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Put reading on your family’s summer to-do list!

Summer is tons of fun for kids, but they may lose some of the reading abilities they developed during the school year. Help your little ones keep their skills sharp over the break with these riveting animal-themed reads.



Giraffes Can’t Dance
Written by Giles Andrae; illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees

Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but his legs are too skinny and his neck is too long. His knees buckle whenever he tries to twirl. At the Jungle Dance, the warthogs waltz, the chimps cha-cha and the lions tango. “Giraffes can’t dance,” they all jeer when it’s Gerald’s turn to prance. But there is one little creature who believes in Gerald. “Everything makes music,” the cricket explains, “if you really want it to.” So Gerald starts swaying to his own sweet tune.
With light-footed rhymes and high-stepping illustrations, this tale is gentle inspiration for every child with dreams of greatness.

The Very Cranky Bear
Written and illustrated by Nick Bland
Moose, Lion, Zebra, and Sheep take shelter in a cave on a cold and rainy day, only to realize that a bear is there. The bear roars loudly and says that he is trying to sleep. Not understanding why the bear is so cranky, the other animals come up with ways to cheer up the bear. Moose finds antlers for him, Lion gives him a mane and Zebra paints on stripes. Is there anything the four well-meaning friends can do to help the bear sleep?


Grades 1–2

Deep in the Swamp
Written by Donna M. Bateman; illustrated by Brian Lies
Readers count from one otter pup to 10 baby crayfish as they learn about the special relationships between the baby and mom mammals, reptiles, birds and insects that make their home in the Okefenokee Swamp.
Using a rhyming format, this charming book teaches readers about the animals and plants found in swamps. Also included are extensive notes on the animals in the main text.

Amazing Animals
Written by Betsy Franco; illustrated by Jesse Reisch
This colorfully illustrated book briefly notes amazing animal actions such as a walrus tasting with its whiskers and a fly tasting with its feet.


Grades 3–5

Manatee Winter
Written by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld; illustrated by Steven Petruccio
Two gentle giants must swim up a Florida river to escape the chill of winter. Along the way, Little Calf dives deep—and gets tangled in a clump of water-weeds. Can his mother save him?

You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Bees!
Written by Alex Woolf; illustrated by David Antram

What would happen if there were no bees in this world? It would be a disaster! Without bees, we would, of course, have no honey. But we’d also lose a lot of other foods and useful products like cotton produced by plants that bees pollinate. Around half the fruit and vegetables in our supermarkets would disappear! Not only that, we would also lose the animals that eat these plants, and the animals that eat those animals! Some people are scared of bees, but there’s rarely any need to be. Bees will sting in self-defense, but usually they don’t disturb humans. Yet we need them. As far as important species are concerned, bees are at the top of the list; you really wouldn’t want to live without them!


Grades 6–8

Written by Eliot Schrefer

When one girl has to follow her mother to her sanctuary for bonobos, she’s not thrilled to be there. It’s her mother’s passion, and she’d rather have nothing to do with it. But when revolution breaks out and their sanctuary is attacked, she must rescue the bonobos and hide in the jungle. Together, they will fight to keep safe, to eat, and to survive.
Eliot Schrefer asks readers what safety means, how one sacrifices to help others, and what it means to be human in this new compelling adventure.

The Midnight Fox
By Betsy Cromer Byars
No one asked Tom how he would feel about spending two months on his Aunt Millie’s farm. Maybe that’s because he would have said he didn’t feel good about it at all. Tom doesn’t like animals and they don’t like him — and now the city boy has to put up with stampeding baby lambs, boy-chasing chickens and more. Worst of all, he’s lonely. With no friends around, there isn’t much for him to do besides explore the fields and nearby forest on his own.
Then Tom sees a graceful black fox in the woods. Suddenly he finds he can spend hours watching her. Without even realizing it, he starts to become more comfortable with the power, beauty, and mysterious magic of the natural world, and to feel that he is a part of nature himself. When the lives of his fox and her cub are in danger, Tom knows that he has to do something.