Ocean Science-Themed Books for Kids

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

Note:  Because of the number of books in this category, we’ve created a separate but related list of books about beach and tide pool animals.


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:

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean by Catherine D. Hughes

National Geographic Kids First Big Book of the Ocean includes both high-interest animals, such as dolphins, sharks, sea otters, and penguins, as well as some lesser-known creatures.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books; (October 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1426313683
ISBN-13: 978-1426313684


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


Picture Books:

Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill by Matt Lilley and illustrated by Dan Tavis

Krill are shrimp-like crustaceans that live in the ocean. They are incredibly important as an integral link in ocean food webs.

As the punchline of this humorous picture book says,

…krill are really good at eating and krill are really good eatin’.

Matt Lilley spells out the complex metamorphosis of one species, the Antarctic krill, Euphasia superba. We learn about all the unusual developmental stages — some discovered not that long ago — and also about how krill can glow, shrink if there isn’t enough food, and live for a relatively long time for their size (if they aren’t eaten).

Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill is likely to inspire budding oceanographers and marine biologists. It is a perfect read to accompany a trip to an aquarium or to the ocean. Delve into a copy today!

See full review at Growing with Science

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 6 – 8 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tilbury House Publishers (January 11, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0884488675
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0884488675

Ocean! Waves for All by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by David Litchfield is narrated in the first person. The tone is lighthearted and conversational, including words like ‘bro’ and “righteous’.

Dude, I am Ocean.

David Litchfield’s illustrations are as big and vibrant as the ocean itself. They are packed full of emotion and creativity. To coincide with the first person voice, the ocean has a floating face with eyes, nose, and mouth.

The back matter includes a note from the author, a discussion about how the ocean is really global — the names don’t reflect real boundaries, “Ocean by the Numbers,” a Q-and-A with Ocean, a list ways to be a friend to Ocean, and “Sources.”

Overall, Ocean! represents a new “wave” of picture books that push the boundary between fiction and nonfiction in interesting ways. Get on board and check out a copy today!

Reading age : 4 – 8 years
Publisher : Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); Illustrated edition (May 5, 2020)
ISBN-10 : 1250108098
ISBN-13 : 978-1250108098


Sometimes you don’t know why a particular book strikes you, but The Big Book of the Blue by Yuval Zommer is a beautiful picture book I am thrilled to look at every time I see it.

First thing you notice is the beautiful blue color and the oversized dimensions, perfect for a book about the huge, expansive ocean. Then you pop it open and you see the playful, lively illustrations. You can imagine the fish swimming and the jellyfish bobbing. Delightful!

The Big Book of the Blue is the type of book that begs to be shared. Grab a copy, find a quiet corner, and spend time with it. Children will love it.

Nominated for a 2018 Cybils and reviewed at Wrapped in Foil.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (June 5, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0500651191
ISBN-13: 978-0500651193

Ocean Emporium: A Compilation of Creatures by Susie Brooks and illustrated by Dawn Cooper

What is an emporium? By definition it is a large store that carries a diversity of items, like a department store. In the book it is used in the sense of a place where you can see a collection of many diverse animals.

The first spread introduces readers to an ocean food web and all the different groups that are featured in the rest of the book.

“Deep, mysterious oceans sweep across our planet, making up 99 percent of the living space on Earth. Beneath their rolling waves lies a web of life that ties together creatures great and small.”

Turn the pages to find collections of related animals, from hermit crabs to sharks. Dive into a copy today.

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (March 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1580898289
ISBN-13: 978-1580898287


Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and illustrated Eric Rohmann is a finalist for a Cybils award in the elementary/juvenile nonfiction category in 2016. 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

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


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


Middle Grade Books:

The Great Shark Rescue: Saving the Whale Sharks by Sandra Markle explains whale sharks are not only the biggest fish in the world, but also the coolest sharks because they feed by vacuuming up tons of the smallest creatures in the water (see pages 18-19). Unfortunately, along with many other fascinating creatures, their numbers are plummeting and they have recently become endangered.

Markle gives numbers and explicit reasons why the populations are in decline. Sometimes the sharks are caught is nets during legal fishing ,while at other times they are killed by people who fish for sharks illegally. Climate change is also a factor. Scientists want to try to help the sharks, but they know little about them. It is a race to learn about whale sharks before they disappear.

