Literature Connections to
On Sandy Shores

Teacher's Guides > On Sandy Shores

Books selected as literature connections for On Sandy Shores include those that focus on sand, erosion, waves, currents, organisms that live on or near the beach, and oil spills. Some books extend into areas such as conservation and ecology. For example, Miss Rumphius and My Grandpa and the Sea carry a strong conservation message. The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor gives students a look at the entire ocean ecosystem.

In the listings below, the grade level estimates reflect both interest level and reading level. Many of the books can be enjoyed by a wide age range—older students can read them on their own, or they can be read out loud to younger students. Some books, like Pagoo, intended for older readers can be browsed by younger students looking at the pictures. Others, like the wordless Follow Me!, intended for a young audience, can be used successfully—even at the third or fourth grade level—to encourage language development in English-language learners.

Please be sure to see the many excellent resource and reference books for students and teachers listed in the Resource section of On Sandy Shores on page 18. You may also want to refer to the GEMS literature connections handbook, Once Upon A GEMS Guide: Connecting Young People’s Literature to Great Explorations in Math and Science, which lists books according to science themes and mathematics strands, as well as by GEMS guide. We welcome your suggestions for other books to connect to On Sandy Shores and will consider them for inclusion when this guide or the literature handbook is revised.

At the Beach
Brown Pelican at the Pond

Call it Courage
The Castle Builder
Follow Me!
Houses from the Sea
The Magic of Sea Shells

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor
Miss Rumphius
My Grandpa and the Sea
Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag

Pagoo

Prince William
Sally and the Limpet
Sea Squares

The Seal Mother
The Seashore Book

Sukey and the Mermaid
The Summer Sands
Tracks in the Sand
The Turtle Watchers
The Village by the Sea
When the Tide is Low
Why the Tides Ebb and Flow
A Woman Who Cared


At the Beach
by Huy Voun Lee
Henry Holt, New York. 1994
Grades: K–3
With help from delightful paper cut pictures, the story is told of a mother who draws Chinese characters in the sand for her young son. She explains how the shape of the characters is related to their meaning. As the characters are described, borders and background scenes help illustrate the meaning as well as show the life and activities that occur on a beach. Included is a list of all the characters and their pronunciation. This book provides a nice cultural connection for On Sandy Shores.

Brown Pelican at the Pond
by Edward O’Reilly; illustrated by Florence Strange
Manzanita Press, San Rafael, California. 1979
Grades: K–2
Written by a child, this simple story tells of a boy and his friends, who on a visit to a pond, find an injured pelican, take it to a vet, then nurse it back to health. The boy then returns it to the pond "because he belonged with other pelicans." Can be the start of a classroom discussion on understanding the needs of animals.

Call it Courage
by Armstrong Sperry
Macmillan, New York. 1940
Grades: 3–5
Based on a Polynesian legend, this chapter book for older students tells the story of a young boy who overcomes his fear of the sea and proves his courage to himself and his tribe. The story illustrates his culture’s connection to the ocean. In Planet Ocean Brainstorm, students discuss ways people use and depend on the ocean. The whole story or selected passages could be read aloud to early elementary students. Newbery medal winner.

The Castle Builder
by Dennis Nolan
Macmillan, New York. 1987
Grades: Preschool–3
A young boy builds a fantastic castle in the sand near the ocean. In his imagination, he enters the castle and has quite an adventure. The story is told skillfully and is enhanced by the changing perspective of the illustrations. The story ends with a demonstration of one of the key concepts from Activity 3—waves and currents constantly move sand.

Follow Me!
by Nancy Tafuri
Greenwillow Books, New York. 1990
Grades: Preschool–2
This is a very gentle story of a young sea lion who follows a crab traveling along the rocks. It can support or spawn discussions of animals and their habitats. Another excellent use of this book is for sheltered instruction. Since the book is wordless, the students themselves can write the story—in the language of their choice.

Houses from the Sea
by Alice E. Goudey; illustrated by Adrienne Adams
Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. 1959
Grades: K–4
This is an informative story of a brother and sister who spend a day at the beach admiring shells. They find shells in a variety of shapes and colors, and compare each shell to objects that mimic their shape—butterfly wings, castle turrets, spiral staircases, tops, and more. Information is given about the mollusks that live in shells and about how shells are made.

The Magic of Sea Shells
by Fredlee; illustrated by Sandra Romashko
Windward Publishing, Miami, Florida. 1985
Grades: 2–4
This tale is about vacationing children who learn about shells from another child who is native to the islands where the shells are found. The book is basically a handbook showing large color photographs of shells, identified by common and scientific name, with size indicated for each. The shells are interesting and quite beautiful, and include many examples which children may recognize.

