Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to bodies of water. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about bodies of water.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.
When it comes to children’s stories about bodies of water, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Real Boat to popular sellers like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
We hope this list of kids books about bodies of water can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!
Dive in and explore the wonders of the ocean and its inhabitants in this lyrical, fact-filled ode to the sea! This beautifully illustrated picture book features extensive nonfiction backmatter for further exploration.
We are young. The sea is old. The sea has secrets to unfold. The sea knows.
In this playful, rhyming celebration of the marine world, readers can explore all of the wondrous things the sea knows. It knows huge whales and small krill; it knows short crabs and tall giant kelp; it knows brightly colored starfish in shallow pools; and in the inky depths it knows the alluring jewel of an anglerfish’s glowing lure.
Discover all of the strange and magnificent underwater creatures in this accessible tribute to the power and mystery of the ocean.
They’re Puffin Classics for a reason, it’s because they’re the best
Tom Sawyer is sure to find trouble wherever the river leads him . . .
On the banks of the Mississippi River, Tom Sawyer and his friends seek out adventure at every turn. Then one fateful night in the graveyard they witness a murder. The boys make a blood oath never to reveal the secret, and they run away to be pirates in search of hidden treasure. But when Tom gets trapped in a cave with scary Injun Joe, can he escape unharmed?
In this gorgeous companion to the acclaimed Over and Under the Snow and Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal bring to life a secret underwater world. In this book, readers will discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain pond. Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. But under the pond is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, tadpoles growing. These and many other secrets are waiting to be discovered…over and under the pond.
A cheerful and action-packed adventure about the importance of friendship and community from a successful author and illustrator duo!
Once there was a river flowing through a forest. The river didn’t know it was capable of adventures until a big bear came along. But adventures aren’t any fun by yourself, and so enters Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck. These very different animals take off downstream, but they didn’t know they needed one another until thankfully, the river came along.
This hilarious picture book and heartfelt message celebrates the joy and fun that’s in store when you embark together on a ride of a lifetime.
Various disasters threaten to stop Poppa and the children from getting to the lake in their rattletrap car, but they manage to come up with an ingenious solution to each problem.
Ruby & Rufus - In this preschool tale from the world of Gossie & Friends, water-loving goslings Ruby and Rufus play on the pond come rain, sleet, snow, or shine!
Dog on Wheels at Sunny Sea - Dubbin and Todd are at the seaside! Dubbin has his skateboard and Todd’s got a blue ball. As they roll along to the pier – disaster! The ball flies over the wall and then Todd disappears. It’s Dubbin to the rescue! A delightful follow-up to the first Dog on Wheels.
Under the Water - Summer has finally arrived in the fourth book of Carle’s Porta’s Tales From The Hidden Valley series! Beloved characters return in the final book of this whimsical series for fans of Tove Jansson’s Moomins. Hidden in a remote place surrounded by high mountains, there lies a secret valley. There is an entrance, but you could pass by it a hundred times and still not see it. It’s finally summer, and our friends from the hidden valley are gearing up for a dreamy summer afternoon! When a new, watery friend appears, Ticky, Mister Cold and the rest of the pals explore an exciting new undewater world. But a great monster lurks beneath the surface, and our joyous friends sure are causing quite a fuss! Will they be able to escape its terrible jaws?
Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Man-Of-War - The author of Incredible Cross-Sections takes a detailed look inside an eighteenth-century warship, providing fascinating facts about the ship and the people aboard it. BOMC Main.
This unique information book for the very young switches between bodies of water and corresponding land masses with the simple turn of a page. Full color.
Read along to this sweet, playful parody of Goodnight Moon, featuring pirates, a narwhal, a sleepy mermaid, and creatures of the ocean! In the great green lagoon There was a jellyfish And a gold doubloon And a shadow of— A pirate searching on the dune Join the mermaid as she says goodnight to the lagoon–to the pirate and the dune, to the whales and sails, to the seashells and the ship bells. To each, the little mermaid says goodnight. Children will love this endearing, whimsical parody that’s full of lovable sea creatures. With its rhyming text and sweet, soothing illustrations, this a perfect book for saying goodnight.
Mr. Duck enjoys a quiet morning routine on his private pond every day until other animals mistakenly think he has invited them to join him, in a simple tale that illustrates the importance of friendship.
