20+ Wonderful Children’s Books About the Ocean

School is coming to a close and summer is fast approaching. For many families, summertime includes a trip to the beach — and what better time to learn about the ocean than by reading children’s books about the ocean.

Children and adults are equally fascinated by the ocean, its vastness, its power, and the fascinating creatures that call the ocean their home. The ocean makes up 70% of the surface of the earth (source) and it’s estimated that 50 – 80% of all life can be found under the ocean surface (source).

Many people have a sense of reverence, peace and increased happiness when they are near the ocean. There’s a reason for that — researchers have found a correlation between water and the human brain. “Our brains are hardwired to react positively to water and that being near it can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken,” says Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols.

If you aren’t able to visit the ocean in person any time soon, explore the mysterious world under the sea through reading. Below are some of the best children’s books about the ocean, divided up by fictional picture books and informational non-fiction books about the ocean. All topics about the ocean are covered — sea animals, fish, ocean patterns, and charming stories with lovable sea characters. If you’re interested in mermaid books, check out this post on mermaid books for kids.

Best Children's Books about the Ocean

Fiction Children’s Books About the Ocean


Somewhere in the Ocean - Children's Books about the Ocean

Somewhere in the Ocean

Written by Jennifer Ward and T. J. Marsh, Illustrated by Kenneth J. Spangler
Ages 3 – 7 years | Picture Book

Children will learn about counting and creatures in the ocean throughout this charming rhyming picture book. Our favorite part is that the number featured is hidden somewhere in the illustrations for its corresponding verse. Plus, the back few pages include facts about sea creatures which will interest older children.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Hello Ocean - Children's Books about the Ocean

Hello Ocean

Written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Mark Astrella
Ages 3 – 7 years | Picture Book

A playful, lyrical poem accompanied with lovely illustrations makes this a beloved book for beach lovers. It will help you explore the beach with your five senses and want to take a little bit of the beach home with you.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes - Children's Books about the Ocean

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef

Written by Marianne Berkes, Illustrated by Jeanette Canyon
Ages 2 – 7 years | Picture Book

In the same form of the poem “Over in the Meadow”, this book consists of 11 verses, except with fish and other sea creatures. Each new sea animal is introduced on a new page, and children will learn to count and try to look for where they can find all of the sea creatures. The artwork is brilliant and engaging.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole - Children's Books about the Ocean

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor

Written by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Bruce Degen
Ages 4 – 8 years | Picture Book

Miss Frizzle and her magic school bus make learning fun, and this time her class dives deep into the ocean. The class learns about coral reefs, plant and animal life on the ocean floor, and hot water vents. In addition to the story, the pages are peppered with notes on what the class is learning and funny comments. In true Magic School Bus form, it’s funny and educational.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki - Children's Books about the Ocean

My Visit to the Aquarium

By Aliki
Ages 4 – 8 years | Picture Book

Visit the aquarium through a child’s eyes as he walks around and observes the marine life he sees. The lovely, detailed illustrations will capture the attention of children and adults alike.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Swimmy - Children's Books about the Ocean

Swimmy

By Leo Lionni
Ages 3 – 7 years | Picture Book

A charming story about a small fish who suddenly finds himself all alone. Throughout the book, he meets new friends and learns what it means to be brave and work as a team. A great lesson accompanying lovely illustrations.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


The Snail and the Whale - Children's Books about the Ocean

The Snail and the Whale

Written by Julia Donaldson, Illustrated by Axel Sceffler
Ages 3 – 7 years | Picture Book

The unlikely friendship between a snail and a whale and the adventure they take together through the ocean. When the whale ends up in trouble, the snail realizes he’s not too small to help out a friend. A heartwarming story with vibrant, gorgeous illustrations, and clever rhyming that never sounds awkward or forced, but flows beautifully to tell the story. This is one of our staff favorites!

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry - Children's Books about the Ocean

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean

By Kevin Sherry
Ages 1 – 4 years | Board Book

The story follows a giant squid as he swims through the ocean, comparing his size to the other animals in the ocean: shrimp, jellyfish, turtles, and beyond. Bold and bright illustrations will captivate a young audience while learning about animals in the ocean.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle - Children's Books about the Ocean

A House for Hermit Crab

By Eric Carle
Ages 4 – 8 years | Board Book

The book begins in January when the hermit crab is looking for a new shell to call his home. Each month he moves to a new shell, meeting new friends along the way. A sweet story about change, friendship, and what it means to be home. Adults will enjoy it as much as the children, and Eric Carle’s illustrations are timeless throughout the pages.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


In The Ocean by A.J. Wood - Children's Books about the Ocean

In The Ocean

Written by A.J. Wood, Illustrated by Maurice Pledger
Ages 1 – 4 years | Touch and Feel Book

