Books About the Ocean

The ocean is a fascinating world, filled with exciting marine life, mysterious creatures, and stunning natural wonders. For children, learning about the ocean can be an adventure! Whether they dream of becoming scuba divers or simply want to explore the wonders of the deep, there are plenty of books that can introduce them to this underwater world. In this list, we’ll highlight some of the best children’s books about the ocean. Each book is filled with colorful illustrations or photographs, fascinating facts, and engaging stories that will inspire young readers to dive deeper into the mysteries of the sea.

In My Ocean Sara Gillingham

This bright and colorful book is a great choice for babies, toddlers, and early preschoolers. Each page is die-cut with a dolphin finger puppet peaking out! The illustrations are clear, offering just enough detail for young kids. There are crabs, waves, boats, and many other ocean features.

The Snail and the Whale Julia Donaldson

A snail hitches a ride on the tail of a humpback whale in this sweet book. They’ll explore the ocean and see exciting creatures all over the world! Throughout the adventure, their friendship grows. When the humpback whale gets into a bit of trouble, the snail provides exactly what the whale needs to be saved. Like other books written by Julia Donaldson, this book has energetic rhymes and a story that will capture the attention of any child. Read it with elementary kids.

Mister Seahorse Eric Carle

The process of hatching baby seahorses is a joint effort for Mr. and Mrs. Seahorse. In this book, Mr. Seahorse carries the eggs through the ocean. He meets a lionfish, a tilapia, and others who are also preparing to become daddies. Each page is vividly colorful and features Eric Carle’s signature style of illustrations. This is a great book for fathers to read with their young children, but it’s also a great book to use in teaching children about how marine creatures are different from humans.

Ocean Britta Teckentrup

This nonfiction rhyming book features lots of peak-through holes that reveal fascinating ocean creatures. Each page focuses on one particular animal or feature of the ocean. The text is brief, but provides great introductory information for preschoolers. They’ll learn a bit about pufferfish, sea horses, sharks, and more!

First Big Book of the Ocean National Geographic

With more than 100 pages, this book is big! The contents are divided up by ocean—Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic. Each section features numerous sea creatures like whales, otters, narwhals, and jellyfish. A map, glossary, and parent tips are also included. Read through this one section-by-section with preschool and elementary kids.

Ocean Anatomy Julia Rothman

This nonfiction book is the perfect reference book for kids! The illustrations are child-friendly without being cartoonish, which pairs well with all of the detailed information that’s in this book. Along with descriptions of several ocean organisms, the book discusses coral reefs, tidal zones, the behavior of the ocean tides, and environmental concerns. Elementary kids will enjoy paging through this one on their own or reading it together with an adult and discussing each topic.

If I Were a Whale Shelley Gill

This book’s rhyming text introduces children to orcas, blue whales, narwhals, and more giant ocean creatures! It includes basic facts about each one and weaves them into a simple story. The watercolor illustrations make each creature seem friendly and non-threatening to kids. Read this one with babies and toddlers.

The Big Book of the Blue Yuval Zommer

Yuval Zommer’s illustrated guides are always a hit with kids! In this edition, children will explore dozens of facets of the ocean in detail. Crabs, penguins, flying fish, and octopuses are all here! Each spread is illustrated as an ocean scene. Kids will love discovering new details each time they read it. The amount of information is ideal for early elementary kids.

The Rainbow Fish Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish has dazzling, shimmering scales that are truly beautiful. But they’ve also made the Rainbow Fish a bit boisterous. When he visits a mysterious octopus, the Rainbow Fish is encouraged to give away his beautiful scales. Kids will enjoy seeing how happy the Rainbow Fish is when he finally shares his most treasured possessions. Read this one with early elementary kids.

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor Joanna Cole

Join Ms. Frizzle as she takes her class on a submarine expedition to the bottom of the ocean! While there, they’ll learn about undersea life, including hot water vents, coral reefs, and various plant and animal species. All of the wacky antics and scientific information you expect from this series is in this book. Kids will laugh a lot and they’ll also learn a lot! Read it with kids 7 and up.

Sea Turtles Gail Gibbons

This straightforward book describes the eight different types of sea turtles. There’s information about the turtles’ physical characteristics, senses, feeding habits, and life cycle. Kids will also learn about the challenges that sea turtles face as they grow, eat, travel, and breed. Illustrations throughout the book provide extra interest and details for kids. Read it with preschoolers and early elementary children.

What Lives in a Shell? Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Shells are on the beach, but they’re in other environments too. In this book kids will explore all kinds of different animals that live in shells, such as land snails, turtles, hermit crabs, clams, and more. The book provides introductory information about how shells act as homes for these animals, and how they use their shells to protect themselves from predators. There’s a generous amount of information in this book, but the sentences are easy to read. Confident elementary readers can go through this one on their own, but preschoolers and early elementary kids will enjoy it as a read aloud.

newsletter icon Never miss a beat. Subscribe
to our
* indicates required