Ocean Science-Themed Books

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It is summer and thoughts turn to the beach. Why not read some ocean and beach science-themed books for children? We have something for almost all ages and interests.




Disclaimer: Just so you know, I am an affiliate with Amazon. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the title links, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, the proceeds of which will help pay for maintaining this website.


We start with books for the youngest reader.

Counting Books:

Ocean Counting (National Geographic Little Kids) 
by Janet Lawler and photographs by Brian Skerry

With fabulous National Geographic photographs and snippets of information about each featured creature, this is a counting concept book and more.

Age Range: 2 – 5 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (May 14, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1426311168
ISBN-13: 978-1426311161


Wordless Books:



Flotsam by David Wiesner is a wordless fictional picture book about what a young boy discovers at the beach, including a very special camera. Use it to open discussions about floating and sinking, as well as life underwater.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Clarion Books (September 4, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0618194576
ISBN-13: 978-0618194575

Beginning Readers:




Oceans (Wonder Readers) by Elizabeth Moore is a beginning reader that is just the right size and vocabulary-level for children ages 4-8. Using bright photographs to illustrate points, it reveals what the ocean is and what lives there.

Reading level: PreK-1
Library Binding: 24 pages
Publisher: Capstone Press (February 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 147650038X
ISBN-13: 978-1476500386

your-senses-at the beach

Your Senses at the Beach (Pebble Plus: Out and about with Your Senses) by Kimberly Marie Hutmacher would be a good choice for a child who is going to the beach for the first time and isn’t sure what to expect. Reading it would introduce some of the sights, sounds and smells that they might experience. It also works well for encouraging children to explore the beach more fully while learning about their senses. Finally, it would be a great way to relive the memories of a special trip to the beach.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up (First Grade)
Library Binding: 24 pages
Publisher: Capstone Press (August 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1429666633
ISBN-13: 978-1429666633


Picture Books:

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and illustrated Eric Rohmann is a finalist for a Cybils award in the elementary/juvenile nonfiction category. The book explores the mysterious and elusive deep sea creature.

Age Range: 6 – 10 years
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (September 27, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1596435992
ISBN-13: 978-1596435995

As with other titles in the About… series, About Marine Mammals: A Guide for Children features Cathryn Sill’s clear, uncomplicated language and John Sill’s gorgeous watercolor illustrations.

Planning a trip to the beach? About Marine Mammals would be a perfect book to get children inspired about ocean creatures before the trip, learn more about what they see during the trip, and reinforce memories and learning after the trip. Not traveling? It would also be a wonderful way to take a trip to distant, cool places in your imagination.

Age Range: 4 – 7 years
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (August 1, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1561459062
ISBN-13: 978-1561459063

Wandering Whale Sharks written and illustrated by Susumu Shingu is a gentle book for younger children that follows the largest fish in the world, the whale shark. It was originally published in Japan in 1991, and has recently be translated and republished by Owlkids Books Inc.

The illustrations largely feature black and blue, giving the feeling of being completely under water. The images are incredibly peaceful and the text lyrical, making the book a lovely choice for reading aloud to a group of children.

Wandering Whale Sharks is the type of informational picture book that is likely to appeal to a variety of audiences. Highly recommended!

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Owlkids Books (March 17, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1771471301
ISBN-13: 978-1771471305

Ocean: A Photicular Book by Dan Kainen and Carol Kaufmann

Like nothing you’ve seen before, the illustrations move. Check out what it looks like in this video:

Age Range: 5 – 6 years
Hardcover: 28 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (October 7, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0761180516

Amazing Giant Sea Creatures by DK introduces young readers to giant sea creatures via lift-up flaps and slide-out pages.

Age Range: 4 – 6 years
Hardcover: 16 pages
Publisher: DK Children; Ltf edition (June 16, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1465419012
ISBN-13: 978-1465419019




Coral Reefs by Seymour Simon is a lovely picture book with bright color photographs of coral reefs. Starting with a full description of what coral is, it answers virtually every question a child might have, such as where coral reefs are found, what kinds there are, and what kind of animals live in coral reefs. Simon emphasizes how important coral reefs are and how they are under threat throughout the world.