The Great Shark Rescue will thrill budding marine biologists as well as those interested in conserving endangered species.

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Series: Sandra Markle’s Science Discoveries
Publisher: Millbrook Press TM (October 1, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1541510410
ISBN-13: 978-1541510418

You really need to pick up a copy of The Ultimate Book of Sharks (National Geographic Kids) by Brian Skerry to feel the true impact of it.

Starting out with the cover of this large-scale book, you notice the huge shark at the top with gaping jaws that almost jumps out of the page. Whoa! Underneath, the words Ultimate and Sharks in the title are in silver reflective letters that grab your eye. Inside, chapter one hooks your further with some cool information. Did you know some sharks have organs that glow in the dark? Freaky!

The rest of the chapters mix the amazing photographs we’ve come to expect from National Geographic with sidebars and other bite-sized chunks of stories and facts about sharks from around the world.

The Ultimate Book of Sharks will thrill both young readers and educators alike. It will entice the most reluctant of readers, but it also has the factual underpinnings to serve as a go-to reference book. Capture a copy today!

Age Range: 9 – 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books; edition edition (May 15, 2018)
ISBN-10: 9781426330711
ISBN-13: 978-1426330711
ASIN: 1426330715

Another title in the amazing Scientists in the Field Series, The Orca Scientists by Kim Perez Valice and photographs by Andy Comins

Age Range: 10 – 12 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (July 24, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0544898265
ISBN-13: 978-0544898264

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

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

Poetry Books for Kids: Space Theme

What is more inspiring than space?


If you are doing a science theme about space or astronomy and are looking for books for children, don’t forget to include some books of STEM poems.


If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Jaime Kim

Combining spare, imaginative text with denser scientific explanations, this book has potential for a multitude of uses. It can be a lovely bedtime book, the basis for a language arts lesson, or a great accompaniment to a lesson on the solar system.

Salas must inspire her illustrators to greatness, because Jaime Kim’s art positively shines.

If You Were the Moon is a must have for budding astronomers and poets everywhere.

Visit Laurie Purdie Salas’s website for downloadable teaching guides (long and short versions) and other goodies.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press (March 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 146778009X
ISBN-13: 978-1467780094

Night Wonders by Jane Ann Peddicord won the 2006 International Reading Association Children’s Book Award. It combines poems about space with stunning photographs and artist’s renderings of space. Peddicord also includes some informational text to fill in and emphasize the facts revealed in the poems.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 1570918783
ISBN-13: 978-1570918780


A Rocketful of Space Poems chosen by John Foster and illustrated by Korky Paul is a collection that features poems from the likes of J. Patrick Lewis, Eric Finney, and Judith Nicholls. Many of the poems are not particularly serious, since they feature monsters, witches, magicians and aliens. They allow the reader to “fly into space, drive to the moon, meet an asteroid dog and a flurb blurp, and then play intergalactic Squibble-Ball.” As you can see, the featured poems are highly imaginative but have a science-based foundation underneath.

Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Bks (February 15, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1847804861
ISBN-13: 978-1847804860



When my son was small, we discovered Blast Off: Poems About Space (I Can Read), compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (1995). The book features the poem “Children of the Sun” by Brod Bagert, which starts:

“Mercury’s small
Almost nothing at all.
Venus is bright and near…”

It was a wonderful way to memorize both a poem and the names of the planets. Of course it is slightly out of date because Pluto is no longer a planet, but many of the others in the collection are still ring true and clear.

As of today, the poems from Blast Off are available for reading on the Internet.


Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space by Amy Sklansky and illustrated by Stacey Schuett (2012) really lives up to its name. The poems are fun, creative and absolutely perfect for kids. For example, in the poem “Zero Gravity” some of the lines are flipped over. How creative!

Each poem is accompanied by a black sidebar labeled “Fact” that explains scientific concepts or fills in the history of events that are mentioned.


You could teach a robust unit on STEM poetry with just Douglas Florian’s fabulous books. Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings (2007) is probably the one most geared to older children.

Personally, I love Florian’s playful style and fun-filled illustrations. In this book there are cut out circles in some of the pages that move images from one page to another, some playing with changes in scale while doing so. For example, the planet Mercury is a cut out that reveals the much larger Venus on the page behind it.



