Ocean wonders: twenty nonfiction picture books about sea life

My class and I have fallen into a theme of ocean and sea life without really knowing we were heading in that direction. And just like dipping your toe into the deep blue sea and being lured into the depths, we have found that everywhere we turn, there are more books on this theme for us to discover. Here are twenty nonfiction picture book titles – some we have read, some that are in the pile to share and some we might not get to this time around. I hope that some will be ones you want to share with the children in your lives.

Books with a theme of Exploration:

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins  

How can we not be intrigued at the idea that we may only have encountered half of the large animals living in the sea?

Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Éric Puybaret

Cousteau was fascinated by a world that he couldn’t spend prolonged time in. Without being able to breather underwater, how could Cousteau explore its mysteries? Read a more detailed review here

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jaques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino

Another fantastic picture book biography sharing the life of the inspiring Jacques Cousteau.

Sophie Scott Goes South by Alison Lester

This title is based on the author’s real experience of travelling to Antarctica. Full of all kinds of facts about icebergs, icebreakers, life in a research station. Read a more detailed review here.

 Ocean wonders: 20 nonfiction picture books about the sea There's a Book for That Nonfiction picture book Wednesday

Books with an Environment theme:

Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola 

The depiction of Earle’s curious childhood in the water, descriptions of moments in her life that truly shaped and changed her, beautiful and enticing illustrations and this very important message: “You can’t care if you don’t know.”

Winston of Churchill by Jean Davies Okimoto

This book tells us about Winston, the bear from Churchill, Manitoba who decides to mobolize a group of polar bears to teach the tourists who come to see the polar bears about the effects of global warming on the melting ice in the Arctic.

Ice Bear (In the Steps of the Polar Bear) written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Gary Blythe 

Nicola Davies tells us how polar bears survive in the Northern landscape weaving facts on each page into the beautiful story she tells in lovely poetic text.

Read about how I used this title in my room to practice deep thinking questions here

Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm 

Narrated by the sun. Learn about ocean’s life cycles and the importance of phytoplankton.

Environment  Ocean wonders: 20 nonfiction picture books about the sea There's a Book for That Nonfiction picture book Wednesday

Books about Specific Sea Creatures (one or many):

Here Come the Humpbacks written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Through a story of a mother whale and her calf’s migratory journey, we are able to learn many things about humpback whales.

See What a Seal Can Do written by Chris Butterworth and illustrated by Kate Nelms

The reader is then invited into the world of seals. Learn all about gray seals – how they move, how they hunt and how their body is perfectly suited to their ocean home.

Read more about this book here.

One Tiny Turtle written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Jane Chapman

The amazing story of the lifecycle of the loggerhead turtle.

Surprising Sharks written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by James Croft

Learn lots about sharks including how humans pose many threats to their survival.

Bubble Homes and Fish farts written by Fiona Bayrock and illustrated by Carolyn Conahan 

How do animals use bubbles? In quite amazing ways! From the bubble nets of humpback whales to the bubbles sea otters use to stay extra warm in the cold ocean water.

In the Sea written by David Elliot and illustrated by Holly Meade

Poems about various sea creatures. Gorgeous illustrations.

Giant Squid: Searching for a Sea Monster by Mary M. Cerullo from the Smithsonian

Written like an active investigation. Just what is the giant squid? Why is it so elusive? How is it studied?

Shimmer & Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life by Jim Arnosky 

Learn about different fish and sea animals that live in the ocean. Amazing fold out pages.

Sea Creatures  Ocean wonders: 20 nonfiction picture books about the sea There's a Book for That Nonfiction picture book Wednesday

Books that begin on the Shore or wade into the Coral Reefs:

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin 

In this title, being lost in a book means getting lost in a completely different world – in this case the magical world of coral reefs.

Hello Ocean written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, with illustrations by Mark Estrella

Not exactly a nonfiction title but a poetic text that speaks to all of our senses close to the shore.

Star of the Sea: A Day in the Life of a Starfish written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Joan Paley

The book itself reads like a story – we learn about how sea stars hunt for food, how they eat (by extending a stomach out through the mouth) and how they are vulnerable when the tide goes out to being eaten by seabirds

Looking Closely Along the Shore by Frank Serafini 

Look at the shore in ways you have never quite imagined it through the camera lens and close up shots of Frank Serafini.

 Ocean wonders: 20 nonfiction picture books about the sea There's a Book for That Nonfiction picture book Wednesday

 

NFPB 2014

I learn so much by reading all of the blog posts that link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday event that KidLit Frenzy hostsVisit Alyson’s blog to see what books are shared this week.

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 42/65 complete!

Do you have favourite nonfiction titles on any of these themes? Please share in the comments!

Monday October 22nd, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Join in with Jen and Kellee’s meme and share what you are reading from picture books to young adult reads. Always an opportunity to learn about new titles!

I had huge amounts of picture book love this week! A large part of that was having tickets to go see Jon Klassen at Vancouver Kid’s Books. Wow! Such an interesting and engaging presentation. Jon is charming and then some.

