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The Ocean and Boats: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about the ocean is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From Ocean Meets Sky to Tomo Explores the World there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about the ocean? Let us know!

Ocean Meets Sky book
#1
Ocean Meets Sky
Written by Terry Fan and illustrated by Eric Fan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s a good day for sailing. Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. Finn’s grandfather is gone now but Finn knows the perfect way to honor him. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself! And when he arrives, maybe, just maybe, he’ll find something he didn’t know he was looking for.

Moby-Dick book
#2
Moby-Dick
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Little Master Melville teaches little ones the language of the sea in Moby-Dick: An Ocean Primer. From ships and sailors to squawking gulls and moody good captains, Alison Oliver’s brilliant illustrations and Jennifer Adams’ clever, simple text will make a sea dog out of any young shipmate.

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea book
#3
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.

Boats for Papa book
#4
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.

Lifeboat 12 book
#5
Lifeboat 12
Written by Susan Hood
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-13

In the tradition of The War That Saved My Life and Stella By Starlight, this poignant novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II. With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada. Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger. They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive? Award-winning author Susan Hood brings this little-known World War II story to life in a riveting novel of courage, hope, and compassion. Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive.

  1. Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest - The sixth chapter book in the Prince Not-So Charming series features Prince Carlos going on a quest—and disaster is never far away. Prince Carlos Charles Charming tells a lot more jokes than your standard prince is probably supposed to. But he’s been working hard to live up to his princely expectations. That’s good, because the ultimate prince, Gilbert the Gallant, has gone missing! Carlos, his friend Pinky, and his pet dragon Smudge are assigned to go find Gilbert and complete his quest. But how can Carlos do what the oh-so-perfect Gilbert couldn’t? Especially when Smudge sets their boat on fire before they’ve gone very far? And every princely voyage involves a sea monster! Perfect for middle school readers and filled with adorable illustrations, Prince Not-So Charming: Wild Wild Quest shows how even princes struggle sometimes—but the only way to get through it is one step at a time. An Imprint Book

  2. Crossing on Time - David Macaulay, creator of the international bestseller The Way Things Work, brings his signature curiosity and detailing to the story of the steamship in this meticulously researched and stunningly illustrated book. Prior to the 1800s, ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean relied on the wind in their sails to make their journeys. But invention of steam power ushered in a new era of transportation that would change ocean travel forever: the steamship. Award-winning author-illustrator David Macaulay guides readers through the fascinating history that culminated in the building of the most advanced—and last—of these steamships: the SS United States. This book artfully explores the design and construction of the ship and the life of its designer and engineer, William Francis Gibbs. Framed around the author's own experience steaming across the Atlantic on the very same SS United States, Crossing on Time is a tour de force of the art of explanation and a touching and surprising childhood story.

  3. The Voyage to Magical North - Twelve-year-old Brine Seaborne is a girl with a past--if only she could remember what it is. Found alone in a rowboat as a child, clutching a shard of the rare starshell needed for spell-casting, she's spent the past years keeping house for an irritable magician and his obnoxious apprentice, Peter. When Brine and Peter get themselves into a load of trouble and flee, they blunder into the path of the legendary pirate ship the Onion. Before you can say "pieces of eight," they're up to their necks in the pirates' quest to find Magical North, a place so shrouded in secrets and myth that most people don't even think it exists. If Brine is lucky, she’ll find her place in the world. And if she's unlucky, everyone on the ship will be eaten by sea monsters. It could really go either way.

  4. Blue Boat - With the tremendous success of RED TRUCK in board book format and anticipation around YELLOW COPTER in board to match, we're thrilled to complete the primary-colored series about vehicles who save the day by bringing BLUE BOAT into board, too! When a family on a sailing outing gets stuck in a surprise storm, there is only one boat tough enough to handle the rocking waves and howling winds: Blue Boat! Now even the youngest readers can cheer on this "rough, tough tugboat."

The Sinking of the Vasa book
#10
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.

The Real Boat book
#11
The Real Boat
Written by Marina Aromshtam and illustrated by Victoria Semykina
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

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.

If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic book
#12
If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic
Written by Josh Gregory and illustrated by Sebastià Serra
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

In 1912, the Titanic set off from England on its first voyage. Many people thought the ship was unsinkable, but they were soon proven wrong. Travel through time with William and Alice as they set sail aboard the Titanic in this exciting blend of fiction and nonfiction. You will see that life today is a lot different than it was in the past!

Mayday Mouse book
#13
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!

Tomo Explores the World book
#14
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.

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!