Age Range: 6 – 10 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (April 23, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0061914959
ISBN-13: 978-0061914959


Here Come the Humpbacks! by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan follows the migration of a mother humpback and her baby from the Caribbean Sea to the New England coast and back. During the trip the reader learns about the lives of whales and the challenges they face. Growing with Science has related science activities.

Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing (February 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1580894062
ISBN-13: 978-1580894067



Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas written by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm and illustrated by Molly Bang, is a Bankstreet Children’s Nonfiction finalist. It celebrates ocean habitats and food chains. This book is the combination of the talents of Penny Chisholm, who is a MIT professor and expert on oceans, and Molly Bang, who is a Caldecott award winner.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: The Blue Sky Press (May 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0545273226
ISBN-13: 978-0545273220



Water Sings Blue by Kate Coombs expands the reader’s experiences by mixing poetry with lavish illustrations. (As of today, the Amazon link offers an audio snippet of a couple of the poems). Poetry and art encourage children to observe their world closely, a skill that is also useful for science.


Reading level:  4-8 years
Publisher:  Chronicle Books (March 14, 2012)
ISBN-10:  9780811872843
ISBN-13:  978-0811872843



What Lives in a Shell? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and illustrated by Helen K. Davie

Learn about how snails, turtles, crabs, and clams have shells that act as their homes and protect them from harm. An older title, but the books in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series are always high quality.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 22, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0064451240
ISBN-13: 978-0064451246


Picture Book Biographies of Marine Biologists



Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by author/illustrator Claire A. Nivola is a lovely picture book biography of a pioneer of in the field of ocean studies. If you have never heard of Sylvia Earle, she is a scientist and conservationist whose goals in life have been to delve deeply into the oceans and learn as much as she can, and then share her passion and knowledge with others. As Nivola quotes in her extensive Author’s Note in the back matter, Earle realizes about oceans that, “You can’t care if you don’t know.”

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 13, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0374380686
ISBN-13: 978-0374380687

Desert Beneath the Sea by Ann McGovern and Eugenie Clark, illustrated by Craig Phillips

This older book about ichthyologist Eugenie Clark has a personal, conversational tone that makes the reader feel like they are underwater with Eugenie. The delicate, pale illustrations by Craig Phillips are delightful. Definitely a book to share with any child interested in becoming a scientist or simply interested in learning more about oceans.

Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Scholastic; 1 edition (October 1991)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0590426397
ISBN-13: 978-0590426398


Middle Grade Books:

Marine Science for Kids: Exploring and Protecting Our Watery World, Includes Cool Careers and 21 Activities by Bethanie Hestermann and Josh Hestermann, with a foreword by Stephanie Arne

If you only can afford one book about oceans, this is the one to pick. Filled with information about marine science, mini-biographies of marine scientists, and hands-on activities to reinforce learning.

Age Range: 9 and up 
Grade Level: 4 and up
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1613735367
ISBN-13: 978-1613735367


Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands 
by Katherine Roy

Great white sharks are fierce predators and this book reflects reality. Right up front, the cover sets the tone for this book, showing a shark with something in its mouth and a suggestion of red blood in the water. Some of the illustrations within the book show the sharks grabbing and eating seals. Certain children are going to find this thrilling and others are probably not. As with any book with potentially disturbing images, it is a good idea to prepare young readers in advance and let them choose whether they want to continue.

That is not to say that this book is about gratuitous violence. In fact, it contains a number of fascinating scientific illustrations detailing the body of the shark, how its blood circulates to help heat up this cold-blooded fish, how its eyes work, how its teeth work, and what makes its jaws unique. Learning facts about any animal definitely helps make it less fearsome.

Neighborhood Sharks has won many awards and honors, including:

Age Range: 7 – 11 years
Publisher: David Macaulay Studio (September 30, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1596438746
ISBN-13: 978-1596438743

The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field Series) by Elizabeth Rusch introduces us to a number of scientists who are working hard to convert the mechanical energy of ocean waves into electrical energy.

Rusch starts the book with a description of the power of waves, including an example of a cruise ship caught in a powerful storm. She then delves into the early lives of two engineers who are working on converting wave energy into electricity. This part about the “Two Mikes” is perfect for young readers, giving examples of young scientists of similar age or only slightly older and drawing the reader into the story. Rusch then introduces Oregon State University professor Annette von Jouanne and her work. She follows with an overview of the research of several competing groups, showing the progress and setbacks of this interesting field.