And Then There Were Eight: Poems about Space (Poetry) (A+ Books: Poetry) by Laura Purdie Salas (2008) is fresh and lively. Salas is devoted to her craft, and presents poems in different forms, and then explains each in the backmatter. This book would work well for a unit on poetry as it does for a unit on space.



Sky Magic (2009) compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Mariusz Stawarski presents the sun, stars and moon from an interesting, earthbound perspective. Hopkins has collected poems from a variety of poets and organized them to flow from sunrise to sunset. A wonderful celebration both the skies and poetry.
The Universe Verse by James Lu Dunbar is for middle grade readers.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: James and Kenneth Publishers; First edition (November 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1888047259
ISBN-13: 978-1888047257


Although not a collection of poems, the rhyming couplets in Roaring Rockets (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker (2000) are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.


Are you ready to try science poetry now? Do you have any favorite poetry books about space that aren’t on the list? We’d love to hear about them!

You might also want to try our related lists:

30 Space and Astronomy Books for Kids

Children’s Books about Galaxies and Stars

Children’s Books about Planets and The Solar System

Related activity: Exploring Space Without a Spacesuit.


Bird Books for Kids

Bird watching is a popular hobby and a great way to introduce children to science and nature.

The linked titles go to Amazon. Please see the disclosure below.

Board Books

Baby’s First Book of Birds & Colors by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes

Cleverly allows youngsters to learn their birds and colors at the same time.

Grade Level: Preschool and up
Publisher: Charlesbridge; Brdbk edition (May 2, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1580897428
ISBN-13: 978-1580897426

Bring On the Birds by Susan Stockdale

This brightly colored board book explores 21 species of birds from around the world.

Reading level: Ages 4 and up
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (February 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1561455601
ISBN-13: 978-1561455607

 Beginning/Emerging Readers

Who Is Singing? by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Chrissy Chabot

Learn the sounds made by twelve common birds, from cardinals to robins in a fun Q and A format.

For each bird, the first page asks who is making the particular sound?

The answer is on the next page.

The format “Take a bow (name)” and  the words for the songs repeat for each bird species. This is important because repetition helps young readers figure out letters and words, eventually helping them learn to read fluently.

Visit Wrapped in Foil blog for a list of activity suggestions.

Ages:  3-6
Publisher ‏:   ‎ Pen It! Publications, LLC (July 21, 2021)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1954868375
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1954868373

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Birds by Catherine D. Hughes

Illustrated with gorgeous photographs, this book introduces young readers to birds both common and not so common.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (July 12, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1426324324
ISBN-13: 978-1426324321


Great Horned Owls by Melissa Hill and Gail Saunders-Smith, PhD (Consultant Editor) is part of a new series that feature common species of owls. Early readers explore where owls live, what they eat, and their life cycle, while learning new vocabulary words. Did you know that owls do not build their own nests?

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 1
Publisher: Capstone Press (August 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1491460539
ISBN-13: 978-1491460535

Burrowing Owls by Melissa Hill and Gail Saunders-Smith, PhD (Consultant Editor) is another title from the new Owls series. Burrowing owls are small owls that live in tunnels in the ground. They are commonly found in the desert.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Capstone Press (August 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1491460466
ISBN-13: 978-1491460467

Peregrine Falcons by Melissa Hill and Gail Saunders-Smith, PhD, Consultant Editor

Did you know that peregrine falcons are the fastest animals on the planet? They can reach speeds of over 200 mph when diving. They are found throughout the world, except at temperature extremes (hot tropics and coldest polar regions). Learn more about these incredibly fascinating birds with informational titles in the Birds of Prey series for beginning readers.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Capstone Press (February 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1491423102
ISBN-13: 978-1491423103

Can You Find These Birds? (All about Nature) by Carmen Bredeson and Lindsey Cousins

This guide to birds for the beginner reader features a controlled vocabulary and short sentences, but still manages to pack in a lot of information about birds. Check out the preview at the Enslow website.

Reading Level: Ages 3-6
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Enslow Elementary (July 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1464400725
ISBN-13: 978-1464400728

Why Do Owls and Other Birds Have Feathers? (Animal Body Coverings) by Holly Beaumont is new title that explains how owls and other birds use their feathers to keep warm and to fly, among other things.

