10 Summer-Themed Books for Kids

If your kiddos are like mine, they are ready for summer! Summer is rather magical – long days, fireflies, swimming pools and popsicles are just a few of the wonderful parts of summer vacation. As your family prepares for the summer season, why not pick up a summer read for your child? Red Apple Reading has some recommendations we think you and your little one will enjoy!


The Very Lonely Firefly


The Very Lonely Firefly (Eric Carle) –   A little firefly is born and begins to look for its friends. Every time it approaches a light, however, it finds that it is not a firefly friend. Finally this little guy meets up with his friends at the book’s conclusion, 1-3 year olds will like the flashing lights at the end of the story!



Come on, Rain!


Come On, Rain! (Karen Hesse) Join Tessie as she anticipates escaping the sweltering heat in a summer shower. After reading this story, your kiddo will want to dance in the rain! Recommended for ages 4-8





Beach Bugs



Beach Bugs (David A. Carter) – Preschoolers will love this delightful pop-up book featuring summer’s most popular bugs!






Summer Days and Nights


Summer Days and Nights (Wong Herbert Yee) – Another fun summer read for 2-6 year olds is Summer Days and Nights. In this picture book, young readers will experience the simple joys of the summer season through the eyes of a little girl.




The Night Before Summer Vacation



The Night Before Summer Vacation (Natasha Wing) – Everyone knows what it’s like to forget something important when packing for vacation. Find out what the family in this funny story forgets as they get ready for their summer trip! Recommended for ages 3-8 years



Ice Cream Summer


Ice Cream Summer (Peter Sis) – A little boy describes his summer in a letter to his Grandpa. However, things may not be exactly as they seem; this little guy seems to have a hard time keeping his mind off ice cream! Fans of this delicious frozen treat will appreciate this picture book. Early elementary school.



The Relatives Came


The Relatives Came (Cynthia Rylant) – This beautifully illustrated picture book recounts a family’s summer stay with their relatives. While it is sad when vacation is over, the family knows it will return next summer. A nice read for 5-8 year olds.





A Long Way from Chicago


A Long Way From Chicago (Richard Peck) – I had the pleasure of discovering author Richard Peck a few years ago. The target audience for this book is middle graders, but I highly recommend reading it with your youngster. You will laugh aloud as you read about Mary Alice’s and Joey’s adventures as they spend their summers with their quirky grandmother.



Summer Ball


Summer Ball (Mike Lupica) – In this sequel to Travel Team, Danny is off to Right Way basketball camp for the summer. Although he has recently led his team to the National Championship, he knows the competition at camp will be tough since the best of the best will be in attendance. Will Danny be able to cut it? 8-12 year old basketball fans will enjoy this summer read.




Nerd Camp


Nerd Camp (Elissa Brent Weissman) – Gabe is headed to the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment (a.k.a. – nerd camp). Unsure if he wants to be a geek, Gabe worries particularly what his soon to be step-brother, Zack, will think of him. This hilarious chapter book will tickle middle readers’ funny bones!

Get Caught Reading!!

Get Caught Reading in May - Red Apple Reading


Did you know that May is Get Caught Reading Month? First launched in 1999, Get Caught Reading is a national campaign that reminds everyone how much fun it is to read! But in our fast paced and hectic society, it can be challenging for kids to even find time to get caught reading! Red Apple Reading would like to encourage parents to use this month to help their kiddos discover (or rediscover) their love for reading!


  • Reward Reading – For some children, picking up a book may require a gentle nudge from Mom and Dad. Consider offering small incentives for reading. These rewards need not be over the top. For instance, every time your kiddo completes a book you could visit the park or allow her to choose what’s for dinner.
  • Model Reading – The old phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”, really is true. Rather than constantly nagging your kids to pick up a book, try picking up one yourself. Kids learn what we value by observing how we spend our time. If they see us reading on a regular basis, they will receive the message that reading is important.
  • Turn off Electronics – We mentioned earlier that sometimes reading requires a gentle nudge. Sometimes this nudge needs to come in the form of unplugging from electronics. Once the television and gaming systems are turned off kids may just discover that there are some pretty interesting books on the shelf!
  • Create a Reading Nook – Is there a comfortable, quiet place in your home to curl up with a good book? Why not create a small nook that is strictly for reading? An inviting environment goes a long way in encouraging our little ones to take up a book!
  • Regular Trips to a Library – Take advantage of the hundreds of books in your community that are free for the borrowing! Set aside a time each week to visit your local public library. Keep in mind that most public libraries also have summer reading programs for kids to enjoy!
  • Take Reading Outside – Is your kiddo happiest when she is soaking up the sunshine? If your little one prefers being outdoors to playing inside, then take reading out to her! Bring a blanket and basket of books outside and enjoy some open air reading!
  • Start a Book Club – Sometimes kids like activities more if they can participate in them with their friends. Try organizing a book club for your child and his friends. Don’t worry about putting together something fancy – some light refreshments and a bit of discussion guidance is all that’s needed!
  • Read Aloud – Kids of every age love being read aloud to! Don’t make the mistake of failing to read to your kiddos once they become independent readers. Reading with your children affords good opportunity for discussion and it provides a good excuse for a cuddle!

Reading really is a wonderful pastime! Take the month of May to concentrate on helping your little one discover just how great a good book can be!

Mother’s Day Reflections


Mother's Day ReflectionsThe majority of moms would agree that parenthood is a blessing; however, the truth is it’s not always fun.

For example, last week was the kindergarten field trip to the zoo. After driving an hour to the zoo to meet the bus, I collected my group of four active little boys and spent the day exploring the zoo. Suffice it to say, it was a long day. By the end of the afternoon, the fitness app on my phone had logged over 5 miles. Later that night as I tucked in my 6-year-old he said, “Mom, next time we go to the zoo, could you not come?” Really?!

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It’s not always pretty and very often it’s a thankless job. This Mother’s Day I thought I’d offer a few thoughts to keep in mind when the day is especially hard and long.

  • Children are a long term investment.  Like many long term investments, child rearing does not always immediately pay off. Remember, you are in this for the long haul! When the day gets long and you feel like nothing is being accomplished, take the long view.
  • They are watching and learning.  I have a book about womanhood that I went through with my oldest daughter and am currently reading with my youngest daughter. When my 17 year old quoted an important part of the book to me the other day, I wanted to weep! It’s been 5 years since we studied that book together and she actually remembered something of value that I had taught her. I couldn’t believe it! She really was listening!
  • If the kids are always happy with me, I’m probably doing something wrong.  I hate conflict. I will go to great lengths to avoid it. But one thing I’ve learned in my 17 years of parenting is that if everyone is happy with me, there’s a better than average chance that I’m doing something wrong. Being a mom is tough and very often the lessons my kids need to learn make me less than popular. So be it. My kids have plenty of friends. They need me to be their mom.
  • I will get it wrong.  Let’s face it, we’re all human and it’s not at all unusual to screw up when parenting children. Dr. Garry Landreth says, “The most important thing may not be what I do, but what I do after what I’ve done.” A humble apology goes a long way in healing hurts!
  • They will probably survive when I mess up.  Although moms do get it wrong, it rarely means that we screw up our kid for life. Fortunately, kids are resilient and tend to bounce back when we aren’t at our parenting best! So forgive yourself when you mess up and resolve to do better next time!
  • It goes by fast.  Perhaps the most important thing for moms to remember is that childhood is fleeting. Although the day can seem so long, the years really do go by quickly. My 17 year old just told me last week that she will have her senior portraits made this month. What?! Wasn’t she just watching Teletubbies yesterday? Enjoy this short period of your life!

