Summertime: no homework and the reading is easy. Summer is the perfect time of year for young readers to dive into books in between exploring the outdoors. To ring in the season, we've curated a collection of new or recently released books for the young readers in your life.
This list features books for young readers. To check out our picks for adult readers, click here!
Find these books at your local indie bookstore today!
We Dream Medicine Dreams
Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin
Published by Portage & Main Press/HighWater Press
When a little girl dreams about a bear, her grandfather explains how we connect with the knowledge of our ancestors through dreams. Bear, Hawk, Caribou, and Wolf all have teachings to share to help us live a good life. But when Grampa gets sick and falls into a coma, the little girl must lean on his teachings as she learns to say goodbye. Masterful prose and stunning collage weave a gentle story about life and death that will touch the hearts of children and adults alike.
Lisa Boivin is a member of the Deninu Kue First Nation. She is an interdisciplinary artist and a PhD student at the University of Toronto. Lisa is currently working on an arts-based thesis that addresses the colonial barriers that Indigenous patients navigate in the current healthcare system.
Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer
Written by Leslie Gentile
Published by DCB, an imprint of Cormorant Books
It’s the summer of 1978 and most people think Elvis Presley has been dead for a year. But not eleven-year-old Truly Bateman — because she knows Elvis is alive and well and living in the Eagle Shores Trailer Park. Maybe no one ever thought to look for him on an Indigenous reserve on Vancouver Island.
It’s a busy summer for Truly. Though her mother spends her time drinking and smoking and working her way through new boyfriends, Truly is determined to raise as much money for herself as she can through her lemonade stand, and to prove that her cool new neighbour is the one and only King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. And when she can’t find motherly support in her own home, she finds sanctuary with Andy El, the Salish woman who runs the trailer park.
Leslie Gentile is a singer/songwriter of Northern Salish, Tuscarora, and Scottish heritage. She performs with her children in The Leslie Gentile Band, and with one of her sisters in The Half White Band. Gentile currently lives on Vancouver Island with her husband. Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer is her first novel.
Forest Magic: A Guidebook for Little Woodland Explorers
Written and illustrated by Sarah Grindler
Published by Nimbus Publishing
What do you notice when you walk in the forest? Different types of trees, plants, and mushrooms? Maybe you hear a squirrel chattering or birds singing. Can you feel all the different kinds of moss? With this compact nonfiction guide, young readers will be equipped to seek out, identify, and appreciate the woodland magic that exists all around them. Featuring rich vocabulary words like “nurse log,” “lichen,” and “sapling,” this beautifully illustrated book is the ideal companion for little forest explorers. Forest Magic will be the book you reach for on the way out the door to explore your own backyard.
Sarah Grindler grew up on Salt Spring Island, BC. Inspired by her artistic family and beautiful surroundings, she followed her passion for art and nature into a career of creating picture books.
Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Ways Plants Survive
Written by Etta Kaner and illustrated by Ashley Barron
Published by Owlkids Books
Have you ever thought of plants as tricky? Probably not. But in this nonfiction book, readers are introduced to the tricky techniques some plants use to defend themselves, reproduce, or acquire food. From the copycat Boquila vine that changes shape to match its host plant, to the pungent carrion flower that lures pollinating flies with the scent of rotten meat, plants across the globe have adapted to survive all kinds of threatening fauna.
Brought to life with eye-popping cut-paper collage illustrations, this book is a garden of knowledge that will leave kids with a better understanding of how living things adapt to their environments.
Etta Kaner writes for both children and educators. Her books have won several awards including the Silver Birch award, the Henry Bergh award, and the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada award. Etta lives in Toronto.
Ashley Barron studied illustration at the Ontario College of Art & Design. She has since illustrated several books with Owlkids and Kids Can Press. Ashley shares a studio with her partner and two cats in Toronto.
The Shaman’s Apprentice
Written by Zacharias Kunuk and illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith
Published by Inhabit Media
Inspired by award-winning Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk’s short film of the same name, The Shaman’s Apprentice tells the story of a young shaman in training who must face her first test — a trip to the underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. Facing dark spirits and physical challenges, the young shaman must learn to stifle her fear and listen to what Kannaaluk has to tell her.
Zacharias Kunuk co-founded Igloolik Isuma Productions and Kunuk Cohn Productions. Kunuk’s first feature, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Kunuk has directed more than 30 films and videos.
Megan Kyak-Monteith is an Inuk illustrator and painter born in Pond Inlet, Nunavut. She is currently living in Halifax and studying interdisciplinary arts at NSCAD University with a focus on painting. When she is not working on illustrations, she can be found watching movies with her friends, shopping, or working in her studio on her large-scale oil paintings.
