I'm a huge fan of books that encourage exploration of the natural world and getting kids outside. While summer has come to an end, that doesn't mean kids and families can't enjoy spending time at the beach, observing the wildlife and hunting for shells. A new book by Dianne Ochiltree can provide a perfect introduction to these activities.
It's a Seashell Day (2015), written by Dianne Ochiltree and illustrated by Elliot Kreloff, is the story of a mother and son's day at the beach. Written in rhyming couplets it begins this way:
When the sun peeks up over the bay,
Mommy tells me, "It's a seashell day!"
I rush down the path, over the dune.
Salty breeze blows. We'll be there soon!
Once they arrive at the beach, mother and son see gulls, find rocks, walk in the squishy sand, watch waves, dig for shells, compare shells, care for wildlife, and much more. Part celebration of nature, part counting book, and whole-hearted homage to families spending time together investigating, enjoying, and appreciating the world around them, Ochiltree has given readers a gem of a story. She has also provided a number of interesting facts (12!) about mollusks and seashells in the back matter.
The illustrations beautifully complement the text. If readers look carefully they will see the passage of time through the day as the sun moves through the sky, starting low, arcing across the sky, and sinking again into the horizon. The shells are clearly rendered and make counting along with the text easy to do.
For kids in preschool and early elementary grades, this book can be used to explore four of the five senses. What does the boy see at the beach? What might he hear? What does it smell like? What does the wet sand feel like? How is it different from the dry sand? What do the shells feel like? I would bring out a shell collection after reading the text and ask students to observe the samples. We would record observations and make scientific drawings.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the double-page spread that models respect for living things. Here's an excerpt.
My shell is tiny, a silvery pearl.
Mommy's is brown with a big, twirly curl.
"This shell is a home," Mommy tells me.
"Let's put it back to live in the sea."
Reminding readers that shells have diverse environmental functions, such as providing homes and hiding places for creatures, is an important one.
There is much to love in this enchanting little book. I recommend it with enthusiasm.
Book: It's a Seashell Day
Author: Dianne Ochiltree
Illustrator: Elliot Kreloff
Illustrator: Elliot Kreloff
Publisher: Blue Apple Books
Publication Date: July 2015
Pages: 32 pages
Source of Book: Review copy received from SoCal Public Relations.
More Info: Visit Blue Apple Books to look inside the book.
For teachers looking for additional resources to use this book to encourage beachcombing or the study of shells, these will be helpful.