Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to 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 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, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about water, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Froggy Learns to Swim to popular sellers like A Long Walk to Water to some of our favorite hidden gems like Jabari Jumps.
We hope this list of kids books about 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.
How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals - With his record-breaking eight gold medals won for swimming in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Phelps became an international sensation. In this picture book, Phelps explains the mind-boggling statistics of his years of training in terms young kids can understand. Full color.
Maisy's Pool - Maisy’s fun and familiar world reflects the lively adventures young children have every day. In Maisy’s Pool, Maisy and her friends splash in a wading pool. As always, toddlers, preschoolers, and parents will find the ordinary extraordinary with Maisy!
Fruits in Suits - Have you ever seen a banana in a bikini? Or a tangerine in trunks? What about grapes in goggles? In this uproarious follow-up to Vegetables in Underwear, kids will learn that there are many kinds of suits—including suits for swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and scuba diving. But can you wear a business suit to the beach? Fruits in Suitshas the same irreverent silliness as Vegetables in Underwearand shows just how much fun swimsuits can be—and how important it is to hold on to them when you jump into the water!
Ruby & Rufus - In this preschool tale from the world of Gossie & Friends, water-loving goslings Ruby and Rufus play on the pond come rain, sleet, snow, or shine! Ruby and Rufus play at the pond every day. They swim in the rain. They swim when it’s windy. Nothing can stop this inseparable pair from doing what they love—until one day, the pond turns to ICE! Could it be that a frozen pond is twice as nice? Ruby & Rufus features the perfectly pitched storytelling and adorable illustrations so beloved by fans of Olivier Dunrea’s Gossie&Friends series.
The Ocean - A highly designed and comprehensive look at the watery wonders of the world. Oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface, and so much science is lurking just underneath! This survey-style book is packed with facts and anecdotes about the creatures and plants that populate these waters—and also features a critical look at why, now more than ever, people need to work to protect them. Filled with fascinating facts and stunning artwork, this flippable nonfiction book has an extra-large trim size and is perfect for science lovers, environmentalists, and child and adult fans of gift books like Maps, The Fifty States, and Animalium.
Nerdy Babies: Ocean - In Nerdy Babies: Ocean, follow our intrepid infants into the watery depths. Check out animals, plants, and fish that live in the ocean. Plus, learn about the unique ecosystem in this simple text written in question and answer format. With bright artwork and an engaging design, this will be a book that the very littlest nerds will want to return to again and again. Stay curious. There’s more to learn about everything!
Baby Oceanographer - Baby Scientist is an adorable board book series that brings fun, accessible science concepts to baby’s world using simple language, recognizable settings, and vibrant art. Read them all with your baby scientist! Baby Oceanographer explores the oceans. With his snorkel and mask, he looks at the animals and plants under the sea. What creatures are found deep down? Are waves in the ocean like waves in the bathtub? Find out with Baby Oceanographer! Don’t miss the other books in this series, including Baby Astronaut!
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.
Want to see books about environmental science and ecosystems?
A Mirror to Nature - In this nature-inspired poetry picture book, contemplative poems and photos about water combine allowing young readers to see the world in new ways. Nature’s beauty is captured in twelve thoughtful poems and breathtaking pictures in this winner of the John Burroughs Nature Books for Young Readers Award. Watery reflections provide an appropriate backdrop for author Jane Yolen’s musings on nature, such as a raccoon swimming with his reflected self, the water-jagged legs of a snowy egret, and the double danger of a hungry alligator at the edge of a swamp. Jason Stemple’s photographs offer whimsical peeks at the natural world we rarely chance to see. This artistic collaboration gives a unique opportunity to think about the world.
Chomp: A Shark Romp - Dive in to the depths of the ocean to discover different species of sharks in this nonfiction picture book with simple text and illustrations. Many different kinds of sharks are swimming below the ocean’s surface. Some sharks are gentle, and some sharks are fierce. Some are awake in the day, and some are awake at night. Some eat almost anything, and some are very picky. You may not be able to visit their watery world, but you can always visit them up close at the aquarium. Simple text and bold illustrations take young explorers on a deep dive through the ocean full of sharks. Don’t Miss More from Michael Paul in Roar: A Dinosaur Tour!
Animal Babies in the River! - What’s a baby otter called? Or a baby duck? In this collection of river creatures and their young, Julia Groves’ distinctive art style captures each animal’s unique beauty.
Basil the Bear Cub - When Basil the bear cub falls into the river, it is up to the superfairies to rescue him before he gets swept over the waterfall.
Down Down Down in the Sea - Join Turtle as he dives deeper and deeper into the ocean - what surprise will he find at the bottom? With flaps to lift and peek-through holes, there’s lots to spot, count and discover along the way.
