The ocean covers more than two-thirds of our planet and offers endless learning opportunities for young scientists. Share these wonderful ocean books with your kids and dive into topics such as sea creatures, deep-sea pioneers, and crucial conservation efforts.
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1. The Mermaid by Jan Brett (PreK–2)
We’ll never tire of Jan Brett’s reimagining of classic tales; this time it’s an underwater version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, starring a Japanese mermaid named Kiniro and a family of octopi.
2. Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle (PreK–2)
Nothing compares to Eric Carle’s classic collage illustrations and gentle text. This story of how Mister Seahorse and other aquatic dads care for their babies is an enlightening addition to an ocean unit.
3. Dory Story by Jerry Pallotta (PreK–3)
This bathtub adventure is a memorable introduction to the ocean food web. Watch out!
4. Flotsam by David Wiesner (PreK–3)
A day at the seashore turns into a fantastic journey through time and perspective in this wordless masterpiece.
5. Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan (K–3)
Young Finn builds a ship to set sail for the magical setting of his grandfather’s stories. His dreamy voyage will leave readers imagining their own underwater fantasy worlds.
6. Whale in a Fishbowl by Troy Howell (K–3)
Like the day of the week for which she’s named, Wednesday the whale lives right in the middle of everything. From her big glass bowl, she can glimpse the expanse of the ocean and yearns for it in this tender tale.
7. Flying Deep: Climb Inside Deep-Sea Submersible Alvin by Michelle Cusolito (K–4)
Spend a day in the life of a pilot of one of the world’s first deep-ocean submersible vehicles and pique students’ interest about oceanographic research.
8. The Big Book of the Blue by Yuval Zommer (K–4)
Yuval Zommer crafts informative but manageable answers to all students’ ocean questions in this must-have title. Fun search-and-find features will keep young oceanographers engaged.
9. Otis and Will Discover the Deep: The Record-Setting Dive of the Bathysphere by Barb Rosenstock (K–4)
Great nonfiction wows students with little-known stories. This one tells the suspenseful tale of Otis Barton and Will Beebe, who, in 1930, made the very first deep-sea dive in a contraption of their own invention.
10. Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating (K–4)
Eugenie Clark’s childhood fascination with sharks fueled a lifelong quest to prove that they are creatures to be revered, not feared, in this inspiring biography.
11. In the Sea by David Elliott (K–4)
What’s more poetic than the ocean? This collection includes short, engaging verses about a variety of ocean creatures of all sizes.
12. One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies (1–4)
Loggerhead sea turtles may start out tiny, but their life’s journeys are nothing short of amazing. The lyrical narrative nonfiction text is Nicola Davies at her best.
13. Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews (1–4)
Explore a unique Inuit tradition with this story of Eva, who walks alone under the sea ice at low tide to gather mussels for the first time.
14. Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau by Jennifer Berne (1–4)
This esteemed explorer’s interests in both filmmaking and the ocean frontier led to celebrated conservation efforts—a great example of how passion can lead to positive impact.
15. The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs by Kate Messner (1–4)
This narrative nonfiction title about “the power of one” tells the story of Ken Nedimyer. He launched a creative effort to restore the coral reefs he loved exploring as a child.
16. Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins (1–4)
Jenkins’s signature illustrations and accompanying blurbs teach students about creatures living on the surface to those who dwell within the darkest depths of the ocean.
17. Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh (2–5)
“How deep were the oceans? Were there mountains under the sea?” Marie Tharp had so many questions and didn’t stop until she discovered answers—and broke gender barriers in the process.
18. Sea Creatures by Seymour Simon (3–8)
Seymour Simon is a science curriculum staple. This collection of stunning photographs and accompanying informational text focuses on the amazing adaptations of sea creatures, large and small.
19. National Geographic: The Ultimate Book of Sharks by Brian Skerry (4–8)
Shark enthusiasts, look no further. This book includes every type of shark on the planet, complete with some of the most jaw-dropping photos of sharks you’ll ever see.
20. The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea by Bryn Barnard (5–8)
This call to action links global warming and pollution to their impacts on ocean life. Use each of the sections on an ocean species as short text or study how they all tie into the book’s powerful conclusion.
21. Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Griffin Burns (5–8)
This profile of oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer is for anyone who’s ever spotted an item floating out to sea and wondered where it will go. Ebbesmeyer studies ocean currents by tracking discarded items, some of which take unbelievable journeys.
What are your favorite ocean books for kids? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
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