Written and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Published by Running Press Kids (Hachette Book Group)
From award-winning author-illustrator Elly MacKay comes a story exploring the little treasures we find in everyday places. When a young treasure hunter goes to the beach for a day of playing in the surf, she dives deep under the waves to find treasures of all kinds.
Some treasures have stories to tell, and others are too precious to keep. It seems treasure is everywhere, but nothing could make her feel more like a queen than a perfect day at the beach with her grandfather and furry best friend.
Elly MacKay is the creator of Butterfly Park, If You Hold a Seed, Shadow Chasers, Waltz of the Snowflakes, and The Tallest Treehouse. Her artwork is recognized worldwide and sold online. Elly lives by Georgian Bay, ON, with her husband and children.
Written by Sara O’Leary and illustrated by Carmen Mok
Published by Groundwood Books
A young boy moves from the city to a new home in the country. He misses his friends, but at least it’s summertime. Enraptured by the natural world, Percy climbs trees, tastes wild strawberries and tries to catch fish in the river with his bare hands.
Percy also likes to draw pictures of what he has seen that day. He collects interesting leaves and rocks, and insects in jars. Percy discovers that being alone doesn’t have to be lonely, but explorers often share their findings. So, he creates a way to share his collection with others. This is a sweet story about embracing change, the excitement of discovery and the wonder of nature and new friends.
Sara O’Leary is a writer of fiction for both adults and children. Her highly acclaimed picture books include Percy’s Museum, Night Walk, A Family Is a Family Is a Family, and Maud and Grand-Maud. She has also written the award-winning series of Henry books. Sara writes for children’s animation and teaches at Concordia University in Montreal.
Carmen Mok studied art at the University of Waterloo and design at Sheridan College. She has received several illustration awards, including the SCBWI Canada East People’s Choice Portfolio Award for Illustration and the Storyteller Award. Carmen is the illustrator of Grandmother’s Visit, Violet Shrink, and A Stopwatch from Grampa. She lives in St. Catharines, ON.
Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend
Written by Dawn Quigley, illustrated by Tara Audibert
Published by Heartdrum, an imprint of HarperCollins Canada
Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn — about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly. Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she’s worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore. This first book in an all-new chapter book series by Dawn Quigley celebrates a spunky young Ojibwe girl who loves who she is.
Dawn Quigley is a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, North Dakota. Her debut YA novel, Apple in the Middle, was awarded an American Indian Youth Literature Honor. She is a PhD, education university faculty member, and a former K–12 reading and English teacher, as well as Indian Education program codirector.
Tara Audibert is a multidisciplinary artist, filmmaker, cartoonist, animator, and podcaster. She owns and runs Moxy Fox Studio, where she creates her award-winning works, including the animated short film The Importance of Dreaming and comics This Place: 150 Years Retold and Lost Innocence. She is of Wolastoqey/French heritage and resides in Sunny Corner, NB.
Written by Jeff Szpirglas and Danielle Saint-Onge, illustrated by Dave Whamond
Published by Orca Book Publishers
Shark-obsessed Orly spends every summer with her family on the coast. This year her parents have signed her up for sailing lessons, hoping to teach her some water safety while they're busy with her baby brother. Orly is excited to be on the water, but she has other ideas about how she’s going to spend her time there: rather than learning to tie knots and batten down the hatches, she's going to use her tablet to track Delta, a great white shark known to frequent the area. Orly’s misplaced enthusiasm repeatedly gets her in hot water with her instructor. Can Orly redeem herself with her sailing crew when she has a chance to use her shark-tracking skills to save some actual wildlife in danger?
Jeff Szpirglas is the author of several works of fiction and nonfiction, including the bestselling Wild Cards and award nominee You Just Can't Help It! He has worked at CTV and was an editor at Chirp, Chickadee, and OWL magazines. Jeff lives in Kitchener, ON.
Danielle Saint-Onge has a master's degree in social anthropology and is a crusader for equity in the classroom. She teaches in classrooms with students of diverse cultural backgrounds. Danielle is the co-author of Messy Miranda, X Marks the Spot, and Something's Fishy. Danielle lives in Kitchener, ON.
Dave Whamond is an award-winning illustrator and cartoonist of over 30 books. He has won awards for My Think-a-ma-Jink, Oddrey, and Secret Agent Y.O.U. His work has appeared in publications such as Wall Street Journal, OWL, Maclean’s, Reader’s Digest, and National Geographic. Dave lives in Calgary.
Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.
Lala's wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.
Gracey Zhang is an illustrator and animator with a love of storytelling and verse. She was born and raised in Vancouver and received her degree in Illustration from RISD. She is now based in Brooklyn, New York, where she can be found window watching from the train when she's not scribbling away at her desk. Lala’s Words is her first picture book.