See a full review at  Wrapped in Foil.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0544099990
ISBN-13: 978-0544099999



Seymour Simon’s Extreme Oceans by Seymour Simon is for middle grade readers. It has smaller illustrations and deeper text than Coral Reefs, covering topics ranging from extreme ocean animals to extreme ocean weather events. Simon even covers the weather events driven by ocean temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, called El Niño and La Niña. He also mentions coral reefs. Most amazing fact? I thought it was the pinky-nail-sized Australian jellyfish that can deliver a mammoth-sized amount of pain.

Age Range: 9 and up
Hardcover: 60 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 2, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1452108331
ISBN-13: 978-1452108339



Alien Deep: Revealing the Mysterious Living World at the Bottom of the Ocean by Bradley Hague has been named a 2013 Outstanding Science Trade Book by the NSTA. It calls on the full resources of National Geographic to chronicle the amazing field of deep water oceanography,

Age Range: 8 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (September 11, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1426310676
ISBN-13: 978-1426310676




Diving to a Deep-Sea Volcano (Scientists in the Field Series) by Kenneth Mallory tells the story of marine biologist Rich Lutz as he investigates the odd creatures that have been recently discovered around hydrothermal vents.

Age Range: 10 and up
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (October 2, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0618332057
ISBN-13: 978-0618332052




Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion (Scientists in the Field Series) by Loree Griffin Burns is about Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer who studies the huge streams of water flowing through the ocean, called currents. Dr. Ebbesmeyer discovered that by tracking how fast and how far floating items spilled from ship accidents (like sneakers and floating toys) moved, he and other scientists could map the direction and speed of the ocean currents.

See related science experiments and activities at Growing With Science.

Age Range: 10 and up
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (April 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0547328605
ISBN-13: 978-0547328607



Sylvia Earle: Ocean Explorer (Women in Conservation) by Dennis Fertig

Most of us go to the beach and marvel at the the beauty of the ocean, but we rarely get even the smallest glimpse of what is happening under the waves. Sylvia Earle has logged in more than 7,000 hours underwater. Now she shares her passion and knowledge with others.

As appropriate for a children’s book, this biography starts with Earle’s childhood. Sylvia Earle spent her early years on a farm in New Jersey, where she remembers visiting the Jersey Shore at the age of three and discovering the power of the ocean. When she was twelve, Sylvia and her family moved to Dunedin, Florida. Suddenly, she had a beautiful ocean to investigate right in her own backyard. She jumped in and her life was changed forever.

Age Range: 8 – 11 years
Grade Level: 3 – 6
Publisher: Heinemann InfoSearch (July 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 148460475X
ISBN-13: 978-1484604755

Fish Watching with Eugenie Clark (Naturalist’s Apprentice) by Michael Elsohn Ross (Author), Wendy Smith (Illustrator)

Geared for older audiences than The Desert Beneath the Sea, this biography of ichthyologist Eugenie Clark is more comprehensive as well. The biographies in this series by Michael Elsohn Ross include observation tips and and related hands-on activities.

Age Range: 8 and up
Grade Level: 3 and up
Series: Naturalist’s Apprentice
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books (February 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1575053845
ISBN-13: 978-1575053844




Journey Into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures (Junior Library Guild Selection) by Rebecca L. Johnson allows readers learn about cutting edge science, view glorious full-color photographs of creatures never seen before, and get glimpses into the lives of scientists at work. It is so appropriate for kids at an age where they are getting ready to explore their world, as well as starting to think about their career options. This book is sure to inspire everyone to want to study marine biology.

Reading level: Young Adult
Library Binding: 64 pages
Publisher: Millbrook Press (September 2010)
ISBN-10: 076134148X
ISBN-13: 978-0761341482


Oceans: An Activity Guide for Ages 6-9 by Nancy F. Castaldo encourages the reader to explore concepts about the ocean using hands-on activities and crafts. Activities range from creating a jellyfish mobile to learning how whales stay warm in cold Arctic waters.

Age Range: 7 – 9 years
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 1556524439
ISBN-13: 978-1556524431



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