Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's in your beach basket?: great beach reads for toddlers

Whenever I've had a moment this week, I've added something to the growing pile of stuff-we're-taking-to-Maine. Most exciting, for me, is the pile of books I've gathered to share with Lucy while we're there. I've been collecting picture books for about 17 years now, as a teacher, but always with the thought that some day, I'd be able to share them with my child. It is such a thrill to finally be pulling out these treasures to share with her. I love thinking about how these books that have little meaning to her at the moment will take on such richness next week when she's spent days on the beach, played in the ocean, held a shell, collected beach rocks... My selections are not (all) necessarily "toddler" books, because while I love a good board book and simple story line, I don't think that's all a toddler will read and appreciate. I choose books for their gorgeous illustrations or language, and at the toddler stage, look for concrete subjects that we'll encounter on our trip.

Here's what I'm packing for us to read together this time:

The Seashore Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown
Lucy loves books about sounds so much; she's going to adore this one. And these books about Muffin the dog are special favorites of hers. I love knowing, too, that they were favorites of my mother's when she was a girl.

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown and Leonard Weisgard
Because Margaret Wise Brown has a rhythm of language that toddlers really respond to, and because these illustrations are gorgeous. I can just see Lucy's little finger reaching out to point out all the animals and flowers and that black cat...

One Sun by Bruce McMillan
For word play and simple photographs of a beach day.

On My Beach there are Many Pebbles by Leo Lionni
I am a beachcomber. I love to walk the beach, gathering perfect stones and smooth beach glass and interesting shells. Lucy takes after me here, for sure! She gathers sticks and rocks wherever we go. I can't wait to gather beach treasures with her, and this book is a gorgeous one we'll read surrounded by our loot!

One White Wishing Stone by Doris Gayzagian
A quiet book, perfect for settling in at bedtime.

What's in the Tide Pool? by Anne Hunter
Just the right size for tiny toddler hands, with simple illustrations of just one thing per page. Good for older kids, too, but I think she'll love it.

Wave by Suzy Lee
Oh, this wordless book is beautiful! It reminds me of me as a child, daring the waves of Lake Michigan to come and get me; threatening them with thrown handfuls of sand. The last time we went to the beach, Lucy was so excited by the approaching waves. This time, she'll be so much more able to run from them (or into them!). Can't wait to share this book with her afterwards. (I buy most of my books used, but this one was so incredibly beautiful, I had to buy it new on one of our previous Maine trips.)

Little Star by Antonin Louchard
Another wordless book (I love wordless books). This one is much less concrete than the last, and will be understood differently by her as she grows. For now, I think she'll love finding the star on each page as it travels through the ocean, onto a beach, and into the sky.

Beach Ball by Peter Sis
Oh, how I love Peter Sis. Once upon a time, I didn't appreciate his style, but I've come to recognize his genius. This book, too, is one she'll find more and more in as she grows, but for now, I know she'll love finding the lost ball on each page.

Counting Our Way to Maine by Maggie Smith
Kind of cheesy, but had to get it, since it seems we travel to Maine every year.

The Sea Shore by M. E. Eldridge
Because I love the detailed, large drawings of things we'll see at the beach, and know Lucy will, too.

Golden Guides:
Oh, how I love the little Golden Guides. (They have to be the ones from the 60s, of course, because those were the ones in my house when I was a child.) Just enough information without being overwhelming; great illustrations (I like it when nature guides are illustrated rather than photographed); the perfect size to tuck in your pocket or purse or field bag. Lucy's discovered where I keep them on our library shelf, and pulls them out frequently to flip through them (they're also the perfect size for little hands). This year, I'm bringing:

Acadia and the Coast of Maine
A great find at a used bookstore when we were up there last year.
For obvious reasons.
Because Lucy's passionate about birds and loves pointing them out and hearing all their names.

(Wow. Some of those Amazon prices are insane! Clearly, I shouldn't be letting my toddler touch these $100 books. But guess what? For us, the value is in the reading and savoring, not in the collecting, so they're hers to love. Some prices are insane in the other direction, too. When I looked, that Seashores guide was 25 cents. Someone buy it quick! Those little Golden Guides books are awesome!)

Some fine print...I generally link to IndieBound because I hope you'll support your local bookstore. When I can't find a link there, I go to Amazon. If you buy a book after clicking over to IndieBound (you can order one from your local bookstore), I'll get some tiny commission (theoretically--it hasn't happened yet). But that's not really why I do these book lists; it's because I am passionate about children's books and love to share the great ones!


Joel Henriques said...

Wow, thanks for the great beach book list! I've definitely got to get some of these.

Julie said...

Can I go too?