Red Apple Reading hopes you find these reflections helpful as you enjoy your special day. Being a mom can be stressful, so take some time today to relax. We recommend curling up with a good book. 😉


The Importance of Nursery Rhymes

The Importance of Nursery RhymesFriday, May 1st is Mother Goose Day. Most of us probably remember reading from some version of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes while growing up. I often read nursery rhymes to my babies from a board book we had in our home library. I have very fond memories of chanting Hickory Dickory Dock, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill to my little ones. When I was reading these rhymes to my kids, I mistakenly thought I was just reading a bed time story. Little did I know that I was actually laying a foundation for reading in their lives. Today Red Apple Reading would like to remind parents why the simple nursery rhyme is so important.

One reason nursery rhymes are important is because…well, they rhyme. Before a child learns to read, she must understand that words are made up of different sounds; and the manipulation of these sounds creates words. Hearing rhymes helps our little ones develop an ear for words with similar sounds. Such as “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jumped over the candle stick”. Learning to recognize words with the same ending sound will ultimately help your child learn to read!

Nursery rhymes are easy for children to memorize. The short rhythmic nature of nursery rhymes makes them simple and fun to repeat. These short passages committed to memory help children feel they know the story and can “read” it for themselves while turning pages. This type of practicing instills a love of literacy at a young age.

Another advantage that the sing-song rhythm of nursery rhymes offers is the boost it gives to little one’s brains. When children hear the pleasant rhythms of these stories, it actually helps their cognitive development!

Last, but certainly not least, nursery rhymes are fun! Children love hearing these stories over and over and they lend themselves easily to fun play. How many times have you done the finger play, The Itsy Bitsy Spider with a small child; or bounced a little one upon your knee while chanting, Ride a Little Horsie amid giggles and squeals? These amusing interactions help children develop vocabulary, and connect nursery rhymes (thus reading) with fun!

In honor of the beloved Mother Goose, get out your book of nursery rhymes and read them with your children. These classic verses will create a firm literary foundation for your child and provide fond memories for you and your little ones in the future!

Earth Day, Fun Day!

Earth Day Fun Day!

Do you need a little help deciding how to spend Earth Day with your kiddos? Red Apple Reading has compiled a list of fun activities you can enjoy together today or any other spring day! Take a look at these kid-friendly Earth Day activities:



  • Plant a Flower – Start your day by cultivating your green thumb. Get outside with your kids and get your hands a little dirty! You don’t have to have any garden space to tackle this planting project; just some potting soil, a flowering plant of your choosing and an empty steel can. See it at Make Myself at Home.
  • Art Project – Now that you’ve completed your gardening project, let your child try his hand at a more artistic rendition of nature! This 3-D tree collage is fun for multiple ages. Get out your old magazines, construction paper, glue and scissors and get to work on this art project from Holidays Central.
  • Lunch – Earth Day PB&J – When lunchtime rolls around surprise your little one with a special PB&J that’s out of this world (or at least looks like the world)! This special sandwich with a side of tree (made from broccoli crowns and pretzels) is sure to please. Thanks Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons for this fun dish idea!
  • Feed the Birds – After you feed your kiddos, feed the feathered friends in your neighborhood. Your children will enjoy constructing this simple bird feeder that’s made out of a plastic bottle and wooden spoons. Visit Heck Fridays for instructions!
  • Recycle – Recycling is a great way to be a good steward of the earth’s resources. Share the importance of recycling with your little one today by participating in a fun project together. Turn your used cans into a fun kid-crafted set of wind chimes that you can enjoy throughout the spring. Check out this creative project at Hands On: As We Grow.
  • Read a Book – There’s no better way to end the day than with a good book! Curl up with your child and settle in for an earth friendly read. Not sure what to pick? No problem! We have a nice list of books suitable for Earth Day. Check out our blog from last year’s Earth Day: 10 Earth Day Reads. You’re sure to find a book or two to dig into!

Red Apple Reading hopes you enjoy Earth Day with your family!