Book List: Inspiring books for spring and summer

We’ve been reading some wonderful new books this spring, and they’ve inspired us to enjoy the sunshine with some creative and fun outdoor activities.

1) Baking creative and imaginative cakes:

Inspired by A Great Cake

By Tina Matthews

ISBN: 978-1921720062

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Walker Books Australia, October 2012

RRP: $24.95

Without the ingredients Harvey needs to bake a cake, he applies his imagination and gathers his own ingredients, a range of items from the bathroom, toy room and garden, to make some interesting and creative cakes that are more suited to snails, lizards and butterflies than they are to people.

A Great Cake is a superb book for pre-schoolers. It explores both the natural inclination of children to make their own plans for the day and their beautiful ability to be resourceful and incredibly imaginative.

Although a delightful fictional story, A Great Cake follows a repetitive structure, which will help young children to understand processes and instructional texts.

Read our full book review of A Great Cake

Suitable for ages: 3+ (★★★★★)

2) Baking outdoors with fragrant ingredients from the garden:

Inspired by Mudpies and Other Recipes

By Marjorie Winslow and Erik Blegvad


Format: Hardcover

Publisher: NYRB Children’s Collection , November 2010

This small, nostalgic book is simply magical. It provides children with inspiration and a licence to be creative. It is an adorable make-believe cookbook that harnesses the imagination of children. Recipes are set out under one of 5 courses. Recipes such as Woodchip Dip, Mud Puddle Soup, Gravel En Casserole and Dandelion Soufflé will guarantee that little boys and girls will be putting on the best tea parties for their dolls, fairies and goblins.

Suitable for ages 4+ (★★★★)

3) Taking a nature walk:

Inspired by Ten Tiny Things

Author: Meg McKinlay

Illustrator: Kyle Hughes-Odgers

ISBN: 978-1921888946

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Fremantle Press, July 2012

RRP: $24.99

Told through an engaging story and incredible, earthy illustrations painted on wood panels, Ten Tiny Things is an absolutely exquisite book, with a very significant message.

Zachary’s machine breaks down, they are forced to walk to school. At first they are horrified by the thought, until they start spotting tiny things, such as feathers and shells, in hidden places.

It doesn’t take the children long to realise that the world is made up of amazing things that you can’t see if you’re stuck indoors; the only way to enjoy the world is to slow down and explore it.

Suitable for ages: 3+ (★★★★★)

Read full review and 5 follow-up activities for Ten Tiny Things

4) Planting some sunflowers:

Inspired by dirtgirlworld scrapbook

By Leaf Journals

RRP: $39.95

Available for purchase at Leaf Journals

A fully expandable scrapbook that can become a daily diary, a garden journal, a recipe book, an art pad or a field guide.

It includes:

- Ideas for keeping your scrapbook

- 64pp heavy weight dirtgirlworld blank pages

- Full colour scraps and craft papers

For someone who is not a green thumb, this book provides me with lots of ideas and guidance in giving Cam some garden experiences.

Suitable for ages 3+ (★★★★★)

5) Dressing up:

Inspired by Yellow Dress Day

By Michelle Worthington

Illustrator: Sophie Norsa

ISBN: 978-1921928291

Format: Hardback

Publisher: New Frontier Pty Ltd, September 2012

RRP: $24.95 (aud)

This is a truly delightful story told accompanied by great typography and whimsical illustrations.

You never know what type of day spring or summer will bring in Australia. Thankfully, Ava has a dress for every occasion. According to the weather, there are red dress days, blue dress days, purple dress days, pink dress days and yellow dress days, but what happens when Ava’s yellow dress is in the wash? With the help of her mother, Ava solves the problem and enjoys playing in the sunshine.

The story is seemingly told through the eyes of a child with Rett or Aspergers Syndrome, but it is a lovely and relevant story for all children in helping  to problem solve when plans are spoiled.

Part of the proceeds of this book goes directly to the International Rett syndrome Foundation.

Suitable for ages: 3+ (★★★★★)

6) Enjoying days when we have no plans:

Inspired by Today We Have No Plans

Author: Jane Godwin

Illustrator: Anna Walker

ISBN: 978-0670075201

Format Hardcover

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia, September 2012

RRP: $24.99 (aud)

Summer has always been my favourite season. It’s so wonderful because you can take a break from a scheduled life and be spontaneous; taking advantage of those hot, sunny days by heading to the beach or eating your lunch outdoors.

That’s what makes this book a perfect summer read. The talented team that brought us All Through the Year has created another delightful story; one that accurately describes modern family life through its poetic text and detailed, but beautiful illustrations.

This time, readers are taken on one family’s  journey through a busy week of scheduled activities, which includes swimming, sport and music classes.

When Sunday finally comes around, the family is no longer restricted by commitments. They take the time to slow down, enjoy each other’s company and spend a slow day at home playing, crafting and reading.

Suitable for ages 4+ (★★★★★)

7) Having fun and enjoying the spring sunshine:

Inspired by A Hare, a Hound and Shy Mousey Brown

Author: Julia Hubery

Illustrator: Jonathan Bentley

ISBN: 978-1921541384

Format: Hardback

Publisher: Little Hare (Hardie Grant Egmont), August 2012

RRP: $24.95

Accompanied by Jonathan Bentley’s delightful illustrations, A Hare, a Hound and Shy Mousey Brown is a rollicking story  with a friendly little twist. It’s rhyming text makes it perfect for reading aloud.

It’s spring time, and one effervescent hare tries to wake a sleepy hound. The hound doesn’t want to play, but he does consider eating the hare.

It’s a shy brown mouse, who fears he’d never been seen, that comes to the rescue with a feather in hand. The hare and the mouse become great friends, and look forward to the whole array of adventures that spring has to offer.

Suitable for ages: 4+ (★★★★)

If you want access to more books that encourage you to enjoy the seasons and the outdoors, check out these book lists:

Have you got a favourite book you love to read with your children during spring or summer?

Book List: Inspiring books for spring and summer


  1. Thank you for introducing us to some new to us picture books and suggesting some great activities to extend them :)

  2. There are so many great ideas here Jackie. I so need to buy these for our shelves!

  3. It’s late fall here, of course, but when we need a reminder of sunshine and flowers, we’ll pick up one of these books. :)

  4. Thanks for such a great list of ideas and books! (Though I admit I’m a little jealous looking at all your warm weather pictures. : ))

  5. These books look wonderful! I love all the outdoor play activities you feature in this post!

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn. I will be featuring this post on the Read.Explore.Learn. Facebook page today.

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Book List: Inspiring books for spring and summer

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