Monday, July 6, 2015

Summertime Books: A Day at the Beach

The salty wind
the sound of the sea
the sand and the sun
the waves and the spray 
a glistening, glittering
                          jewel of a day

From: Changes: A Child's First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow
Sourcebooks, 2015, 40 pages (age 3+

A Say at the Seashore by Kathryn and Bryon Jackson,
illustrated by Corinne Malvern
Little Golden Books, 1951/2010, 24 pages (3+)

 Maybe you remember this rhyming book as A Day at the Beach.  It's been reissued but the story stays the same.  Nancy and Timmy head off to the beach with they parents and puppy and spend a day at the shore digging, building sand castles, chasing crabs and just having some summertime fun.  It may feel a little dated now, but it is still a nice story for young kids.

Beach House by Deanna Caswell, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Chronicle Books, 2015, 32 pages (age 3+)

This is a real favorite now in my family.  We've spent years going to the Jersey shore on vacation and Beach House describes almost to a T just what it was like, right down to no beach till everything is unpacked.  Caswell has captured that wonderful beach feeling in her simple rhymes and I could almost smell the the salt air and feel the shore breeze as we read this beautifully illustrated picture book.

Beach Day by Karen Roosa, illustrated by Maggie Smith
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001, 40 pages (age 4+)

This is another favorite.  Roosa has also depicted a day at the beach.  Each activity is done in four line stanzas with an aaba rhyme scheme giving the readers the feeling of a pleasant, airy day by the shore.  The detailed watercolor (the perfect medium for a beach book) illustrations will make you want to head for the beach ASAP.  

Uh-Oh! by Shutta Crum, Illustrated by Patrice Barton
Random House, 2015, 32 pages (age 3+)

Two toddler friends, accompanied by their moms, head off to the beach in this almost wordless story.  The only word that appears in uh-oh.  But each uh-oh is followed by a new idea.  When the little girls glasses fall off, the kids pick them up and put them on the mound of sand they were building, turning it into a face.  You get the picture, I'm sure.  It's a nice book with a message along the lines of when you get lemons, make lemonade but for toddlers.

Beach written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
Scholastic Press, 2006, 40 pages (3+)

Elisha Cooper takes the reader to the beach for the day in this wonderful book of observations.  He begins the day with a panoramic two page empty morning beach and ends with another panoramic two page empty evening beach, covering everything in between, from the beach rituals of people, adults and kids alike, to different kinds of waves, shells, and cloud formations.  Perfect for beach lovers and for those who have never experienced life at the ocean's edge.   

Hello Ocean/Hola Mar by Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrated Mark Astrella
Charlesbridge, 2003, 32 pages (age 3+)

In this day at the beach book, Pam Muñoz Ryan explores the seashore through a young girl's five senses, all done in rhyme.  The illustrations capture the way the sun's rays can lighten color, giving them an classic sun-washed appearance.  With its focus on sight, sound, hearing, touch and smell, this is an ideal precursor to a young readers own seaside sensory explorations.  Best of all - t it is a dual language book in English and Spanish.

Wave written and illustrated by Suzy Lee
Chronicle Books, 2008, 40 pages (age 3+)

Have you ever watched kids approach the water's edge at the beach, running forward and backward with the ebb and flow of waves, timid but wanting to go in the water.  Well, Suzy Lee has captured those tentative moments perfectly in this wordless book.  Not only that, she has made good use of each page's gutter, using it to separate the sand on the left side from the ocean on the right.  But, will her shy little girl make to the right side of the page and into the water?

Flotsam conceived and illustrated by David Wiesner
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006, 40 pages (5+)

In this wordless book, a young boy, who loves to explore the beach, discovers an old camera that has washed up on shore.  Inside, he finds a role of film which he has developed.  Besides some imaginative underwater pictures, there is a photo of a girl holding a photo, which, on further investigation, is of another child holding a photo, and on and on.  What does the boy do?  Simple, heused the camera to  become part of the story himself.  This is one of my all time favorite books, in part, because of it so imaginative, and in part, because it shows kids that they are also always part of the story whenever they read a book.

At the Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman, illustrated by Monica Armiño
Tiger Tales, 2012, 32 pages (age 3+)

After a day at the beach, it's always fun to hit the boardwalk.  There are games, beach toys and sweet treats to be gotten, but it's also a nice place to blow some bubbles or go on rides.  Fineman depicts a day on the boardwalk with all its sights, sounds and smells in rhyming quatrains to the accompaniment of hazy, colorful realistic illustrations.

Roller Coaster written and illustrated by Marla Frazee
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006, 32 pages (age 3+)

I think most kids are fascinated by roller coasters and can't wait to ride them.  If they are still too young or too short, here is a book that manages to make the reader feel all the sensations of a roller coaster ride, from the anticipation while standing on line, to the coaster's slow steady climb up that first hill, and then down and around.  Frazee lets young readers know it's OK to change their mind at the last minute, but some people will ride again and again, if only by reading the fun book.

Feet Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner, illustrated by Maggie Smith
Alfred A. Knopf, 2015, 32 pages (age 3+)

Fiona's had a tiring day playing with her cousins on the beach, but can't relax to go to sleep.  With her mother's help, she begins to relax her body one part at a time, beginning with her toes.  As she relaxes, she thinks about why that part of her body is tired from playing on the beach - for example, her toes from gripping her flip flops, her tummy for eating delicious strawberries.  By the end of the book, Fiona has relaxed herself to sleep.  

See You Next Year by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Todd Stewart
Owlkids Books, 2015, 32 pages (age3+)

Everything good thing must come to an end, including summer vacation.  In this gentle story, a young girl narrates her family's beach vacation, from leaving their house to returning to it a week later.  The trip and the beach always have the same comforting sameness to them each year.  But this year, the girl makes a new friend at the beach, a boy who teaches her things like how to dive under the waves.  But a week goes by fast and soon it's time to go home, the kids promising each other they will be back next year.  I love the palette of colors Stewart chose for the illustrations.  They made me so nostalgic for my own youthful summer days at the beach.

I grew up only five miles from Coney Island.  When we were kids, we would ride our bikes to the beach whenever possible, packing our lunch in a shoebox that fit in the bike basket.  My dad taught me to swim in the ocean there and my only roller coaster experience was on the Cyclone there (five times, then never again).  Later, we began to spend summers on the Jersey shore, a few miles north of Cape May.  My Kiddo loves the beach as muich as I do, so naturally, I am always attracted to good beach books for kids, and we decided to pick a few favorites, some old, most new as we head off for another year of sun and fun.


  1. This is a great selection. One of my daughter's favourite beach picture book is Curious George at the Beach.

    1. Thanks, it was hard deciding what to use, but I'll have to reserve Curious George at the Beach for a possible follow up post, although I suspect it's alread a favorite with young readers like your daughter.


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