Best Kids Books About Boats

38 Kids Books About Boats

Updated Jan. 19, 2019
South book
#1
South
Written and illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

When a lonely fisherman finds an injured bird on his boat, he nurtures it back to health and--since the bird can no longer migrate with its family--charts a course to head south for the winter. Together, the two form a special friendship and enjoy life at sea until both the healing process and the journey must come to an end. In the tradition of the classic Amos & Boris, South is a story about making new friends and the bittersweet process of saying good-bye to the ones we love. It beautifully depicts the power of new beginnings and the freedom in coming home.

Mayday Mouse book
#2
Mayday Mouse
Written and illustrated by Sebastien Braun
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When Captain Mouse sets sail on a bright, sunny day with a birthday present for her brother, little does she know the sea-going perils she will have to face!Her cheerful, optimistic nature refuses to be downcast by storms, caves, rocks and shipwrecks. Resourceful and inventive, she’s able to save the day - with just a little help from her friends!

Charlie's Boat book
#3
Charlie's Boat
Written and illustrated by Kit Chase
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Best friends really are the best when they use their imaginations to help each other. Charlie, Oliver, and Lulu love to play outside together. One fine day they all go fishing, but Charlie doesn’t have much fun—all he can catch are sticks. Next, they build little boats and have a race, but, once again, things don’t go very well. Charlie’s boat comes in last. Things seem pretty gloomy until Oliver comes up with a plan. They build a special boat they can all play on, together! Kit Chase offers a sweet ode to friendship in this tale of three best friends who can count on each other to always make play time fun.

How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? book
#4
How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow?
Written and illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Every year, giant pumpkin contests take place at fairs across the country—the 2012 record-holder weighed over a ton! The latest craze is to carve the most enormous pumpkins into racing boats. But what’s next? Why not think really big? Award-winning artist Wendell Minor does just that as he imagines larger-than-life pumpkins decorating some of America’s favorite places—as immense as the Capitol dome, Mount Rushmore, the Brooklyn Bridge, even the Grand Canyon! This celebration of famous landmarks and landscapes plays with concepts of size and scale and is full of fun facts.

Words Set Me Free book
#5
Words Set Me Free
Written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

"Words Set Me Free is the inspiring story of young Frederick Douglass's path to freedom through reading"--

Mighty Tug book
#6
Mighty Tug
Written by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and illustrated by David Mottram
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From early in the morning until time to say, "Good night," Mighty Tug works in the busy harbor, guiding cargo ships, pulling barges, and helping with rescues.

That Bear Can't Babysit book
#7
That Bear Can't Babysit
Written by Ruth Quayle and illustrated by Alison Friend
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

When Mr. and Mrs. Burrow need a babysitter, they are not expecting Bear. But Bear is the only one who shows up, so Bear gets the job of babysitting seven little bunnies who are full of mischief. Together, the bunnies persuade Bear to read a scary book, give them chocolate for dinner, and go crazy with the garden hose! But when the bunnies find Bear sailing the high seas in a make-believe ship, suddenly he isn't such a bad babysitter after all.

As Time Went By book
#8
As Time Went By
Written and illustrated by Jose Sanabria
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

2017 Batchelder Honor Book and ALA Notable Book Once upon a time there was a ship that sailed beside the sun with very important people on board. The spirit of reinvention – and the importance we place on things – is beautifully expressed in José Sanabria’s visually evocative story. A steamship makes a journey across time from luxury and exclusivity, industry and abandonment, to stewardship and inclusion as we see the evolving functions of the ship and the changing faces of the people who cherish it most of all.

Ready, Set, Sail! book
#9
Ready, Set, Sail!
Written by Meg Fleming and illustrated by Luke Flowers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Join these sailors as they explore the sea during a fun day of sailing in this follow-up to Ready, Set, Build! Shout your orders loud and fast. "Hoist the mainsail up the mast!" Grab your life vest, hold on to your compass, and get ready for a day full of sailing fun with a playful tiger and turtle! Follow these salty sailors as they raise their anchor, cast off, and explore the sea in their little sloop. And after a long day of sailing, they gather and tell tales of all the things they've seen!

Little Tug book
#10
Little Tug
Written and illustrated by Stephen Savage
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Little Tug knows what to do when the tall ship, the speedboat, and the ocean liner need him, and at such times, he is indispensible.

Tomo Explores the World book
#11
Tomo Explores the World
Written and illustrated by Trevor Lai
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

For young makers and explorers comes Tomo Explores the World! On a tiny island far to the north, there lives a young boy named Tomo whose life is filled with fish, fish, and more fish. Tomo was born into a family of the world’s strongest, wisest, and bravest fishermen. But Tomo has a secret—he doesn’t want to fish; he wants to explore the world beyond his small village! When Tomo finds his great-grandfather’s Adventure Journal, full of fantastic inventions to build and exciting quests, he decides to become the greatest explorer in the world. With the help of his best friend, Maya, and his expert tracking dog, Captain, Tomo builds his own boat and sets off on an adventure at sea. On their journey, Tomo, Maya, and Captain learn just how big the world is, and how much there is to discover. Perfect for budding innovators who like to think outside the box, Tomo Explores the World is a fun and inspiring story that emphasizes creativity and imagination to achieve your goals.

The Antlered Ship book
#12
The Antlered Ship
Written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Eric Fan, Terry Fan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An inquisitive fox named Marco and a bored flock of pigeons join the crew of deer Captain Sylvia, setting sail in her antlered ship in search of a wonderful island and finding friendship on the way.

Three Bears in a Boat book
#13
Three Bears in a Boat
Written and illustrated by David Soman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Afraid to face their mother after breaking her beautiful blue seashell, three bears set out on an high seas adventure to try to find a replacement.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea book
#14
Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea
Written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Raul Colon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Filled with gorgeous illustrations by acclaimed artist Raúl Colón, this illustrated biography shares the story of female scientist, Marie Tharp, a pioneering woman scientist and the first person to ever successfully map the ocean floor. Marie Tharp was always fascinated by the ocean. Taught to think big by her father who was a mapmaker, Marie wanted to do something no one had ever done before: map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Was it even possible? Not sure if she would succeed, Marie decided to give it a try. Throughout history, others had tried and failed to measure the depths of the oceans. Sailors lowered weighted ropes to take measurements. Even today, scientists are trying to measure the depth by using echo sounder machines to track how long it would take a sound wave sent from a ship to the sea floor to come back. But for Marie, it was like piecing together an immense jigsaw puzzle. Despite past failures and challenges—sometimes Marie would be turned away from a ship because having a woman on board was “bad luck”—Marie was determined to succeed. And she did, becoming the first person to chart the ocean floor, helping us better understand the planet we call home.

Turtle Tug to the Rescue book
#15
Turtle Tug to the Rescue
Written and illustrated by Michael Slack
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Turtle Tug is on the lookout! This chugging, tugging turtle powers through gusty winds and treacherous tides, combing the seas to protect his friends from a dangerous storm. From panicking puffins to entangled sperm whales, Turtle Tug is out to rescue all his sea-dwelling friends. He's a turtle tugboat on a mission to make the world a safer place.

Bobo the Sailor Man! book
#16
Bobo the Sailor Man!
Written by Eileen Rosenthal and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Willie finds all sorts of interesting things while he and Bobo the stuffed monkey are exploring, including a bucket that would be a perfect boat for Bobo, but before he knows it, Bobo and the "boat" have disappeared.

The Sinking of the Vasa book
#17
The Sinking of the Vasa
Written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by William Low
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Newbery Medalist Freedman explores the mystery of the sinking of the great Swedish warship, the "Vasa, " on her maiden voyage in 1628, and her resurrection from the seas centuries later. Full color.

