38 Best Ocean Books for Kids: A Picture Book Collection

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Children's picture book covers arranged on an ocean blue background with a black outline of a ship. Ocean books for kids include The little island, hot dog, a single pearl, aquatic life, swashby and the sea, ocean meets sky, a house for hermit crab, deep and blue, and over and under the waves.

Ocean Books for Kids. This booklist is filled with ocean themed books containing a mixture of nonfiction and fiction books. From ocean encyclopedias that explore coral reefs and the bottom of the sea to wholesome stories with beautiful pictures. This booklist includes books that are commonly found at local libraries. I hope most of these books are accessible to you.

I am always on the hunt for rich literature and will continue to add any new finds here to the booklist.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you on qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate. 

38 Ocean Books for Kids: A Picture Book Collection

1. Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry

A retired sailor settles at his home near the sea, loving the silence and solitude. But, his solitude is interrupted by his two neighbors, a young girl and her grandmother. Swashby tries to ignore this delightful new friend but the sea brings them together.

2. Inky the Octopus by Erin Guendelsberger

This famous Octopus escapes from his aquarium to the sea. “Out of this tank, I must be free. I must explore the open sea!”

3. Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner

We love the Over and Under series. This wonderful book explores the rich ecosystem of the brilliant deep from kelp forests, whales, seals, luminous jellies, and many other fascinating creatures. Rather than just being a factual book, the book tells the story of a family’s kayaking trip.

4. A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle

The Hermit Crab outgrows his shell and must find a larger shell. The Hermit crab finds a plain shell and decorates his home with fellow sea animals. Again, he outgrows his shell, passing it down to a smaller crab.

5. Deep in the Ocean by Lucie Brunelliere

Follow a tiny submarine into the ocean’s depths and explore the underwater world. The beautiful illustrations do an excellent job of drawing the young reader into the majestic wonders of the ocean. This book is one of our favorite board books, but it’s larger than most.

6. An Anthology of Aquatic Life by DK

A fascinating ocean encyclopedia for little ones to explore various marine life. The book is filled with captivating pictures and enthralling facts about the deep blue sea and other bodies of water. We have not read every word, but it lives in our living room, and we flip and read through it frequently. It is a visual encyclopedia for younger children and is filled with interesting facts for older kids.

7. The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

The gloomy and blue Pout-Pout fish spreads the “dreary-wearies” all over the place, but he finds a fish that brightens his day, and he spreads “cheery-cheeries” all over the place.

8. Ocean Meets Sky by The Fan Brothers

The illustrations in this book caught my attention. The stories of Finn’s grandfather about the place where the sea and sky meet inspire him to build a ship and sail to discover this magical place and honor his grandfather.

9. Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

This amazing book is about the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family, both the exciting and mundane events and tasks. The keeper logs everything from his baby’s birth to the rescues of wrecked sailors.

10. The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown

This beloved story is about a curious black kitten and a little island. The plot is simple, but the lesson is profound. No matter the size, even a tiny island, we are all a part of this world.

11. Hot Dog by Doug Salati

The city is hot, and this dog has had enough of the sizzling sidewalks. When the little red dachshund can take it no longer, he plops down in the middle of the crosswalk. His owner decides it’s time for a trip to the ocean and fresh air. The illustrations are fun for young children to follow as the warm hues gradually change into the calm and cool colors of the ocean.

12. My First 100 Ocean Words by Chris Ferrie

This simple book is filled with colorful illustrations and ocean vocabulary for your budding marine biologist.

13. The Snail and The Whale by Julia Donaldson

A snail with an itchy foot and a longing to travel slithers aboard a large humpback whale’s tail and travels the sea. Their journey involves an opportunity for the tiny snail to perform a heroic act and move a community to a compassionate act. Young readers will love the rhythmic text.

14. Swimmy by Leo Lionni

This precious picture book teaches the importance of teamwork as Swimmy teaches his friends to work together, overcoming fear and danger. The tiny fish swim together to scare away the big fish.

15. Water Sings Blue Ocean Poems by Kate Coombs

This is a great ocean book for kids filled with ocean poems and watercolor illustrations of the beauty and power of the sea.

16. Big Al by Andrew Clements

It is hard for Big Al to make friends because of his scary appearance. He continues to try to make friends with all the tiny fish and fails until one day. Big Al rescues the tiny fish from a net, and they learn that he is the nicest and friendliest fish in the sea. If you enjoy this book, there is also Big Al and Shrimpy.

17. One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey

Today’s a big day for Sal. She gets to go to Buck Harbor with her dad. The day starts with her discovering her first loose tooth, and the magical exchange for a tooth is a wish. Before heading to the harbor, she helps her dad dig for clams. While searching for clams, she notices her loose tooth is gone.

18. A Single Pearl by Donna Jo Napoli

A single grain of sand becomes embedded in an oyster and transforms into a beautiful pearl. One day the pearl is discovered by a diver. The pearl’s emotional journey takes it to a lovely young princess.

19. Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

The adventures of Mr. Magee and his dog, Dee, are some of our favorite books to read. This duo sets off with their lunch in hand, ready for an ocean adventure. They get into trouble when a whale decides to say hello.

20. Ink! 100 Fun Facts about Octopuses and More by Stephanie Warren Drimmer (National Geographic Kids)

This educational book contains loads of information about cephalopods and incredible images of squids, octopuses, cuttlefish, and more. This is a great introduction to these amazing creatures. This book does reference millions of years.

21. Sea Glass Summer by Michelle Houts

A young boy named Thomas visits his grandmother who lives near the sea. Thomas explores the beach with his grandfather’s magnifying glass in hand. He examines rocks and clamshells. His imagination takes off when his grandmother shows him a piece of sea glass. I love this story because it gives a story to forgotten treasure and it makes a young child’s nature collection come alive.

22. Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

A traditional family summer on a Maine Island with the excitement of the weather and even the terror of a hurricane, the quietness of the night, and the thrills of sailing are all portrayed in vibrant illustrations guided by poetic language.

23. Paddington at the Beach by Michael Bond

Little children will love Paddington and his adventure on the beach. It is rather comical when the hungry and sneaky seagulls join him. A fun way to work on counting.

24. Harry at the Sea by Gene Zion

We love Harry! If you haven’t read Harry the Dirty Dog, it’s a great picture book to introduce to your little ones. Harry gets lost at the beach with his family. Everyone’s umbrellas look the same. Also, Harry gets mistaken for a sea creature. This one is sure to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

25. Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown

We love the “Shine-A-Light Book” series. It makes for a fun interactive book. Your kiddos will have fun searching for the hidden ocean animals and aquatic life with a little flashlight. The text is simple and the illustrations are colorful.

26. Beachcombing: Exploring the Seashore by Jim Arnosky

This is a great book to take to the beach. It will encourage you to look for treasures along the shoreline. The book includes factual information and helpful illustrations of ocean life found on the shore.

27. A Shell is Cozy by Dianna Hutts Aston

This is a beautiful nature book about the fascinating world of shells. The illustrations are breathtaking. Our favorite activity to do alongside this book is to compare our different shells to the images in the book. (Another great book companion for the beach.)

28. Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

Papa is a great inventor, but his inventions don’t necessarily work until he creates the mechanical fish. He takes quite a few tries to get the machine right. His family supports and helps him along the way. This book is based on true events and shares the story in the back of the book. While this book is not about oceans, I still wanted to include it. Once you read it, I believe you will see why.

29. The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo

A young girl holds tight a treasure chest as she sits on a rock, looking out in the ocean at a boat sailing off in the sunset on the book cover of "The Sea Chest."
The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo

I randomly saw this title flipping through books at our library. It’s about a little girl who lives on the island alone with her father and mother until a sea chest washes up on the shore. This is a spoiler, but the chest contains a baby girl whose parents placed her in the wooden chest before they perished on a sinking ship in the storm. (Search for this book in your libraries or secondhand stores, it is out of print.)

30. Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Collins Berkes

This is a fun book for younger kids as they discover twelve different kinds of seashells. It’s filled with fun illustrations, rhyming text, and counting.

31. In the Sea by David Elliott

This book poetically describes the behaviors and interactions of various sea creatures.

32. Little Houses by Kevin Henkes

This book is a story of a young girl who visits her grandparents, who live by the sea. She wanders the beach, gathering seashells and wondering about the creatures that once lived in the little houses she now holds in her hands.

33. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Shell! by Lucille Colandro

There was an old lady but make it the beach version. This series is filled with rollicking rhymes and funny illustrations.

34. The Sea Book by Charlotte Milner

This educational book is filled with factual information and fun illustrations about sea creatures and the difference ocean zones.

35. The Shark Lady by Jess Keating

This ocean picture book gives a little glimpse into Eugenie Clark’s passion for sharks and her scientific contributions.

36. Turtle in the Sea by Jim Arnosky

A sea turtle meets an bluish-green fish nose to nose in the bottom on the ocean on the book cover "Turtle in the sea."
Turtle in the Sea by Jim Arnosky

This aquatic picture book tells the story of a mother sea turtle’s journey. Keep an eye out for this one at secondhand stores and your local library.

37. Amos and Boris by William Steig

An adventurous brown mouse named Amos meets disaster at sea and is rescued by Boris, a great whale. Boris returns his friend across the ocean to his home. After many years a hurricane brings Boris ashore. Amos has the opportunity to save Boris’ life, returning the whale’s mighty act years ago. Please be aware when Amos feels like all hope is gone, he does contemplate thoughts of death.

38. Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown

On his first trip to the beach, Sneakers makes great aquatic discoveries.

Interested in More Booklists for Kids: Check These Out!

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Get the complete list of books HERE.

Outdoor Adventure Books for Kids: Picture Book Collection

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Get the complete booklist HERE.

28 Books on Plants, Trees, and Flowers

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Get the complete booklist HERE.

More Booklists Coming Soon!

Thanks for Stopping By!

Lastly, I want to thank you for stopping by! Please say Hi in the comment section and share one of your favorite ocean books for kids. Do you see a favorite book or a new one you want to read? I hope you and your children find a favorite book from this list of ocean books for kids.

– With Great Joy, Katie


Children's picture book covers arranged on an ocean blue background with a black outline of a ship. Ocean books for kids include The little island, hot dog, a single pearl, aquatic life, swashby and the sea, ocean meets sky, a house for hermit crab, deep and blue, and over and under the waves.

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