Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Welcome to the June edition of Smart Story Time!

Keeping new books in the mix keeps family reading time fresh for your child (and you), as well as introducing them to new subjects and vocabulary. That’s why we curate some of our best recommendations for diverse picture books around timely topics each month. We hope this inspires you to find some awesome new-to-you reads for your child at your local library or independent bookstore

Here are some topics, plus recommended reads, to delve into with your child this month:

Picture Books for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is fast approaching! It’s a great moment to honor Dad—and all the special guys in your and your child’s life. This year, why not create a celebration of dads, uncles, and grandpas on your bookshelf? 

The gift of a book is wonderful in and of itself, but the gift of time spent reading together is priceless. Check out this list of sweet picture books to read for Father’s Day and celebrate the men you care about. Bonus: Make a sweet DIY Father’s Day card with an acrostic poem.

Kids’ Books about Juneteeth

Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 that word of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached enslaved Texans, two years and six months after President Abraham Lincoln issued it. On June 19, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in the state and announced the news, making Texas one of the last states to legally abolish slavery. 

In 1980, Texas declared Juneteenth a statewide holiday and, thanks to the work of activists like Opal Lee, it recently became a federal holiday. To remember and celebrate the freedom the day commemorates, writer Courtney Runn compiled a list of inspiring and informative Juneteenth picture books to read with your children.

Picture Books for Pride Month

June is Pride month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in all its wonderful uniqueness. It’s an opportunity for queer families to be seen and to share. It’s also a time to spark some valuable conversations with your children. 

Early childhood educator Chrysta Naron has put together a list of some of her favorite joyful books with LGBTQ+ characters and stories for you to take a look at this month. Be prepared for giggles, touching conversations, and tons of rainbow color!

Books to Inspire (and Occupy) Your Kids All Summer 

If your child’s on summer vacation, it’s worth investing some time early on to cement the reading habit and ensure that reading books takes pride of place among free-time activities. Read our tips for summer reading and our article about proven ways to motivate kids to read for suggestions on building and reinforcing the love of reading. These include sharing books your child loves, books their friends are into, and books they can enjoy independently.

On that last note, if your child isn’t reading yet, consider getting some quality wordless picture books from your library or bookshop. They’re good for building comprehension, storytelling, reading fluency, and all-around book love. And they’re also fabulous for keeping kids gainfully entertained, at home or on the road (as are audiobooks!). 

If you’re hitting the road or getting together with relatives this summer, you’ll also want to check out our posts on building reading and writing into family travel, educational road trip games, and using books to set the scene for great visits with relatives. (We also have suggestions for fun summer activities that incorporate learning, to keep you and your little ones entertained around home!)

Picture Books about Your Child’s Interests

MayaSmart.com is your one-stop-shop for raising a reader. Check out our other kids’ book lists and articles. In addition to sharing books that tackle timely topics or important subjects, be sure to follow your child’s interests, as well. If your kid loves basketball or puppies—read about those topics. Following their interests keeps them engaged and helps you build a responsive relationship with your child. 

We’ll be back next month with the next installment of Smart Story Time. Meanwhile, feel free to message me with requests for future posts, book recommendations, or just to say hi!

What are you reading with your child this month? Connect on social media & let me know!