Best Pirate Books, Games, Play
Pirate Books for Imaginative Kids
Pirate Versus Pirate: The Terrific Tale of a Big, Blustery Maritime Match could also be known as In In this pirate book, it’s Mo vs. Bad Bart. The two fierce pirates battle it out to see who is the best pirate in the world, but each contest ends in a tie. The final contest is who has the most treasure. You’ll be surprised at the unexpected turn of events and how it leads to pirate love!
Twenty Six Pirates: An Alphabet Book by Dave Horowitz
Pirates from a to z walk the plank and want their mom. Twenty Six Pirates is perfect for every Juan, Kane, Lee, or Mark with silly illustrations to boot!
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon
Melinda Long is the queen of pirate picture books — she’s written so many great ones. How I Became a Pirate is a charming story that tells of how a regular kid named Jeremy Jacob learns about pirate life– which he decides he doesn’t like as much as he thought.
The Treasure of Pirate Frank by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Jez Tuya
A boy and his dog follow a treasure map in this delightful cumulative story with a menacing pirate who already owns the treasure. Through the forest, swamp, steps, and volcano, the duo travel only to discover that Captain Sally Frank is NOT about to let anyone steal her treasure. Better run back the way you came…
Captain Buckleboots on the Naughty Step by Mark Sperring
When Sam is naughty, he has to go to the naughty step. When he’s there, all he can do is think – no books, no toys. One day, Captain Buckleboots and others join him on the naughty step. This charming tale ends with the group finding ways to say that they are sorry. JJ said, “The pirate was just doing what pirates do!” (Does he have to say he’s sorry for that?) One of our favorite pirate books!!
Shiver Me Letters, A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
“R,” roars the captain as he sends his crew off to find the ABCs. You’ll read about their discoveries like, “They dug for doubloons and scooped up a D.” It’s fun and clever!
Pirates vs. Monsters by David Crosby, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove
Silly, rhyming pirates tell tall tales about brave feats defeating monsters. “The Crunk,” she spat, “was a two-headed beast. While one head would sleep, the other would feast. How did I beat it? With my sneaking skills. I sprinkled its grub, with crushed sleeping pills.” But when the monsters arrive, they all run away. And the monsters tell tales that aren’t lies about scaring pirates. Jaunty and funny!
Ned the Knitting Pirate by Diana Murray, illustrated by Leslie Lammie
Bet you didn’t think the pirate books would include a knitting pirate! In this pirate story, Ned’s knitting hobby isn’t a typical pirate activity, but he shows the pirates that it can be helpful when their ship is attacked by a monstrous beast.
Captain Bling’s Christmas Plunder by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Rob McClurkan
Kids will love this funny picture book told in rhyme! The pirates search for loot and find Santa’s workshop toys. Santa runs after the pirates, giving each of the pirates gifts. But they still won’t give the toys back to Santa? You’ll never guess why — they want to help deliver the toys.
Pirate’s Perfect Pet by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Matt Myers
Captain Crave has everything a good pirate should except for a pet. So he and his crew start searching for the perfect pirate pet. A crab is too cranky. An octopus is too clingy. A pig is too muddy. But when he goes to the pet shop, he meets a parrot who poops on him and creates a ruckus — in other words, the perfect pirate pet. Dynamic illustrations and a rollicking adventure will make this a new favorite.
Pirate Adventure by Lily Murray, illustrated by Stef Murphy
Invent a pirate story as you read each page and make choices about your destination, your route, your enemy, your reward, and more. Collect your favorite stories and write your own pirate books!
Captain Jack and the Pirates by Peter Bently, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
You’ll love this captivating pretend play adventure of enemy pirates, shipwrecked, and treasure! Plus, Oxenbury’s illustrations are amazing.
Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardham-Quallen illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Princess Bea isn’t a proper kind of princess; she wants to be a pirate. But, once aboard the pirate ship, it turns out she’s terrible at pirating (she throws up from the crow’s nest, makes inedible stew, can’t swab the deck . . .) Just as she’s about to be thrown overboard, she smells something, she smells . . . GOLD! All is forgiven, she’s not thrown overboard, and Princess Bea the Pirate’s new job is to lead the pirates to gold.
The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup
We ADORE this Christmas picture book story — where no Pirate cookies are harmed . . . Jim and his mother make gingerbread pirates and leave out the pirates for Santa. Jim keeps Captain Cookie on a plate next to his bed. Captain Cookie worries about his crew — where are they, and will they be eaten by the cannibal Santa Claus? When Captain Cookie meets Santa, he learns the meaning of Christmas when Santa makes him a real toy and gives him his own ship.
Pirate Nap a Book of Colors by Danna Smith, illustrated by Valeria Petrone
I really love this book because it takes the concept book about colors a step further, into a compelling story. It’s a great adventure as the swashbuckling crew plays around the house, finds treasure, chases the purple monster little sister, and sails into nap time.
Prince and Pirate by Charlotte Gunnufson, illustrated by Mike Lowery
Prince and Pirate are two unique fish who live in their own fish bowls. Until one day, they’re moved into a tank together. The two do not get along. AT ALL. They name-call and pester each other. UNTIL they work together to help the newest fish arrival, a small, scared dogfish. You’ll love the bright illustrations, hilarious dialogue, and (eventual) message of kindness.
