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! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
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.
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?
Water Land - 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.
Plip-Plop Pond! - 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.
Mr. Duck Means Business - 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.
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.
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.
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
Children will discover nature’s creatures hidden in graphic environments.
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.
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.
Hattie and Hudson - 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.
Moon River - 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.
Beyond the Pond - 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.
Where the River Begins - Describes Josh and Aaron’s journey with their grandfather to the source of the river that flows past their house
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.
Sinking the Sultana - 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.
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.
Seagull & Sea Dragon - 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.
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