And  . . . it gets better. I was able to take my class to the Vancouver Writer’s Festival to see Sheree Fitch and Kyo Maclear. Their event was called High and Low and All Around. All of these author and author/illustrators impressed me to no end. (Sheree Fitch can recite her poems at super sonic speed. She is spellbinding!) I was inspired to continue sharing the love of literature, the beauty of the written word, the magic of the clever illustration, and the images of joy via the wonder of picture books. One of my favourite moments was when Kyo Maclear talked about how she loves reading and one of my students whispered intently to me, “She’s just like you!” Phew! Six weeks in and I’ve conveyed my love of books. So many weeks still ahead to pass this love on to each child in my room! 🙂

So because this post is all about picture book gushing, I thought I would try to place these books loosely into categories to bring some kind of organization to this post . . . that way you can just locate a section you are interested in!

First up: Art and more:

This is Not my Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen Love this book. Doesn’t hurt that I got to hear it first read and explained by Jon Klassen himself all the while holding my signed copy in my bag! But I would have loved it anyway. I love the dark pages, the horizontal format, the mood conveyed by the eyes and all of the inferring this book begs you to do. The crab in this book is a fantastic supporting character. (He gets a starring role at the top of this post!) I find Klassen quietly brilliant.

Virginia Wolf written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Kyo read this book to us in the presentation at the Writer’s Festival and when I returned to class, I read it aloud to the children again. They were completely delighted by the story and Arsenault’s stunning illustrations. As soon as it was quiet reading time, this book disappeared to be read again independently. A fantastic title about a dark mood, a hopeful sibling, the magic of imagination and the lightness when sadness lifts. This book can be read again and again and the reader will continue to discover new things.

I read this book last year to my Reading group and they adored it.

In the Wild is written by David Elliot and illustrated (gorgeous woodcuts) by Holly Meade Poems written by Elliot are lifted off the page by Meade’s striking and powerful woodcuts. My wish list now includes On the Farm a previous collaboration by these two.

A few books in the Rhyme and Repetition category:

A Gold Star for Zog written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Alex Sheffler This was our first BLG book of the year and we loved the language, the plot and the bright illustrations. Zog may not be the best at every task at Dragon School but he helps someone else find her way. For that, I think we can call him heroic.

Toot Toot Zoom written by Phyllis Root and illustrated by Matthew Cordell This is a likeable little story about the search for friends. Many adventures and lots of delightful traffic noise fill the pages as Pierre the fox travels to the other side of the mountain.

Books full of humour:

The Younger Brother’s Survival Guide by Lisa Kopelke Supposedly, this book was written by “Matt” Kopelke’s younger brother who entertains the reader by his step by step guide on how to terrorize and torment your older sister (who remains all the while older and more clever).

Please is a good word to say written by Barbara Joose and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas I’ve read some reviews of this book that claim it is a simple, too cutesy book about manners. I found it quite wonderful really. It is definitely a child’s voice that comes through loud and clear as when and how to use polite phrases and expressions are explained. It is hardly simple to understand the proper placement of please so that it sounds polite and gracious vs. whiny and annoying. I can see this book making kids really think about how best to use manners and that it would prompt many conversations.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. I first heard about this book from my principal because her five year old daughter was raving about a hilarious book that her teacher had read to her and was insisting that they had to have this very book a.s.a.p. I am always intrigued by book passion so had kept this title in the “be on the lookout for” compartment of my brain. I found it this week at the public library and now see why this little kindergartener was so enthused about it. It is hilarious! Bright and colourful illustrations and a funny little plot. Oh beware the vacuum if you are a dust bunny! The bonus: it also lets the readers practice rhyming! What could be better? I want this book for my buddy reading bin! It is perfect for reading to our little kindergarten buddies.

And also this category: Nature

Mossy by Jan Brett. I have always loved Jan Brett. My children were fed Jan Brett books about as often as mashed carrots in their early years. Always her illustrations are exquisite. Most of the time her stories are good. Sometimes just okay. Sometimes great. This book falls into the great category. It examines a beautifully unique little creature and the human tendency to want to “have” that beauty at the expense of the happiness of the creature. In this case, Mossy is captured and placed in a museum until a young girl senses her unhappiness. Reminds me of the wonderful Melvin and the Boy by Lauren Castillo. In fact, I think I am going to read both books this week with my reading group and do some inspired writing.

That’s not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey. This book has many things in it that made it a quick favourite for me: an intergenerational relationship, a theme of nature and gardening and beautiful imaginative language and imagery. A perfect book to inspire looking at nature in creative ways and I can’t wait to share it with my students. It also heads into my school bag this week.

I am also smack dab in the middle of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater and must finish it by Friday as it is requested and I can’t renew it at the library! Wish there was more time because I am really enjoying the story. Determined to squeeze in some late night or early morning reading sessions.

What are you reading? Please share!