Here is a book babies can really sink their gums into. Built for the way babies read, Indestructibles are printed on an amazing paperlike material that can’t be ripped, torn, or punctured. Indestructibles are 100 percent safe and nontoxic, and if they get too funky, just throw them in the washing machine or dishwasher. They’re made for baby to hold, grab, chew, pull, and bend, and are designed to create an even more special bond between reader and baby. Printed without words, the parent gets to make up the story, or just cuddle with baby while they explore together.
Plip-Plop Pond! is about a frog who visits his friends in the pond. Kaaren Pixton’s art is bright, swirling with color, and reminiscent of Eric Carle, and it attains an almost 3D richness on the special paperlike stock of the book.
On their sixth adventure, Chirri and Chirra bicycle beneath the waves, discovering the beauty of coral and the deliciousness of marine edibles.
Chirri and Chirra are pedaling along when they find a cave. At the end of the tunnel, they see a light. Oh! They are under the sea! They pedal through a maze of color and pass through an opening in the seaweed, into a scene of seashells of all colors and shapes. Naturally, they come upon sea treats, such as parfait à la conch and marine soda jelly topped with pearl cream. This is the happy, lovely world of Chirri and Chirra, where they stumble on the most wonderful surprises.
Born in Tokyo, Japan, Kaya Doi graduated with a degree in design from Tokyo Zokei University. She got her start in picture books by attending the Atosaki Juku Workshop, held at a Tokyo bookshop specializing in children’s books. Since then she has created many picture books featuring her delicate color-pencil drawings. She lives in Chiba Prefecture and maintains a strong interest in environmental and animal welfare issues. Since the earthquake of 2011 she has been active in recovery and shelter efforts for abandoned pets.
David Boyd is Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His translations have appeared in Monkey Business International, Granta, and Words Without Borders, among other publications.
Water Sings Blue - Come down to the shore with this rich and vivid celebration of the ocean! With watercolors gorgeous enough to wade in by award-winning artist Meilo So and playful, moving poems by Kate Coombs, Water Sings Blue evokes the beauty and power, the depth and mystery, and the endless resonance of the sea.
The Mess That We Made - The Mess That We Made explores the environmental impact of trash and plastic on the ocean and marine life, and it inspires kids to do their part to combat pollution. Simple, rhythmic wording builds to a crescendo (“This is the mess that we made. These are the fish that swim in the mess that we made.”) and the vibrant digital artwork captures the disaster that is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Children can imagine themselves as one of the four multi-ethnic occupants of the little boat surrounded by swirling plastic in the middle of the ocean, witnessing the cycle of destruction and the harm it causes to plants, animals, and humans. The first half of the book portrays the growing magnitude of the issue, and the second half rallies children and adults to make the necessary changes to save our oceans, before it is too late. Facts about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, ocean pollution, and how kids can help are included in the back matter.
A First Book of the Sea - In a remarkable collaboration, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton celebrate the sea in all its changing moods – and the place it holds in our hearts and minds. Ours is a blue planet. The oceans cover more than two-thirds of its surface and constantly calls to us to play, explore, and dream. Our fascination with the sea is as endless as our means of enjoying it – whether building sand castles, navigating by the stars, or observing strange and beautiful marine creatures. In a volume brimming with information, Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton capture the magic and majesty of the ocean with stunning words and pictures. Poems about manta rays, flying fish, and humpback whales mingle with verses about harbors, storms, and pearl divers. Glimpses of life in the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans flow into spreads about tropical islands, coral reefs, and ancient shipwrecks on the seabed. Teeming with colorful details, this treasure trove of knowledge will be pored over by adults and children alike, and its exploration of the vast mysteries of the sea will captivate readers for years to come.
Silver Box: An Enchantment Lake Mystery - In the final Enchantment Lake mystery, Francie's search for the truth about her mother--and herself--plunges her into danger during a North Woods winter When she wakes in her aunts' cold cabin on the shore of Enchantment Lake, Francie remembers: everything about her life has changed. Or is about to. Or just might. Everything depends on the small, engraved silver box that she now possesses--if only she can follow its cryptic clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother and understand, finally, just maybe, the truth about who she really is.
Inspired in part by his own childhood, this gorgeous picture book from Jim LaMarche, the beloved illustrator of A Story for Bear and The Elves and the Shoemaker, tells the story of one stubborn boy's unexpectedly wonderful summer on the river.
