Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

As a parent, the time you spend with your child—reading aloud, chatting, and interacting in countless ways—is pivotal in helping them develop and thrive as a reader, writer, and thinker. From teaching your child the alphabet to playing rhyming games, you instill crucial knowledge and skills through fun, playful time together. Best of all, it builds your relationship, too—and can even help you feel happier and more fulfilled.

That’s why each month we share a special list of featured reads and literacy activities. Expect fun seasonal reading recommendations, complemented with activity tutorials and free printables for an all-out story time experience with your little one.

Here are some topics to delve into with your child this month:

Picture Books for Fourth of July

For Independence Day, contributor and early childhood educator Chrysta Naron recommends a selection of wonderful picture books that explore the beauty and diversity of America

From We the Kids, which explains the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, to artist Faith Ringgold’s We Came to America, this list shares impactful kids’ titles to help you and your child celebrate, contemplate, and converse about this nation.

Then extend the learning and bonding with a kids’ bill of rights activity and firework literacy craft.

Kids’ Books about Nelson Mandela

For parents seeking to teach their children about history through the true stories of people who’ve worked to shape it for the better, it’s hard to imagine a more inspiring subject than anti-apartheid activisit, South African president, and Nobel prize winner Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. 

Introduce your kids to this towering figure of modern history through three children’s books produced by Mandela himself and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. For younger readers and listeners, there’s a picture book adaptation of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. For middle-schoolers and comic lovers, there’s a large-format graphic novel that recounts the story of Nelson Mandela and the country he served. And then there’s a crowd-pleasing collection of 32 African folktales selected by Mandela—each accompanied by a whimsical, colorful illustration.

Good Reads for the Women’s World Cup

Elite soccer players from around the world will be representing their countries at the Women’s World Cup this summer. Inspire your little fan or player with kids’ books about female soccer players!

The Women’s World Cup is a great moment to engage young soccer fans in reading and an opportunity to support all our kids to dream big and value women’s sports. Chrysta Naron has compiled some recommendations of excellent soccer picture books with female characters to cultivate “a generation of children who believe that they, too, can achieve greatness on and off the field.”

Picture Books about Birds & Nature

Take advantage of summer by pairing some books about the great outdoors with outings to explore it together with your child. (After all, spending time outside in natural green spaces provides major benefits for raising readers.) 

To begin, try this bird walk activity for preschoolers created by birder and conservationist Susan Gadamus—you’ll find a number of recommended picture books at the end of the post. Then, for more picture books about nature, take a look at writer Karen Williams’s list of picture books celebrating water and author Tulani Thomas’s favorite eco-friendly reads for kids.

Story Time Activity: Kids’ Bill of Rights

Bill of Rights

Kids will love creating their very own Bill of Rights that focuses on what they can do rather than what they can’t. This family Bill of Rights activity is so fun, they won’t even notice all the incredible learning going on.


Enjoy this post? Please share it on social media.

New to MayaSmart.com?

Welcome! It’s lovely to have you here. I’m Maya, an author, literacy advocate, and mom. On this site, I publish articles, advice, book recommendations, and activities for busy parents. Through it all, my goal is to help parents like you feel equipped and confident to support your children in reading. Let’s start by understanding what you bring to the effort—your unique superpower.

Find your raise-a-reader superpower now.