When you search for ‘beach reads,’ frequently you get a list of romance books. Beach reads tend to refer to a book you read while lounging on the beach, and apparently, for many people, that’s romance novels. But for me, when I’m at the beach, I want to read about the beach. 

Well, more specifically, the ocean. 

Why? Because the ocean is scary and mysterious. 

According to the National Ocean Service, more than 80% of our ocean is unmapped. 71% of the Earth is covered in the ocean. That’s a lot of area that we know nothing about.  

What’s down there? Monsters? Atlantis? Buried treasure? Mermaids? Nothing? 

It’s this mystery that made younger me excited. My favorite vacations were always the beach trips. I would sit on the beach and watch the waves for hours, wondering what lurked down in the deep, cold darkness.  

I’d visit the Aquarium—mystified and amazed by what we have discovered, only to then let my imagination take over and think about what we haven’t.  

Because of my obsession fascination with the mysteries of the ocean, I fell in love with the mythology around it. I read stories about the gigantic Leviathan of the Bible, the shark-like Isonade in Japanese mythology, and the ship-swallowing Kraken. I read fiction featuring mermaids, pirates, and the lost city of Atlantis. I even read historical fiction around the tragedy of the Titanic.  

I was scared of and intrigued by the ocean. 

I still am. 

I recently went out onto the ocean for the first time. It looked calm from the shore, and for those with developed sea legs, it probably was. But for me, someone who had never been out there, I was amazed (and terrified) about how much the tiniest wave—or ripple in the water—could move our boat.  

I can still sit and watch the ocean for hours. I still wonder what is down there—what we have yet to discover.  

And part of me hopes that we don’t. 

I know that may be surprising. As a librarian, I should encourage and want the constant pursuit of knowledge, and I do, I promise. 

But I also love holding onto that mystery. I love that the ocean still gives me a sense of childlike wonder. I love that when I see something splash out of the corner of my eye, I can think, “was that just a fish or… something… else?” 

So, if you have a kid at home that is like me—and wants to learn more about what we know is in the ocean or wants to read tales that take place in, under, or around the sea—these books are sure to feed that need. 

Learn about the Ocean – Nonfiction Reads for Kids! | Main library (jcls.org)

Books Set On, Around, Under, or Near the Sea – a Youth Book List | Main library (jcls.org)