Seaside books for children

Seaside books for children

Children’s, young adult and teen books about the seaside, with rock pooling stories, coastal mysteries, seafaring adventures and atmospheric holiday picture books. This list contains 30 titles, to read at school, at home, before trips, and during the summer.  There’s a range of middle grade fiction, lyrical picture books, adventure stories, and though provoking dilemmas suitable for reading in EYFS, KS1 and for KS2 and KS3 school libraries, as well as reading at home. This list features books by Michael Rosen, Mairi Hedderwick, Shirley Hughes, Sam Usher, Atinuke, Richard Pickard, Michael Morpurgo, Lauren St John and Liz Kessler.

Seaside themed books for children

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Seaside books for children – our recommendations

Seaside picture books for EYFS & KS1

The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch (45th Anniversary Edition) by Ronda ArmitageThe Lighthouse Keeper’s Lunch (45th Anniversary Edition) by Ronda Armitage and David Armitage.
Katie Morag's Island Stories by Mairi HedderwickKatie Morag’s Island Stories by Mairi Hedderwick.
Town Is by the Sea by Joanne SchwartzTown Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz and Sydney Smith.

Beach Song by Ros Moriarty and Samantha Campbell

This beautifully illustrated hardback picture book for 3-6-year-olds whisks young readers away on a lyrical seaside journey. Meeting crabs, dolphins, seals, squids, turtles, seagulls and whales, children will love the vibrant double-page spreads. With vivid imagery and engaging text, it celebrates the joy of discovery the joy of the seaside and offers lots of opportunities to explore rich vocabulary and appreciate nature. Highly recommended for seaside topics in EYFS and KS1.

Beach Song by Ros Moriarty

The Boy Who Loves to Lick the Wind by Fiona Carswell and Yu Rong

This beautifully illustrated picture book story follows two boys, one with autism, as they share a seaside adventure of friendship and bonding. Through throwing stones, collecting shells, and licking the wind they find common ground and understanding. Suitable for children aged 4+, this subtle and inclusive story will help teachers discuss empathy and acceptance with EYFS and KS1 classes. Highly recommended.

The Boy Who Loves to Lick the Wind by Fiona Carswell

I Hear you, Ocean by Kallie George and Carmen Mok

“The Ocean has lots to say, if you listen,” explains one child to a younger sibling in this beautifully illustrated picture book featuring diverse characters. With rich figurative language and alluring aural and visual descriptions, pebbles, wildlife, rockpools and seaweed come alive. Readers in EYFS and KS1 will almost taste and smell the experience through the thoughtful and lyrical writing. Highly recommended.

I Hear you, Ocean by Kallie George

Sally and the Limpet by Simon JamesSally and the Limpet by Simon James.
The Storm Whale by Benji DaviesThe Storm Whale by Benji Davies.
Can You Guess What I Am? by J.P. PercyCan You Guess What I Am? by J.P. Percy.

Goldilocks and the Three Crocodiles by Michael Rosen, illustrated by David Melling

When Tiddles the dog persuades Goldilocks to look for the house with the three bears, the Pershoo Pershee sound of the sea leads them to a very different home with strange furniture and no bears in sight! With great use of repetition, call and response and onomatopoeic rhymes, the lyrical text will be a joy to read to and with large groups of EYFS children. The engaging illustrations by David Melling capture a sense of freedom at the seaside and a sense of fun and curiosity in the crocodiles’ cave. It’s great fun and highly recommended for 3-7-year-olds.

Goldilocks and the Three Crocodiles by Michael Rosen, illustrated by David Melling

There’s a Tiger on the Train by Mariesa Dulak and Rebecca Cobb

Join a boy and his dad as they take a train journey to the seaside in this joyous illustrated picture book from Mariesa Dulak and Rebecca Cobb. In the carriage, they meet a menagerie of unlikely animal passengers, from a tiger in a top hat to crocodiles with beach gear and – our favourite – hippos with sweetie tins. Through wonderful illustrations and playful rhymes, this charming book encourages imagination and also gently reminds parents to put down their phones and cherish precious moments with their children. With a classic feel, heart-warming message and captivating characters, ‘There’s a Tiger on the Train’ is a sure-fire bedtime story hit.

There's a Tiger on the Train by Mariesa Dulak and Rebecca Cobb

Steven Seagull Action Hero by Elys DolanSteven Seagull Action Hero by Elys Dolan.
Lucy and Tom at the Seaside by Shirley HughesLucy and Tom at the Seaside by Shirley Hughes.
Splash, Anna Hibiscus! by AtinukeSplash, Anna Hibiscus! by Atinuke and Lauren Tobia.

