The Mom's Beat: Beach reads for kids

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Summer reading list for kids of all ages Summer reading list for kids of all ages

There are countless beach reading lists circulating for adults bookworms, but what about the kids?

Atlantic County Library System librarians have picked their favorites for each age group. 

Rebecca Leopold, librarian, Galloway Township branch suggests:


“Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon

‘Stellaluna’ tells the tale of a baby fruit bat that falls into a bird’s nest after her mother was attacked by an owl. The bird adopts Stellaluna and raises the baby bat as one of her own babies until Stellaluna is reunited with her own mother. The book has simple but beautiful artwork that frames the story. Overall, Cannon offers a great message for young children about acceptance and friendship.

“Hank Finds an Egg” by Rebecca Dudley

In this wordless picture book, Hank, a small teddy bear, finds an egg on the forest floor. He tries everything he can think of to return the egg to its nest, but the tree is just too high. Upon meeting a hummingbird in the woods, the two creatures work together and the little egg is safely returned to its nest. I am fond of this book in particular because young children often feel that they are too small to perform big tasks. ‘Hank Finds an Egg’ shows that with a bit of creativity, determination and help from others accomplishing any task is possible.

“The Quiet Place” by Sarah Stewart

‘The Quiet Place’ is about a young girl, Isabel, who emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. The author details all of the things Isabel misses about Mexico while also sharing the exciting, new experiences she finds in the U.S. One of her favorite things about the move is the box that her father transformed into a quiet place where Isabel can feel safe and slowly begin to feel at home in her new country. The story takes place in the 1950s and is told through Isabel’s letters with her Aunt Lupita. I like this book because of the colorful and detailed illustrations as well as the short, but moving, text.


“Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary

In this award-winning chapter book, Ramona is navigating life in the third grade. However, things are quite difficult for Ramona: she accidentally squishes an egg in her hair and throws up in front of her class. None of this seems to keep Ramona down though. Beverly Cleary has created a character that many children can identify with. Ramona is an energetic, vibrant and witty character who also faces the daily challenges of the third grade. The book is engaging and offers easy to read language for children.

“Magic Tree House Series” by Mary Pope Osborne

In this series, two siblings from Pennsylvania, Jack and Annie, discover a tree house in the woods near their home that is filled with books. Soon after, Jack and Annie learn that the tree house is magical and can transport them to exciting places all over the world and historical periods. The series follows the sibling’s many adventures. I love this series because the books are short, averaging about 80-100 pages, and fast-paced with language that is easy to follow for kids new to chapter books. Each books offers entertainment while also providing educational information about the location or time period Jack and Annie find themselves visiting.

“Hoot” by Carl Hiaasen

The book follows Roy Eberhardt as he becomes the new kid once again due to his dad's job. This time Roy has moved from Montana to Florida where he meets a wonderfully written cast of characters, a barefoot boy named Mulletfingers, and his stepsister Beatrice. Together with his new friends, Roy works to stop the construction of a pancake house that will threaten a group of burrowing owls. This has been a favorite book of mine because of the funny but believable characters. The dynamic between Roy, Beatrice and Mulletfingers conveys an easygoing friendship that pre-teens can easily understand. Additionally, the book offers a great message about the importance of protecting the ecosystem without seeming too much like a lecture, which will appeal to young readers.

Middle School

“A Tale Dark and Grimm” by Adam Gidwitz

The first in a trilogy, ‘A Tale Dark and Grimm’ reworks some of the lesser-known fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm. The book follows Hansel and Gretel as they roam the forest on their quest, battling evil fairy tale characters, saving those in need and ultimately becoming heroes. Although there are parts not meant for the squeamish, the book is humorous, inventive and addictive. Kids will certainly enjoy Gidwitz’s modern twist on fairy tales.

“Percy Jackson” by Rick Riordan

The series is fun, action-filled, and accurate with the original Greek myths being discussed. The five books follow the demi-god Percy Jackson (half human/half Greek god) and his friends Annabeth and Grover as they set out on quests that lead the trio all over the globe. In each book, Percy faces new challenges that will ultimately end in preserving or destroying Olympus. This series offers middle grade readers a storyline that is new and exciting. The characters are all well-rounded and believable. While Percy, Annabeth and Grover are all considered heroes, they are not without their flaws.

High School

“I Hunt Killers” by Barry Lyga

Lyga's lead character Jasper Dent is an average teenager in almost every way: he works hard at school, spends his free time with his best friend and girlfriend, and is an all-around likeable person. There is one major aspect that sets him apart though. His father is the world's most infamous serial killer. In book one of this series, Jasper sets out to help the local police track a serial killer in order to prove to the town, and more importantly himself, that he's nothing like his father. This book is great for anyone who enjoys thrillers or mysteries. The narration really gives an insight into Jasper's view of the world and all the personal turmoil he tries to deal with. The novel is quick-paced and constantly leaves the reader guessing what will happen next.