Age Range: 5 – 7 years
Publisher: Heinemann (August 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1484625382
ISBN-13: 978-1484625385


Picture Books



In the first part of Swoop and Soar: How Science Rescued Two Osprey Orphans and Found Them A New Family In The Wild by Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp, we hold our breaths following the perilous journey of two newly-hatched osprey chicks. One night a storm destroys Swoop and Soar’s nest and the chicks fall to the ground. Nearby, another osprey family has lost their offspring, but still come back to their nest. With a little help from Jane, will the new family adopt the homeless chicks?

What comes after is not so much back matter as a second fascinating book about ospreys and how biologist Jane Veltkamp works hard to rescue them.

With Swoop and Soar, get hooked by the nail-biting story of the chicks, then stick around for some amazing information. Highly recommended!

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 5 – 13 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Persnickety Press (September 5, 2022)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1943978565
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1943978564

Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls by Annette Whipple

Featuring gorgeous color photographs with text in a question and answer format, this book engages readers. You will find out what owl’s eat, how they hunt, whether they sleep during the day, where they live, and what’s up with owl pellets. My favorite questions was whether owls can spin their heads around. Do you know the answer?

The back matter is extensive. There’s a section on how to help owls, explanation of owl anatomy, owl pellet dissection discussion, and a glossary.

Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls is nonfiction at its best. It will obviously appeal to young birdwatchers and nature lovers, but also to anyone interested in the world around them. Reading it will make you wiser <wink>.

Reading ages : 6 – 10 years
Publisher : Reycraft Books (September 30, 2020)
ISBN-13 : 978-1478869627
ISBN-10 : 1478869623

Secrets of the Loon by Laura Purdie Salas and Charles Dayton

Loons are water birds that live in lakes in northern North America in the summer where they dive under the water to catch fish and other small swimming animals. They are known for their haunting calls that travel great distances over the water, and for their striking black and white plumage.

Secrets of the Loon
is a must-read for budding ornithologists, especially ones who live near lakes where loons swim. It is also a treat for the rest of us who wish we could visit a cold lake and listen to these fascinating birds. Dive into the book today!

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press (April 28, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1681341581
ISBN-13: 978-1681341583


The Big Book of Birds by Yuval Zommer

The big size and the complex, engaging illustrations give the reader much to discover. There’s also a challenge to find an egg illustration 15 times throughout the book, just the sort of thing that can bring a young reader back to a book again and again.

The text is interesting and informative. The overviews, such as a spread about bird migration, mix well with zoomed-in discussions of specific types of birds, such as parrots or owls.

The Big Book of Birds is the type of book that begs to be shared. Grab a copy, find a quiet corner, and spend time with a young reader delving into each and every page.  They will be glad you did.

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 1 edition (June 4, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0500651515
ISBN-13: 978-0500651513

On Gull Beach by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall follows a young boy as he explores a Massachusetts beach. Along the way, he spots a sea star. Before he can reach it, however, a seagull picks it up and flies away. Find out what he discovers as he chases the gull along the beach.

Jane Yolen’s simple, but expertly-crafted rhyming text and Bob Marstall’s exceptional illustrations make a delightful combination. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a bird book published by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

It is a beautiful picture book!

Age Range: 4 – 11 years
Publisher: Cornell Lab Publishing Group (March 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1943645183
ISBN-13: 978-1943645183

Two earlier titles in the On Bird Hill and Beyond series:


In On Bird Hill (2016) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall, a boy and his dog find the bird in a nest on a hill.


On Duck Pond (2017) by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall follows the same boy and his dog as they visit a serene pond that is filled with birds, frogs, turtles and other creatures. Their arrival causes quite a stir.


Woodpecker Wham! by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins

What better way to learn about woodpeckers then via Sayre staccato-burst prose? Six pages of back matter richly supplement the verb-laden text. Steve Jenkins’ cut and torn-paper collage illustrations aren’t too shabby, either.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (May 12, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0805088423
ISBN-13: 978-0805088427

The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson

Why are ravens called wolf-birds? Dawson reveals there is a complex relationship between ravens and gray wolves, particularly in areas with cold, harsh winters. Note:  a book about predators necessarily shows the death of a few animals, but it is tastefully done.