Chapter Books & Middle Grade Books
All Paws on Deck (Haggis and Tank Unleashed #1) by Jessica Young (series)
In a word: HILARIOUS! These two dog friends with opposite personalities (and intelligence?) sail on a fun and silly pirate adventure. You will fall in love with these endearing characters!
The Jolley-Rogers and the Ghostly Galleon by Jonny Duddle
Unknown pirates are robbing the town, and everyone is frightened. Matilda asks her pirate friends, Jim Lad and his dad, to help. I liked the illustrations and imagine those pirate adventure enthusiasts will still find this beginning chapter book to be a fun choice.
Inside Out Pirate Ship by Paul Beck
Read about olden days real life pirates, ships, symbols, guns, fabled treasure, and more written with factual information, diagrams, and photographs.
Rafi and Rosi Pirates! by Lulu Delacre (level 3, early fluent)
This book is also in Spanish: Rafi y Rosi Piratas. Set in Puerto Rico with Spanish words mixed into the text, tree frogs and siblings Rafi and Rosi with big imaginations. These three stories take place at Morro Fort in San Juan. The children explore and play — pretending to be pirates, finding real gold coins, and imagining a sea monster attack. Even though it doesn’t say, this seems like a level 3 easy reader.
The Pirate Pig by Cornelia Funke
A pig who can sniff out treasure!? That’s a pig whom all pirates want. When the pig is stolen, her best pirate friends, Stout Sam and Pip, endeavor to rescue her. I want to love Funke’s new beginning reader series but I only mildly like it. Kudos to Funke on fun, colorful illustrations — they remind me of the Mercy Watson books with their structure and age-appropriateness.
Shivers! The Pirate Who’s Afraid of EVERYTHING by Annabeth Bondor-Stone & Connor White
Shivers is terrified of everything. Especially snails and the ocean. But when his pirate family of pirates is captured, Shivers is their only hope for rescue. Luckily the adventurous Margo can help. Very entertaining and silly easy chapter book.
The Dagger Quick by Brian Eames
When his dad is murdered, Kitto must travel with his pirate uncle. The story is suspenseful as Kitto tries to discover his family’s secret history and survive life among pirates. One of my favorite pirate books; I loved the action!
The Jolly Regina: The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Jen Hill
Even before their parents disappeared, Jaundice and Kale Bland loathed excitement and adventure. But their boring existence is rudely disrupted when they are kidnapped by all-female pirates. Who would have thought they could adapt to pirate life, search for their long-lost pirate parents, and return home with the same desire for boring as when they left? Funny and very entertaining!
The Ice Sea Pirates by Frida Nilsson
When Siri’s little sister, Miki, is stolen by pirates, Siri sets off on a harrowing journey to find and rescue her sister. The horrible journey isn’t easy, but she finally finds the hidden mysterious mine of the pirates, only to be captured by the pirates herself. Very entertaining!
The Ultimate Pirate Handbook: Everything you need to know about pirate life by Libby Hamilton, Mathieu Leyssenne, and Jason Kraft
This nonfiction pirate book has it all — pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, and cartoon-like illustrations with fascinating tips and facts about pirate life. You’ll love the humor in this book, too — like the pirate personal hygiene section. This is the nitty-gritty (literally) of pirate life, right? I particularly like the Pirate sickness page — this is good stuff, my friends!
Loot is another entertaining game by Gamewright. (I love their games!) This is a fun card game of strategy for players ages 8 and older.
Blackbeard’s Treasure Hunt
Meant for preschoolers ages 4 and up, match the image on the card using the dice that you insert into your key. Once you’re done with the right order of colors, insert the key into the treasure chest to get the gold coins.
We loved playing this game! It’s a great way to practice colors, patterns, and visual-spatial skills. And the reward of the gold spilling out of the chest is a BLAST!
Pop Up Pirate
A pirate game for 2 to 6 players ages 4+, this is an exciting game for families. Take turns sliding swords into the barrel. If your sword hits the pirate, it will pop out, and you are out.
Pirate Balancing Playset
For ages 4+, stack the pirate pieces on the boat. You’ll find a compass, anchor, jolly roger, cannon, treasure chest, and crew. When the blocks are stacked and balanced, Captain Blockbird can finally sail his boat.
I just bought this pirate card game for ages 8+ from Grandpa Beck’s Games because it’s so highly rated, and it looks like a fun family game. It’s a trick-taking game with a pirate theme for almost all ages!
Ready to pretend play that you’re in the olden age of piracy and take a high seas adventure? Dress up like a pirate. Create your ship area with deserted islands on the ocean, fish, sharks, buried treasure and a pirate boat.
Read pirate stories. Learn more info about pirates from National Geographic. (You might want to get yourself The Guide to Pirate Parenting, too.) You might be interested to know that there is an International Talk Like a Pirate Day every September 19. Oh, yeah. I knew you’d want to know that!
Gather your props: a treasure chest, buried treasure, treasure map, telescope, pirate flag, plank, sword, pirate patch, shield, parrot, wooden leg, and anything else your pirate might need.
Have a sword fight. (We like to use cut-up pool noodles.)
Go on a treasure hunt to find buried treasure on treasure island. (see UKloo Treasure Hunt for Early Readers)
Capture prisoners and make them walk the plank. (My personal childhood favorite and why my sister still harbors hatred towards me.)
Sing sea shanties, kid-appropriate, of course.