Earlier this month, famed forecaster Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his groundhog lair and spotted his shadow, thereby predicting six more weeks of winter weather. Of course, for those of us residing in the northerly regions served by CLiF, our forecast is far grimmer than even Phil could possibly foretell. We have many seasons still to endure before true spring arrives. We’re unwitting passengers on a winter weather roller coaster that won’t stop to let us disembark. We’ll have to be patient. The good news? It’s “curl up by the fire with a good book” season for the foreseeable future!
While some people may use the dreary days of late winter to knock off, say, the complete unabridged works of Tolstoy, I personally find this time of year optimal for immersing myself in the genre commonly known as the “beach read.” That’s right, the sort of lighter, fluffier fare that requires no real intellectual commitment to the story line. I can fly through a stack of brightly covered paperbacks with the greatest of ease; a delicious guilty pleasure akin to having ice cream for dinner. I define a successful page turner as one that draws me in so completely that I don’t even hear the phone ring when school calls to announce yet another snow day.
Kids, too, tend to enjoy a good beach read this time of year, or really, any time of year. In their case, that means a book that’s literally about the beach, and really, who couldn’t use a dose of sun and sea about now? To tide young readers over til the warmer days ahead, we’ve compiled a list of beachy books for all ages, guaranteed to inspire oceanic imaginings. Happy reading to all!
Llama Llama Sun and Sand, by Anna Dewdney
Who loves the beach? Llama Llama, that’s who! Everyone’s favorite camelid has a blast building sandcastles and splashing in the waves.
Chu’s Day at the Beach, by Neil Gaiman
Guess who else loves the beach? Chu! Well, sort of. Except it makes him sneeze, and then things get a little crazy.
Harry by the Sea, by Gene Zion
Harry’s day at the beach involves getting covered with seaweed, mistaken for a sea monster and separated from his family. Every dog has its day–this wasn’t Harry’s.
Flotsam, by David Wiesner
A gorgeous and wordless Caldecott Medal-winning book about a boy who discovers an underwater camera at the beach and unlocks the secrets it keeps.
The Blue Whale, by Jenni Desmond
A nonfiction picture book that draws children into the life and world of the titular enormous animal.
This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen
Another Caldecott winner, in which a small, hat-stealing fish gets his comeuppance.
Fish and Sun, by Sergio Ruzzier
A bored fish makes his way to the surface of the sea and befriends the sun. Then it sets.
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Sharks, by Katie Tsang and Kevin Tsang
Misleading title because Sam Wu IS very afraid of sharks. But if he wants to attend his friends’ birthday party at the beach, he’ll have to overcome his fears. Can he do it?
Wind Riders #1: Rescue on Turtle Beach, by Jen Marlin
Max and Sofia find an abandoned sailboat that magically takes them to Hawaii to rescue baby sea turtles. Now THAT’S a find.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton
Narwhal and his good buddy, Jelly, love waffles, parties and undersea adventures. A winning combo! (Grades 1-4)
Shark Summer, by Ira Marcks
Set on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer production of a Hollywood shark movie (not Jaws but sort of Jaws), this is a beautifully illustrated coming of age story. (Grades 3-7)
Science Comics: Coral Reefs, Cities of the Ocean, by Maris Wicks
Both fun and educational, this science comic explores the biology of coral reefs as well as their ecological importance. (Grades 4-7)
The Line Tender, by Kate Allen
Living with her father in a New England fishing town, 12-year-old Lucy must complete the shark research left unfinished by her late mother in order to lift the cloud of grief over her family.
The Forget-Me-Not Summer, by Leila Howland
Three California sisters have their summer plans upended when their parents send them to Cape Cod to live with their aunt, who doesn’t own a TV, and makes them share a room. Bonding experiences ensue.
Beyond the Bright Sea, by Lauren Wolk
Twelve-year-old Crow is an orphan who was discovered adrift in a boat when she was just hours old, and has lived on an isolated Massachusetts island ever since with Osh, the man who rescued her. Determined to learn her history, Crow finds herself on a path of discovery and danger.
Who Would Win: Ultimate Shark Rumble, by Jerry Pallota
This entry in the popular Who Would Win series explores the outcome of a theoretical underwater battle between 16 types of sharks,
Blast Back: The Titanic, by Nancy Ohlin
Not really a beach read, per se, but the ocean does feature. This book looks at life on the doomed Titanic, with plenty of interesting facts to engage the reader.
Who Was Jacques Costeau?, by Nico Medina
A look at the life of the most famous name in the world of deep-sea exploration.