Summer Reading List for Kids: 20 Staff Favorites

This week, staff at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) celebrated the upcoming arrival of my first child with a reading list of childhood favorites. These titles have touched the lives of my coworkers and their families and are sure to bring new laughs, new adventures, and new tears to your living room this summer.

My exposure to the Dubuque Campaign has taught me that learning starts in the womb, so reading 20 minutes a day to our child has already become an important part of our daily routine. We plan to add these great titles to our list this summer.

1. Brer Rabbit and Friends

“Because…it’s a wonderful, funny folktale. I love the liveliness (Zippity Do-Da!) and the sassy attitude of the characters. For example, ‘Brer rabbit was sho’ nuf’ mad now — strutting along like he owned the world'” – Nancy Van Milligen, President and CEO 


2. The Giving Tree

A good example for kids of what it means to give everything.” – Jenny Timmerman, Philanthropic Services Assistant


3. Giraffes Can’t Dance

“It’s a story about overcoming embarrassment and anxiety, learning to be comfortable in your own skin, and expressing yourself artistically.” – Jennifer Klinkhammer, Executive Director of the Foundation for Dubuque Public Schools  

4. Munschworks Grand Treasury

“So much fun to read out loud to your little. The artwork is great too. My favorite stories are Paper Bag Princess, I Have to Go! and Something Good.” – Amanda Bickel, Finance Assistant.



5. The Day the Babies Crawled Away

“This book was super cute and such a cool read. I read this one to all of my kiddos, boys and girls and they all got a kick out of it. This was one that I read to the older kids when I was expecting my youngest, so he has been hearing this story since the womb and still enjoys it every time.” – Erica Ysquierdo, Inclusive Dubuque  



6. Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

“I have read it to my nephews a THOUSAND times and it tends to grow on you.” – Katie Foust, Grants Mgmt. Coordinator



7. Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics

“I cannot recommend one but this book is the best because it has them all in one large book. We still have it and it is at least 17 years old (we got when my oldest was born). We have probably read that book 500 times. All different stories which you can read again and again.” –  Rebecca Kruse, Finance Director  


8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

“The first book I remember from my childhood is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. I remember it was my FAVORITE book in kindergarten. Not only was it a book about learning the alphabet, but it had this awesome computer game to go with it. Fostering my love of learning.” – Jenna Manders, Knowledge Management Director


9. The Day the Crayons Quit

“I love this book because if I’ve learned one thing in my short time as a parent it’s that when a kid loves a book, they love to read it 1,000 times a day. And if you have to read a book that many times, it better be funny for you as well …and this one is pretty funny.” – Rachel Dilling, Assistant Director of Communications  


10. Fox in Socks

“This book is super-silly with seriously challenging tongue-twisters, so it’s fun for adults to read and kids get a kick out of watching Mom & Dad struggle to keep up with the crazy sentences. The sense of dread as you come up on the ‘tweetle beetle bable’ fills your child with glee! This book is more fun than a ‘noodle-eating poodle.'” – Jason Neises, Community Development Coordinator

11. Whoever You Are

“‘Whoever you are, wherever you are, there are little ones just like you all over the world.’ This was one of the first books we began reading to our children. Not only are the images a beautiful tapestry of diverse children, we also loved the message that no matter what our exterior appears to be, we are all the same within. This message was especially meaningful as we are not only raising children in a transracial family, but we are providing them with opportunities that will teach them social and cultural awareness. In the end if we can teach them love, empathy and compassion for others regardless of what we look like or what we believe, then maybe we did ok.” – Corrine Kroger, Iowa Regional Director of Vision To Learn 


12: Give Me Grace

“This a colorful board book with prayers for kindness, love and gratitude presented in a childlike manner.” – Faye Finnegan, Director of Donor Relations


13: If The Dinosaurs Came Back

“It was the first book that I could get my guys to read with me when they were babies. I think it was the fact that it’s in black and white except for the dinosaurs. The colors caught their aBenQon and they sat sQll enough for me to read to them. They spent many years after that in a love affair with anything dinosaur, including all of the horrible B Godzilla movies.” – Katrina Farren-Eller, Inclusive Dubuque Coordinator


14. Steam Train Dream Train

“This book has the most beautiful, colorful illustrations of animals loading a train and then going to sleep. The verse is bouncy and fun to read, and it has an ending that is open to interpretation.” – Hillary Baker, Director of Communications



15. Guess How Much I Love You

“Adorable book, easy read, great message and works whether you’re newborn or three years old or more. Just bought it for my grandson for Easter and added a bunny that looked like the one on the cover.” – Mary Jo Gothard, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Jackson County.


16. Love You Forever

“I love the message in this story that no matter how old your child is, they will always be your child.” – Julee Albers,  Director of Youth Impact


17. On the Day You Were Born

“It connects the celebration of our natural world to the celebration and welcome of each new member to our world! It’s a cute short book!” – Jasmine Sronkoski, Americorps VISTA


18. The Kissing Hand

“It is about a mother raccoon comforting her baby raccoon by kissing his paw. . .so whenever the baby raccoon is separated from his mother. . . he can put his hand to his face and feel his mother’s love so he won’t be sad or homesick.” – Kay Ann Griebel, Executive Assistant


19. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

“Great, wholesome story about a boy and his stuffed animal friends.” – Wendy Sweeney, Nonprofit Partnership Coordinator


20. The Cat in the Hat

“Because, ‘It is fun to have fun but you have to know how,’ is a line you can use over and over to teach children as long as they live.” – MJ Smith, Director of Affiliates

Do you have your own favorites? Leave yours in a comment below.

Jon Aguilar is a Communications Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.


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