Turtles And Tortoises: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about turtles and tortoises?

We’ve created a totally fun list of the best kids books about turtles and tortoises. Aren’t these fascinating creatures? Getting a peek into the lives of turtles as they scamper to survive the journey from nest to water is inspiring, and it never gets old to learn about the long life that some tortoises live — up to 250 years old!

As you can see there is a lot to learn. Not only are children’s books fun that have a turtle as a character in the story, like Franklin, but imagine what we can learn in the non-fiction books about real tortoises, like Owen. Also on the list is a fun finger puppet book called “Little Sea Turtle” for our youngest friends. If you are searching for a turtle book for preschoolers, “I’ll Follow the Moon” has beautiful watercolor illustrations that take us through the journey of a tiny turtle finding his way to the sea. It is one all ages will enjoy.

Included in our list of children’s books about turtles and tortoises are board books for the youngest readers, ages 0-2, picture books for kids 3-6 years old, and chapter books for those who are 7-10 years old.

Enjoy and let us know what books you would add to the list!

The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit book
#1
The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit
Written by Susan Lowell and illustrated by Jim Harris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

The Tortoise and the Hare with a southwestern flair. Tortoise, living comfortably in her home on Slow Lane, awakens one morning feeling good and challenges cocky Jackrabbit to a race. Patiently bumping her way through the desert landscape, Tortoise heads for the finish line as Jackrabbit cheerfully skips―and sleeps. Roadrunner, Tarantula, Gila Monster and even a Javelina or three cheer them on. Irresistible fun for the young and old alike.

Who Saw Turtle? book
#2
Who Saw Turtle?
Written by Ros Moriarty and illustrated by Balarinji Studio
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

“Did the whale with the slapping, splashing tail see Turtle? Maybe it was the fish with the glittery, shimmering scales? Follow the amazing migration of Turtle through the seas and oceans as she returns home to lay her eggs”—Cover.

Truman book
#3
Truman
Written by Jean Reidy and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

After his best friend Sarah leaves for her first day of school, a tortoise named Truman goes on an adventure across the living room and learns to be brave in this thoughtful and heartwarming twist on a first experience story. Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the trash trucks and the number eleven bus, which travels south. He never worries about the world below…until one day, when Sarah straps on a big backpack and does something Truman has never seen before. She boards the bus! Truman waits for her to return. He waits. And waits. And waits. And when he can wait no longer, he knows what he must do. Even if it seems…impossible!

Fraturtles book
#4
Fraturtles
Written and illustrated by Keith Greenstein
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

“How come fraternal twins are called twins when they don’t look alike?” That’s the most common question fraternals ask (and are asked) when they’re young. Not only does Fraturtles answer that question, but it does so through a fun, easy-to-understand story about a twin who comes to realize that having a twin isn’t about sharing their looks. It’s about sharing their lives.

Little Green Frog Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Book (Babies Love) book
#5
Little Green Frog Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Book (Babies Love)
Written by Cottage Door Press and Ginger Swift and illustrated by Olga Demidova
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-5

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

  1. Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship - The amazing true story of the orphaned baby hippo and 130-year-old giant turtle whose remarkable friendship touched millions around the world. The inspiring true story of two great friends, a baby hippo named Owen and a 130-yr-old giant tortoise named Mzee (Mm-ZAY). When Owen was stranded after the Dec 2004 tsunami, villagers in Kenya worked tirelessly to rescue him. Then, to everyone’s amazement, the orphan hippo and the elderly tortoise adopted each other. Now they are inseparable, swimming, eating, and playing together. Adorable photos e-mailed from friend to friend quickly made them worldwide celebrities. Here is a joyous reminder that in times of trouble, friendship is stronger than the differences that too often pull us apart.

  2. The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle - Thomas the Turtle lives with his mother and sister on Placid Pond. Many years ago his father disappeared when he entered one part of the pond, which is called the “forbidden region.” Thomas the Turtle has been told by his mother not to go to this region, but one day Thomas ventures too close and is swept over a waterfall and downstream. He struggles battling the forces of nature to survive the frightening experience. Far from home, he is determined to reunite with this family, and finally with the help of two children he succeeds. The Adventure of Thomas the Turtle stresses family values, filial obedience, adversity, curiosity, faith and determination. Parents will enjoy reading this touching story to their 5-to-9-year-old children for its exciting adventure and strong moral messages.

  3. Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories - Dr. Seuss presents three modern fables in the rhyming favorite Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. The collection features tales about greed (“Yertle the Turtle”), vanity (“Gertrude McFuzz”), and pride (“The Big Brag”). In no other book does a small burp have such political importance! Yet again, Dr. Seuss proves that he and classic picture books go hand in hand.

  4. Galapagos George - This is the story of the famous Lonesome George, a giant tortoise who was the last of his species, lived to be one hundred years old, and became known as the rarest creature in the world. His story gives us a glimpse of the amazing creatures inhabiting the ever-fascinating Galápagos Islands. Renowned naturalist and bestselling author of the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves and the critically acclaimed Everglades Jean Craighead George once again introduces children to the wonders of the natural world in this incredible evolution story set in the Galápagos Islands. The back matter features key terms, a timeline, and further resources for research. Supports the Common Core State Standards.

