Children’s books for the beach or hammock

Family reading on hammock Curl up in a hammock or pack a book in a beach bag on these sultry summer days with these titles by some favorite children’s authors and illustrators.

Ages 3 – 8
The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems  (Disney-Hyperion, April 2014) — The Pigeon is back, and he needs to get cleaned up.  For the recalcitrant child who does not care for the bath, here is a simpatico character. The Mo Willems pigeon, who often speaks for all children, is not convinced that a bath is necessary.  He suggests that perhaps it is the reader who needs the bath.  He changes his mind once he hops in…

Five Trucks by Brian Floca (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, reissue June 2014) — The author/illustrator of Caldecott Medal Book Locomotive (Atheneum, September 2013) offers a new release of an older title. Children will be delighted by this truck book about vehicles with specific jobs.  Readers guess just where these trucks (and their drivers) go to work. It offers a reassuring look at what happens at the airport before an airplane leaves the ground.

Ages 8 – 12
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventure by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, September 2013) Newbury Medal Award 2014 —   A girl named Flora, a vacuum cleaner, and a superhero flying squirrel named Ulysses all combine to offer a compassionate message. Don’t forget to pull Because of Winn Dixie (Candlewick Press, March 2000) off the shelf for another gratifying read by this author.

Ages 10 and up
Here are two books that share lessons of empathy for older readers. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Knopf Books for Young Readers, February 2012)  and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (Atheneum, 2010) offer insights from the voices of disfigured/disabled characters and include painful and honest accounts of growing up with differences.

In Wonder, readers view the life of Augustus Pullman through his eyes and through the perspectives of his friends and family. Augie, a 10-year-old boy with facial deformities is home schooled until the fifth grade. The book documents his venture into public school, the children and adults he comes to know, and those who come to know him.

Out Of My Mind is an account of another 10-year-old character, Melody, born with cerebral palsy, very bright – but without any way to express her thoughts and her great intelligence. Her insight into the world around her can finally be shared by using a computer and her thumbs.

Laurie Collins is the Children’s Librarian in Ipswich, MA. She is author of “The Pajamas of My Dreams” and is a Mass Literacy Champion.