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Seas: Books For Kids

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

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

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. 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 seas, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Dog on Wheels at Sunny Sea to popular sellers like Carry On, Mr. Bowditch to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Sea Knows.

We hope this list of kids books about seas can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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The Sea Knows
Written by Alan B. Havis and Alice B. McGinty & illustrated by Stephanie Laberis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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Dog on Wheels at Sunny Sea
Written & illustrated by Gillian McClure
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

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Stephen Biesty's Cross-Sections: Man-Of-War
Written by Richard Platt & illustrated by Stephen Biesty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

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.

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Chirri & Chirra, Under the Sea
Written by Kaya Doi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

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Water Sings Blue
Written by Kate Coombs & illustrated by Meilo So
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

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  • 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.

  • My Ocean Is Blue - “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.

  • 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.

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Treasure Hunters
Written by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein & illustrated by Mark Shulman and Juliana Neufeld
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Written by Jean Lee Latham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-18

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.

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Pearl
Written by Molly Idle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Caldecott Honor author-illustrator Molly Idle dazzles with an original mermaid tale about how small, persistent actions can achieve great things.
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Captain Barbosa and the Pirate Hat Chase
Written & illustrated by Jorge González
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

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.

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Mother Cary's Butter Knife
Written by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Anja Uhren
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

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.

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  • Whale in a Fishbowl - 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.

  • Robinson Crusoe - 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?

  • 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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