48 Excellent Children’s Books About Ocean Animals

Even here in landlocked Colorado, we love to read picture books and nonfiction books about ocean animals like sharks, dolphins, fish, and squid.

What ocean creatures do your kids already know about? And what marine life do you still want to introduce them to?

Here are our favorite children’s books about ocean animals that your kids will love, no matter what area of the world you’re in.

From scary to cute and ugly ocean animals, learn all about sea creatures in all parts of the ocean, including the deepest seas! What will be your favorite ocean animal? Read these children’s books about the coolest animals in the ocean to find out!

hildren's Books About Ocean Animals

Check out these ocean animal worksheets!

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals

Hooray for Fish!
by Lucy Cousins
Soak up the brightly colored fish described with fun words — “spotty fish, stripy fish, happy fish, gripy fish“. There’s so much to look at and describe — this is sure to be a new reading favorite as it’s an excellent board book for boys and girls.

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef
by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon
First of all, aren’t these three-dimensional-looking illustrations incredible? But next we must talk about the genius in this jaunty rhyming story about different mother sea creatures and their babies — one, two, three, to ten! I promise you’ll have tons of fun reading this with your kids!

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
by Kevin Sherry
The squid compares himself with many other ocean animals and brags that he is the biggest. It’s a funny, colorful look at ocean life.

This Is A Sea Cow
by Cassandra Federman
What a giggle-worthy story! A little girl named Cassandra writes a report on sea cows that the Manatee (aka. Sea Cow in the report) comments on line by line, illustration by illustration, page by page. First, he takes issue with the term sea cow and that he is a lot like a land cow. (“Ummmm… I don’t think so.”) It’s totally funny — you’ll even learn some new facts about manatees.

Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark
by Ken Grace, illustrated by Julia Gordon
We adore this charming, colorful retelling of the Three Little Pigs in the ocean who tell the big bad shark, “Not by the skin of my finny fin fin!

Children's Books About seashells
Seashells More Than a Home
by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Informative and beautiful, this picture book will make you long to visit the seashore to find your own seashells. Written in dual-layered figurative language text, readers will read the basics of shells in the first layer of bigger text size. Secondary text elaborates on the specific types of shells. Soft watercolor illustrations show the seashells in the ocean and beach.

Leopard & Silkie One Boy’s Quest to Save the Seal Pups
by Brenda Peterson, photographs by Robin Lindsey
A group of volunteers called Seal Sitters watch out for baby seals who are left on a Seattle shore while their mothers hunt for food. This photographic story tells the story of a baby seal, Leopard, who is crowded by onlookers and dogs. A young volunteer named Miles calls his fellow Seal Sitters to help him get the people away from Leopard. Miles and his grandpa decide to build a floating dock for Leopard so he will be safe when his mother hunts. It’s a compelling story about the real dangers that marine mammals face every day.

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien
I LOVE this cartoon-like blobfish with a big personality who interjects said personality during the book’s photograph and textual information about ocean life in the deepest parts of the ocean. Perfect text to picture ratio (not too much!) makes this a nonfiction home run.

Books for Kids About Fish
I Am Not a Fish!
by Peter Raymundo
Don’t miss this silly story about a jellyfish’s identity crisis that teaches about fish and other ocean animals –that are not fish. I love this story’s blend of dialogue bubbles and text. Not only is this a funny story but you’ll have fun reading it out loud to your kids.

Explore the Beach: Little Kids First Nature Guide by Alli Brydon
Not only does this nonfiction book contain appealing, colorful photos and facts about the ocean, but it also introduces readers to the text features of a nonfiction book. With headers and captions, sidebars, and bolded words, this book does double duty; it teaches kids about nonfiction text while sharing cool information about the plants and animals in and around the beach. LOVE IT!

Good Eating The Short Life of Krill by Matt Lilley, illustrated by Dan Tavis
Written in the second-person point of view, this picture book speaks directly to you, a krill. You grow from an oval, then get eyes and legs, keep growing, and swim constantly– only to be eaten eventually by whales. Engaging writing in a surprisingly delightful and enlightening little story.

Whale Fall Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey
Stewart deftly writes about the creatures feeding on a whale’s carcass as a sequential lyrical story starting when the whale dies and continuing with scavengers arriving to eat different parts. “Sleeper sharks smell the whale, too, but they swim slowly through the frigid water. When they arrive, they feast on skin and blubber.”  The whale becomes food for other creatures, including the bones, for about 50 years! Afterward, every trace of the whale is gone. But, maybe the cycle is beginning again somewhere else…

Lights On! Glow-in-the-Dark Deep Ocean Creatures by Donna B. McKinney, illustrated by Daneilla Ferretti
Turn the book sideways to see the ocean from the sky and surface to the dark deeper waters. You’ll read about the ocean creatures who live where no sunlight reaches, like the pocket shark, Atolla jellyfish, and male fireworms. Kids will love the interactive lift-the-flaps on each page that share more factual information, too! Lovely writing with onomatopoeia, lyrical verse, and vivid description makes this a beautiful and informative nonfiction text about the fascinating bioluminescent world of the ocean deep.

