5 Picture Books About Beaches & Oceans

Kadie Seitz, Librarian, Youth Services,
Children at the beach with floatie toys
Children at the beach, Playa del Rey, California. Eyre Powell Chamber of Commerce Collection

California Nouns: People, Places, and Things
Beaches & Oceans

The state of California has one of the longest coastlines in the entire United States (at either 840 or 3,427 miles, depending on which method you use to measure it), and southern California in particular is often associated with the beach in popular culture. The options for fun for kids at the beach are seemingly endless: from swimming to building sandcastles, to tide-pooling. As we approach the summer and prime beach time, let these picture books inspire you to start planning your next visit.

Book cover for Wave
Lee, Suzy

A deceptively simple story of girl meets wave. Will she get splashed? While this book has no words and has a simple color palette, it remains engaging from start to finish. It may even inspire you to look at the ocean in a whole new way! Recommended for ages 2+.

Fun fact: Reading wordless picture books can be a bit intimidating for caregivers, but it’s a great way to build up literacy skills.

Book cover for Rocket Says Clean Up!
Rocket Says Clean Up!
Bryon, Nathan

When Rocket goes to visit her grandparents who live on the beach, she notices a big problem: there’s plastic litter everywhere! After learning more about the issue, and informing those around her of the dangers of plastic, she decides to take action and work together to clean up the beach. There are even some tips in the back if you and your little one want to take action too. Recommended for ages 3+.

Fun Fact: If you and your family are interested in learning more about the environment around you and how you can help scientists to protect the Earth, check out our Neighborhood Science landing page.

Book cover for Down Under the Pier
Down Under the Pier
Beckerman, Nell Cross

While the top of the pier might be where the games, food stands, and prizes are, down under the pier is a world of adventure and exploration that’s free. With dreamy illustrations, this book beckons you and your little ones to explore the intertidal zone found under the pier and along the beach. Warning: this book will make you nostalgic for fun and free summer days, and will have you planning your next beach trip. Recommended for ages 4+.

Fun Fact: The landmark Santa Monica Pier opened on September 9, 1909, and the current amusement park (Pacific Park) opened in 1996. More than 8 million visitors come to the pier each year.

Book cover for Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story
Pup 681: A Sea Otter Rescue Story
Reidy, Jean

Sea otters are one of the internet’s favorite animals for a reason - they’re adorable! This book is based on the true story of Pup 681, an orphaned sea otter rescued from the beach at Half Moon Bay, and her journey to finding a new family. Along the way, readers will enjoy the adorable illustrations and learn some facts about otters. An author’s note features the real story behind the book. Recommended for ages 4+.

Fun fact: To keep from drifting apart while they sleep, sea otters often sleep holding paws.

Book cover for Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting With the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting With the Great Whites of California's Farallon Islands
Roy, Katherine

Part picture book, part nonfiction, this book can be enjoyed in several ways. Readers can learn interesting details about how sharks work, they can enjoy the story of a shark hunting its prey in the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco, or they can just take in the beautiful (if a little scary) illustrations. Kids with a shark fascination will enjoy taking a bite out of this book. Recommended for ages 7+.

Fun fact: Over 10 different species of shark live off the coast of Southern California. But don’t be scared: humans are more of a danger to sharks than sharks are to humans.