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Summer Reading Picks

The summer break is nearing the end. Besides keeping kids busy with activities, it might be time to start engaging their learning (if you haven’t already, that is) without pressure. Reading can be entertaining, thought provoking and educational, and it’s a fun way for kids to master new words and comprehension skills. You may opt to let them choose their own books, or give them a little guidance with these recommendations from Kimberly Sprowl, a longtime library associate with the Dallas Public Library who now owns Kid Works, a program that allows her to bring stories and music to children. We caught up with her on a recent afternoon at Bookmarks in NorthPark Center in Dallas to get her best material for kids at every age.
 
For babies and toddlers
Sock and Shoe, Cluck and Moo, Me and You and Fish and Canoe by Frida Bing
These high-contrast, black-and-white board books keep baby’s attention before he can distinguish colors.
 
Honk Honk! Baa Baa!; The Greedy Goat; Butterfly, Butterfly and A New House for Mouse by Petr Horácek.
The award-winning illustrator and author uses his trademark humor and saturated hues to teach babies and toddlers about animal sounds, colors, days of the week, sizes and more.  
 
The Little Red Hen by Byron Barton
The classic tale is one of the best for teaching tots the importance of teamwork.
 
For preschoolers
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
This funny picture book, one of many in his collection featuring the pigeon, lets kids help decide the bird’s fate.
 
Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony
This book teaches manners using a cute panda and his doughnuts.
 
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean
An award-winning counting tale (with a downloadable song) that’s part of a series of Pete the Cat books.
 
For ages 5-7
Frog and Toad: Storybook Treasury by Arnold Lobel
This classic collection of four stories celebrates friendship and helps little ones start reading on their own — with a little help, of course.
 
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears by Verna Aardema, Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon
This Caldecott Medal winner tells the delightful Western African tale of how the mosquito became a pest.
 
Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre and Zac Retz
This fun book combines vibrant language and a silly plot to entertain.
 
For ages 8-10
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
This timeless tale invites kids to an imaginative world when a plastic toy becomes something else entirely.
 
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White and illustrated by Garth Williams
The Newbery Honor best-selling novel tells the story of friendship, love, life and death among barnyard animals and one remarkable spider.
 
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
A book about the interwoven stories of a brave mouse, covetous rat, a hopeful serving girl and a princess named Pea.
 
For ages 10-12
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Critics say this award-winning novel about a 10-year-old boy in search of his father should be read again and again.
 
Holes by Louis Sachar and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky and Bagram Ibatoulline
This New York Times best-selling modern classic explores crime, punishment and redemption through a darkly humorous tale.
 
How to Eat Friend Worms by Thomas Rockwell
It’s the story of a bet, the debt and how the whole family gets involved.