Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey—This gentle, 1949 Caldecott honor book is just as good today as it was 70 years ago. Anyone who has picked berries with a child will be able to appreciate the kind of “help” little Sal is to her mother.
Harry by the Sea by Gene Zion is another oldie but goodie. Harry, a white dog with black spots, gets lost, mistaken for a sea creature, and then gets found again in this happy addition to the Harry series.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant—Anyone who doesn’t have a big family reunion to attend can take this road trip and be welcomed vicariously into this big, boisterous, loving family.
Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe—This book can be used to teach many reading strategies, serve as a mentor text for writing, or just be enjoyed as is.
Tops & Bottoms is a tale adapted and illustrated by Janet Stevens and is a 1996 Caldecott honor book. Students will enjoy predicting how the hungry, industrious rabbit will continue to outsmart the lazy, greedy bear.
The Bear on the Bed by Ruth Miller is a romping rhyme that is perfect for kindergartners and early-first graders. It’s fun to read aloud, but be warned: it ends with poop.
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long—Jeremy Jacob is at the beach with his family when he gets recruited to be a pirate. The story is fun, and the illustrations by David Shannon are really funny. Be sure to look for my favorite pirate, who has two eye patches and alternately lifts them up to see.
Wet Dog! by Elise Broach has bigger-than-life illustrations by David Catrow and is a fun, ridiculous romp with rhythmical text that begs to be read aloud.
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Mélanie Watt is a great addition to this fun series. Scaredy Squirrel is afraid of everything at the beach, so he makes his own. A quick trip to get a shell that will let him bring the sound of the ocean home is how his real beach adventure begins.
Max at the Seashore by Liz and Kate Pope. Some of you are going to read this little board book and wonder why in the world I included it. If you don’t teach small moments in writing workshop, you probably won’t want it. If you do teach small moments, you are going to like this for a mentor text. Small-moment stories can be hard to find, and this one fits the bill.
1,2,3... by the Sea by Dianne Moritz is filled with rhyming pairs of vocabulary to tune in to. Flapping snapping. Lying drying. Crashing splashing. Lunging plunging. Drifting shifting.