A Day at the Beach

Shaw/Watha T. Daniel LibraryStaff Picks

A Day at the Beach

Picture Books Featuring Waves, Sun, and Sand

Summertime is almost here! Going to the beach is one of my favorite things to do during the summer -- and we all know that there's nothing like a good book to go with a day near the seaside. If you like to splash in the water, build sandcastles, and explore animals that live underwater, then this list is for you. Enjoy a real or imaginary family trip to the shore with one of these beach-themed picture books!

Surf’s Up written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Daniel Miyares
What a perfect way to celebrate reading and a warm, sunny day by the sea. Two frogs named Bro and Dude are at the beach. Dude tries to convince Bro to come surf with him, but Bro is too wrapped up in his book. At first, Dude can’t believe that Bro would rather read than play outside, but the more he hears about the story on the way to ocean, the more curious Dude becomes -- and soon, he’s engrossed in the adventure-packed tale himself. Cowabunga! Recommended for ages 4-8.

The Pout-Pout Fish written by Deborah Diesen and illustrated by Dan Hanna
Blub, bluuub, bluuuuuuub. This a fun book with a great rhythm that just begs to be read aloud. Mr. Fish’s face always looks like he is pouting. Many different underwater animals try to encourage him to smile, but as Mr. Fish explains, “I’m a pout-pout fish, with a pout-pout face, so I spread the dreary-wearies all over the place.” Mr. Fish’s pessimistic attitude remains, until a friend surprises him with a kiss and changes his whole perspective. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Bebé Goes to the Beach written by Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Steven Salerno
Join Mamá and Bebé for their fun-filled day at la playa! Splash in the olas, chase a pelota, and enjoy a nice, cold helado after eating lunch under the umbrella. In this book, readers will find Spanish words sprinkled throughout rhyming text and illustrations that are bold and colorful. Like the ice cream cones that Mamá and Bebé enjoy, this book is a real treat from start to finish. A glossary at the end provides Spanish word pronunciations and translations for English speakers. If you like this one, check out Elya and Salerno’s other Bebé book, Bebé Goes Shopping. Recommended for ages 2-7.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
A small fish wearing a blue bowler hat informs readers, “This is not my hat.” He continues to explain that he stole the hat from a bigger fish, who was sleeping at the time. Though the small fish is convinced that no one will ever find him, the audience knows that the big fish is hot on his trail. Will the big fish right this wrong and reclaim his beloved hat, or will the small fish get away with his crime? This book is very funny, and has a similar feeling to Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back. Recommended for ages 4-8.

The Specific Ocean written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Katty Maurey
Though hesitant about her family beach trip at first, a young girl comes to love the spot where they stay on the Pacific Ocean one summer. She muses about how calming, freeing, and mysterious the ocean is, and finds herself wishing she could take a piece of it back to the city with her. When her brother advises against it, she makes a decision to carry this “specific ocean” with her, wherever she goes. This book’s lyrical language and quiet, beautiful illustrations will make a lasting impression on readers, both young and old. Recommended for ages 5-9.

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Mélanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is one of my favorite picture book characters. If you’ve read any of his books before, you know that he’s afraid of nearly everything. When it comes to beaches, Scaredy Squirrel prefers to avoid seagulls, jellyfish, and falling coconuts -- so he decides to make his own sandy paradise near his home. In true Scaredy Squirrel fashion, he makes a meticulous list of all the things he’ll need to make his DIY beach a reality. There’s only one problem: his beach doesn’t have the sound of the ocean, which can only be obtained by visiting an actual beach and bringing back a seashell to listen into. Find out what happens when Scaredy Squirrel faces his fears and heads to the beach… The outcome may surprise you! Recommended for ages 4-8.

Twenty Yawns written by Jane Smiley and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Lucy and her family spend a wonderfully busy and active day at the beach. As each of them lets out a big yawn, Lucy’s mother suggests an early bedtime. While her parents have no problem falling asleep, Lucy is kept awake by the bright moon shining right outside her window. She quietly explores the house and brings her many stuffed animal friends back to bed with her. Everyone yawns one last time, and finally, Lucy finds sleep. See if your child can count (and stay awake for) all twenty yawns! Recommended for ages 3-6.

How Will We Get to the Beach? A Guessing Game Story written by Brigitte Luciani, illustrated by Eve Tharlet, and translated by Rosemary Lanning
Roxanne plans to spend the day at the beach with a green turtle, a yellow umbrella, a thick book of stories, a ball, and her baby. However, when she gets to her car, she finds that it won’t start. As she starts to brainstorm alternative ways to get to the beach, Roxanne realizes that each one would require her to leave something behind. How on earth will they get to the beach with all of these wonderful things in tow? This book feels like a memory game of sorts, and your child will have fun guessing which item is missing with each suggested mode of transportation. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Llama Llama Sand & Sun by Anna Dewdney
This touch-and-feel board book is perfect for Llama Llama fans! Short and sweet, readers will find fun rhymes describing all kinds of different beach activities, like building a sandcastle, swimming in the ocean, and tossing a beach ball. The gritty sand, flashy sunglasses, and rubbery ball will make you feel like you’re actually at the beach, right alongside Llama Llama and his mama. Recommended for ages 2-5.

Wave by Suzy Lee
A young girl runs toward the shore, stopping where the sand meets the sea. She looks timid and a little frightened at first, but as she starts to playfully interact with the waves, she makes her way into the ocean. She soon finds out that she’s in for a few surprises, including a large wave that knocks her off her feet and some beautiful seashells left behind on the beach. Wordless picture books like this one give children a chance to get creative and make up their own story by closely studying and analyzing each picture. Discover something new with each read-through! Recommended for ages 5-8.