Found by Sam Usher

When Boy and his grandad set off for a day out on the beach, little can they imagine the spectacular adventure that awaits. A joyful seaside story that celebrates the bond between a grandson and his grandfather. With sandcastle building, a sailing rescue feat and a satisfying twist – all conveyed through short bursts of text and watercolour illustrations – this is a beautiful book to read and share with young children. The fourth in the series – including Wild, Free and Lost – Found does not disappoint.

Found by Sam Usher

The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann and Padmacandra

When a young girl meets a whale, she is taken on a miraculous journey through pristine paradise waters of endless treasures, but also plastic pollution and discarded waste. A beautifully illustrated and sensitive story that will inspire younger children to consider the environment. If your EYFS class is planning a beach or litter clean, this is a great book to read and share.

The Tale of the Whale by Karen Swann and Padmacandra

A First Book of the Sea by Nicola DaviesA First Book of the Sea by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton.
Flotsam by David WiesnerFlotsam by David Wiesner.
The Wide, Wide Sea by Anna WilsonThe Wide, Wide Sea by Anna Wilson and Jenny Løvlie.

The Charlie Moon Collection by Shirley Hughes

Charlie manages to get himself into all sorts of trouble. His seaside summer trip turns into a missing jewellery mystery with burglars. A ripping yarn for seven-year-olds, this is a perfect text for taking on holiday.

The Charlie Moon Collection by Shirley Hughes. Great to discuss in year three literacy lessons

The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-StantonThe Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton.
Billy's Bucket by Kes GrayBilly’s Bucket by Kes Gray and Garry Parsons.
Above and Below: Sea and Shore by Harriet Evans, Hannah BaileyAbove and Below: Sea and Shore by Harriet Evans and Hannah Bailey.

Seaside themed chapter books for KS2

Max Magic 3 by Stephen Mulhern and Tom Easton

Max Mullers is going on holiday and hopes to avoid the dreaded prison break Crayfish Twins who are bent on revenge and looking for him. Find out if Max and his friends can lie low and escape the Crayfish clutches in this summery seaside-tinged adventure. Perfect for readers aged 7 to 10, the third instalment of this accessible and pacey series will appeal to magic and problem-solving fans. And with a dyslexia-friendly font and engaging layout, it’s ideal for less confident readers at the top end of KS2.

Max Magic 3 by Stephen Mulhern and Tom Easton

Son of the Sea by Richard Pickard

Caspar dreams of swimming but has to hide his uniquely webbed feet. But then he discovers how he’s linked to the sea and his life changes forever. Perfect for more able readers in Year 4, Son of the Sea will make for an enthralling and thought-provoking class reader and or a sparkling tale of positivity for 9+ year-olds. Read Tracy Wood’s review.

Son of the Sea by Richard Pickard

Dead Man's Cove by Lauren St JohnDead Man’s Cove by Lauren St John.
The Island of Adventure by Enid BlytonThe Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton.
Why the Whales Came by Michael MorpurgoWhy the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo.

Seaside themed middle grade novels for KS2 & KS3

Northwind by Gary Paulsen

When a plague forces Leif, an orphan, to flee for his life in a canoe with barely any food, he embraces his newfound freedom and grows to love the wide open seas and the Norwegian coast. Learning to forage, and live off the land and sea, he feels at home amongst the wildlife. It’s a gripping story of resilience, determination and survival. Highly recommended.

Northwind by Gary Paulsen

Moonfleet (Exclusive) by Wilkie CollinsMoonfleet by J. Meade Falkner.
Undertow by Joanna NadinUndertow by Joanna Nadin.
North of Nowhere by Liz KesslerNorth of Nowhere by Liz Kessler.

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Seaside resources for teachers

  • STEM learning offers a range of free resources to support Science-based seaside topics in KS1 and KS2 including lesson plans, downloadable activities and worksheets.
  • Historic England’s PowerPoint and teachers’ notes look at seaside holidays in the past, through photographs, archive material and Victorian case studies.
  • BBC’s radio resources include this interactive listen-and-play activity for EYFS – complete with downloadable mp3, a song video and teachers’ notes.
  • The National Archive’s A Day at the Seaside is a cross-curricular resource that spans English, geography, history and music, all suitable for KS2. It’s a great archive source material resource to support Victorians topics.
  • This detailed KS1 and KS2 resource from Suffolk Archives looks at Victorian seaside holidays with a PowerPoint, teachers’ notes and lots of practical activities for the classroom.
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust offers this wonderful free marine education resource covering marine life, fossils, food chains and adaptations.

About Tom Tolkien

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Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin

This booklist was last updated on May 18th, 2024 and first published in 2024.