This touch-and-feel is perfect for teaching toddlers about the variety of animals in the ocean. Its flaps to lift and textures to touch make it a great introductory book on the ocean for young readers.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean's Most Fearless Scientist - Children's Books about the Ocean

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist

Written by Jess Keating, Illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens
Ages 4 – 8 years | Picture Book

The inspiring true story of how from a young age Eugenie Clark fell in love with sharks and worked to show the world they needed to be protected. An inspiring story with brilliant blue and green illustrations.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Flotsam - Children's Books about the Ocean

Flotsam

By David Wiesner
Ages 4 – 7 years | Picture Book

A wave washes up on the shore an old fashioned underwater camera, and an excited boy develops the film to see what is inside. There are no words, but the illustrations and photographs tell the story beautifully. This wordless book is one that adults and children will be equally interested in and enjoy for years. Simply enchanting.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House, No. 9) - Children's Books about the Ocean

Dolphins at Daybreak

Written by Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrated by Sal Murdocca
Ages 6 – 10 years | Chapter Book

Join Jack and Annie as they find themselves in the middle of the ocean. Together they learn how to depend on sea animals for help as they navigate their adventure. The Magic Tree House books are perfect for young readers just starting chapter books. This is #9 in the series but could be read on its own without reading any of the prior books.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Non-Fiction Children’s Books About the Ocean


The Big Book of the Blue - Children's Books about the Ocean

The Big Book of the Blue

By Yumal Zommer
Ages 4 – 8 years | Picture Book

A gorgeously illustrated book about the Big Blue. It is comprehensive and dedicates sections to explaining how animals are able to breathe underwater, then highlights different creatures, such as fish, whales, sharks, sea horses. It also explores where various sea creatures live, such as the sea bed or in coral reefs. We love how many pages start with commonly asked questions that children (and adults) would naturally have, such as, “When is a turtle a sea turtle?” Charming, informative book children and adults will enjoy. If you like this book, you may enjoy the other two books in the series, The Big Book of Beasts and The Big Book of Bugs.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Oceans: Dolphins, sharks, penguins, and more! - Children's Books about the Ocean

Oceans: Dolphins, sharks, penguins, and more!

Written by Johnna Rizzo, Illustrated by Sylvia A. Earle
Ages 7 – 12 years | National Geographic Kids Information Book

Learn all about sea creatures with vivid and crisp National Geographic photos. It highlights 30 favorite animals of the ocean, including dolphins, sharks, penguins, sea turtles, sea otters, walruses, sea horses, and more. Information boxes are throughout the pages, but the friendly faces of the images are what captivate most audiences. A great informational book on oceans for kids.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


I Wonder Why the Sea Is Salty: and Other Questions About the Oceans - Children's Books about the Ocean

I Wonder Why the Sea Is Salty: and Other Questions About the Oceans

By Anita Ganeri
Ages 5 – 8 years

This book asks 31 questions about the ocean and then gives answers and facts in a playful, educational way. If you have a child who asks a lot of questions (don’t they all?), especially around the ocean, then this book would be perfect for those curious minds. Especially when you as the adult don’t know all of the answers!

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


3D Theater: Oceans - Children's Books about the Ocean

3D Theater: Oceans

Written by Kathryn Jewitt, Illustrated by Fiametta Dogi
Ages 4 – 8 years | 3-D Pop Up Book

This 3-D pop-up book has four levels of depth per page. The pictures are vibrant and colorful and children will learn about the coral reef, different ocean zones, open ocean, frozen ocean and all of the animals and sea creatures throughout.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean - Children's Books about the Ocean

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean

By Catherine D. Hughes
Ages 4 – 8 years | Reference Book

If you want a comprehensive reference book on all of the animals in the ocean, this one is perfect. There are over 100 sea animals featured, with fun facts about their diets, homes, sizes, babies, and more. The sections are separated by geographic locations and highlight facts about the oceans and how it fits in our world. There’s also a great resource in the back of the book for parents on how to engage with your child while reading.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea - Children's Books about the Ocean

Down, Down, Down

By Steve Jenkins
Ages 5 – 9 years | Reference Book

Discover the world below sea level in this book, which uncovers some of the mysteries of the deep ocean. The book is beautifully illustrated with paper collage art and is full of facts on various sea creatures and the vastness of the ocean. The scale on the side of the pages tries to capture just how deep it is.

Buy Online: Amazon | IndieBound


These are only 20 of hundreds of great children’s books about the ocean. If you have a favorite book that you would like considered to be featured, please feel free to contact us!

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Ginna Neel

Author: Ginna Neel

Ginna is a writer, wife, mom to two daughters, and founder of theKidBookNook.com. She lives in Durham, NC, and is passionate about reading quality, clever, and inclusive books to her kids. Our mission here at the Kid Book Nook is to foster a love of reading in children, starting in the home. Read more posts on raising a reader. Happy reading!