Summer Picture Book Clubs: Taking the Play Date Up a Level


Leveling up the Play Date.

Who says learning can’t be fun? When my girls were young, they’d prance off to alternating friends’ houses holding their lunch boxes for what is known today as a “Play Date.” We mothers would take turns providing drinks and supervising the kids while they played for a couple of hours, have lunch together outside, and then come home.

By organizing a Summer Book Club, you will be inviting kids of similar age and interests over to your home to listen to a story together and then do an activity or craft.

All the stories that we’ll use for the Summer Book Club are picture books that I’ve read aloud on my You Tube channel, Creating Smart Readers – always free to watch, of course.

At the end of each read-aloud story, I talk about a few ideas to enhance the story with an activity or craft.  I’ve tried to gather up some good ones for summer. I will continue to add to this blog post with each new story so you can go in any order. Depending on where you live, you can go out in the yard or stay inside and use your living room or kitchen. The most important thing is to have fun with the kids and relate it to a picture book.  So, here goes!

My Part

  • I will add new read-aloud stories as fast as I can on my You Tube channel, Creating Smart Readers. You can pick and choose according to your family schedule, schooling, and vacations.
  • I will coordinate the story with links and activities that I will post here on the website.

Your Part

  • Subscribe to my You Tube channel.
  • Take a peek here first so you can prepare necessary materials for your club meeting.
  • Choose a day and time and invite your members (relatives, friends, neighbors).
  • Listen to my read-aloud story together.
  • Gather the kids together for a supervised activity or craft.
  • Share your final products with each other over a small snack.

1. Scribble Stones

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This is the cutest – but short – story with a big message! A good activity after reading is to gather and then paint stones with designs or messages to give away to others as “Happiness Rocks.”  You can find more information on the author’s link:

In addition, this is a 6 minute tutorial on rock painting for beginners: . Please note that this is a You Tube channel that contains ads so it is for adults.

2.  William the Curious, Knight of the Water Lilies

Me 3This picture book has the most beautiful illustrations I’ve ever seen – so realistic, especially the ones of the guards at the drawbridge! This is a story about saving the environment from pollution. You can enjoy the read-aloud on my You Tube channel, same link as above.

I have included a link for kids’ activities for recycling.  I hope you can help them choose one or more to do at home.

Every year, when my children were young, we would clean out their toys and have a garage sale. Then they could write a list of new toys they wished to get for their birthdays. If you are ambitious and want to organize a yard/garage sale with your kids, younger kids might  enjoy this You Tube video about Barney and a yard sale. As always, please take a look at videos before your children watch them.

3.  By the Light of the Captured Moon

This is a fun story about a young boy who tries to bring the moon into his bedroom and hide it from his mother who keeps telling him to turn off his light.  Like Billy in the story, you and your children can have an adventure with the moon using the links below. Please always look at them first.

4. Rainbow Fish

This is an all-timIMG_3106 (1)e favorite of kids and it’s the perfect read-aloud story and art activity for a rainy day. Of course, any day is good but rainy days call for extra pizazz!  Plan ahead and gather up some paper, glue, glitter pens, markers, and glitter. First, join us for a read-aloud story on You Tube. Then let the kids get messy by creating their own rainbow fish.

rainbowThis is one craft idea that I found on Pinterest.  There are hundreds of other ideas for crafts using paper plates and other materials on that site.


5.  Mister Seahorse

51aFJnD9gSL._SX360_BO1,204,203,200_An adorable story about various fish fathers that care for the eggs until the new babies  hatch. Eric Carle, of course, is well known for his colorful illustrations. After listening to this story on my You Tube channel, Creating Smart Readers (link above), let the kids get messy with colored tissue paper and glue to design their own fish in the Eric Carle style.

Also, Pinterest has millions of ideas for crafts related to seahorses and underwater creatures. Here are a few links.

6.  We are Dolphins

dolphinsThis story brings kids into the sea with mother dolphin and her newborn baby.  We follow along as mother shows the baby how to survive and play in the ocean. This is a link to a short underwater video where you can view dolphins swimmi

And, here is a link for making cute dolphin crafts.,interested%20in%20learning%20how%20to%20hand…%20More%20

7.  Shark Lady

shark ladyThis is the true story of Eugenie Clark who was fascinated by sharks as a child and grew up to become a fearless  ocean scientist.

Some interesting shark facts in a cartoon can be seen using this link.

And, a shark study would not be complete without doing some crafts. Try some of these.

8.  One Tiny Turtle

tiny turtleThis book has been one of my favorite read-aloud stories to use for a multitude of elementary-school lessons including lifecycles for science. Later, use the graphic organizer of the 4 cycles in this story to write a report.

But, this is summer and here are some fun activities to try. I was lucky to have real photos of a beach in Florida that protected the baby turtles when they were hatching.  I’ve tried to find some videos for you that are just as interesting and awesome to watch.

cupcakeHere’s an adorable idea for making a turtle=decorated cupcake.  Great fun for an outdoor picnic for your Summer Book Club buddies!



9. Manfish

Copy of Join us for StoriesThis is a biography of Jacques Cousteau. I will read it on my You Tube Channel, Creating Smart Readers.

I hope you and your Summer Reading Club group of kids will enjoy making wonderful underwater scenes after this story. Here are some ideas.

Travel under the ocean to explore this video about the Coral Reef.

Try to create your own world under the ocean.

I hope you and your children enjoyed your Summer Book Club.  I will leave this post up until the end of August.  By then, all these stories will be up and running on my You Tube.  Until then, “Happy Reading!”