Even here in landlocked Colorado, we love to read about ocean animals like sharks, dolphins, fish, and squid. Here are our favorite ocean animal books that your kids will love, too, no matter what area of the world you live in.
28 Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins
Soak up the brightly colored fish described with fun words — “spotty fish, stripy fish, happy fish, gripy fish“. There’s so much to look at and describe — this is sure to be a new reading favorite as it’s an excellent board book for boys and girls.
Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon
First of all, aren’t these three-dimentional looking illustrations incredible? But next we must talk about the genius in this jaunty rhyming story about differnt mother sea creatures and their babies — one, two, three, to ten! I promise you’ll have tons of fun reading this with your kids!
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
The squid compares himself with many other ocean animals and brags that he is the biggest. It’s a funny, colorful look at ocean life.
This Is A Sea Cow by Cassandra Federman
What a giggle-worthy story! A little girl named Cassandra writes a report on sea cows that the Manatee (aka. Sea Cow in the report) comments on line by line, illustration by illustration, page by page. First, he takes issue with the term sea cow and that he is a lot like a land cow. (“Ummmm… I don’t think so.”) It’s totally funny — you’ll even learn some new facts about manatees.
Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Ken Grace, illustrated by Julia Gordon
We adore this charming, colorful retelling of the Three Little Pigs in the ocean who tell the big bad shark, “Not by the skin of my finny fin fin!”
Seashells More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Informative and beautiful, this picture book will make you long to visit the seashore to find your own seashells. Written in dual-layered figurative language text, readers will read the basics of shells in the first layer of bigger text size. Secondary text elaborates on the specific types of shells. Soft watercolor illustrations show the seashells in the ocean and beach.
Leopard & Silkie One Boy’s Quest to Save the Seal Pups by Brenda Peterson,, photographs by Robin Lindsey
A group of volunteers called Seal Sitters watch out for baby seals who are left on a Seattle shore while their mothers hunt for food. This photographic story tells the story of baby seal, Leopard, who is crowded by onlookers and dogs. A young volunteer named Miles calls his fellow Seal Sitters to help him get the people away from Leopard. Miles and his grandpa decide to build a floating dock for Leopard so he will be safe when his mother hunts. It’s a compelling story about the real dangers that marine mammals face every day.
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien
I LOVE this cartoon-like blobfish with a big personality who interjects said personality during the book’s photograph and textual information about ocean life in the deepest parts of the ocean. Perfect text to picture ration (not too much!) makes this a nonfiction home run.
I Am Not a Fish! by Peter Raymundo
Don’t miss this silly story about a jellyfish’s identity crisis that teaches about fish and other ocean animals –that are not fish. I love this story’s blend of dialogue bubbles and text. Not only is this a funny story but you’ll have fun reading it outloud to your kids.
Steve, Terror of the Seas by Megan Brewis
You’ll feel empathy for this little sad fish who can’t figure out why the other ocean animals are scared of him. Poor guy! You’ll keep wondering why he’s inspired so much fear until the very end when all is revealed — and it’s so funny! (Spoiler: Steve is a pilot fish who swims next to a shark because he keeps the shark free of parasites.)
Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together by Andrea Tsurumi
A wonderful undersea story with a message of environmental cleanup. While it’s a little bit informative about sea creatures, it’s also an irreverent, silly, and meaningful. Because while it’s true that Pufferfish puffs up and Lobster looks for a new home and Octopus hides, Crabs don’t usually bake cakes. Except in this story. One awful night, there’s a big crash and a garbage pile falls into the sea. Crab feeds all the sea animals cake while they brainstorm what to do. Eventually, all the creatures help to shove, roll, town, drag, and carry all the garbage back to the shore so they can get back to swimming, playing, and baking cakes underwater like usual.
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating
These aren’t your princess pink variety of pink animals. No! In fact, these are gelatinous blobfish, hairy tarantulas, naked mole rats, and more — that just happen to be pink. Great writing pairs perfectly with photographs and cartoons. I love this book but it is only partly about ocean animals.