One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder book
#10
One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder
Written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Jane Chapman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“Simple, lyrical words and bright, acrylic doublepage pictures convey the astonishing facts about the loggerhead sea turtle. . . . A powerful nature story for a young audience.” — Booklist

Far, far out at sea lives one of the world’s most mysterious creatures, the loggerhead turtle. For thirty years she swims the oceans, wandering thousands of miles as she searches for food. Then, one summer night, she lands on a beach to lay her eggs — the very same beach where she herself was born. Nicola Davies’s lyrical text offers fascinating information about the journey of the tiny, endangered loggerhead, while charming paintings by Jane Chapman vividly illustrate one turtle’s odyssey.

The Foolish Tortoise (The World of Eric Carle) book
#11
The Foolish Tortoise (The World of Eric Carle)
Written by Richard Buckley and illustrated by Eric Carle
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The timeless tale of The Foolish Tortoise, illustrated by Eric Carle, is now available in a Level 2 Ready-to-Read edition!

The foolish tortoise is tired of being so slow. He decides that the easiest way for him to move faster is to get out of his heavy shell. The only problem is, once he leaves his home, he’s too scared to walk anywhere! This silly tortoise learns the hard way that there’s no place like home.

Children will enjoy this jubilant tale of a tortoise on a journey of self-discovery! Now available as a Level 2 Ready-to-Read, this charming story with rhyming text is perfect for young readers!

Clever Tortoise book
#12
Clever Tortoise
Written by and illustrated by Francesca Martin
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

On the banks of Africa’s Lake Nyasa there’s a quarrel going on. Elephant and Hippopotamus are boasting how big and strong they are and frightening the smaller animals. But not clever Tortoise. He may be small but his brains are big and he knows a trick to cut those bullies down to size!

Limu: The Blue Turtle book
#13
Limu: The Blue Turtle
Written by Kimo Armitage and illustrated by Scott Kaneshiro
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Limu was different than all the other Hawaiian sea turtles - he was blue! But while other turtles made fun of him, Limu still had fun growing up in the sea, bodysurfing the big waves, laughing with seals and making friends big and small. Follow Limu’s adventures, as he discovers that no matter what he looks like on the outside, others like him because of the good turtle he is on the inside.

Franklin's New Friend book
#14
Franklin's New Friend
Written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Franklin has always lived in the same house in the same town, and he’s grown up with the same friends. Then new neighbors move in — the Moose family! At school, Mr. Owl asks Franklin to be Moose’s buddy. Initially, Franklin is afraid of Moose because of his size but he soon realizes that despite their differences, he has made a new friend in this Franklin Classic Storybook.

  1. The Sea Turtle Mystery - The Aldens are spending spring break on a beach, but they aren’t just soaking up the sun. They’re protecting an endangered species! Their job is to mark sea turtle nests so the eggs can be moved to a safe place to hatch, but someone is digging up the eggs without permission. Can the Boxcar Children figure out what’s going on and help save the sea turtles?

  2. Turtle, Turtle, Watch Out! - A fascinating look at the dangers sea turtles face and the role that humans have in helping with wildlife and ocean conservation. In this re-illustrated edition of the previously published text, author April Pulley Sayre introduces readers to the life of a sea turtle. From the tiny hatchlings being born on the shores of Florida to the turtles making their way through the sea to their journey back to lay eggs of their own years later, the reader sees the dangers that turtles must face and how humans can help. Backmatter includes Information on sea turtle conservation efforts and the seven species of sea turtles. A great introduction to ocean life cycles as well as a perfect resource for building awareness about environmental and nature conservation in and outside of the classroom.

  3. Nate the Great and the Tardy Tortoise - These chapter books introduce beginning readers to the detective mystery genre. Perfect for the Common Core, kids can problem-solve with Nate, using logical thinking to solve mysteries! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and someone is eating the flowers in Nate the Great’s garden. A green tortoise is slowly, slowly stepping across the lawn, and Nate is slowly, slowly following him. Where does Nate’s green guest truly belong? It may take all of Nate the Great’s patience and sharp eyesight to find out slowly.

  4. Back to School Tortoise - It’s time to go back to school. But Tortoise is worried. What if he falls down? What if he doesn’t like lunch? What if the kids are mean to him? What if he falls down, doesn’t like lunch, and the kids are mean to him? The perfect back-to-school book about being brave, with a surprise at the end!

Little Sea Turtle: Finger Puppet Book: (Finger Puppet Book for Toddlers and Babies, Baby Books for First Year, Animal Finger Puppets) (Little Finger Puppet Board Books) book
#19
Little Sea Turtle: Finger Puppet Book: (Finger Puppet Book for Toddlers and Babies, Baby Books for First Year, Animal Finger Puppets) (Little Finger Puppet Board Books)
board book
Recommend Ages: 5-6
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

Finger puppet books are a favorite at our house! Whether I use my finger or my boys use theirs, we have a good time watching the animal tell us a story!

