We’re already hearing, “I’m bored,” from the kids this summer, which is where we turn to all the cool kids’ activity books available. Having a stash around our house for them to choose from is one trick that’s helped around our house; it usually gives them a good 30 minutes to an hour of creative fun before they’re ready to move on to something else.

These are such great options whether your kid is into crafting, writing, music-making or photography — or hasn’t yet discovered a passion, but might, if presented with the right opportunity.

Whichever is right for your own kids, you’ll find tons of options for creative, screen-free time, whether you’re hitting the road or just chilling in the backyard this summer.

Find these all at our affiliate Amazon our your local indie bookseller.

Related: 50 screen-free activities for kids to do indoors and outdoors this summer

Kids' activity books for summer: Exploring Nature by Kim Andrews

For exploring nature…
I spend half of my summer telling my kids to “get outside,” but arming them with Kim Andrews’s new Exploring Nature Activity Book for Kids might give them some direction. Each activity clearly outlines the materials kids will need, as well as step-by-step instructions and visual guides to make it all easy.  My 9-year-old and his older siblings could easily head out and do every one of these activities on his own, without my help.

Kids' activity books for summer: Build Your Own Theme Park by Lizz Lunney

For making papercrafts…
All you need is scissors and glue (or tape) for the new Build Your Own Theme Park paper craft book by Lizz Lunney. This is honestly the kind of book that I’d want to pull up a chair and enjoy with my kids, as we imagine and create our own amusement park together. Warning: may cause children to ask for family vacation to theme park upon completion.

Kids activity books for summer: Backyard Adventure by Amanda Thompson

For getting busy outside…
With ideas that range from building a tire swing to backyard science experiments and theatre productions, Amanda Thompson makes your backyard a place of endless possibilities with her new Backyard Adventure: 51 Free-Play Activities. While many of the ideas look like they’ll probably need an adult’s help to get them set up, the results will be the kinds of things kids are able to play with all summer long. For my own son, I’ll be starting with the tiny garden inhabited by action figures (and, in our case, monster trucks too).

 

Kids' activity books for summer: Share Your Smile by Raina Telgemeier

For flexing writing muscles…
We’re huge fans of Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels, so when I she’s out with a new interactive activity book for tweens, I couldn’t resist. Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story walks kids through the process of writing their own story (as you might have guessed from the title), from organizing their thoughts to tips for creating engaging graphic illustrations.

Related: 20 free things to do with your kids this summer when you’re all out of ideas

Kids' Activity Books for summer: Read All About It by Kristen Baczynski

For starting a publishing empire…
We get a lot of activity books to review here, but Read All About It: 10 Mini-Magazines to Make and Share by Kristyna Baczynski is one my kids grabbed away from me and proceeded to work through each night until it was finished. There are 10 fillable mini-magazines inside, each centered on a different topic like animals or dreams. I’ve loved their screen-free time working on it, and I’ve been shocked by their creativity — like the drawing my son did of a worm’s living room. Hilarious.

Be a super awesome photographer by Henry Carroll: Great new activity books for kids

For going beyond selfies…
Be A Super Awesome Photographer: 20 Photo Challenges Inspired by the Masters is a wonderfully simple activity book for kids who feel at home behind a camera — or want to be. Kids will be instantly captivated by Henry Carrol’s challenges with names like “Pretend you’re a dog,” “Be sneaky,” and “Be gross.” He’s so encouraging and positive, that he removes the intimidation factor from photography. And he shares a fun professional photo with kid-appeal to highlight each assignment that really bring the possibilities to life.

 

Kids' activity books for summer: Sewing School: Fashion Design

For DIY’ing your own clothes and accessories…
For tweens and teens who are into fashion, the newest edition of Sewing School: Fashion Design by Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle is a great way to get them creating this summer. This book includes instructions for how to make a shirt, a skirt, and shorts all on their own, and it includes tips for fixing common problems — like, your skirt is too long. I think making these pieces with their hands is great confidence booster for kids.

 

Kids' activity books for summer: Make Music!

For turning noise into music…
I love the idea of the new activity book for kids, Make Music!: A Kids’ Guide to Creating Rhythm, Playing with Sound, and Conducting and Composing Music by Norma Jean Haynes, Ann Sayre Wiseman and John Langstaff. Partly because I don’t have a musical bone in my body. So this book can help me encourage a love for music in my kids, even without my own expertise. Musical activities range from learning skills like whistling to making music with your shoes (by gluing pennies to the bottom, smart!) to building your own bass with a box. This will keep any music-lover busy for the rest of the summer, no doubt.

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