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor
by Joanna Cole; illustrated by Bruce Degen
Scholastic, New York. 1992
Grades: 1–4
In her own predictable style, Ms. Frizzle takes her class on a field trip to the ocean (though the students expected a trip to the beach). The focus of the book is the open ocean and sand is only briefly mentioned, yet the book could help to put the sandy shore into the big picture—the whole ocean ecosystem. It can also be a useful resource book when building organisms in Activity 4.

Miss Rumphius
by Barbara Cooney
Puffin Books, New York. 1982
Grades: K–4
A young girl tells the story of her aging aunt, Alice Rumphius who had two wishes in life—to travel to faraway places and to live beside the sea. Those wishes have come true, but now Miss Rumphius must fulfill a charge from her grandfather: "You must do something to make the world more beautiful." Miss Rumphius is unsure how to carry out her grandfather’s advice. She does this by sowing lupine seeds throughout her town. This book reminds us that we all have the responsibility to take care of our planet and leave it a better place for future generations—an idea which may surface during Activity 5, Oil on the Beach.

My Grandpa and the Sea
by Katherine Orr
Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis. 1990
Grades: K–4
Grandpa is a careful Caribbean fisherman, using his old dugout canoe and taking only what the sea can give. There comes a day when he can no longer compete with the power boats and their big nets. He casts about trying other work, but is unsatisfied. Knowing that seamoss, a local delicacy, is getting scarce, Grandpa successfully farms it. Although Grandpa does not join the organized religion of the rest of the family, there is a spiritual, conservationist message in his actions.

Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag
by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat; illustrated by Marc Simont
Coward-McCann, New York. 1987
Grades: 2–3
In this easy-reader mystery, Nate the great detective helps a friend search for his lost beach bag. Through a series of clues and some logical thinking, Nate solves the mystery. Could be useful to help students learn about evidence for the Beach Explorations in Session 2 of Activity 1.

Pagoo
by Holling Clancy Holling
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1957
Grades: 3–8
This is the classic story of Pagoo, a hermit crab, as he grows and learns about life in the sea. Although On Sandy Shores does not feature hermit crabs, this book could be useful. Selected passages could be read aloud to help students learn more about some of the organisms mentioned in Activity 4. Or students could browse through the book and pick up plenty of information from the illustrations.

Prince William
by Gloria Rand; illustrated by Ted Rand
Holt, New York. 1992
Grades: 1–3
Denny rescues a baby seal caught in an oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. She takes the seal—whom she names Prince William—to an emergency animal rescue facility, where he, with hundreds of other animals, is cared for and cleaned of oil. Denny follows his progress for weeks, until Prince William is ready to return to the sea. The story is based upon actual events and brings home the suffering experienced by wildlife. The reader can see, in both text and illustrations, the ecological impact of oil spills, and the effort involved in attempting to restore the damage. An author’s note at the end of the book tells of the Alaskan schoolchildren whose volunteer efforts helped save the lives of many seals.

Sally and the Limpet
by Simon James
Macmillan, New York. 1990
Grades: Preschool–2
This is a funny, touching, story about a young girl who gets a limpet stuck on her finger and the things she (and the limpet) must endure for about the next 24 hours. Although the story begins and ends in ocean water, it is sprinkled throughout with dry humor. Students will enjoy the many improbable situations that befall Sally and the limpet, and they’ll learn a bit about limpet biology too.

Sea Squares
by Joy N. Hulme; illustrated by Carol Schwartz
Hyperion, New York. 1991
Grades: 2–4
More than a mere counting book, this book introduces squaring numbers in a fun and playful way. From one one-ton whale with one waterspout to ten squirmy squids pulling ten tentacles, students will enjoy following along with the rhyming text. Pictures in the border give a clue about what the next organism will be. Provides a nice math connection to On Sandy Shores.

The Seal Mother
by Mordicai Gerstein
Dial, New York. 1986
Grades: K–3
Many Scottish folktales tell of the selkies, seals who can remove their skins and appear to be people, and there are many tales of fisher folk who fall in love with selkies. Gerstein has woven this legend into an original tale of a selkie mother whose human son helps her return to her sea home. This is a beautifully illustrated fairy tale and a good read-aloud. There are points of discussion here too—children may want to talk about what the selkie mother means when she says of seals, "They are the animals most like humans." The John Sayles film The Secret of Roan Innish is another beautiful variation on the same theme.