A new title in the bestselling finger puppet series! Tiny tots will enjoy swimming with newly hatched baby sea turtles in Little Sea Turtle. This simple, comforting story features a permanently attached plush finger puppet and peek-a-boo holes in every page, giving parents and children a fun, interactive way to play and read together.

Croc & Turtle book
#20
Croc & Turtle
Written and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

For fans of Penguin and Pinecone, this adorable new duo will warm your heart and tickle your funny bone. Meet Croc! He is the strongest and fastest crocodile around. Meet Turtle! He agrees that Croc is the strongest and fastest. But what happens when Elephant lifts that heavy rock with ease? And when Cheetah speeds on by? Croc and Turtle might not be the strongest or the fastest, but they’re definitely the best at something even more important . . . Introducing an utterly charming new duo, this humorous and heartwarming adventure will delight readers of all ages.

Who Wants a Tortoise? book
#21
Who Wants a Tortoise?
Written by Dave Keane and illustrated by K. G. Campbell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Could there be any better pet than a puppy? One young girl is about to find out. From beloved author Dave Keane and acclaimed illustrator K.G. Campbell, a laugh-out-loud story of unexpected friendship!

When the spunky, loveable narrator receives a tortoise for her birthday, instead of the cuddly puppy she’s longed for her entire life, she’s more than a little disappointed. But while her new lump of a pet isn’t what she dreamed of, it doesn’t take long—between tortoise-on-skateboard walks, sparkly shell makeovers, and a lemonade stand selling chances to hold a real life tortoise—for the little girl to change her mind—sort of. But when her pet goes missing, all she wants is to be reunited with her new best friend.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch book
#22
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
Written by Anne Isaacs and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

When Widow Tulip Jones of Bore, England, inherits a ranch in By-Golly Gully, Texas, and moves in with two trunks of tea, twelve pet tortoises, and three servants, hilarity ensues. The peaceful life suits the wealthy widow fine until word gets out and every unmarried man in Texas lines up to marry her. Widow Tulip and her small staff of three can’t possibly run the farm and manage all the suitors, so she devises a plan—and it just might work. This story filled with giant tortoises, 1,000 brides, bad guys, a smart widow, and even a little romance is sure to get kids laughing.

On Kiki's Reef book
#23
On Kiki's Reef
Written by Carol L. Malnor and illustrated by Trina L. Hunner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A tiny baby sea turtle scrambles across the sandy beach and into the sea. Floating far out in the ocean, Kiki is becoming a gentle giant. She swims to shallower water where a rainbow of corals puts on a show. Kiki adopts the busy coral reef as her new home and discovers fish of all sizes and lots of surprises! But something keeps calling her back to the beach . . . and the circle of life continues.

  1. The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise: A Novel - Brimming with charm and whimsy, this exquisite novel set in the Tower of London has the transportive qualities and delightful magic of the contemporary classics Chocolat and Amélie. Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right, he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London. Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens a series of principled erot­ica; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens. When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interest­ing. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away. Filled with the humor and heart that calls to mind the delight­ful novels of Alexander McCall Smith, and the charm and beauty of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise is a magical, wholly origi­nal novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after you turn the stunning last page.

  2. A Sick Day for Amos McGee - The Goodfather - This is such a soft and endearing story of sincere friendship. The illustrations are very unique due to illustrator Erin Stead’s use of woodblock printing techniques. This was actually her first illustrated book, which is remarkable since it’s a Caldecott winner.

  3. Turtle Tug to the Rescue - The Goodfather - I enjoy Michael Slack’s illustrations and wordplay in this (and Elecopter). With fun rhymes and bold full page images, Turtle Tug is an exciting story to read aloud, especially to a young child who likes turtle characters and rescue stories.

  4. The Tortoise and the Scare (Nancy Drew Clue Book) - Help Nancy and her friends find a missing tortoise in the eleventh book in the interactive Nancy Drew Clue Book mystery series. Nancy, Bess, and George have been looking forward to their school trip to the Wildlife Refuge for weeks. They’ve been studying all the different animals they’ll see there—pygmy hedgehogs, scarlet macaws, and ball pythons. Nancy is most excited to see the sixty-year-old tortoise—that hard-shelled creature is older than her dad. But when her class reaches the enclosure they find out the tortoise is on the loose! Nancy and her friends are on the case. Can they save the day before the class trip is over? Or will this sneaky reptile outsmart them all?

A Turtle's Dangerous Journey book
#28
A Turtle's Dangerous Journey
Written by Mary Ellen Klukow and illustrated by Albert Pinilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Animals face scary challenges every day! These narrative nonfiction books focus on describing the changes to animals habitats that affect the animal’s way of life-or even puts their species at risk of dying out! Readers will learn about the reasons for changes in habitats that affect animals and small steps they can take to help protect them. A turtle is making her way across a highway to find a nesting spot. She avoids being run over, only to find trash in the nesting grounds which will attract predators to her eggs. Will the turtle survive this dangerous journey? This narrative nonfiction title includes a range map, notes on how to help turtles, further resources, and a glossary.

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