We all remember growing up and going to picnics: church picnics, neighborhood and school picnics and the family reunion picnic. Fried chicken, potato salad, pies and cakes, watermelon and iced tea. The adults may have sat around catching up on family news or put together a soft ball game. The children loved running around playing with their cousins or friends, but everyone had fun being outside and participating in fellowship.
As the warm spring turns into hot summer, many of us may prefer staying inside with the air conditioning. But if you have young children, it is important to spend some time outside with them every day. While creating activities the whole family can enjoy without electronic devices can be a challenge, the rewards are worth it. Studies have shown that reading for pleasure is on the decline, but the need to develop reading skills in our children has never been greater.
So why not plan a reading picnic? Pack your favorite picnic foods, lots of drinks, toys for the little ones and a sack of books. Pick out new books for everyone so when you go home they have a new treat. Start out reading to the younger kids and letting the school age children help with that. Still let them run around and play, but plan some quiet time when the baby sleeps for everyone to peruse their new book. What could be a more perfect way to spend a warm summer day with your loved ones - eating, playing and reading in the beautiful outdoors?
Here are a few suggestions for new books for the summer for each age group:
YOUR BABY’S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA by Jimmy Fallon
Everyone knows that a baby’s first word is Dada, right? But is Dad secretly getting up at night to teach the little one to do this? What’s going on? The Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon answers this burning question.
DUCK AND GOOSE COLORS! by Tad Hills
Picture books with colors are all-time favorites with babies. They can quickly learn their colors with these new loveable characters, Duck & Goose! This fun book helps them understand colors, friendship and curiosity.
Pre-School through Grade 2
THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN by Marla Frazee.
Muted browns and grays permeate the farmer's world until a small child falls off a circus train, bringing with him color and light. No words are needed in this quiet story of an unlikely friendship.
DORY FANTASMAGORY by Abby Hanlon.
Dory is the youngest in her family and only wants to play with her older brother and sister. But they just roll their eyes at her and leave her out. Her vivid imagination takes over and irrepressible Dory drives her siblings crazy with her fantastic, energetic games until they finally give in and join her in all the fun.
EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD by Steve Jenkins.
With a mixture of magnificent artistry and extraordinary creativity, Jenkins has produced a colorful, large-format volume crafted with vivid, cut-paper collages that provide amazing details about the eyes of animals from bullfrogs to buzzards.
ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET by Oliver Jeffers.
A creative, fresh take on the alphabet book! Jeffers tells a short story for each letter, giving each one its own unique glory. The story is full of humor and whimsy and complete with distinctive illustrations that are one of a kind.
THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander
Twelve-year-old narrator Josh uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the "moving & grooving/popping and rocking" of life on the basketball court. This novel in verse paints an authentic portrait of a closely-knit family on the brink of crisis. (2015 Newbery Medal Book)
HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY By Marilyn Nelson
The author powerfully captures glimpses of her life growing up in a military family in the 1950s during the Civil Rights movement. She tells her story of developing into an artist and a young woman through 50 eye-opening poems.
THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the reservation to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.
TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han
Lara Jean has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed by someone, causing all her crushes from the past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister's ex-boyfriend. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Two parallel stories of a young, blind girl in Paris and an orphaned boy in Germany during WWII finally converge when they meet as teenagers in a small coastal town in France amidst the chaos prior to the liberation by the Americans.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A crusty small bookstore owner has suffered the loss of his wife and becomes more crusty. Then his most prized possession, a rare book, is stolen and he begins isolating himself from his friends, family and work associates until a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep and he is forced to reevaluate his life.
Diane Parfitt is the owner of City Center Gallery & Books.