Best Children’s books about the Ocean
The ocean is where all the lifeforms were originated, including human beings. Probably, that’s why most of us have a nostalgic feeling on the ocean.
The ocean stays at the lowest altitude and humble. I love the quote, “All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power” by Laozi.
Our nostalgia towards the ocean might have been inherited from our ancestors. Intrinsically, our children may feel the same way as us. Many books about the ocean are studied, and five recommendable books are listed in this article. I hope these books nurture our children’s brains and minds.
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(Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrator: Mark Astrella, Age range: 3~7 years)
A girl came to the ocean, her old best friend. She interacts with the ocean through all the five senses.
She sees the ocean changes its color like a chameleon. She hears ocean roars like a lion. The screak of gulls is also part of the ocean sound. She touches the tide, she feels sudden breezes, and she smells drying kelp and musty shells. Then, she tastes the ocean, which is like tears of her own.
Before leaving the ocean, she says good-bye to her old best friend, and promised to visit again.
The book’s content is like a poem. All the words are carefully selected and beautifully written. The vocabulary of the book might be a bit advanced for young children, but its rhyme is enjoyable to hear.
The scenic graphics of this book is breathtaking. Even grown-ups will be calmed by looking at all the pictures. Most pages show horizon. The scenes of wide beaches and the horizon tempt us to visit the seaside.
In the book, a little girl interacts with the ocean through her five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Our children can learn that we can interact with the world through five senses.
A House for Hermit Crab
(Author & Illustrator: Eric Carle, Age range: 5~8 years)
In January, Hermit crab felt safe in a shell. But he decided to move to another shell because his shell became small as he grew up.
In February, he found a right-size shell and moved in.
In March, he invited a small sea anemone to his shell to make his shell beautiful.
In April, a little sea star moved onto his shell for more decoration.
In May, a crusty coral moved onto his shell to make it even more beautiful.
In June, Hermit crab was impressed by the hard-working snails, and one of them moved onto the shell to clean it.
In July, a spiky urchin moved onto the shell to protect it.
In August, Hermit crab and his friends living on the shell visited a dark forest of seaweed and complained about the darkness.
In September, they met a school of lantern-fishes, and one of them decided to light up the shell.
In October, Hermit crab rearranged a pile of smooth pebbles around his shell. Then, he thought that his house was perfect.
In November, Hermit crab felt his shell was a bit too small. He needed to find a new house, but he did not want to leave his good friends.
In December, he met a smaller Hermit Crab who was looking for a new house. The smaller Hermit crab promised that he would take care of all the friends residing on the shell.
On the following January, Hermit crab moved out of his shell after saying good-bye to his friends. He found a bigger shell. He thought of decorating the new shell and thought that there would be many opportunities and possibilities.
A House for Hermit Crab was written by Eric Carle (1929~ ). He has written a lot of children’s books about animals. What he has authored include one of the all-time bestsellers, the Very Hungry Caterpillar, as introduced in one of my previous articles. The book illustrates the life of Hermit crab under the sea. It shows that Hermit Crab needs a shell to protect itself from big fishes. From January until December, he keeps decorating his shell by inviting many sea-animals and objects under the sea. The book introduces these sea creatures and all the months of the year. The book also shows a lot of essential concepts such as friendship, sacrifice, challenge, sharing, and yielding along with the scientific facts about Hermit crab. The book is highly recommended.
Ocean Meets Sky
(Author & Illustrator: Terry Fan & Eric Fan, Age range: 4~8 years)
Finn lived by the sea. To honor his deceased grandfather, he built a boat for a long journey. While building the boat, he fell asleep in the boat. When he woke up, he found that the boat was on the sea, and the journey had begun.
When he felt lonely in the ocean, a great golden fish appeared in front of him. Finn asked the golden fish if he knew where ocean meets sky. The golden fish said that it was very far away, but he could show the way. They together visited the library Islands and an island of giant shells. Then, they crossed a sea of moon jellies. Finally, his boat reached the magical place where the ocean meets the sky. The boat was flying, and the golden fish was swimming toward the moon.
Finn followed the golden fish to say good-bye. Then, he heard a voice from far away. It was his mom who said, “it is time for dinner, and grandpa’s dumpling is ready”.
The book is full of imagination and fantasy. Its story-line and illustration are splendid.
Reaching the horizon is an interesting concept. In children’s eyes, the horizon can be thought of as a specific place. When the boat arrived the place where the ocean meets the sky, the boat was kind of flying. The description of what happened there is remarkable: “his boat began to lift from the water. Or had the water fallen away?”.
The book also introduces the concept of death with the deceased grandpa. Our children can think about it. The imagination of the book is impressive, and it reminds me of where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak. The book is highly recommended.
The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark
(Author: Deborah Diesen, Illustrator: Dan Hanna, Age range: 1~4 years)
Deep in the ocean, Mr. Fish was playing with his friends in a park. Then, a shark came to the park and claimed that it was his turn to play. The small fishes were scared of the shark and not sure of what to do.
But, after the water calmed, they got back to their laughter and played in the park. Then, the shark came again. Mr. Fish was scared of the shark, like all the other friends. He knew that the behavior of the shark was wrong, but he did not know how to handle this situation. After a while, they tried to enjoy their favorite park. Then, the shark reappeared and screwed the good day of Mr. Fish and his friends. Mr. Fish kept telling himself, “Being mean is wrong. But I’m just one fish! Am I really that strong?”.
Just before giving up and leaving the park sadly, a thought came through his mind, “Words can make a difference when things go wrong. My voice is strong”. Then, he faced the shark and told the shark bravely that what he did was mean, and he should not behave like that. The small friends of Mr. Fish gathered and supported Mr. Fish, Then, the park became cheerful again, and all the fishes, including the shark, played together.
Our children will feel comfortable with the cartoon-like illustrations of the book. On the underwater background, the book talks about bullying. Mr. Fish keep asking himself, “I’m just one fish! Am I really that strong?”. The book talks about the necessity of speaking-up and co-operation. It is an important message for our children. An individual can be weak, but when the weak individuals get together, they can become strong. Also, the book implies that someone needs to speak up when things go wrong. The book delivers some critical concepts to our children.
The OCEAN Alphabet Book
(Author: Jerry Pallotta, Illustrator: Frank Mazzola Jr., Age range: 4~8 years)
The book shows all the letters of Alphabet and the words starting with each letter. All the words are related to the ocean. There is also a brief description of all the words. The following table shows the description of all the letters and words.
Letter Word Description
A Atlantic Ocean all the creatures in the book live in the north Atlantic Ocean
B Bluefish they love to fight
C Cod as big as a ten-year-old child
D Dogfish they have barbs on its back and on its tail
E Eel they are like snakes
F Fiddler Crab It has one big claw and one tiny claw
G Goosefish Its mouth is as big as its body
H Haddock Behind its side fin, there is a dark spot which looks like a fingerprint
I Ink Ink is sprayed by a squid to protect itself from its predators
J Jellyfish Its dangling arms can sting if it is touched
K Killer Whale It is not a fish but a mammal. It can jump out of the water completely.
L Lobster They have two claws, eight legs and two antennas.
M Minnow They are little fish as big as your fingers.
N Northern Puffer They will blow themselves up like a balloon if touched
O Octopus It does not hurt us, and it has eight arms.
P Periwinkle It lives inside shells.
Q Quahog It does not hurt us, and it has eight arms.
R Redfish They live in very deep water. They are oily.
S Scallop They have pretty shells.
T Tuna They can be as big as cars.
U Urchin They have hundreds of sharp little spines.
V Viperfish They live in deep waters. They have lights inside their mouths.
W Wolffish They have large teeth and strong jars.
X Xiphias gladius It is a scientific name for Swordfish
Y Yellow-tail Flounder It is a flat fish with both eyes on one side of their heads.
Z Zillions There are Zillions of fish in the ocean.
It is an excellent book for learning Alphabet and sea-animals.
Some unknown scientific facts are also explained for each animal. The book is highly recommended for young children – they can learn a lot of scientific facts.
By the way, no animal was introduced for letter I. I think that some sea-animals such as “Ivory bush coral” could be introduced instead of ink. Ivory bush coral still lives in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. Note: Coral is not a plant but an animal (Source)