Boats for Papa book
#18
Boats for Papa
Written and illustrated by Jessixa Bagley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Buckley and his Mama live in a cozy cabin by the ocean. He loves to carve boats, each one more beautiful than the last, out of the driftwood he finds on the beach nearby. He sends them out to see and if they don't come back, he knows they've found their way to his papa, whom he misses very much.

Boats on the Bay book
#19
Boats on the Bay
Written by Jeanne Walker Harvey and illustrated by Grady McFerrin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Illustrations and easy to read text portray a variety of vessels, from houseboats to dredgers, through the course of a busy day on the bay.

Vincent Comes Home book
#20
Vincent Comes Home
Written by Jessixa Bagley and illustrated by Aaron Bagley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Jessixa Bagley, author and illustrator of Laundry Day, Before I Leave, and Boats For Papa (winner of the 2016 SCBWI Golden Kite Award for best picture book text) and Aaron Bagley (illustrator of Rocking Fatherhood) have been drawing and writing together since they met in art school more than a decade ago. What started off as a courtship of doodling in sketchbooks and belching in lockers soon turned into a marriage of doodling in sketchbooks and belching with their son. Their artistic partnership is a balanced collaboration of overlapping their individual styles and painting techniques—creating one cohesive language. Vincent Comes Home is their first picture book together. And much like Vincent, they have moved around a lot but their home has always been each other.

Gracie Laroo Sets Sail book
#21
Gracie Laroo Sets Sail
Written by Marsha Qualey and illustrated by Kristyna Litten
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

The Water Sprites are supposed to perform their medal-winning synchronized swimming routine aboard a cruise ship, but everything goes wrong when the piglets aboard start throwing things at the swimmers--so Gracie enlists the help of famous Rita Sinclair and her dancers to help impose order on the unruly passengers.

Seven Bad Cats book
#22
Seven Bad Cats
Written and illustrated by Monique Bonneau
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Today I put on my boots and my coat And seven bad cats jumped into my boat. There was one bad cat Who ate from my traps And two bad cats On my oars taking naps Seven cats anywhere is probably too many. Seven BAD cats, all in one boat, is asking for trouble... When a band of bad cats stow away on a little girl's boat, their antics cause the vessel to capsize. Can they come to their captain's rescue and help get the boat safely to shore?

Little Pig Saves the Ship book
#23
Little Pig Saves the Ship
Written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Little Pig is back in Little Pig Saves the Ship! When the sea-faring pigs go a-sailing! Intrepid Little Pig — still the littlest pig in the family — is too little to go to summer camp with his older brothers and sisters. He is left behind with Grandpa and Poppy. Little Pig and Poppy make and sail a toy ship all week, but on Saturday a gusty wind takes the ship into the current, and Little Pig has to use his newfound knot-tying skills to save the day. A sweetly told intergenerational story about how even the littlest can make a big difference.

Old MacDonald Had a Boat book
#24
Old MacDonald Had a Boat
Written by Steve Goetz and illustrated by Eda Kaban
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Old Mac and Mrs. Mac are at it again! This time, these DIY-happy farmers wield a host of noisy tools—from hammers to sanders, and even a blowtorch—to soup up their rusty old fishing boat. With a BANG BANG here and a BUZZ BUZZ there, this silly, summery sequel to the wildly popular Old MacDonald Had a Truck is sure to make a splash—and have the whole family singing along.

A River book
#25
A River
Written and illustrated by Marc Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

There's a river outside my window. Where will it take me? So begins the imaginary journey of a child inspired by the view outside her bedroom window: a vast river winding through a towering city. A small boat with a single white sail floats down the river and takes her from factories to farmlands, freeways to forests, out to the stormy and teeming depths of the ocean, and finally back to the comforts—and inspirations—of home. This lush, immersive book by award-winning picture book creator Marc Martin will delight readers of all ages by taking them on a transcendent and aspirational journey through an imaginative landscape.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.