“This is my ocean,” the young girl begins as she heads over the dunes with her mother. Then, as they pass the whole day at the seaside, she lyrically describes her ocean in simple, sensory detail. It’s both “slimy” and “sandy,” “sparkly” and “dull.” It has wonderful sounds, as it “splashes and crashes and echoes and squawks.” And it contains so many colors, from “rusted orange” to “runaway red,” “faded white” to “polished green.” Though “mostly it’s blue.” Nothing the girl experiences escapes her careful observation and appreciation. And at day’s end, she can’t wait for her next trip to the beach.
Author Darren Lebeuf, an award-winning photographer, uses spare text and a rhythmic style to create an evocative read-aloud. The vivid adjectives, both concrete and abstract, will inspire children to try to capture in words what they notice not only at the ocean, but in any natural setting. The bright, richly colored cut-paper collage illustrations by Ashley Barron add a captivating visual texture and depth to the story. The portrayal of a girl with a physical disability enjoying and actively participating in a day at the beach encourages all children to do the same in their own lives, while also offering a character education lesson in adaptability. This book has strong curriculum ties to primary nature units and life science lessons on oceans and the seaside, and it offers a perfect focus for nature-based education and outdoor classrooms.
Follow the Little Green Frog as he introduces your baby or toddler to his friends by the pond including ducks, fish, turtles, and more in this adorable lift-a-flap board book. Simple sentences reinforce future language structure while grasping and lifting the sturdy flaps helps develop fine motor skills. A perfect first book!
Welcome to the world little one! Come explore the Little Green Frog Lift-a-Flap board book filled with surprises Perfectly sized for little hands and fingers to open and close the flaps. 6 chunky and sturdy flaps are extra strong so your little one can open and close again and again Surprise and delight baby with bright artwork and special treats under each flap Collect all the books in the Babies Love series. From colors and animals, to first words and holidays, the Babies Love Chunky Lift-a-Flap series is a great introduction to reading with cheerful, contemporary, and whimsical illustrations and sturdy, easy-to-lift flaps
A young Indian boy carves a little canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea. Paddle’s journey, in text and pictures, through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean provides an excellent geographic and historical picture of the region. “Geography of the best kind made vivid by the power of imagination.” – Horn Book
Children will discover nature’s creatures hidden in graphic environments.
A River - 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.
Paddle-to-the-Sea - A toy Indian and his canoe travel from Lake Nipigon to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Girl Who Sailed the Stars - When Oona Britt was born in the magical town of Nordlor, where all of the homes are built from wrecked ships, her parents never expected her to be a girl. Having listened to a faulty prediction from a washed-up soothsayer, they were promised a “bold and brave son,” so as the youngest of seven sisters, Oona’s birth became a disappointment — especially to her sea captain father, who doesn’t believe there’s a place for girls aboard ships. But Oona is different from the rest of her family. She longs for adventure and knowledge. So she steals aboard her father’s ship just as he’s about to set sail for his annual winter whale hunt, and suddenly finds herself in the midst of a grand adventure! The ship has its own sea cat, Barnacles, and a navigator named Haroyld, who show Oona how to follow the stars. But for all that, Oona’s father is furious. Can she prove to him that she’s worth his love and pride, even though she’s not the bold and brave son he was promised? This follow-up to The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker carries just as much heart and charm as Matilda Woods’s first novel. The characters, story, and illustrations will dazzle readers.
Treasure Hunters - From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life and I Funny comes a brilliantly original new adventure series, jam-packed with action, humor, and heart! The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents mysteriously disappear, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit by an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents–and find out if they’re still alive.
Carl and Madeleine are supposed to be napping while Mom and Dad get the summer cabin ready for company, but this lovable canine and his charge have better things to do. They escape from the hammock to do some canoeing, pick blackberries, and enjoy a picnic. Carl even plays a little baseball! That night, Mom and Dad wonder why the two are so tired - little do they know that Carl and Madeleine have been busy exploring all that a summer vacation on the lake has to offer.Told mainly through Alexandra Day's gorgeous oil paintings, this summertime romp will make readers long to bring Carl along on their own vacations!