My L
ittle Book Manatees by Hope Irvin Marston, illustrated by Stephanie Mirocha
Perfect for early elementary-age readers, read all about the life of a mother and baby manatee as he grows with his birth, behavior, food, and problems with pollution and speed boats. Vivid verbs and lots of sounds words throughout make this extra engaging. “Munch! Her huge teeth looked like crinkle-cut french fries. She chewed very fast. Every day she chomped down one hundred pounds of plants.” Very well-done!

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Steve, Terror of the Seas
by Megan Brewis
You’ll feel empathy for this little sad fish who can’t figure out why the other ocean animals are scared of him. Poor guy! You’ll keep wondering why he’s inspired so much fear until the very end when all is revealed — and it’s so funny! (Spoiler: Steve is a pilot fish who swims next to a shark because he keeps the shark free of parasites.)

Anglerfish The Seadevil of the Deep by Elaine M. Alexander, illustrated by Fiona Fogg
Follow the anglerfish’s birth to growth and life deep down in the dark ocean depths. Find out more about this weird-looking toothy fish with bioluminescence.

Deep, Deep Down The Secret Underwater Poetry of the Mariana Trench by Lydia Lukidis, illustrated by Juan Calle
Sensory descriptive writing takes us on a submarine deep, deep down into the Mariana Trench with its bone-chilling cold, earthquakes, monstrous fish, and unique plants. Both lyrical narration and informational expository text teach readers about the murky depths. I adore everything about this gem of a nonfiction book!

Books for Kids About Ocean Ecosystem
Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together
by Andrea Tsurumi
A wonderful undersea story with a message of environmental cleanup. While it’s a little bit informative about sea creatures, it’s also irreverent, silly, and meaningful. One awful night, there’s a big crash and a garbage pile falls into the sea. Crab feeds all the sea animals cake while they brainstorm what to do. Eventually, all the creatures help to shove, roll, town, drag, and carry all the garbage back to the shore so they can get back to swimming, playing, and baking cakes underwater like usual.

Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals by Jess Keating
These aren’t your princess-pink variety of pink animals. No! In fact, these are gelatinous blobfish, hairy tarantulas, naked mole rats, and more — who all are pink. Great writing pairs perfectly with photographs and cartoons. I love this book but it is only partly about ocean animals.

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
The Big Sticker Book of the Blue
by Yuval Zommer
The back pages of this book are filled with ocean animal stickers. Use them as you read the pages of this book. Stick flying fish stickers on the page to escape predators in the sea. Or draw tentacles on jellyfish. Kids will have fun while they’re learning more about the animals in the underwater world.

children's books about marine life

Narwhal Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
Narwhal is exuberant to meet Jellyfish, his new imaginary friend who is imagining Narwhal at the same time. Although Jellyfish is more serious, you’ll love their adventures — forming a pod, having parties, eating waffles, and imagining. This is a feel-good underwater friendship adventure told in graphic format.

A Goofy Guide to Penguins children's books about marine lifeA Goofy Guide to Penguins by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray
A mix of groan-worthy penguin jokes and cool penguin facts, this is a delightful nonfiction graphic novel for beginning readers. The illustrations often answer the questions posed by the narrator penguin and are almost always silly.

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Charlotte’s Bones: The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field
by Erin Rounds, illustrated by Alison Carver
Erin Rounds’ writing feels like magic as she transports us back in time and back again, capturing the beautifully tragic life of one beluga whale who swam over what is now Vermont, U.S.A. “Her milky, smooth, muscled body sliced slowly through the water like scissors through silk.

Whale Fall Cafe by Jacqueline Sewell, illustrated by Dan Tavis
What happens when a whale dies? It’s food for other sea creatures. The writing contains strong verbs, larger text to emphasize certain words, and an abundance of facts. I’ll admit that I found it gross. Maybe that’s a good thing for some readers? “Within hours, hagfish cover the whale’s corpse, burrowing inside, devouring flesh as they go.

Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Follow a family kayaking in the ocean as they paddle and notice what’s in the sky and the ocean’s surface like the whales breaching. Below them, the ocean teams with life — both plants and animals. As always, the evocative writing shares memorable details and vivid verbs. Once again, Messner illuminates the wonders of the world’s biggest ecosystem with the unique over/under pattern.

The Superpower Field Guide Eels
by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Nicholas John Frith
Filled with fascinating facts written in a conversational voice, this next book in the series brims with pizazz! Follow the story of Olenka, an amazing eel of secrets and superpowers. Full-color illustrations, humor, facts, so many facts, you won’t be able to put this book down.

Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!
by Mike Lowery
The Everything Awesome book series continues with SHARKS! Handwriting and kid-like fonts plus lots of comic illustrations and colors make this a visual feast for the eyes. (Or distracting, it can go either way.) But, it’s filled with a wealth of facts about the ocean, underwater creatures, and of course, sharks. From information about ocean zones to prehistoric sharks and kelp forests, this book covers ocean information in a fun, often hilarious, way.

Follow the Moon Home: A Tale of One Idea, Twenty Kids, and a Hundred Sea Turtles by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So
When she hears about the bright lights on the beach confusing the newly hatched baby turtles, a girl asks her class to become the Loggerhead Lab. Together they ask the vacationing homes to turn off their lights at night. And it works! The babies eventually follow the moon’s light toward the sea, arriving safely.

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
A walking octopus, a red-lipped batfish, and a sea butterfly are just some of the curious ocean creatures who jump, scurry, and fly through the pages of this intriguing book.

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reef
by Kate Messner, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Ken loves the coral reefs. One summer, he notices that the corals are losing color and the fish aren’t as abundant. He and his daughter begin an experiment that turns into a movement to grow more coral colonies. The group is called The Coral Restoration Foundation. “They hang bits of coral on special underwater trees and lines where the corals can grow.” Guess what!? It works! Gorgeous illustrations paired with an inspirational true story make this a must-read book to introduce children to the plight of coral reefs and how one person can make a difference.

All the Fish in the World
by David Opie
Trout explains to Mudskipper fish are–and that a fish is not just gills and fins. Trout and Mudskipper take a colorful journey through the ocean’s fish, and we learn along with Mudskipper about fins, cartilage, and even the largest fish in the world. Back matter provides a key that shows what each fish is called.

If You Take Away the Otter
by Susanna Buhrman-Deever, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
Learn about the biome under the Pacific Ocean where sea otters hunt for food and live in the kelp forests. .But when people hunted sea otters to extinction, it affected the other animals and the kelp. Luckily, with new rules, the otters returned and so did their undersea world.

Puzzle Book of the Ocean: Tons of Cool Activities and Fun Facts
Organized by these animal categories, fish, mammal, sharks, shellfish, reptiles, and invertebrates; readers will love this interactive puzzle book. It’s filled with word searches, sudokus, matching, mazes, quizzes, and crosswords…plus some fun facts and gorgeous photos. Take this book on a trip, and your readers will be immersed in puzzling for hours. Plus, they might learn a few things about ocean animals!

Search for a Giant Squid: Pick Your Path by Amy Seto Forrester & Andy Chou Musser \
I love this choose your own adventure format and think so many children will, too. Join theocean twilight zone  expedition on a dive to search for a giant squid. Choose which pilot to be, the submersible you’ll use, the dive site, and then, start your adventure. What will you discover? What will you do with mechanical problems or bad weather?

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters
by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
Open the page to find — yikes — more than 35 pop-ups of prehistoric beasts of the ocean — scorpions, squid, and sharks, to name a few. Filled with facts as well as incredible artwork.

t If You Could Sniff Like a Shark? by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
Despite the busy layout, this is an engaging, informative, and relatable book of facts about ocean animals filled with photos, illustrations, and graphic designs. On the Australian Box Jellyfish page, it explains where they live and how they use their tentacles to sting, and other fascinating facts. Then it suggests that if you could sting, too, you’d be a crime-fighting superhero.

Shark-Tastic (Science with Stuff) by Lori Stein
Who wouldn’t want their own shark tooth you get with this cool book? Then get the scoop on the world of sharks from the basics of their bodies to unusual features and interesting kinds of sharks. This is a well-written book with helpful photographs and interesting informational insets.

Over and Under the Waves by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Follow a family kayaking in the ocean. They paddle and notice what’s in the sky and the ocean’s surface like the whales breaching. Below them, the ocean teams with life — both plants and animals. As always, the evocative writing shares memorable details and vivid verbs. “Under the waves, leopard sharks prowl,” and “Barnacles pull in their feather feet, while treefish and prawns tuck away in the rocks.” Once again, Messner illuminates an ecosystem the unique over/under pattern, sharing the wonder of the world’s biggest ecosystem.


Weird But True! Ocean 300 Fin-Tastic Facts from the Deep Blue Sea by National Geographic Kids
I LOVE these books because they’re beautiful, they’re interesting, and they entice readers with the many, many short, digestible factoids! Every page is filled with 2 – 4 facts and accompanying illustrations or full-color photos. Another great thing I love about the Weird But True books is that you can read from any point in the book and in any order! In this book, learn weird and interesting facts like how manatees chirp, how a group of stingrays is called a fever, that the Pacific warty octopuses are wartier the deeper they live in the ocean, and that Hawaii’s white-sand beaches are mostly made from Parrotfish poop. Cool, huh?

