20 Picture Books That Belong in Your Beach Bag

By Sarah Meade

June 21st is the first day of summer. Do you have all of your beach reads ready? Don’t forget your youngest readers, because kids need fun summer books, too. Check out 20 of the best picture book beach reads published in 2019.

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  1. Chip and Curly by Cathy Breisacher

Chip the potato chip is sure he has the annual Spud City Festival sack race in the bag--he's been practicing all year. The Home Fries (local baseball team) and Sweet Potatoes (cheer squad) are all rooting for him. The French Fries even bring their tots over for an autograph. But when Curly the springy curly fry shows up, Chip knows he's in trouble. 

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2. Cowhide-and-Seek by Sheri Dillard

When Bessie hears the farmer counting his cows, she thinks he's starting a game of hide-and-seek. She hurries off to hide, determined to be the winner- but she's the only one playing! When her "hiding spot" walks away, she follows it . . . right off the farm!

Ready or not, here comes the farmer! Will Bessie find the perfect place to hide?

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3. Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea Tsurumi

Under the sea, fish do what fish do: Seahorse hides, Pufferfish puffs up, Parrotfish crunches coral, and Crab . . . bakes cakes? Scallop swims, Dolphin blows bubbles, and . . . Crab bakes cakes.

And so life goes on, until one night when everything changes with a splash! In the face of total disaster, can Crab's small, brave act help the community come together and carry on?

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4. Dancing Through Fields of Color: The Story of Helen Frankenthaler by Elizabeth Brown

They said only men could paint powerful pictures, but Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) splashed her way through the modern art world. Channeling deep emotion, Helen poured paint onto her canvas and danced with the colors to make art unlike anything anyone had ever seen. She used unique tools like mops and squeegees to push the paint around, to dazzling effects. Frankenthaler’s artwork continues to electrify new generations of artists today. 

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5. The Fisherman & the Whale by Jessica Lanan

Jessica Lanan’s dreamy and dramatic watercolor paintings bring to life a wordless story about wonder in the natural world.

A fisherman takes his son for a trip out on the water. When they encounter a whale entangled at sea, they realize a connection that transcends the animal kingdom.

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6. The Fourth of July by Jerry Spinelli

A responsible little boy who's eager to do his part wakes up joyful and ready to celebrate his favorite day of all. But there's a lot of work to do--pies to be baked, deviled eggs to be filled--and the boy has lots of jobs to complete before he can enjoy the fun . . . the world's best picnic! Face painting! A band concert!

And then, after what seems like the longest wait ever . . . he can kick back and enjoy the fireworks with the rest of the country.

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7. Going Down Home with Daddy by Kelly Starling Lyons

Down home is Granny’s house. Down home is where Lil’ Alan and his parents and sister will join great-grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Down home is where Lil’ Alan will hear stories of the ancestors and visit the land that has meant so much to all of them. And down home is where all of the children will find their special way to pay tribute to family history. All the kids have to decide on what tribute to share, but what will Lil’ Alan do?

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8. Goodnight Lagoon by Lisa Ann Scott

Read along to this sweet, playful parody of Goodnight Moon, featuring pirates, a narwhal, a sleepy mermaid, and creatures of the ocean! Join the mermaid as she says goodnight to the lagoon--to the pirate and the dune, to the whales and sails, to the seashells and the ship bells. To each, the little mermaid says goodnight.

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9. The Great Indoors by Julie Falatko

When the humans head out to go camping, the animals settle in for a relaxing holiday of their own!

Teen bear takes over the bathroom with her curling iron, the beavers prepare their fanciest recipes, and the deer kick up their feet for a dance party.

What starts as a little unwinding soon escalates to a big mess, just in time for everyone to head home. . . .

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10. A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park by Ashley Benham Yazdani

How did Central Park become a vibrant gem in the heart of New York City? Follow the visionaries behind the plan as it springs to green life.

 

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11. Ida and the Whale by Rebecca Gugger

What lies behind the sun, the moon, and the stars?

Ida can’t stop thinking about these and other very important questions. Then one night, a flying whale wakes her and takes her on an amazing journey—where some of her questions are answered and even more created.

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12. I'm a Narwhal by Mallory Loehr

I am NOT a unicorn. I am NOT a fish. I’m a narwhal!

There’s nothing quite as cute as a narwhal, and now Little Golden Book fans can take a dive into the sea and meet one of the ocean’s most mysterious animals. With lots of endearing and interesting information and bright illustrations, young readers will be eager to jump into this underwater adventure time and time again!


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13. The Little Red Stroller by Joshua Furst

When Luna is born, her mommy gives her a little red stroller. It accompanies her and her mommy through all the activities of their day, until she outgrows the stroller and is able to pass it down to a toddler in her neighborhood who now needs it.

And so the stroller lives on, getting passed from one child to the next, highlighting for preschool readers the diversity of families: some kids with two mommies, some with two daddies, some with just one parent, and all from different cultures and ethnicities. 

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14. Ninja Camp by Sue Fliess

Pack your bags and grab your gear: you're going to Ninja Camp!

Listen closely to the ninja master, who will teach you everything you need to know to become a ninja warrior-but it won't be easy. You'll have to be sly and swift, strong and speedy, and only then will you become a Ninja of the Night!

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15. Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves by Lauren H. Kerstein

It's summertime, and you're invited for a rollicking day at the pool with Charlie and his pet dragon (and best friend!), Rosie. But be careful--swimming with a dragon can be, um, challenging. As Rosie and Charlie blow bubbles (don't forget your umbrella!), practice flutter kicks (watch out for tidal waves!), and offer shoulder rides (hang on tight!), Rosie proves that dragons make the most fun pets ever. Now if only Charlie can keep Rosie's attention focused on the rules at the pool and NOT on her gummy snacks (you know, the ones that cause stinky dragon breath!)...Grab your towels and sunscreen and join Rosie and Charlie for a fun-filled summer adventure!

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16. Seagull and Sea Dragon by Sydni Gregg

Meet Seagull. Meet Sea Dragon.

One comes from the sky. One comes from the sea.

Both are scared of the other’s world. But when they meet, they discover they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

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17. Soccerverse by Elizabeth Steinglass

From the coach who inspires players to fly like the wind, to the shin guard that begs to be donned, to soccer dreams that fill the night, Soccerverse celebrates soccer.

Featuring a diverse cast of girls and boys, the poems in this collection cover winning, losing, teamwork, friendships, skills, good sportsmanship, and, most of all, love for the game.

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18. Spencer and Vincent, the Jellyfish Brothers by Tony Johnston

Spencer and Vincent are jellyfish brothers who live together in the sea, their wet and shining home. One day a wave of superior magnitude separates them! The brothers know they have to do whatever it takes to find each other again. And they’ll need some help along the way… Sometimes friends can really make all the difference.

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19. We're Going on a Treasure Hunt by Kelly DiPucchio

Ahoy there! Join this crew of pirates on a high-seas quest for treasure. These salty dogs are off to fetch some gold, and no whale, skeleton, or thunderstorm can stand in their way. But our brave buccaneers best beware—there may be even more trouble ahead! 

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20. Where Do Speedboats Sleep at Night? By Brianna Caplan Sayres

Have you ever wondered what little speedboats do when it's time for bed? The same things you do! Cruise ships, canoes, fishing boats--and more!--wash up, have a snack, stow their teddies for storytime, and get "docked" to sleep by mommies and daddies, once the tides calm.