Overall, The Wolf-Birds is perfect for young readers interested in science and nature, particularly animals. It is also likely to appeal to those readers who think they prefer fiction. It is one of those versatile books to pull it out for units on birds, winter, animal behavior, and even art.

Longer review at Wrapped in Foil

Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Owlkids Books (September 15, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1771470542
ISBN-13: 978-1771470544

On the Wing by David Elliott and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

Head over to the poetry section to find this beautiful picture book. Each poem is sure to inspire readers to want to find out more about the fascinating birds inside.

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Candlewick (September 9, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0763653241
ISBN-13: 978-0763653248


Feathers: Not Just for Flying by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

What is there to learn about bird feathers? It turns out there is a wealth of information. You might already be familiar with how feathers help birds fly or how they keep water birds dry, but Melissa Stewart has found at least 16 different ways birds use their feathers. To make it easy for children to relate to and remember, she compares the uses to common human-made objects with similar purposes, like sunscreen and jewelry.

The text with dual-layer format, with the easy-to-read main text in a large font, and sidebars on each page to fill in the informational details. The watercolor illustrations look like you should be able to pluck them from the page. Nature lovers are going to want this for the illustrations alone.

Look for a complete review and activities to extend the book at Growing with Science blog.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Grade Level: 1 – 4
Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 25, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1580894305
ISBN-13: 978-1580894302

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore and illustrated by Susan L. Roth is a lovely new picture book. What catches your eye right away are the mixed-media collage parrots on the cover. What holds your attention is the fascinating story of the history of the Puerto Rican parrot, tied in a unique way with the history of the island of Puerto Rico.

You need to have this book on hand because it can be used in so many ways. Obviously it is perfect to accompany art lessons on collage in an art class. Pick it up for units on birds in science class, or for discussions of environmental issues and conservation. It also has an important place in units on U. S. history, because the history of Puerto Rico is also covered in detail. Add darling parrots and an ongoing drama of whether they are going to survive, and it is a real winner.

Ages 6 to 11
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (September 15, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1620140047
ISBN-13: 978-1620140048


Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why by Lita Judge

Birds make a lot of different sounds and you may have wondered what they are saying. This lovely picture book will give you an introduction to bird communication. The illustrations are amazing. Note:  Some of the calls are about attracting mates, and Judge does not shy away from this topic.

Reading level: Ages 6 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Flash Point (March 13, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1596436468
ISBN-13: 978-159643646

Birds of a Feather by Bernadette Gervais and Francesco Pittau

All about birds with more than 40 lift-the-flaps and pop-ups. Harder to find now, but worth the search.

Hardcover: 18 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books; Pop edition (September 26, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1452110662
ISBN-13: 978-1452110660

For the Birds: The Life of Roger Tory Peterson
by Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Laura Jacques

Inspiring biography of naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, of Peterson Field Guides fame.

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (October 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1590787641
ISBN-13: 978-1590787649

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
by Phillip Hoose

The Moonbird is a tiny bird who has flown an estimated 350,000 miles – over the distance to the moon and halfway back – in his lifetime! Pair with bird-related citizen science projects that are child friendly, such as the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (July 17, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0374304688
ISBN-13: 978-0374304683

My review

Alex the Parrot: No Ordinary Bird: A True Story by Stephanie Spinner

The title character of this book is an African gray parrot named Avian Learning Experiment. It turns out that Alex lives up to his clever name. His owner finds out that birds are capable of much more complex behavior than originally thought.

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 9, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0375868461
ISBN-13: 978-0375868467




Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf
by Olivia Bouler

Written by Olivia when she was eleven, this book shows children what they can accomplish if they put their mind to it. See an interview with Olivia at Archimedes Notebook.

Reading level: Ages 3 and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sterling; First Edition (April 5, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1402786654
ISBN-13: 978-1402786655

Bird Books with Hands-on Activities Included

Bird-acious (Science with Stuff) by Melissa Stewart.

First of all, the book itself is a fun and educational introduction to birds for young readers. It contains big color photographs and interesting facts. It covers everything from feathers and flying to beaks and eating. There’s even a two-page spread that features photographs of cool bird tongues and describes what the various structures are used for.

