Book Corner: Books to Take You Off the Beaten Path

The theme for this year’s Summer Reading program at Central Rappahannock Regional Library is “Off the Beaten Path,” encouraging readers to delve into a subject or genre new to them, learn more about individuals who have been creative thinkers, or explore the world, either by getting out into it or reading about it. From venturing off the beaten path to explore nature to diving off the beaten path to explore ocean life to thinking off the beaten path like a scientist or inventor, there are endless directions to take summer reading. Find more information about Summer Reading and sign up at

Beneath the Waves, opens a new window by Stephanie Warren Drimmer
Ocean life is largely hidden from humans, but children can still get a feel for the amazing creatures and wonders it holds through vivid and close-up photos that show details of life above, below, and around the ocean. Accompanying descriptions allow young readers to learn about the unique characteristics of each animal, as well as the interconnectedness of ocean life.

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors, opens a new window by Laurel Snyder
Charlie, Mouse, and their parents are going camping. There is a long car ride filled with storytelling, then setting up a tent, hiking, fishing, and sitting around the campfire. Though sometimes Charlie and Mouse get a little scared of imaginary creatures they perceive in the woods, any bad feelings are always pushed aside by the fun of sharing time together and the happy feelings that brings.

Dusk Explorers, opens a new window by Lindsay Leslie and illustrated by Ellen Rooney
These children don’t have to go far to find adventure. As dusk descends on their neighborhood, they explore the outdoor world around them. One child climbs into a tree to feel the rough bark and hear the flutter of leaves. Another child examines the grass underfoot to find earthworms, while others listen for the croak of frogs and chase the flash of fireflies.

Race to the Bottom of the Earth, opens a new window by Rebecca Barone
In 1911, two teams of explorers set off in a race to be the first ones to reach the South Pole. Others had attempted this feat, but none had yet accomplished it. One hundred seven years later, in 2018, two individual explorers set off in a race to be the first one to reach the South Pole “alone, unsupported, and unassisted.” Barone tracks the parallels of these thrilling stories, the differences and similarities they faced, and the tests to their physical and mental health.

Space Explorers, opens a new window by Libby Jackson and Léonard Dupond
Jackson chronicles key moments and individuals in the history of space exploration, covering them chronologically from Sputnik in 1957 to humans going to Mars (with date to be determined). The story of each is told in engaging ways, making connections to experiences young readers of today might have. The history, facts, and anecdotes are interesting for space enthusiasts as well as general readers; some stories are suspenseful, others are humorous, and all are fascinating.

Who Did It First?, opens a new window by Julie Leung and illustrated by Caitlin Kuhwald
Being a scientist, artist, or mathematician is hard work. But being the first to do something in any of those areas not only takes revolutionary thinking, it also takes determination. All of the people in Who Did it First? faced adversity. In some cases, people doubted their abilities because of their gender, ethnicity, or family background. In other cases, people doubted their ideas because they were ahead of their time. In all cases, these individuals accomplished “firsts” in either science, math, or the arts.

Darcie Caswell is the Youth Services Coordinator at CRRL. This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.