Readers today are still fascinated by “Nat,” an eighteenth-century nautical wonder and mathematical wizard. Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor’s world—Salem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by “log, lead, and lookout.” Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the “Sailors’ Bible”), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.
River - Caldecott Honor winner Elisha Cooper invites readers to grab their oars and board a canoe down a river exploration filled with adventure and beauty.
The Story about Ping - A little duck finds adventure on the Yangtze River when he is too late to board his master’s houseboat one evening.
Captain Barbosa and the Pirate Hat Chase - In this wordless graphic novel, Captain Barbosa sails the seven seas with his trusty shipmates: a fly, an alligator, and an elephant. A seagull steals his treasured hat, and Barbosa and his crew give chase through a nasty storm. When Barbosa reaches the seagull’s island, he finds the hat―along with a nest of baby seagulls―and decides even pirates can forgive and forget.
Mother Cary's Butter Knife - A boy who falls in love with the sea. One in a series of short stories that explore the deeper, darker side of our connection with the natural world. Inspired by ancient folk tales and a love of nature. Be ready to feel a little bit of magic, and perhaps a few shivers down the spine.
One day when Little Quack is playing in the pond, he hears the strangest noise in the distance. He listens closely along with his siblings, Widdle, Waddle, Piddle, and Puddle, only to find that it’s a frog in their pond. The other ducklings aren’t so sure about taking this new guy under their wings, but Little Quack is determined to make a new friend, no matter how different he may be! In no time at all, everyone is squishing in the mud, splunking on lilypads, and quacking up a splash in the spirit of friendship in this board book edition perfect little ones!
A little girl and her colossal friend teach a monster-size lesson about prejudging others in a charming offering from Chris Van Dusen.
Hattie McFadden is a born explorer. Every morning she grabs her life jacket and paddles out in her canoe to discover something new on the lake, singing a little song on her way. When her singing draws up from the depths a huge mysterious beast, everyone in town is terrified — except Hattie, who looks into the creature’s friendly, curious eyes and knows that this is no monster. So Hattie sneaks out at night to see the giant — whom she names Hudson — and the two become friends. But how can she make the frightened, hostile townspeople see that Hudson isn’t scary or dangerous at all? Chris Van Dusen brings his colorful, perspective-bending artwork to this satisfying new story about acceptance, friendship, and sticking up for those who are different.
Two drifters, off to see the world / There’s such a lot of world to see We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waiting, round the bend / My Huckleberry Friend, Moon River, and me
Follow a girl (accompanied by her teddy bear—“two drifters”) as she dreams about the wide and wonderful world. Cozy scenes of pajamas and bedtime make this a perfect story to share at the end of the night.
A stunning picture book about the power of imagination, perfect for fans of Extra Yarn and Journey, from debut author-illustrator Joseph Kuefler. Just behind an ordinary house filled with too little fun, Ernest D. decides that today will be the day he explores the depths of his pond. Beyond the pond, he discovers a not-so-ordinary world that will change him forever.
Have You Seen My Duckling? Board Book - An anxious mother duck leads her brood around the pond as she searches for one missing duckling.
Where the River Begins - Describes Josh and Aaron’s journey with their grandfather to the source of the river that flows past their house
We're Sailing Down the Nile - Climb aboard the river boat! We re sailing down the Nile. We ll visit Abu Simbel in just a little while.
Lily's Water Woes - The second installment of the Wild Fairies series, Lily’s Water Woes, follows wild fairy (and mermaid) Lily, who is feeling left out. While her fairy friends get to travel to beautiful beaches and lush forests, Lily is always stuck at home, unable to be away from the water for very long. Her froggy pal, Splash, tries his best to cheer her up, but Lily still wishes she could stay out late and play like the other fairies. Wanting to help their friend, the fairies come together to build an awesome surprise for Lily that just might make it easier for her to travel beyond her small pond. The Wild Fairies series features a group of magical fairy friends who love playing and learning in the beautiful and bountiful forest they call home. With their reliable sidekick critters alongside, Daisy, Thistle, Heather, Celosia, Poppy, Dahlia, Indigo, and Lily care for the natural world around them using their unique and diverse set of special skills. Infused with ecology, botany, and magic, the wild fairies’ whimsical adventures will inspire in kids a sense of wonder and curiosity for nature, as well as inform them about the wildflowers and critters behind the fairies through young-reader friendly nonfiction pages in the back of each book.