The Big Sticker Book of the Blue by Yuval Zommer
The back pages of this book are filled with ocean animal stickers. Use them as you read the pages of this book. Stick flying fish stickers on the page to escape predators in the sea. Or draw tentacles on jellyfish. Kids will have fun while they’re learning more about the animals in the underwater world.
Narwhal is exuberant to meet Jellyfish, his new imaginary friend who is imagining Narwhal at the same time. Although Jellyfish is more serious, you’ll love their adventures — forming a pod, having parties, eating waffles, and imagining. This is a feel-good underwater friendship adventure told in graphic format.
A Goofy Guide to Penguins by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray
A mix of groan-worthy penguin jokes and cool penguin facts, this is a delightful nonfiction graphic novel for beginning readers. The illustrations often answer the questions posed by the narrator penguin and are almost always silly.
Charlotte’s Bones: The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field by Erin Rounds, illustrated by Alison Carver
Erin Rounds’ writing feels like magic as she transports us back in time and back again, capturing the beautifully tragic life of one beluga whale who swam over what is now Vermont, U.S.A. “Her milky, smooth, muscled body sliced slowly through the water like scissors through silk.”
Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So
Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
A walking octopus, a red-lipped batfish, and a sea butterfly are just some of the curious creatures who jump, scurry, and fly through the pages of this intriguing book.
The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reef by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Ken loves the coral reefs. One summer, he notices that the corals are losing color and the fish aren’t as abundant. He and his daughter begin an experiment that turns into a movement to grow more coral colonies. The group is called The Coral Restoration Foundation. “They hang bits of coral on special underwater trees and lines where the corals can grow.” Guess what!? It works! Gorgeous illustrations paired with an inspirational true story make this a must-read book to introduce children to the plight of coral reefs and how one person can make a difference.
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Open the page to find — yikes — more than 35 pop-ups of prehistoric beasts of the ocean — scorpions, squid, and sharks, to name a few. Filled with facts as well as incredible artwork.
Shark-Tastic (Science with Stuff) by Lori Stein
Listen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr. & Michel Sampson, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Listen to the world around you . . . the squawk of the parrots in the kapok tree in the rain forest, the weee-aaa of the eagles in the mountains, the snap of the crocodiles of the marshland. Sweet’s gorgeous artwork exquisitely captures this auditory journey of animals, their habitats, and their sounds.
Rivers, Seas and Oceans by Mac (Mac’s World of Wonder)
Sharks (National Geographic Readers Level 2) by Anne Schreiber
Perfect for early elementary readers with comprehensible text and brilliant photographs.
Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols
Dolphin Rescue: True-Life Stories by Jinny Johnson
The story of dolphins, Tom and Misha, will break your heart at first. These captured dolphins live in a disgusting, broken pool in Turkey, advertised as a tourist attraction. When people start protesting and not coming to swim in the filthy pool, the owner closes it and eventually Born Free buys the dolphins from the landlord. But it takes over a year and a lot of creativity to get the dolphins to even consider eating non-frozen local fish. The entire rehab process took an incredible amount of time and patience. After around two years of dedicated work, Tom and Misha are successfully released into the wild.
Squidtoons: Explore the Ocean with Comics by Garfield Kwan and Dana Song
Squidtoons is a nonfiction book for kids with illustrated pages with dialogue, different colored and sized typeface text, and seemingly random topics from the weedy seadragon to the California mantis shrimp. My daughter devoured this book, finding both the information and presentation engaging. I personally struggled to find an organization to the book while reading about the different sea creatures — and the particular typeface used wasn’t appealing to my grown-up eyes. However, I see that this book is densely packed with great information. If kids like it, hooray! If they learn from it, even better.
World’s Strangest Ocean Beasts Top 40 Weird and Wonderful Creatures from the Deep
Holy cow — giant clams do exist and not just in Moana! And the dumbo octopus is totally wild. This underwater book of weirdness is filled with fascinating creatures.
Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia DK Smithsonian
Gorgeous photographs show our oceans and seas and the life that lives within them. Helpful layout with a clear organization makes this book easy to use.