The best children’s books about ocean animals

Cassandra Federman Author Of This Is a Sea Cow
By Cassandra Federman

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the ocean and all of its inhabitants for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I discovered my dad’s SCUBA license and it blew my mind that I was related to someone who was allowed to explore the underwater world! Later, when I got to college, I took advantage of two exciting opportunities. First, I got my own scuba license. Second, I studied abroad in Belize, where I conducted manatee research by tagging, tracking, and rescuing manatees. I enjoyed the time I spent with the animals, but not the lab work. Now I express my passion for sea creatures in the books I write.


I wrote...

This Is a Sea Cow

By Cassandra Federman,

Book cover of This Is a Sea Cow

What is my book about?

When an imaginative second-grader writes a school report about sea cows, the subject is not happy with her portrayal. Sea Cow―or Manatee, as she prefers to be called―comes to life on the pages of the report to defend herself against unflattering comparisons and to set the record straight with fascinating facts about manatees.

The books I picked & why

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The Blobfish Book

By Jessica Olien,

Book cover of The Blobfish Book

Why this book?

This was one of the first meta picture books I ever read and I completely fell in love with the style and voice. In fact, it heavily influenced my own picture books, This Is a Sea Cow and This Is a Seahorse. Contrary to what the title would have you believe, The Blobfish Book doesn’t focus on blobfish facts alone. It also highlights other really interesting deep sea animals. The blobfish character provides a hilarious commentary throughout the book that is sure to get readers laughing. I have a special place in my heart for books that get children laughing and learning at the same time.


Misunderstood Shark

By Ame Dyckman, Scott Magoon (illustrator),

Book cover of Misunderstood Shark

Why this book?

This book introduces some basic facts about sharks in an original, laugh-your-pants-off kind of way. The misunderstood shark derails jellyfish’s live TV broadcast with his questionable behavior. Readers will be left to debate the shark’s actual intentions and to discuss the cool shark facts they learned along the way. The supporting characters in the book also have fantastically funny dialogue. Every inch of this book is fun! And again, kids will be laughing and learning at the same time.


Pink Is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals

By Jess Keating, David DeGrand (illustrator),

Book cover of Pink Is for Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals

Why this book?

Another blobfish book? Indeed! Although this book is also full of facts about other interesting animals, all of whom are pink! There are some land-dwelling animals in this book, but there are also lots of water-dwelling animals including pygmy seahorses, Amazon river dolphins, Hopkins’ rose nudibranchs, pink sea stars, and hairy squat lobsters. What I especially love about this book is that it presents the animal facts in a very clear and simple way without making the reader feel overwhelmed by too much text.


One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder

By Nicola Davies, Jane Chapman (illustrator),

Book cover of One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder

Why this book?

I love informational books that don’t just list interesting facts but instead have a narrative story with interesting facts woven throughout. (Many of the books listed above fall into that category). Books like this are called “informational fiction books” or “narrative nonfiction books.” I believe the use of narrative helps kids (and all people) to learn more easily. In this book, we follow the narrative of a single loggerhead turtle and we become invested in her journey. Throughout that journey, we learn about her species, how she survives the dangers surrounding her, and how she perpetuates the species.


Big Book of the Blue

By Yuval Zommer,

Book cover of Big Book of the Blue

Why this book?

This book is full of fascinating facts about all kinds of sea creatures from those near the surface to those who live down deep in the darkness. For me, the biggest draw of this book is the illustrations. (Pun intended!) The art is so full of texture and color and every page is as gorgeous as the one that came before. This book is a feast for the eyes and the curious brain!


5 book lists we think you will like!

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