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Listen to Our World
by Bill Martin Jr. &  Michel Sampson, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Listen to the world around you . . . the squawk of the parrots in the kapok tree in the rain forest, the weee-aaa of the eagles in the mountains, the snap of the crocodiles of the marshland. Sweet’s gorgeous artwork exquisitely captures this auditory journey of animals, their habitats, and their sounds.

The Deep! Wild Life at the Ocean’s Darkest Depths by Lindsey Leigh
What an engaging dive into the ocean! Read about the ocean layers and the cool creatures who live in each ocean zone. The unique handwritten font instead of a traditional font gives the feeling of waves and playfulness. Cartoon illustrations show interesting creatures like the barreleye fish, the prambug, the hagfish, and the tripod fish. And the dialogue bubbles of conversational creatures only add to the genius of this eye-catching book. I predict this will be very popular with middle grade readers!

Are You Smarter than a Shark? by David George Gordon, illustrated by Josh Lynch
Funny interactions in the cartoon illustrations and dialogue bubbles provide humor throughout this excellent book about the mighty shark. You’ll read about the basics of anatomy, what makes the shark so smart, what they eat, all about the shark’s teeth, and much more. I LOVE this book and predict it to be a new favorite for elementary-age readers who love sharks or are studying ocean animals.

Rivers, Seas and Oceans by Mac (Mac’s World of Wonder)
The combination of cartoon illustrations with full-color photographs feels playful and kid-friendly. A just-right amount of readable text —  like a paragraph per informational page — works well. The questions on the opposite page make the reading interactive.

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Sharks (National Geographic Readers Level 2)
by Anne Schreiber
Perfect for early elementary readers who love sharks and want to read independently. Level two comprehensible text and brilliant photographs. (More shark books here.)

Where the Weird Things Are: An Ocean Twilight Zone Adventure by Zoleka Filander, illustrated by Patricia Hooning
A personified underwater explorer robot named Meso narrates his adventure deep in the ocean. He speaks to the creatures he meets, and they tell him about themselves. Filled with lots of banter and dialogue, the result is enjoyable and playful while being informational.

Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols
Siblings Maddie and Atticus can’t figure out who is dumping trash everywhere. And when they rescue a baby dolphin entangled in the trash, they know they must get to the bottom of this mystery. Full-color photographs with information about dolphins, marine life, and more add-in bonus information for kids.

Books for Kids About Dolphins
Dolphin Rescue
: True-Life Stories by Jinny Johnson
The story of dolphins, Tom and Misha, will break your heart at first. These captured dolphins live in a disgusting, broken pool in Turkey, advertised as a tourist attraction. When people start protesting and not coming to swim in the filthy pool, the owner closes it and eventually Born Free buys the dolphins from the landlord. But it takes over a year and a lot of creativity to get the dolphins to even consider eating non-frozen local fish. The entire rehab process took an incredible amount of time and patience. After around two years of dedicated work, Tom and Misha are successfully released into the wild.

Books for Kids About Ocean Animals
Squidtoons: Explore the Ocean with Comics
by Garfield Kwan and Dana Song
Squidtoons is a nonfiction book for kids with illustrated pages with dialogue, different colored and sized typeface text, and seemingly random topics from the weedy seadragon to the California mantis shrimp. My daughter devoured this book, finding both the information and presentation engaging. I personally struggled to find an organization to the book while reading about the different sea creatures — and the particular typeface used wasn’t appealing to my grown-up eyes. However, I see that this book is densely packed with great information. If kids like it, hooray! If they learn from it, even better.

children's books about sea creatures
World’s Strangest Ocean Beasts Top 40 Weird and Wonderful Creatures from the Deep

Holy cow — giant clams do exist and not just in Moana! And the dumbo octopus is totally wild. This underwater book of weirdness is filled with fascinating creatures.

Everything Awesome About Sharks and Other Underwater Creatures!
by Mike Lowery (ages 6 – 12)
The Everything Awesome book series continues with SHARKS! Handwriting and kid-like fonts plus lots of comic illustrations and colors make this a visual feast for the eyes. (Or distracting, it can go either way.) But, it’s filled with a wealth of facts about the ocean, underwater creatures, and of course, sharks. From information about ocean zones to prehistoric sharks and kelp forests, this book covers ocean information in a fun, often hilarious, way.

Ocean: A Visual Encyclopedia
DK Smithsonian
Gorgeous photographs show our oceans and seas and the life that lives within them. Helpful layout with a clear organization makes this book easy to use.

From scary to cute and ugly ocean animals, learn all about sea creatures in all parts of the ocean, including the deepest seas! What will be your favorite ocean animal? Read these children's books about the coolest animals in the ocean to find out!

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