Beach Books for Back to School

Looking for great beach themed mentor texts? Check out this post for book recommendations and lesson ideas.

Since we're visiting the Outer Banks and one of the first writing assignments I plan to include is related to favorite places to visit, I thought a blog post sharing some of the best beach and ocean themed books might be fitting.  What are your favorite places to visit? Sharing these special memories and places with your students is a great ice breaker at the beginning of the year. Your kids want to know who you are, that you have a family and interests outside of school, and most importantly, that you're interested in building connections to them. These are REAL motivators, and by sharing things we love, we may touch the interests of our students too.

I have a personal story related to that. My daughter's first grade teacher was fascinated by owls. She even found a nesting website to share with the students, and for months, my daughter HAD to read every owl book she'd see. Now, we have quite a collection, but that memory still sticks with her.

So of all the places we've visited, my favorite by far is the beach. We've made memories cooking together, jumping waves, going on walks, kayaking, spending time with cousins, and even catching a few zzz's in the sun. Here are a few snapshots of my crew having some ocean fun.

1) My children 2) Husband and son kayaking 3) Daughter with a treasure 4) My daughter and I 5) Daughter jumping waves.

As I mentioned at the start, we'll be working on descriptive writing at the beginning of the year, and so this summer, I've pulled together a few options that I plan to share with the kids. Each has interesting qualities for description whether it be the characters, the setting, or an intense plot.

Bats at the Beach is part of a series by Brian Lies. These books are written with a rhyming pattern about how bats get things going on the beach at night.  I love how this author weaves into the story information about bats and lots of interesting vocabulary.  It's a great book to use with Stellaluna and various nonfictions titles for a Bat theme.

When I was a child, one book I remember well was Harry and the Lady Next Door. Well, this classic, Harry by the Sea, would be great to share with your students if you've taught ah-hum...20 years and want to share some of your favorites from your childhood to connect with your new children. This one is timeless. The Harry series began with Harry the Dirty Dog which was published in 1956, and even today, the stories are sweet. This is a great choice to tie in beach stories or dog adventures. You can also talk about character development with Harry.

Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier includes lots of real pictures and description. If you're trying to help your students use sensory words, this book would really help them visualize what the ocean is truly like and learn of the treasures that can be discovered. The setting is Vero Beach, Florida, so it might be fun to make comparisons between the east and west coasts too.

I believe I have mentioned this book in a Six Traits post, but I'll share it again.  Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan is one of my favorites to truly show the beauty of the ocean. The book is written in short phrases in a very poetic fashion, and the illustrations are bright and colorful.  Plus, I just love this author.  I got to meet her at a reading conference a few years ago just after she published Esperanza Rising!

I'll end some funny ones.  How I Became a Pirate and Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long are just hilarious. The language is spot on, and with my Six Traits Linky being about Word Choice, these most definitely should make the list.  Melinda Long lives in Greenville, South Carolina near the beach and near many shipwrecks. If you aren't familiar with these, you'll have to ask your librarian about them.  The illustrations in these are so cute (done by David Shannon...another favorite), and guess what, Melinda is a teacher too!
Finally, of all of the ocean themed books I've read and used, my favorite is one that's not overly used called Riptide. Why do I like it so much? I think it's because it's a touching story of love between a boy and his dog. The dog is a golden retriever that reminds me of our Shadow. Shadow passed a few years ago, but that dog left so many great stories behind just like Riptide. I do have a mini unit I've used with this book if you'd like to give it a try.

Riptide by Frances Weller

I will leave you with one final thing, and that's a descriptive writing freebie. I hope you find it helpful.
and if you want to come back to this list later this summer, click the pin it image below. Otherwise, I'll see you next time. Happy Reading!

Pin for later:
Kids LOVE the beach, and so do we! This post includes the best beach themed books I've found. They're great for back to school.


  1. Fun idea! I had forgotten about those Harry books - I had them when I was little.
    Grade 4 Buzz

  2. Thanks Lisa! I came across a few at a consignment shop not long ago, and I had to pick them up. They are great for ~second grade I'd say. I won't use it for writer's workshop, but it was worth a mention here.


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