Monumental Verses

Monumental Verses

By: J. Patrick Lewis

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

Stunning color photographs and poems combine to pay homage to some of the "world's enduring man-made constructions" while introducing a range of poetic forms. The result is a memorable collection of visual art, information, and literary art sure to stand up to multiple examinations.

Purchase book

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures:  Ancient Egypt

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Ancient Egypt

By: Joanna Cole | Illustrated by: Bruce Degen

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

Imagine traveling to Egypt with the well known and much loved teacher, Ms. Frizzle. Well, the kids join the Friz on a trip to Egypt finding them enmeshed in the goings-on of ancient Egypt — including mummification and building the pyramids. The intermingling of lively text and adroit illustration are well placed in the oversize format.

Purchase book

Nine O’Clock Lullaby

Nine O’Clock Lullaby

By: Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by: Frane Lessac

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

When it's 9 P.M. in Brooklyn, it's 10 P.M. in Puerto Rico, and midnight on the mid-atlantic. Far from the vroom of New York traffic, the Puerto Rican night is filled with conga music, sweet rice, and fruit ice. In India, villagers begin their morning chores as well ropes squeak, buckets splash, and bracelets jangle. Meanwhile, in Australia, a sly kookaburra is ready for a noontime feast. Young readers will travel far from home, then back again, on a glorious bedtime journey. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Piñata Maker/El Piñatero

Piñata Maker/El Piñatero

By: George Ancona

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

Fiestas often involve puppets, masks, and piñatas. Meet Tio Rico, the elderly piñata maker in a Mexican town, whose artful creations are shown from start to finish in this handsomely photographed book. The text is presented in both Spanish and English.

Purchase book

Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

By: Ralph Masiello

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

Information about the symbols, emblems, and gods from Ancient Egypt is included with step-by-step instructions on how to draw them. A guide to pronunciation and where to go for more information on Egyptian antiquities is also included.

Purchase book

Red Kite, Blue Kite

Red Kite, Blue Kite

By: Ji-li Jiang | Illustrated by: Gregory Ruth

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

Tai Shan and his father fly kites from "the tippy-top of our triangle roof" where they are free like the kites. Tai Shan's is small, nimble, and red while Baba's is a strong, large blue kite. The widow and his son are separated during China's Cultural Revolution though are ultimately reunited. A difficult period is touchingly presented while remaining child-friendly.

Purchase book

Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia

Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia

By: Sally Pomme | Illustrated by: Sophie Herxheimer

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

Where do you find needles? All over the world, of course! Readers will recognize many things in these stories from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian countries where stories, riddles, and more are told at mealtimes to feed the soul as well as the body. As with many folktales, readers recognize what they share with people in another part of the world while celebrating what makes them unique.

Purchase book

The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections

The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections

By: Jan Mark | Illustrated by: Richard Holland

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

People have kept old and interesting things for a long, long time — in fact, Princess Bel-Shati Nannar in 550 BC kept her collections in what she called a museum. Read about unusual and interesting collections housed in museums in this gripping, informative, and highly readable book.

Purchase book

The Top of the World:  Climbing Mount Everest

The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest

By: Steve Jenkins

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

Exploring its history, geography, climate, and culture, this unique book takes readers on the ultimate adventure of climbing Mount Everest.

Purchase book

The Ugly Vegetables

The Ugly Vegetables

By: Grace Lin

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

In a neighborhood of flower gardens, a Chinese-American girl and her mother plant what the child considers to be ugly vegetables. The ugly vegetables, however, become attractive and help build community when made into a delicious soup! A recipe is included.

Purchase book

Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe

Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe

By: Vera B. Williams | Illustrated by: Vera B. Williams

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

Follow the red canoe from page to page as it journeys down river carrying the family on a camping tour. It's the next best thing to paddling it yourself. [Amazon review]

Purchase book

Ultimate Trains

Ultimate Trains

By: Peter McMahon | Illustrated by: Andy Mora

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

Sophisticated readers will learn a great deal about trains and how they work in straightforward text and color photographs. Suggested experiments bring concepts into focus but are best done by older children or with an adult

Purchase book

Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World

Wish: Wishing Traditions Around the World

By: Roseanne Thong | Illustrated by: Elisa Kleven

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

Children around the world make wishes. Information about what makes a wish come true follows a short poem. Each tradition is placed on a double-page spread accompanied by jewel-toned illustrations.

Purchase book

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Cool World Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids!

Cool World Cooking: Fun and Tasty Recipes for Kids!

By: Lisa Wagner

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

Delicious and very nearly foolproof recipes from Mexico, France, Italy, Africa, the Middle East, and China & Japan. Attractive photos illustrate cooking processes like shredding, mashing, trussing a chicken, and checking for doneness. Foods like carrot salad or tabbouleh add diversity — and vegetarian options — to the recipe collection. [School Library Journal]

Purchase book

United States Atlas for Young Explorers (Third Edition)

United States Atlas for Young Explorers (Third Edition)

By: National Geographic Society

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

Explore the entire United States or focus on your state or region in this clearly laid out, handsomely illustrated atlas. Take a look at the parts of the country that have the greatest population as well as areas to which people move and much more. Additional information is available on a special National Geographic website.

Purchase book

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 >