But this book offers even more. In the cover image above, do you see the brown mass in the yellow oval to the right, just under the title? That is an actual owl pellet for kids to dissect. A bird book with its own hands-on activity included, how cool is that?

Age Range: 8 and up
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks; Nov edition (December 10, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1935703900
ISBN-13: 978-1935703907

Look and Learn Birds (PBS Kids) by Sarah Parvis and PBS KIDS (Editor)

Perfect to accompany a citizen science project like The Great Backyard Bird Watch, this kit comes with a 64-page book, simple-to-use binoculars, a laminated identification sheet with pictures of common birds, and an activity poster. What a great way to encourage the next generation of bird watchers.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Downtown Bookworks; Box Pck Pa edition (August 30, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1941367291
ISBN-13: 978-1941367292

Middle Grade

Woodpeckers: Drilling Holes and Bagging Bugs by Sneed B. Collard III.

If you’ve never read a book by acclaimed science author Sneed B. Collard III, reading Woodpeckers will send you searching for more of his titles. First of all, he and his son (at fourteen years old!) traveled around North America and took the majority of the stunning color photographs in the book. That alone shows their knowledge about and passion for their subjects. Add the fun, conversational tone of the text, sprinkled with quotes from woodpecker experts and you have one amazing book!

Good for Middle Grade ages on up.

(Check out Fire Birds below, by the same author)

Ages: 9-12
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (April 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0984446095
ISBN-13: 978-0984446094

Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc

In an attempt to overcome the “whatever” attitude of the modern child, LeBlanc adopts a conversational style and cartoon illustrations that are sure to attract some new interest in giving birdwatching a try.

Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (March 12, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0763645613
ISBN-13: 978-0763645618



National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America: The Best Birding Book for Kids from National Geographic’s Bird Experts by Jonathan Alderfer

It may seem like hype to call yourself the best, but this book really does takes kid-friendly bird guides to a whole new level. The book features National Geographic quality photographs and artwork. Plus, it wouldn’t be National Geographic with really nice maps of where many of the birds are found (sneak in a geography lesson here?) Now add a lot of good tips for identification and easily-digestible facts about the different birds. Stir in a few bird-related activities, and you have a fantastic bird guide for kids.

Age Range: 7 – 9 years
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (March 12, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1426310943
ISBN-13: 978-1426310942

Older children will enjoy reading about Fire Birds by Sneed B. Collard III.

Fire Birds reveals the work of biology professor Dick Hutto, who has been investigating what happens to bird species after a forest fire. He found that some kinds of birds increase in number due to increased nest sites and food. He has come up with a list of 15 species that are closely associated with recently burned forests, which he calls “Fire Birds.” Can you guess what they might be?

(This title was previously reviewed at Wrapped in Foil.)

Ages: 8+
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Bucking Horse Books (December 10, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0984446079
ISBN-13: 978-0984446070

Crow Smarts: Inside the Brain of the World’s Brightest Bird by Pamela S. Turner and photographs by Andy Comins


Written with light humor (one of the crows is named “Crow we never got around to naming”) and illustrated with birds-eye-view photographs (like the one on the cover). Whether you have read all of books in the Scientists in the Field series or none of them, you are going to want to pick up this one. Perfect for anyone interested in learning, tool use and birds, including budding animal behaviorists, ornithologists, psychologists and educators.

Full review at Growing With Science.

Age Range: 10 – 12 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (August 2, 2016)
ISBN-10: 0544416198
ISBN-13: 978-0544416192

Birdology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Birds (Young Naturalists) by Monica Russo and with photographs by Kevin Byron

Birdology gives an introduction to many aspects of bird biology, such as their anatomy and special characteristics, where to look for them, what they eat, bird migratory behavior, etc. In the final section it explores common careers that involve working with birds. Each section reveals information about a topic, such as feathers, and then provides suggestions for hands-on activities to reinforce learning.

The author is very careful to point out that it is illegal to collect or possess feathers, nests or eggs of wild birds. All the activity suggestions keep this important consideration in mind.

(Full review and activities at Growing with Science blog)

Age Range: 7 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (January 1, 2015)
ISBN-10: 161374949X
ISBN-13: 978-1613749494


Be sure to check our recent list of children’s books about bird migrations, too.

Do you have a book to add to this list? We’d love to hear from you.



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