It’s time to kick off your summer reading list with some entertaining picture books filled with furry and four-legged friends! Our picks are sure to be favorites all summer long with all young animal-loving bookworms—whether they’re looking to test out some new magic tricks, read about unlikely friendships, or get inspired to develop a wacky, one-of-a-kind invention! Which picture book will be at the top of your summer kidlit TBR pile?

Hat Tricks

Hat Tricks
by Satoshi Kitamura

You’re invited to Hattie the rabbit’s magic show! Abracadabra, katakurico… Oh, goodness! Out pops a cat from Hattie’s magic hat. Can you guess what creature will appear from the magic hat next? Perfect for magic-themed activities this summer, renowned author and illustrator Satoshi Kitamura delivers an adorable read aloud with simple, repetitive language, fun magic words, and ample opportunities for prediction.

Recreate some of Hattie’s magic tricks at home with this activity sheet.

Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog

Madeline Finn and the Therapy Dog
by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn and Star are off to Walker Oaks, a retirement community where Star will take his tests to become a therapy dog. They make their way through a variety of challenges and meet several new friends, but Madeline Finn can’t stop thinking about an elderly man in a wheelchair who never smiles. Is there something she and Star can do to help? Author-illustrator Lisa Papp’s empathetic, feel-good story explores the therapy dog training process and provides a realistic and appealing example of a young person making a difference. Ideal for social emotional learning and discussions about self-esteem, volunteering, community, and—of course—therapy animals.

Explore more about therapy dogs, library dogs, and shelter dogs in the Madeline Finn activity kit!

Society of Distinguished Lemmings

The Society of Distinguished Lemmings
by Julie Colombet

The Society of Distinguished Lemmings aims to be distinguished in absolutely everything. It takes an awful lot of rules to be so distinguished, and Bertie has had quite enough. After venturing outside, Bertie discovers a bear, who is very unlike a lemming. Will the Society ever accept Bertie’s new friend, or is the bear simply too big and clumsy of a creature to be distinguished? This hilarious tale features valuable themes of finding new friends, challenging peers, and questioning the rules. Readers will return to the story again and again to discover the quirks of every distinguished lemming while also learning about the importance of staying true to yourself amidst pressure to conform.

Download this discussion guide to dive into the distinguished world of lemmings, and find out whether you’re more like a bear or a lemming with this personality quiz!

Thingity Jig

The Thingity-Jig
by Kathleen Doherty
illustrated by Kristyna Litten

Under the light of a silvery moon, Bear wanders into people town and discovers a springy thing, a bouncy thing—a sit-on-it, jump-on-it thing! This Thingity-Jig is too heavy to carry home by himself, so Bear invents a Rolly-Rumpity to wheel the Thingity-Jig home. When it all gets stuck in the mud, Bear creates a Lifty-Uppity, of course! Reading specialist and former educator Kathy Doherty perfectly blends inventive upcycling and STEAM elements with whimsical wordplay and a delightful story celebrating ingenuity. Illustrator Kristyna Litten brings the world to life with incredible settings and empathetic characters.

Start your own wacky inventions at home or in the classroom with this teacher’s guide!