The Seashore Book
by Charlotte Zolotow; illustrated by Wendell Minor
HarperCollins, New York. 1992
Grades: Preschool–3
Rich full-page paintings help tell the story of a visit to the beach—a visit that takes place only in the minds of a mother and her son. With beautifully descriptive language, the mother describes for the boy, who has never seen the sea, what a day at the seashore is like. An excellent book to evoke the sights, sounds, and emotions of a visit to a beach. It could be a read aloud, for example, at the end of Activity 1.

Sukey and the Mermaid
by Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Four Winds Press, New York. 1992
Grades: 1–4
Based on an African-American folktale from South Carolina, this is the story of Sukey, befriended by Mama Jo the mermaid, and sheltered from her stepfather’s ill-treatment in Mama Jo’s sea home. Much of the story, which has a happy ending, takes place along the sandy beach that fringes Sukey’s island home. Illustrated in beautifully executed, colorful scratchboard, this book would work well as a self-reader or a read aloud.

The Summer Sands
by Sherry Garland; illustrated by Robert J. Lee
Harcourt Brace, San Diego. 1995
Grades: 1–4
Children vacationing on the beach discover and observe the plants and animals found on the dunes. A late summer storm erodes the dunes and the children are dismayed by the destruction. The mid-winter gift of recycled Christmas trees from dedicated volunteers helps, over time, to restore the dunes. An author’s note tells of actual events along the Gulf Coast upon which the story is based. This book connects very well to Activity 3 and "Sandy’s Journey to the Sea."

Tracks in the Sand
by Loreen Leedy
Doubleday, New York. 1993
Grades: Preschool–3
This book shows sand being used in a way we don’t often consider—as an incubator and a nest. With full-page illustrations and clear text, it describes the life cycle of loggerhead turtles, beginning with the female leaving the sea to bury her eggs in the sand. An afterword provides more in-depth biological information. Connects nicely to both Activities 1 and 4.

The Turtle Watchers
by Pamela Powell
Viking, New York. 1992
Grades: 4–6
This tells the story of three sisters’ efforts to protect the eggs (and eventually the hatchling turtles) laid by a leatherback turtle on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. To accomplish their goal, the girls must learn about the life cycle of the turtles and fend off a greedy turtle hunter and natural predators. Notable for its strong ecological and conservation messages.

The Village by the Sea
by Paula Fox
Orchard Books, New York. 1988
Grades: 4–6
When her father must go to the hospital and her mother is occupied with hospital visits, ten-year-old Emma is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in their house on a bay. Emma soon discovers that her aunt is very difficult to live with and seeks solace on the peaceful bay. Though the beach appears lonely and deserted, Emma knows the beach is not empty. She thinks, "…it was teeming with tiny living creatures, some as soft as custard, others hard as stone, hidden in shells and sand and seaweed." Emma and a neighbor girl spend time on the beach happily making a miniature village from biotic and abiotic beach debris—an activity which proves therapeutic for Emma. A great chapter book for older students. The last several chapters are liberally sprinkled with descriptions of the beach debris used to make the village.

When the Tide is Low
by Sheila Cole; illustrated by Virginia Wright-Frierson
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, New York. 1985
Grades: Preschool–3
One fine summer day a little girl asks her mother if they may go to the beach. Her mother explains that they’ll go when the tide is low. They then have a nice conversation about all the things they will see when the tide is low. As the girl swings, her mother draws a nice analogy to explain the tides. The book contains colorful watercolor illustrations of several organisms and an illustrated glossary.

Why the Tides Ebb and Flow
by Joan Chase Bowden; illustrated by Marc Brown
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1979
Grades: K–3
This is a folktale of irresistible charm, whose flowing language, humorous situations, and repeated rhymes make it a favorite read-aloud in many classrooms. In this tale that explains the tides, a very stubborn old woman has been promised a rock to shelter her from the weather. She chooses the very rock that Sky Spirit doesn’t want to give her—the rock that plugs the hole in the bottom of the sea. Her humorous persistence finally wins her all she wants and more.

A Woman Who Cared
by Patsy Becvar
Nystrom, Chicago. 1992
Grades: K–3
As a young girl and her father watch people working to clean up an oil spill on a beach, the girl tells the story of Rachel Carson and her work to save the environment. A Woman Who Cared is a simply worded introduction, packaged with a variety of kits, including different combinations of the following products: an audiocassette, a 7" x 10" book, a large 14" x 20" book for a large group, and a teacher’s guide. You may call the publisher at (800) 621-8086 for kit information and prices. A good way to spark classroom discussion of ways to protect our beaches and natural environment.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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