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.
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.
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.
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.
I learn so much by reading all of the blog posts that link to the Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday event that KidLit Frenzy hosts. Visit 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!