The Great BIG List of Ocean Books for Kids

The Great BIG List of Ocean Books for Kids

Whether you are doing a beach-themed unit, studying ocean conservation, learning about the deep-sea animals, or just love the deep blue sea, this great big list of ocean books for kids is what you need.  So, let’s dive in!

You’ll find a mix of fiction and informational books on this list.  Some are great for exploring with small groups and some make great whole-group read-alouds.

beach and ocean books for kids

Ocean Books for Kids

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My Ocean is Blue by Darren Lebeuf shows us all the things that the ocean can be and teaches us about opposites too. Oceans can by shallow and deep. They can be dull and sparkly. There is just so much an ocean can be.

Here Comes Ocean by Meg Fleming is the story of a young child exploring the ocean along the shore. With each turn of the page the ocean comes and delivers new treasures to find. Rhyming text and beautiful pictures make this a fun read-aloud for young children.

The Sea Knows by Alice B. McGinty and Alan B. Havis uses simple but vivid text to explain all that the sea holds and experiences. This is another one that can also teach about opposites from short/tall to strong/weak. Beautiful illustrations bring the descriptive words to life.

I always find Jason Chin’s books complete works of art.  We get to dive under the sea in his book, Coral Reefs, and explore all the plants and wildlife in the beautiful reefs.  This is a good pick for first grade and up.


The Atlas of…books remind me of coffee table books.  You know the ones that are so gorgeous you put them on display in your home.  The pages are thick. The illustrations are beautiful.  It’s oversized. You know the type I’m describing. Atlas of Ocean Adventuresby Emily Hawkins is gorgeous for children to explore as well as adults.  There’s a lot of information in this one so it’s best enjoyed one-on-one or in a small group.

Ocean by Britta Techentrup is a peek-through picture book meaning the pages are die-cut and allow you to see through to the next page.  Super engaging for young listeners and beautiful illustrations.  I’m always a fan of Techentrup’s work.

Swashby isn’t very excited to have a new neighbor by his seaside cottage. So he leaves messages in the sand for them to leave. But, the work of the sea alters those messages and in turn makes his new neighbors his friends. Read all about it in Swashby and the Seaby Beth Ferry. One of my favorite parts was watching to see how the sea changed each message left in the sand. So clever!

Playful Circle-Time Read-Alouds About the Ocean

Dive under the sea in this interactive adventure. In Dive In! A Topsy -Turvy-Say-It-Out-Loud Underwater Adventure by Recess Monkey the star is the reader. Because the reader/listener moves the story along literally! Children are asked to turn the book upside down, shake, and tickle the book. A super fun choice for a whole group read-aloud during circle time.

Books you can sing are always a hit for a circle time read-aloud.  Sung to the tune, “Over in the Meadow” enjoy reading/singing Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reefby Marianne Berkes.

A platypus and a beaver want to go surfing in Dude!by Aaron Reynolds.  But, then they meet a shark.  What will happen next?  Watch the illustrations carefully.  There are only two words in this book so get ready to read with expression and mind the punctuation.

Keep the surfing theme going in Surfer Chick by Kristy Dempsey in this rhyming tale.  It’s fun, silly, and teaches a lesson about courage and perseverance.

Would you rather read or go surfing?  Umm, how about both.  Put on your surfer dude voice and read Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander.

Keeping Our Water Clean

books for kids about water

There are many books to help children understand the importance of keeping our oceans and waterways clean.—>Keeping Our Water Clean List

Beach Books for Kids

Beach Day by Karen Roosa is a rhythmic read about all the fun that can be had during a day at the beach.

In A Beach Tailby Karen P. Williams, we get to watch a young boy play in the sand drawing pictures with a stick.  His drawing takes along the shore.  Luckily the long tail he created can lead him right back to his dad.

Beach Day! by Patricia Lakin is a good one for new readers to tackle on their own. Read to see if the animals make it to the beach while the sun is still shining.

In the classic, The Seashore Book, by Charlotte Zolotow, a mother vividly describes to her child what a trip to the seashore entails from finding shells to building sandcastles.

Saffron Ice Cream by Rashin is a neat pick because it compares going to the beach in Iran and the United States.  A good pick for talking about similarities and differences.

There are hours of play that can be had with the waves of the sea. Watch a little girl enjoy playing with the waves in the wordless book, Waves by Suzy Lee.

Many people go to the beach for rest and fun. But, some people go to the beach to work. Meet a family crew that travels to Alaska’s beaches each summer to catch salmon in Sunrise Summer by Swanson and Behr.

I love that The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho introduces us to a sea cultural tradition you probably haven’t heard of before.  We meet a Korean girl and her grandmother.  Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea which has done by generations.  It’s hard, dangerous, and skilled work and makes for a fascinating story.

Sandcastles

Jules vs the Ocean by Jessica Sima is the story of a little girl trying to build a castle to impress her sister. But, when her bucket is swept into the ocean, how will she build that epic sandcastle. Well, with the help of her sister they do just that until…

There are lots of details to notice in Sandcastle by Einat Tsarfati.  A young girl builds not your typical sandcastle but rather one large and elaborate enough for royalty.  Let the wild festivities begin!

How to Code a Sand Castle by Josh Funk is an enjoyable story that also introduces us the basics of coding.  It’s so clever.

The Sandcastle That Lola Built by Meghan Maynor is a variation of The House That Jack Built.

Speaking of sandcastles, grab our free printable to work on beginning sounds and letter matching. There is even a fun little song to sing.—>Get the Summer Beginning Sound Song and Activity

Ocean Animal Books

Travel into the ocean and discover a world of animals in Into the Ocean by Laura Baker is a board book introduction in the world of ocean animals.

Plankton is Pushy and Barnacle is Boredboth by Jonathan Fenske make for fun circle time read-alouds.  Fenske does a great job with the facial expressions allowing us to talk about inferring with the students.  Also, check out Fenske’s Hello, Crabby! easy reader series.

Sharks

Mrs. D’s Corner has a great list of shark books to enjoy with children.—>See the shark list.

Whales

children's stories about whales

There are some amazing and gorgeous read-alouds about whales.  In fact, we dedicated a whole book list to them.—>See the Books About Whales

Penguins

Of course, we’ve also got penguins that live right by the ocean.—->See Books About Penguins

Books About Boats

And then we have the boats that sail the ocean for pleasure and for work.  See boat book recommendations on these two lists.

Transportation Books for Toddlers

Transportation Books for Preschoolers

Printable List of Books About the Ocean for Children

Grab a printable copy of the list of books above. It’s great for taking to the library or including with your unit study.

Speaking of units, grab our Water Preschool Literacy Unit to extend the water fun.—>Water Preschool Literacy Unit

Water lesson plans for preschoolers including ponds/lakes, rainbows/mud, ocean, and water polay.

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