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Rivers: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about rivers?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to rivers. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about rivers.

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 rivers, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like The Story about Ping 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 rivers can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Written by Mark Twain
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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?

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Bear Came Along
Written by Richard T. Morris & illustrated by LeUyen Pham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

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.

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Raft
Written & illustrated by Jim LaMarche
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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Paddle-To-The-Sea (Turtleback School & Library)
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

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

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A River
Written & 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.

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  • Paddle-to-the-Sea - A toy Indian and his canoe travel from Lake Nipigon to the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Birrarung Wilam: A Story from Aboriginal Australia - Travel along Melbourne's twisting Yarra River in a glorious celebration of Indigenous culture and Australia's unique flora and fauna.

  • 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.

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Moon River
Written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini & illustrated by Tim Hopgood
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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Where the River Begins
Written by Thomas Locker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Describes Josh and Aaron’s journey with their grandfather to the source of the river that flows past their house

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We're Sailing Down the Nile
Written by Laurie Krebs & illustrated by Anne Wilson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Climb aboard the river boat! We re sailing down the Nile. We ll visit Abu Simbel in just a little while.

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Written & illustrated by Mark Twain
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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?

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The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher
Written by Jessica Lawson & illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

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