The Best Kids' Books to Read This Summer

Inside the new Tattered Cover Kids.
Inside the new Tattered Cover Kids. Lucy Beaugard
At the end of June, the storied Tattered Cover opened Tattered Cover Kids, its first child-focused shop, in the Stanley Marketplace. With 1,400 square feet of space designed for young readers, the new bookstore includes kid-friendly shelving, a large mural by artist Patrick Maxcy, interactive decor and, of course, tons of books as well as a few toys perfect for kids of any age.

CEO Kwame Spearman has been eager to welcome the community inside the new shop. With a good six weeks left until schools start, we asked Spearman and the staff of this new store to pick their favorite tomes for kids, which range from works by local artists to timeless tales to an ABC book by a pop star.

Here are their must-reads:

Poppy Series
Written by Avi, illustrated by Brian Floca

Starting with the first chapter book in the Poppy series, Ragweed, Colorado author Avi has created a charming world of talking mice who go on adventures. These are "tales of bravery and suspense in an animal society, starring Poppy, the deer mouse, who goes up against the ruler of the forest, Ocax the hoot owl," says Spearman. These chapter books, great for read-aloud time, were just reprinted and are best for ages eight to twelve.

Written by Lupita Nyong'O; illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Written by award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'O, this charming picture book is about a little girl named Sulwe, who has darker skin than her parents and her sister. "She learns from the beauty of the world that dark and light together make a greater beauty," says Spearman. "Add in love and kindness, Sulwe's beauty shines." So does this book, which Spearman thinks should be on all little kids' summer-reading lists.

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page published this book in 2009, and it's still a beloved tome recommended for all little ones by Tattered Cover kids' book buyer Kate Brasch. "This interactive guessing book shows kids the amazing things that animals can do with their noses, their eyes, their tails, etc...," says Brasch. "Written and illustrated by a Boulder couple, this colorful title brings these animals and their quirks happily home."
click to enlarge The new Tattered Cover Kids features all children's books and toys. - LUCY BEAUGARD
The new Tattered Cover Kids features all children's books and toys.
Lucy Beaugard
Pete Oswald

Though author and illustrator Pete Oswald hails from California, this mountain adventure picture book could have been written about Colorado. It follows a father and son preparing for a day hike in the mountains, and most of the story is told with wonderful pictures instead of words. "This detailed but nearly wordless book is an absolute gem," says Brasch. "It's exactly like the father and son outing."

What Will You Be?
Yamile Saied Méndez

Written by Yamile Saied Méndez, an Argentinian American with five kids, this new, forty-page picture book tells the story of a little girl who is often asked what she will be when she grows up. "I love this book's message that all you need to be is you," says Allie Bravo, the store manager at Tattered Cover Kids. "As someone who is still trying to figure it out, I think it's great to encourage kids to be themselves and to never stop exploring their possibilities."

Katherine Applegate

Author Katherine Applegate's Wishtree, published in 2017, is a timeless story about a 216-year-old tree and what it sees, its history as a wishing tree and what happens when it becomes a tool of hate and love. "This is a beautiful story about community and acceptance," says Bravo. "It is quietly powerful and extremely hopeful." Best for ages eight to twelve, the 224-page chapter book is one that all kids should have in their libraries. 
click to enlarge The interactive tree inside the newly-opened Tattered Cover Kids. - LUCY BEAUGARD
The interactive tree inside the newly-opened Tattered Cover Kids.
Lucy Beaugard
Cornelia Funke

This is the first book in author Cornelia Funke's Inkworld series, and it came out to much fanfare in 2011. Still a favorite for kids ages ten to fifteen, the 500-plus-page book is a cherished read for Sydney Haven, store manager at Tattered Cover Aspen Grove. "This was one of my favorite books as a kid, one I read so many times it literally fell apart, and I had to replace it," says Haven. "What would you do if you could read things to life out of your favorite books?"

Pirate Stew
Neil Gaiman

"As a Gaiman fan, I obviously had to read this one, and it's absolutely brilliant," says Haven. "Pirate babysitters, fantastic adventures, gorgeous illustrations by Chris Riddell and, of course, the classic Gaiman charms, this one is a must-read!" The picture book dropped last December, and it's perfect for ages four to eight and anyone else who loves Gaiman's work, fun illustrations and pirates.

C Is for Country
Lil Nas X

Give your kids a little "S is for swag" with this whimsical ABC book by pop-country-rapper Lil Nas X, best known for his hit single Old Town Road. "This is an ABC book for the newest generations, where fake fur and feeling 'xtra is simply part of growing up," says Jeremy Patlen, director of buying for Tattered Cover. "Be yourself, no matter who you are, y’all." The picture book came out in January, and it's great for preschoolers learning the alphabet and anyone else who just wants a fun and unique take on the ABCs.

From Archie to Zack
Vincent Kirsch

Published in December 2020, author Vincent Kirsch's picture book tells a sweet story about young, queer love. "This is a very simple and, well, ordinary story about how difficult it is to tell someone how you feel about them, even when 'everyone knew it was so',” says Patlen. "This book is simply magnificent in its normalizing of some subjects that are not always easily discussed." Best for grades second through fourth.

Tattered Cover Kids is located at Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street in Aurora. The shop is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington