I love to bring along children's books that relate to our trip whenever we travel. I think kids love to read about things that relate to their real life, and books can make us more curious and excited about the details of our experience, too. Since we've been to the beach a few times this summer, we now have a pretty good beach book collection! Here are a few of our favorites:
Jenny's Suprise Summer by Eugenie - This Little Golden Book is an oldie but a goodie. I read the book when I was growing up and saved it to share with my own children. Jenny visits her grandmother by the ocean, and while she's there, she finds two kittens. She plays with them all summer, but then when it's time to go back home to the city, her parents tell her that she can only bring one of the kittens back home with her. She has a hard time making the decision, until she considers the different personalities of each cat. I like the way the author builds the relationship between Jenny and her kittens, and how easy it is to develop empathy for Jenny's situation. I also love how logical she is about making her decision in the end. Overall, this is a very sweet story set at the beach, and my 5 year old daughter has loved it for several years now.
Just Grandma & Me by Mercer Mayer - Mercer Mayer is a favorite at our house, and this story of Little Critter's visit to the beach does not disappoint. It's just an ordinary day at the beach, but Little Critter feels special being there on his own with just his Grandma. My daughter has liked this book from the time she was two, and although now that she is almost 6, she's able to read more complex stories than this one, she still requests it because she can relate to all the fun activities they do at the beach.
Big Al by Andrew Clements - I just discovered Big Al this summer, and my daughter and I really love it! It's a story of a very ugly fish who has a hard time making friends because he scares them all away. He tries lots of things (including hiding his true size, shape, etc.) to make friends, but in the end, his brave and caring actions make all the fish love him just the way he is. It's a great story with extremely beautiful illustrations, and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it this summer!
Mr. Seahorse by Eric Carle - In his classic artistic and engaging style, Eric Carle teaches children about the many sea creatures whose fathers take care of them as they grow. My daughter especially loves the pages where there is a clear overlay hiding the sea creatures, and then when you turn the page, you can see the new daddy tilapia or eel caring for its babies. In the end, the little seahorses have to go on their way, but the Mr. Seahorse tells them how much he loves them. This is a sweet story that made my 5 year old daughter curious about different sea creatures, and we really enjoy reading it together.
What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Zoehfeld - This nonfiction informational book is a wonderful resource for little shell collectors. The author teaches about shells and the animals that live in them in a very simple, straight-forward way that is interesting to preschoolers (and to me!). This book held my daughter's attention, and was a fun way to make her shell collection come to life once we got back home by trying to match what she had found at the beach to the book illustrations.
Stella Star of the Sea by Marie Louise Gay - This sweet little story book stars Stella and her little brother, Sam. Sam has never been to the ocean before and is reticent to get into the water, but his sister Stella is a pro and knows everything about the sea. Sam asks a zillion questions about the ocean until he becomes comfortable enough to join Stella in the sea. I like the way Stella answers all her brother's questions with kid logic--it's very cute! I also like this book for helping children who aren't sure about getting into the ocean realize that it's like that for everyone their first few times at the beach.
Moon Song by Mildred Plew Meigs - My mom got me this book back when I was in college, to save for her future grandchildren. It is gorgeous and mystical, and so interesting! It's a rhyming book with beautiful lyrics, and makes references to constellations and ocean folklore. I love the chorus of the poem ("and the waves roll in, and the waves roll out, and the nodding night wind blows, but why the moon man fishes the sea, only the moon man knows"). It's a rare book that is super expensive to buy, but you might be able to borrow it from your library, and trust me, you'll be glad you did!
8. Children's Animal Enclyclopedia by Sally Morgan - We also brought along an "animal encyclopedia" last time we went to the beach, that was a pretty big hit. We found what I thought was a hermit crab one day at the beach, then looked it up that night, and figured out that it was really a "shore crab." We also looked up manatees, pelicans, coquinas (those little clam-shaped shells that dig down into the beach by the shore!), and my daughter and niece (5 and 8 yrs old) were really into it. Each night, they were so excited to see what we would learn about before bed. Way to make a mom feel cool!
Do you have a favorite book you've read with your children this summer?