Children’s Books for the Garden

We’re a bookish family. Reading is a big part of everyday life for all of us, even illiterate little Ilya!

In the summer, much of our reading is done outdoors – in the front garden, under the bee balm, or on The Rock alongside the driveway. It’s a fun, fairy season to read in, and I see the kids gravitating towards books that capture summertime for them.

Yarrow’s Favorites Right Now

My fairy child is reading a lot of Narnia and Oz these days. She settles down on her rock with a couple and would spend the whole day with them if she could. But they don’t have a lot of illustrations, an as a new reader, illustrations are so helpful to her. They’re also beautiful to look at and let imagination take over.

We care a lot about illustration quality. And Trina Schart Hyman is one of our absolute favorites1500493824430195846024

Yarrow has been spending quite a few summer afternoons with Rapunzel and Changing Woman and Her Sisters out under the bee balm in the yard. Hiding from mosquitos and imagining her hair long and wild.

Ilya’s Favorites Right Now

Ilya is not quite a reader yet..but he wants his books with him outside by the stove or in his red wagon. He would keep them all in bed with him at night as well, if Luba didn’t come along and knock them off each evening.

Not all illustrators are as grand and magical as Trina Schart Hyman, we like simpler styles as well – Tomie DePaola is another favorite of ours.


The Knight and the Dragon is one of Ilya’s favorites, in part because there are so few words, the story is told primarily through pictures. And Blueberries for Sal delights him because he can look at it while eating berries and pretending Luba is little bear.

Summer reading on July afyernoons, with mourning doves calling and humming birds buzzing above is such beautiful ritual. I hope my children remember the way the sun felt on their backs and the way the stories came alive in their minds. It’s one of my favorite mothering moments so far.

What are some of your children’s favorite summertime stories?

2 thoughts on “Children’s Books for the Garden

  1. Ahhhh I LOVE Trina!

    Currently, Tom’s favorites are ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ and ‘Dinosaurs Love Underwear.’ 😂 The latter is not gorgeously illustrated but he likes the rhyming.

    Anything Eric Carle is a favorite too.


  2. My 4.5 year old son is really into Behowl the Moon by Erin Nelsen Parekh, and he also carries Nature Anatomy with him everywhere which is kind of ironic given his propensity for the INdoors. My 3.5 year old daughter loves Blueberry Girl (Gaiman), Finding Winnie (Mattick), Old Befana (DePaola), and The Rainbabies (Melmed). I’m pretty certain The Rainbabies was the last picture book I ever had, but the illustrations are so beautiful I kept it all these years.


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