Huckleberry Finn had a tough life with his drunk father until an adventure with Tom Sawyer changed everything. But when Huck’s dad returns and kidnaps him, he must escpe down the Mississippi river with runaway slave, Jim. They encounter trouble at every turn, from floods and gunfights to armed bandits and the long arm of the law. Through it all the friends stick together – but can Huck and Tom free Jim from slavery once and for all?
Wednesday is a whale who lives in a fishbowl smack dab in the middle of a city—it’s the only home she’s ever known. Cars whizz around her and people hurry past; even the sun and moon circle above. But if she leaps high enough out of her bowl, Wednesday can see it: a calm bit of blue off in the distance. When a girl in a paisley dress tells Wednesday “You belong in the sea,” the whale starts to wonder, what is the sea? Readers will cheer—and get all choked up— when, one day, Wednesday leaps higher than ever before and sets in motion a breathtaking chain of events that will carry her to her rightful home. Touching, and ultimately uplifting, here is a story about a lonely creature longing to be free—and longing to find someone just like her.
When a paper boat learns about the ocean, he is determined to go there so he can be a real boat. On his journey he meets all sorts of friends, from the strong little tugboat to the glittering ocean liner. But he also learns that the real ocean is huge and deep and full of dangers. A lyrical text and magical illustrations combine to create a modern fable with an important message about striving for what you want and escaping your comfort zone.
In 1860, eleven-year-old Becky Thatcher, new to St. Petersburg, Missouri, joins the boys at school in a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas in hopes of meeting a promise to have adventures that she made her brother, Jon, before he died.
The worst maritime disaster in American history wasn’t the Titanic. It was the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River–and it could have been prevented.
Welcome to Frog and his world. He enjoys nothing better than spending time floating in his pond or visiting with his friends. He appreciates the simpler things in life and would prefer that things stay just the way they are--nice and peaceful.
There's a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake - Built for giggles and fun read-alouds, this classic children’s song has been adapted by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of Love and Otis, Loren Long! “One to visit again and again…” –Publishers Weekly There’s a log on the bottom of the lake There’s a log on the bottom of the lake There’s a log? There’s a log! There’s a log on the bottom of the lake. But it turns out there’s a a whole lot more than just a log on the bottom of this lake! A cumulative text featuring repetition and tongue-twisters combine with gorgeous illustrations from New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long for a book kids will clamor for at storytime. Endpapers include sheet music and lyrics for kids and parents to have their own singalong!
Duck's Ditty - An adaptation of everyone’s favorite song from The Wind in the Willows, this sweet story is the perfect bedtime read. With beautiful illustrations and sweet prose, this depiction of ducks just a-dabbling in the water will capture the hearts of young readers new to the work of Kenneth Grahame.
Yak and Gnu - Lively good humor is afloat--along with an armada of adventurous animals--in this silly seafaring tale.
Defying his parents, Robinson Crusoe goes to sea. He is captured by pirates but escapes to Brazil. He makes a fortune using slave labor to grow tobacco and sugar. He sails to Africa to bring back more slaves but is shipwrecked on an uninhabited island. Everyone else is drowned. For over 20 years he lives alone. He learns to hunt and fish and make shelter. Then the cannibals arrive. Will this be the end of his adventure, or the chance to escape?
Debut author-illustrator Sydni Gregg explores the unlikely friendship between a seagull and sea dragon—and how their two worlds might be more similar than they ever could imagine. Meet Seagull. Meet Sea Dragon. One comes from the sky. One comes from the sea. And both are scared of the other’s world. But when they meet, they discover they might have more in common than they ever imagined. Debut author-illustrator Sydni Gregg beautifully illustrates the idea that sometimes new friends can come from unlikely and unexpected places.
Francie returns to Enchantment Lake looking for answers, only to get dragged into a murder mystery she might not surviveFrancie's brother Theo has secrets--secrets Francie thinks she wants to know. But what if one of those secrets is that Theo is a murderer? To avoid considering that possibility, Francie plunges into her senior year at a small-town high school near Enchantment Lake in northern Minnesota. It's a radical change from her private school in New York, but she hopes to keep an eye on her great aunts and maybe finally learn more about the mother she never knew. A small silver box seems to hold the answers, and she is determined to get her hands on it.
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