“Etiquette & Espionage” by Gail Carriger

‘Etiquette & Espionage’ opens with Sophronia being shipped off to what she naively believes to be a finishing school for young women due to her recent behavior. However, upon arriving at Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, Sophronia realizes that the school is nothing like she presumed. In fact, Mademoiselle Geraldine's is actually a training ground for future spies, and Sophronia finds herself right in the middle of a commotion over a stolen prototype. Set in Victorian England, ‘Etiquette & Espionage’ is a wonderful blend of mystery, fantasy and steampunk, rounded out with a group of witty, quirky and lively characters of the human, vampire and werewolf nature. The book gives a lot of fun nods to the Victorian era while intermixing futuristic aspects like the floating airship that houses the finishing school, dirigibles and robots. The language of the time period can be a bit tricky to master, but the clever dialogue makes it worthwhile to read.

Kim Strenger, senior librarian, Ventnor branch suggests:

Picture Books

“Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes” by Eric Litwin

The story takes place as Pete the Cat is walking down the street in his new white sneakers. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red, to blue, to brown, and finally, they are wet as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries and other big messes.  No matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin’ and groovin’ and singin’ his song…because it’s all good. What a fun way to learn the colors and resilience.

“Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin

Dragons love everything about tacos, their crunch, their smell and especially the way they taste. The best way to make friends with dragons is to have a taco party, so what could go wrong? This book has it all – dragons, parties and tacos. Along with excellent watercolor illustrations, a good time will be had by all.

“The Scraps Book” by Lois Ehlert

The dog days of summer will fly by when you read the latest offering from this classic children’s book author. Beautifully assembled in collage form, Ehlert describes how she enjoyed making things ever since she was a little girl, and how that love of creation evolved into a career. This illustrated journal will get your child looking at the world around him to inspire his next creation.

Middle Readers

“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

Auggie Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school – until now. He’s about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know just how hard that can be. The thing is, Auggie’s just an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face. Can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

The story begins with Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion and acceptance.

“The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate

Inspired by the true story of a gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated novel is told from Ivan’s point-of-view. Having spent 27 years behind the glass walls of his enclosure at a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends, Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home and his art through new eyes. This is a beautiful story, destined to be a classic (like Charlotte’s Web or Stuart Little) that blends friendship, art and hope. (An author’s note depicts the differences between the fictional story and the true events).

“Game Changers: Book 3, Heavy Hitters” by Mike Lupica

It’s hard to get boys to read, and for many boys, books about sports get the job done. Mike Lupica succeeds again with this one. Ben and his friends, the Core Four Plus One, are excited to play in the town’s All Star Baseball League. But in the first game of the season, Ben gets hit by a pitch and it really shakes him up. In the meantime, Justin, another player on Ben’s team, is acting really weird. Ben has known him for a while, but he’s not one of Ben’s closest “boys.” Justin is the team’s best hitter, but his behavior on and off the field is erratic. Ben discovers that Justin’s parents are getting a divorce and he’s thinking of quitting the team. Like good teammates do, Justin helps Ben deal with his issues at bat, while Ben is there for his friend when his family is struggling. Readers will be able to explore the reality of binding friendships along with solving a problem in a game they love.


“Divergent” by Veronica Roth

When this first came out, I had just finished ‘Hunger Games’ and felt this was too similar. Fortunately, I decided to try it again and found that I liked it even more than ‘Hunger Games.’ This first book of the series is the story of a dystopian world transformed by courage, self-sacrifice and love. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful) and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice surprises her community and herself, but she has a secret that she has determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different, makes you dangerous. I liked the fact that this wasn’t just a story. The reader would have to relate the story asking, “Which faction would I belong to?”

“Son” by Lois Lowry

 In this second dystopian novel, they called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. She had become a Vessel at age thirteen and had a Product at age fourteen who had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son, but what became of him, she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive? She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an incredible sacrifice. In this series finale, the conclusion to the Giver Quartet comes to a final clash between good and evil. I couldn’t put this one down. I think dystopian literature works for teens because this is how they see life around them. They are just getting ready to participate in the world and it’s scary. They don’t necessarily like what they see. They are at the point of figuring, “Where do I fit in? and, “How can I change this?”

“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that bought her a few more years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal. Her final chapter was written with her diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be rewritten. Insightful, bold and irreverent, ‘The Fault in our Stars’ brilliantly explores the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being in love. I finished this book understanding that there is more to people than their disease. After reading two of Green’s previous efforts, “An Abundance of Katherines” and “Looking for Alaska,” because I liked the covers, this time he got it right.

by Laura Stetser by Laura Stetser

Laura Stetser is a full-time reporter and mother of two school-age children. Connect with her via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @TheMomsBeat.

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