Escape to the Lakeside: A Collection of Lake-Themed Books for All Ages

August is the time for back-to-school, but our family is pretending not to know that and squeezing in a mini vacation to a lake. You might not be able to join us, but you can still get away through the pages of one of these lake-themed books.


Over and Under the Pond” by Kate Messner is one of a series of books that looks at the environment around us and the hidden ecosystem we can’t see – a world of minnows, crayfish, turtles, and bullfrogs. If your kids enjoy this one, check out the other books in the series as well.


Chris Van Dusen is known for his colorful, detailed illustrations and catchy rhymes. He brings these to “Hattie and Hudson.” Hattie is a young girl who loves to explore the lake in her canoe. One day she meets a giant mysterious beast whom she names Hudson. The problem is she has to convince the people in the town that he’s a friend and not a monster.


A Day at the Lake” by Stephanie Wallingford follows three kids as they enjoy a day at the lake. The book encourages exploration of all five senses, and kids will love the bright watercolor illustrations.


There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake” by Loren Long is an adaptation of a classic children’s song. The repetition and rollicking rhymes will make preschoolers fall in love.


In the Small, Small Pond” by Denise Fleming is a look at the wildlife in a pond from the perspective of a frog and a small child. Denise Fleming is one of my favorite authors for toddlers and preschoolers, and this Caldecott Honor Book is a perfect example of her trademark brightly colored collages and simple but engaging text.


Joyce Sidman is a fantastic children’s poet, and most of her books are about nature. “Song of the Water Boatman” explores the life around a pond. The delicate hand-colored woodcut illustrations perfectly complement the poems.


Treasure in the Lake” by Jason Pammett is a middle-grade graphic novel about two friends who have grown apart as they get older. Iris loves adventure, but Sam likes things to stay the same. They find a submerged town in the local river. As they explore the town, they have both a mystery to solve and navigate their changing friendship.


Magic by the Lake” by Edward Eager is the third in a classic middle-grade series about four siblings. These books are all a lot of fun. Written in the 1950s and set in the 1920s, they give kids a taste of a different time, but the relationship between the siblings will feel current to kids, and the adventures are fun. Technically, this is part of a series, but the book is understandable even if you haven’t read the others in the series.


Gone-Away Lake” by Elizabeth Enright is another classic novel written in the 1950s. Two children discover a lakeside resort that is mostly abandoned except for two elderly residents. The children are enchanted by them and their stories of times on the lake when they were children themselves. This is a sweet story of friendship and family.


Enchantment Lake: A Northwoods Mystery” by Margi Preus is for mystery-loving middle schoolers and high schoolers. It features an intrepid heroine from New York City who is somewhat reluctantly called on to investigate a series of mysteries in the woods of northern Minnesota.