Summer Language & Literacy Books

Summer is in full swing, and children need to continue to have fun, relax, and also build essential speech-language skills. In recommendation, here are six excellent books for use during speech/language therapy or at home during family literacy time. As always, the books may be used with children with identified communication disorders, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and autistic children.

Family Reunion by Chad Richardson and Dad Richardson

Family time is important and brings together different generations to share stories, food, and memories, while also creating new experiences, playing games, dancing, and relaxing. Family Reunion is a great book that captures the important tradition of a family reunion in the Black community. In the story, the main character is surprisingly not excited to travel to this family gathering. He’s not sure how much fun he’ll have, but that changes quickly. He learns the value of family and enjoys quality time which is priceless. This book is ideal for preschool to early elementary school-aged children. It was originally published last summer. You may support the authors by purchasing the book.

Speech/Language Targets:

Character Traits

Story Retell

Speech Articulation


Earth’s Incredible Oceans by Jess French

Many families can’t wait to visit the beach during the summer and Fourth of July week. This is a pastime for many people, and they have their favorite beach spots while others venture out to new areas. Earth’s Incredible Oceans is a vibrant non-fiction book that teaches children about the ocean, ocean animals, food web, ocean habitats, and preserving the ocean. The author, Jess French, and illustrator, Claire McElfatrick, did an amazing job depicting the vastness of the five oceans: Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, and Southern (newly named). The author also describes how the oceans are constantly in motion due to the currents, tide, and even the moon. Children and adults alike will enjoy the vivid illustrations and the numerous facts described in the book. Make sure that you support the author and illustrator by purchasing a copy this summer to add to your home or speech/language therapy library.

Speech/Language Targets:

Language Memory

Restate Main Idea & Supporting Details

Tier 1, 2, & 3 Vocabulary

State Facts & Opinions

Elmer and the Whales by David McKee

David McKee is an excellent British children’s book author and illustrator. His series about Elmer, the patchwork elephant is great for elementary school-aged children. The illustrations are vibrant, and the book has plenty of language-rich vocabulary. This is a favorite series for many children and families, while it may be a new discovery for others. In this book, Elmer has an idea to visit the seacoast with his cousin to spot the whales.  His grandfather Eldo, the golden elephant, has made the trek before. How will they get there? What will happen along the way?

Speech/Language Targets:

Story Retell/Story Grammar Elements

Wh Questions

Describing with attributes


Flotsam by David Wiesner  

David Wiesner, received the Caldecott Medal, for this engaging wordless picture book. The title of the book, Flotsam, is intriguing by itself. The word “flotsam” means something that floats or the cargo/wreckage of a ship that is found washed up by the ocean or beach. This book is recommended for upper elementary school-aged children. They will definitely have the opportunity to practice their critical thinking, reasoning, and descriptive language skills to tell this story. The illustrations are striking, and sometimes a bit unusual. The story begins with a boy spending the day at the beach with his family. He inquisitively inspects a small blue crab, while his family remains reading, kicked back in their beach chairs. He walks towards the water’s edge with a bucket and a shovel. He then spots a red crab. All of a sudden, a strong wave unexpectedly knocks him over. After catching his breath, the boy looks out. He spots something washed up in the sand. What could it be? The speech/language pathologist and/or parent may have to provide some background information for one or two nostalgic picture scenes from a different generation. Nevertheless, this book is exceptional and ideal for building language skills in children with language disorders.

Speech/Language Targets:

Descriptive Language

Narrative Language

Critical Thinking/Reasoning

Character Traits

Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan   

Skillfully, Pam Munoz Ryan allows the imagery of her text to come alive with her poetic use of language to tell the story, Hello Ocean. Most likely on the West Coast of the U.S., a family of five arrives at the beach. All of them have their beach ball, shovel, bucket, and boogie board to ride the waves. The text is simple, yet lyrical and invites the reader or listener to enjoy a pleasant day at the beach. “I see the ocean, gray, green, blue, a chameleon always changing hue.” It continues, “Amber seaweed, speckled sand, bubbly waves that kiss the land.” You may visit the Language & Literacy YouTube channel for a full read-aloud video of the book. A Spanish edition of this book is also available, entitled Hello Mar. Visit the author’s page here for more details. “The sun dips down, it’s time to go. But I’ll be back to see your show, hear the stories you have to spin…”

Speech/Language Targets:


Describing with attributes

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Vocabulary

America the Beautiful by Cholena Rose Dare

America has a vast history. There are many stories and events that make this country what it is today. It has been 246 years since America declared its independence from England. When you reflect on historical and current events, America carries both proudful and shameful moments. Everything is a part of what makes America, the nation that it is today. Nevertheless, America the Beautiful, highlights the beauty of the country for young readers. Children will get a glimpse of national parks, landmarks, while learning about state birds and flowers too. They will also learn about innovations, artists, and food.  This is an ideal summer book, or it may be used year-round during family literacy time or speech/language therapy lessons. As the author states: “Like a big family, we laugh and cry together; we celebrate and mourn together. We sing, we march, we make changes — together. We are each different, and our differences are beautiful. The freedom to be your own self is a basic human right — but when we stand together, our beautiful differences build one amazing country. We are a strong and proud family called America!”

Speech/Language Targets:

Tier 1, 2, & 3 vocabulary

AAC- Core vocabulary

Language Memory

State Facts & Opinion


Here are other great children’s literature selections for use during the summer months:

My Very Favorite Book in the Whole Wide World by Malcolm Mitchell

Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

Pete the Cat and the Treasure Map by James Dean

Soccer Star (with ocean theme) by Mina Javaherbin

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle

What’s the Commotion in the Ocean by Nyasha Williams

Pete the Cat Scuba Cat by James Dean