Ocean - How do fish breathe? Why is the ocean salty? Why is a whale not a fish? Find out the answers to these and many more questions in this brilliant interactive lift-the-flap fact book. Embark on an epic journey under the sea looking for fish and other ocean creatures beneath the waves, learn what shells are for, find out which sea creatures are the most dangerous, and take a closer look at a coral reef. This fascinating fact-filled book is the perfect introduction to life under the sea.
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.
Way Down Below Deep - Swim with the ocean’s most secret creatures! What mysteries lurk at the bottom of the ocean? Discover some of the world’s most fascinating animals, such as anglerfish, luring prey to a toothy doom with a siren’s light; vampire squid, peering forth with red eyes; and sea cucumbers, filtering food from the water passing through their bodies. Follow the lanternfish as he lights the way down to the mysterious deep, where whale worms sprout from bones and all varieties of jellies float free. Children will learn about these bizarre bottom-dwellers through clever rhymes and captivating drawings that bring this sunless land to light. Fun, sometimes silly, facts and images accompany each rhyming marine description.
Want to see books about fish?
The Sea Book - Featuring fascinating fishy facts accompanied by bright, bold, and beautiful illustrations, this book takes children on a journey through the sea and all its zones. The Sea Book explores a wealth of incredible marine animals and their habitats, from up on the ice, down to colorful coral reefs, underwater forests, and right down to the deepest darkest depths where the weird and wonderful lurk. Following on from The Bee Book, Charlotte Milner continues to highlight to children important ecological issues faced by our planet, this time with a focus on marine life and the damaging effects humans are having on our seas. Children will discover what they can do to help, and there are tips on how to live plastic-free. Children will even get to craft their own recycled shopping bag! This charming celebration of the sea shows children just how extraordinary our oceans are, and is a reminder that it is up to us to keep it that way.
Coral Reefs (New & Updated Edition) - What is life like in a coral reef? What do corals eat? Why are corals more colorful at nighttime? Learn about some of the most beautiful locations in the natural world Marine biologists believe coral reefs existed 400 million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Today this active environment is home to about 20,000 kinds of brilliantly colored corals, plants, and animals—more sea creatures than are found anywhere else in the world. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is so large that astronauts can see it from outer space! Children in early elementary grades will enjoy Gibbon’s informative text and clear, detailed illustrations on this journey into the unique lives of coral reefs.
Ocean Emporium - With a nod to the Victorian-era fascination with natural history collections and drawings, young readers will be awed by this compendium of ocean creatures and will learn how creatures great and small are interconnected in this mysterious ecosystem. From plankton and krill, to corals and crabs, to sea dragons and squids and swordfish and more! The oceans are teeming with life! Find out fascinating facts about these animals and how they survive deep beneath the waves.
Kylie the Kitten - Kylie’s excitement over going to summer camp with her friends is threatened by her fear of the water. Includes activities.
Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races - Silver’s dreams of becoming a legendary water dragon racer come true when she befriends a rare dragon that can swim and fly. Twelve-year-old Silver Batal calls the desert home, but her heart belongs to the waters. Although she’s expected to become a jeweler like her father, Silver harbors a secret and forbidden wish to race water dragons. Destiny comes calling when her friendship with a mysterious old woman leads her to Hiyyan, a baby dragon that can swim and fly. Risking everything, Silver, Hiyyan, and her resourceful cousin Brajon set off across the desert to join the legendary races in the royal city. But the road to Calidia is filled with danger, and the trio must band together as they encounter ferocious cave beasts, clever desert foxes, and cutthroat competition. Set in a vivid, Arab-inspired world filled with friendly and fearsome water dragons, K.D. Halbrook’s middle-grade fantasy adventure is perfect for fans of Tui T. Sutherland, Sayantani DasGupta, and Roshani Chokshi.
Gooseberry Park and the Master Plan - Stumpy, Murray, Gwendolyn, and Kona recruit Herman the crow and 200 owls to help with their Master Plan to assist the animals of Gooseberry Park that are in trouble because of a months-long drought.
Frog and Beaver - A new neighbor with huge plans turns life upside down for animals who live on the river in a charming ecological fable from Simon James. Frog and his friends live happily together on the river. At least they do until Beaver comes along. Beaver is determined to build the biggest and best dam anyone has ever seen, and he doesn’t stop to think about what that will mean for everyone else’s homes. Frog tries to tell Beaver that his dam is getting too big, but Beaver just won’t listen. Before long, Beaver’s dam is so huge that it stops all the water in the river, and Frog and his friends must move upstream. But diverted water also needs somewhere to go, and soon Beaver will learn that only one force is stronger than a mighty river — friendship.
Want to see books about friendship?
A Dolphin's Wish - Dive under the sea with a family of dolphins and discover the dangers of plastic pollution. Every year, huge amounts of plastic end up in our oceans. Luckily, there’s something we can do to change that! Follow along as Daddy Dolphin and his son show readers what we’re doing wrong, then be inspired to take action and make a difference! Featuring charming rhymes, bold illustrations, and educational back matter, this beautiful ocean tale offers readers a peek into life under the sea and is perfect for anyone who cares about our planet.
Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters! - You may have seen the cute pictures of penguins wearing sweaters—but did you know why they were wearing them? Debut author Marikka Tamura answers this question in this colorful, kid-friendly book that is told simply and charmingly. Penguins love the sea. Happy in the dark blue water. But what is this? One day something is floating in the water. Dark. Gooey. Oily . . . When the penguins become coated in an oil spill, many Big Boots arrive. The humans want to help the cold, greasy penguins, so they knit sweaters to keep them warm. The Big Boots mean well, but . . . penguins don’t wear sweaters! So after a good, soapy scrub, the penguins dive back into the deep blue sea, happily dressed only in their own penguin feathers.
Splish Splash! - Dragonflies zip zip zip and frogs croakity croak while bare feet splish splash in this board book all about the sounds of the river. Each spread features a touch and feel element that creates the sound described in the text. With beautiful illustrations, interesting textures and fun sounds, this highly interactive format is certain to tickle the senses.
Lily's Water Woes - 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.
Want to see books about the environment?
Deep in the Ocean - A scientific team has boarded the submarine Oceanos to explore the ocean’s depths. Suddenly, it gets caught in a violent storm, causing it to drift thousands of miles off-course. From the glittering surface of the sea to the darkness of the abyss, Deep in the Ocean takes readers on a bewitching journey through fascinating waters—some warm, colorful, and crowded with sea creatures, others mysterious and turbulent. Six colors of ink (including neon pink and metallic silver) are used throughout, and a free downloadable soundtrack allows readers to feel even more fully immersed in this beautiful underwater world. Find it at abramsbooks.com/DeepInTheOceanSoundtrack.
Ready, Set, Sail! - Join these sailors as they explore the sea during a fun day of sailing in this follow-up to Ready, Set, Build! Shout your orders loud and fast. “Hoist the mainsail up the mast!” Grab your life vest, hold on to your compass, and get ready for a day full of sailing fun with a playful tiger and turtle! Follow these salty sailors as they raise their anchor, cast off, and explore the sea in their little sloop. And after a long day of sailing, they gather and tell tales of all the things they’ve seen!
Want to see books about boats, ships and underwater vehicles?
John Muir Wrestles a Waterfall - The now iconic figure John Muir, while living at the base of Yosemite Falls in California, ventures up the trail from his cabin one night and has a harrowing waterfall adventure. Back matter roots the story in Muir’s life’s work as a conservationist and naturalist.
How to Spy on a Shark - Spend a day at sea tracking sharks—with the help of a robot! Join a team of marine biologists as they head out in their boat to study mako sharks. Simple, entertaining text and bright, accurate illustrations bring science and technology to life, and additional pages of facts about sharks follow the story. This book is bound to make a splash with young minds!
Trapped! A Whale's Rescue - In the icy waters of the Pacific, a massive humpback whale unexpectedly finds herself tangled in a net abandoned by fishermen. When a rescue boat and a convoy of divers arrive to help the struggling humpback, a realistic and moving encounter bridges the human and aquatic worlds.
A Bucket of Blessings - A beautiful myth from India comes to life in this enchanting, New York Times bestselling picture book. Near a majestic mountain in a vast jungle with many mango trees, it has not rained for weeks and weeks. The village well and pond are dry. Monkey and his friends look everywhere for water, but they have no luck. And then Monkey remembers a story his mama used to tell him, a story about how peacocks can make it rain by dancing. So he sets out to see if the story is true… This little-known legend, told with dramatic rhythm and illustrated with the colors and textures of India, is sure to delight and inspire.
Want to see books about culture?
Freddie Ramos Makes a Splash - Freddie Ramos uses his super powers to give himself the courage to learn how to swim and to deal with a new neighbor who is a bully.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: a Puzzle Adventure - A stylish and otherworldly underwater puzzle book Inspired by Jules Verne’s iconic novel, this puzzle book is a treat for readers of all ages. Aleksandra Artymowska has created a volume bursting with wild creatures, strange landscapes, and mechanical contraptions that will take readers on an underwater adventure like no other. Each scene contains hidden symbols and keys to uncover, as well as a series of challenges guaranteed to fascinate and amaze.
Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time - In this picture book companion to the bestseller A Long Walk to Water, a young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, persistence, and compassion. Young Nya takes little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. But Akeer becomes too ill to walk, and Nya faces the impossible: her sister and the full water vessel together are too heavy to carry. As she struggles, she discovers that if she manages to take one step, then another, she can reach home and Mama’s care. Bold, impressionistic paintings by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brian Pinkney evoke the dry, barren landscape and the tenderness between the two sisters. An afterword discusses the process of providing clean water in South Sudan, reducing waterborne illness.
Want to see books about action and adventure?