The best children’s books for perfectly piratey storytimes

Who am I?

I’m the author of funny-bone tickling and heartwarming picture books, Halloween Hustle and Prince and Pirate. My newest book, Dream Submarine, is a lyrical bedtime story that blends fiction and nonfiction and invites young readers on a journey through the world's oceans (Candlewick, 2024). Language Arts teacher turned writer, I'm passionate about literacy and love visiting schools and libraries to connect with my favorite people—kids!  My books and all the perfectly piratey tales on this list are best when read aloud!


I wrote...

Book cover of Prince and Pirate

What is my book about?

Shiver me tailfin! When two little fish with big personalities have to share the same tank, there are rough seas ahead! Snooty Prince is horrified to find this cheeky cod trespassing in his kingdom. Rowdy Pirate is sure this royal hiney has come to plunder his treasure. 

The battle royale seems doomed to end in a scurvy stalemate—until a sweet surprise convinces them to find a way to get along. In its starred review, Kirkus praises the book for its humor, heart, sitcom silliness, and storytime potential.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Pirates Are Coming!

Charlotte Gunnufson Why did I love this book?

I adore this piratey parody of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." As a parent and former teacher, I’ve had the privilege of reading to kids for decades. This picture book is ideal for a giggly good storytime. I especially appreciate how the refrain “The pirates are coming! Quick! Everybody hide!” builds suspense (and silliness!) and creates lots of opportunities for kids to make predictions about what sort of ship is actually out on the horizon. Clever and comedic illustrations amp up the fun.

By John Condon, Matt Hunt (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pirates Are Coming! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

A hilarious retelling of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, with not one but TWO twists!

Tom has a VERY important job; every day he climbs to the top of the hill and watches for pirate ships. But when he rings his bell and shouts "PIRATES!" a few too many times - and there's NO pirate ship - the villagers begin to get tired of hiding. So what will happen when the pirates really do show up?

Repeated phrases make it easy and fun for young adventurers to join in with the storytelling, and witty, bold artwork by Matt Hunt adds…


Book cover of Pirate Jack Gets Dressed

Charlotte Gunnufson Why did I love this book?

A hearty and slightly hapless pirate named Jack makes getting dressed an adventure! I believe the best picture books engage young readers, and I love the way Jack invites kids into the story, encouraging them to identify colors from gray long johns and pink socks to gold earrings and—surprise!—a green parrot. Written in rhyme with the perfect amount of piratey lingo, this book is best when read aloud. Illustrations provide a treasure trove of funny details for kids to discover.

By Nancy Raines Day, Allison Black (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pirate Jack Gets Dressed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ahoy, matey! Join jaunty pirate Captain Jack as he uses every color of the rainbow to pick out his outfit in this bright and bold read-aloud.

It’s the crack o’ dawn, and dapper Pirate Jack is ready t’ get dressed for a day out on the high seas with his motley crew. He’ll need every color of the rainbow to make his outfit complete—from his itchy gray long johns and his toasty pink socks to his bright red sash and his cozy purple coat. And he won’t be forgettin’ his black eye patch and trusty brown peg leg, either!

But…


Book cover of Rufus Goes to Sea

Charlotte Gunnufson Why did I love this book?

“Arrrh! No pigs on pirate ships!” growls Captain Wibblyshins when Rufus, a perky little pig with a backpack full of books, tries to board the Scurvy Dog. If you enjoy puns and fun-to-say phrases (like “pigs play on the poop deck” and “picnic in the crow’s nest”) as much as I do, you’re going to enjoy this book. Kids of all ages will root for Rufus as he creatively convinces everyone that he’s an excellent addition to the crew. Ink and watercolor illustrations are entertaining and endearing.

By Kim T. Griswell, Valeri Gorbachev (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rufus Goes to Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ahoy-Pirate Pig on board! What does a book-loving pig like Rufus do when school's out for summer? He turns to his favourite stories for inspiration, of course! And before long, he's dreaming of days filled with adventure and nights under blankets of stars. It's the pirate life for him, matey. But Captain Wibblyshins says: "no pigs on pirate ships!" After all, pigs get tangled in the rat lines, they picnic in the crow's nest, and worst of all, they even wipe their chins with the Jolly Roger. Can Rufus convince the Captain that he's no landlubber swine? And could his…


Book cover of It's Not a School Bus, It's a Pirate Ship

Charlotte Gunnufson Why did I love this book?

When a little boy boards the school bus for the very first time, he’s terrified—until the bus driver whispers, “This isn’t a school bus, it’s a pirate ship!” I think it’s terrific when stories sweep readers in and invite them to use their imagination. Equally terrific is the way the characters join together to turn first-day jitters into a journey on the high seas. Illustrations, cleverly inspired by children’s artwork (which I love!), are the perfect partner for this kid-centric story

By Mickey Rapkin, Teresa Martínez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked It's Not a School Bus, It's a Pirate Ship as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

In this follow-up to It's Not a Bed, It's a Time Machine, a young boy is worried about the bus ride to his first day of school. Who will he sit with on the bus? How will he make friends?

The bus driver knows the first day of school is intimidating, and she has a secret to share: This is not a school bus - it's a pirate ship! And its pirate crew has one motto: "All for fun and fun for all!"

The boy sets sail with his classmates on an epic adventure - making new friends and vanquishing…


Book cover of Trick Arrr Treat: A Pirate Halloween

Charlotte Gunnufson Why did I love this book?

I recommend this raucous tale because it combines two kid favorites (and, let’s be honest, two of my favorites): pirates and Halloween! I thoroughly enjoyed the stomping, clomping, romping rhyme and the refrain young readers will eagerly repeat—“We be pirates. Trick arrr treat!” The fact that the book features an inclusive cast of characters is an added bonus. All these things combine to make this book a marvelous choice for a fun, engaging pirate or Halloween-themed storytime.

By Leslie Kimmelman, Jorge Monlongo (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trick Arrr Treat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Charlotte Blue-Tongue, Peg-Leg Pete, Glass-Eyed Gabby, and their friends swashbuckle through the streets demanding loot and treasure from their neighbors in this Halloween pirate tale. As their world transforms from neighborhood to pirate's lagoon, they shout, "We be pirates. TRICK ARRR TREAT!" But what's lurking in the shadows? Are the pirates brave enough to defend their treasure?


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The Child Riddler

By Angela Greenman,

Book cover of The Child Riddler

Angela Greenman Author Of The Child Riddler

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Communications expert International traveler Human relations champion Focused

Angela's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Zoe Lorel, an elite operative in an international spy agency, is sent to abduct a nine-year-old girl. The girl is the only one who knows the riddle that holds the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first ever “invisibility” nano weapon, a cloaking spider bot. But when enemies reveal the invisibility weapon’s existence to underground arms dealers, every government and terrorist organization in the world wants to find that little girl.

Zoe races to save not only the child she has grown to care about but also herself. Her agency-prescribed pills—the ones that transform her into the icy killer she must become to survive—are beginning to threaten her engagement to the one person who brings her happiness.

The Child Riddler

By Angela Greenman,

What is this book about?

Despite the angry scars she carries from her childhood training, Zoe Lorel has reached a good place in her life. She has her dream job as an elite operative in an international spy agency and she’s found her one true love. Her world is mostly perfect—until she is sent to abduct a nine-year-old girl.

The girl is the only one who knows the riddle that holds the code to unleash the most lethal weapon on earth—the first ever “invisibility” nanoweapon, a cloaking spider bot. But Zoe’s agency isn’t the only one after the child. And when enemies reveal the invisibility…


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