I’ve been living at the beach for ten years now, and even while I was living inland, I was still fortunate enough to visit the North Carolina coast annually, which I now call home. The beach is a big part of my life, and the lives of my children. Naturally, I’m drawn to beachy books as well. Here are some of my favorite, recently published picture books about the beach.
SEASIDE STROLL by Charles Trevino is a clever exploration in a stroll by the sea that echoes the swisha-wisha sounds of the serf through consonance and repetition of the ‘s’ sound. Every single word in the book begins with the letters. The poetic language is fun to read aloud, and after the adventure is through, readers can settle in for a good night’s sleep since this book also doubles as a bedtime story. The illustrations by Maribel Lechuga have brilliant, bold colors, and show movement in nature that we find along the coast, from sweeping gulls to crashing waves.
SNOW ANGEL SAND ANGEL written by Lois-Ann Yamanaka shares the story of Claire, a young, curious child who has never seen snow. Living in Hawai’i means visiting white, black, and even green sand crystal beaches, swimming through a coral reef, but what Claire wants more than anything is to build a snowman. With help from her family, she realizes she can have just as much fun on the sandy beaches of Kawaihae. Illustrations by Ashley Lukashevsky capture the spirit of Hawai’i’s Big Island and are as full of spirit as Claire’s heart.
Some readers may not consider ROOM FOR EVERYONE by Naaz Khan a picture book about the beach, but I think it qualifies for this list. With a small beach town in Zanzabar as the backdrop, the illustrations by Mercè López are lively and bursting with color, and readers can feel the movement of the dala dala as it rumbles its way to the shore. The impeccable rhyme and rhythm make it a joy to read aloud. It is a rhyming book, a counting book, and a beach book all wrapped into one.
SWASHBY BY THE SEA by Beth Ferry. This heartfelt, endearing picture book tells the story of a prickly old man who finds a friend along the seashore. The truth is, when the ocean sings one to sleep each night and serenades one awake each morning, as it does for Swashby, it’s hard to imagine how one could remain grumpy for too long. Illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner Juana Martinez-Neal tell half the story and young readers will have fun deciphering the messages the ocean leaves in the sand.
JULES VS THE OCEAN written and illustrated by Jessie Sima is a fun rendition of a day at the beach that any adventure-loving child will enjoy. Jules’s go-get-em attitude is encouraging, and we are rooting for this sweet girl who just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to seaside activities! With no help from the ocean, Jules is determined to build the best sandcastle ever to impress her sister, and despite many setbacks, she succeeds… even if the sea has other plans. Illustrations are action packed and expressive. JULES is a fun, laugh-out-loud story with lots of heart.
HUM AND SWISH written and illustrated by Matt Meyers is a breath of fresh air. A book about the joy of creating, it’s a healthy reminder that art is about the journey, not just the destination. In it a young artist hums as the ocean swishes, as she builds and plays; she just needs a little time to herself, but passersby keep asking pesky questions. It’s not until another quiet observer joins her side that Jamie is able to complete her work in peace. The illustrations are a vibrant celebration of the beach and the art of creation itself. Highly recommend.
THERE MIGHT BE LOBSTERS by Carolyn Crimi is an endearing, laugh-out-loud story about Sukie, an adorable, albeit timid, dog who just can’t quite find the strength to explore the beach because, alas… there might be lobsters. But when brave Eleanor nearly loses her beloved stuffed monkey, Sukie finds strength within to overcome her fears of the ocean. After that, the beach is her playground! Illustrations by Laurel Molk do a great job of putting us directly in Sukie’s point of view. Any reader who has ever wondered if there might be lobsters will enjoy this pep-talk of a book about overcoming one’s fears to enjoy the adventure.
Jenny Bowman is a freelance children's book editor and an aspiring children's book author. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, experimenting in the kitchen, or losing track of time on the beach.