I grew up on the beach, so packing a bag and a cold sandwich and walking down to the scalding hot sand was a regular part of my summer vacation. We always brought some standards — fresh fruit, LOTS of sunblock (I learned my lesson early on, after a particularly bad sunburn!), plenty of beach towels, and of course, a few things to keep us entertained for when the waves got too rough or the sun got too bright.
As we head into the summer season now, I got to thinking about the best beach books — you know, those titles that so clearly capture what the summertime is all about: relaxing, swimming, friendships, and exploring!
So here are my top five choices for the best beach reads:
5. Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman (ages 10-14)
Hailey and Claire are best friends, but it seems like this summer, everything is changing. Claire’s family is moving away, and even their regular summer hangout — the beach club — is closing at the end of the season. Hoffman is one of my favorite authors, with her magical and mystical stories; this one is classic Hoffman, because one day the girls discover that a bad storm has delivered a mermaid to the shore. It should be simple enough to rescue the ever-weakening mermaid by bringing her back to the ocean, but alas, she’s in love with the boy running the beach club’s gift shop. Strange and dreamy, this beach read was turned into a feature film a few years ago. Check it out!
4. Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford (ages 9-12)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever put off a homework assignment! Well, we’ve all been there, and in this book, poor Moxy has put off her summer reading homework so long that she now has exactly one day to do it all. But she can’t help it if things keep getting in the way — like inventing stuff, or gardening. Will she finally read her homework before it’s too late? This hilarious book will leave you relieved that YOU haven’t waited until the last minute to complete your summer homework. (Hint, hint.)
3. Summer Reading is Killing Me! (The Time Warp Trio) by Jon Scieszka (ages 7-10)
Speaking of summer reading lists, have you ever misplaced yours? Sam, Fred, and Joe (members of the Time Warp Trio) find themselves stuck in the pages of books – literally! Now they have to deal with 266-pound chickens and other crazy book characters in order to help save the heroes of kids’ literature. A helpful reminder to keep your summer homework in a safe place!
2. Boy-Crazy Stacey (The Baby-sitters Club #8) by Ann M. Martin (ages 9-12)
This one holds a special place in my heart because in it, Stacey and Mary Anne spend two glorious weeks with the Pike family in Sea City, New Jersey — which was modeled after the beach towns I grew up near! This title has everything I love about summer: boardwalks, beach days, miniature golf, salt water taffy . . . I could go on. As usual, some baby-sitting crises arise, but Stacey and Mary Anne manage to come out on top and learn some key lessons.
1. Alice the Brave by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (ages 9-12)
At some point growing up I realized not everyone is as fond of the water as I am. Take Alice, who’s about to enter 8th grade. She and her friends spend all their days at a friend’s swimming pool — sounds relaxing, right? Well, not for Alice, because she’s way too busy hiding her fear of deep water from her friends — who, meanwhile, are busy with secrets and changes of their own. A great beach read for those of you who maybe don’t love the beach as much as I do!
So what about you all? When you go to the beach, which books do you like to read?
— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer