The best jellyfish books

Who picked these books? Meet our 22 experts.

22 authors created a book list connected to jellyfish, and here are their favorite jellyfish books.
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What type of jellyfish book?



By Juli Berwald,

Book cover of Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Ginjer L. Clarke Author Of Animal Allies: Creatures Working Together

From the list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior.

Who am I?

I’m secretly eight years old inside. I love fascinating animal and science stuff, especially cool, weird, and gross facts. Readers of my children’s books see this passion in action. My best-selling and award-winning nonfiction animal books have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide since 2000. I focus particularly on reaching reluctant, struggling, and English-language-learning readers by packing my books with lots of action and high-interest topics to keep them turning pages. I’m recommending these top-five narrative nonfiction animal books for adults because these authors have influenced my research and thinking—and because they’re terrific stories!

Ginjer's book list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior

Discover why each book is one of Ginjer's favorite books.

Why did Ginjer love this book?

Jellyfish may be lacking bones, blood, and brains, but they are full of mystery.

To me, the most compelling narrative nonfiction tells something about the author as well as their subject, becoming part memoir while explaining the research process.

I read this book as research for my nonfiction children’s book on jellyfish, but I learned so much more—about the worldwide jellyfish research community, the past and future health of our oceans, both the perils and possibilities of ever-increasing jellyfish populations, and Juli Berwald’s journey to reclaim her love of the ocean.

Discover some cutting-edge science and marvel at these simple but beautiful blobs from below.

By Juli Berwald,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Spineless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A book full of wonders" —Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk

"Witty, insightful. . . .The story of jellyfish. . . is a significant part of the environmental story. Berwald's engaging account of these delicate, often ignored creatures shows how much they matter to our oceans' future." —New York Times Book Review 

Jellyfish have been swimming in our oceans for well over half a billion years, longer than any other animal that lives on the planet. They make a venom so toxic it can kill a human in three minutes. Their sting—microscopic spears that pierce with five million…

Book cover of National Geographic Kids Readers: Deadliest Animals

Ethlie Ann Vare Author Of WOOF!

From the list on reads I wish were around when I was a kid.

Who am I?

I’m a Boomer. I was expected to read books about well-behaved children (Fun with Dick and Jane, 1940) or happy animals (The Poky Little Puppy, 1942), or going to bed quietly (Goodnight Moon, 1947). Why do you think my cohort has so much love for Dr. Seuss? The Cat in the Hat (1957) was a brat, and kids love a brat. The rhymes were smart, and kids need smart. Today, I get to read books to my grandkids that have edge, and books that don’t talk down to them. They deserve it, they won’t settle for less, and it’s a hell of a lot more fun for me.

Ethlie's book list on reads I wish were around when I was a kid

Discover why each book is one of Ethlie's favorite books.

Why did Ethlie love this book?

Deadliest Animals is a good introduction to the National Geographic Kids series of softcover science readers, as kids are most drawn to animals that are either cuddly or poisonous.

These Net Geo readers are divided into Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3, with titles including Planets, Dinosaurs, Sea Otters, Trucks, Ancient Egypt, and more.

The text and illustrations are magazine-style and fairly straightforward, but they’re colorful, well-researched, and thankfully inexpensive.

By Melissa Stewart,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked National Geographic Kids Readers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Did you know that a tiny golf ball-sized creature called the blue-ringed octopus contains enough venom to kill 26 adult humans? Or why the Sydney funnel web spider is one of the most dangerous creatures in the world? In this Level 3 book, kids will be fascinated by 12 species that you hope you'll never come across! Sharks, snakes, jellyfish and more—these creatures are among the most threatening—and interesting—in the world!

National Geographic supports K-12 educators with ELA Common Core Resources.
Visit for more information.

Death on Earth

By Jules Howard,

Book cover of Death on Earth: Adventures in Evolution and Mortality

Erica Buist Author Of This Party's Dead: Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World's Death Festivals

From the list on to deal with general death anxiety.

Who am I?

I’m Erica Buist, a writer, journalist, lecturer, and playwright based in London. I became interested in death anxiety when I realised mine was out of control after my partner and I found his father dead. Reading up on death anxiety, it struck me that some cultures seem to deal with it by throwing festivals for the dead, which seemed to be the very opposite of our policy of not talking about it unless absolutely necessary. I thought I’d better go and see how they managed that—so I did. Six years, eight countries and about a million espressos later, my book was published.

Erica's book list on to deal with general death anxiety

Discover why each book is one of Erica's favorite books.

Why did Erica love this book?

This may seem like an odd recommendation, but Jules’s exploration of the way death keeps the earth going is not only fascinating, but it also widens the perspective away from humans to the animal kingdoma handy reminder that we’re as much a part of said kingdom as any others species. It’s always a useful reminder that, despite what our individualist culture and stories and tell us, death is not always an aberration, something a sneaky lawyer hid in the small print; it’s normal, necessary, and actually very helpful.

By Jules Howard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is nothing more life-affirming than understanding death in all its forms.

Natural selection depends on death; little would evolve without it. Every animal on Earth is shaped by its presence and fashioned by its spectre. We are all survivors of starvation, drought, volcanic eruptions, meteorites, plagues, parasites, predators, freak weather events, tussles and scraps, and our bodies are shaped by these ancient events.

Some animals live for just a few hours as adults, others prefer to kill themselves rather than live unnecessarily for longer than they are needed, and there are a number of animals that can live for…


By Ben Clanton,

Book cover of Narwhal

Jill Heinerth Author Of The Aquanaut

From the list on young explorers.

Who am I?

I'm a world-class underwater explorer, writer, photographer, speaker, and filmmaker. A pioneer of technical rebreather diving, I have led expeditions into icebergs in Antarctica, volcanic lava tubes, and submerged caves worldwide. As a child, these fanciful places were just a part of my wildest dreams. The Aquanaut tells the story of how I turned my imaginative journeys into reality and became a celebrated underwater explorer.

Jill's book list on young explorers

Discover why each book is one of Jill's favorite books.

Why did Jill love this book?

A happy-go-lucky narwhal and non-nonsense jellyfish discover the depths of the ocean together. This joyful and silly graphic novel celebrates friendship, adventure, and collaboration. The simple illustrations are compelling and accessible, drawing kids into a series of books that will leave them giggling.

By Ben Clanton,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Narwhal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.
A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever -- even though it doesn't have any words...or pictures!
Ben Clanton showcases the joys…

Down Under

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country

Bruce Spydar Author Of Awakening Down Under

From the list on light reads for long-haul travel.

Who am I?

As an independent traveller, and throughout a career supporting international nature conservation, I’ve been fortunate to see many far-flung places of the world. Over the years, technology (eg. smartphones, internet, social media) has radically changed the way we travel, and indeed our expectations. Nowadays we want instant access, instant answers, instant results; we hate waiting for anything. However, long-haul travel still demands us to wait... in airport lounges, at train stations, bus stops, and onboard our transport while we endure long hours before reaching our destination. While some aspects have changed, patience, humour, and a good book still remain the best companions for any long journey. 

Bruce's book list on light reads for long-haul travel

Discover why each book is one of Bruce's favorite books.

Why did Bruce love this book?

Bryson’s various travelogues give you such colourful views of the places he visits and, if you’re journeying to Australia, Down Under is a must-read. Expertly combining sharp observations, unusual factual snippets, and incisive wit, the pictures he paints will inspire you to travel and see it for yourself... or alternatively, persuade you to avoid it at all cost. Whichever the result, you will be amply entertained. 

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Down Under as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion up, down, and over the Appalachian Trail (well, most of it) resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. Now he has traveled across the world and all the way Down Under to Australia, a shockingly under-discovered country with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. In a Sunburned Country is his report on what he found there--a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a…

Book cover of The Thing About Jellyfish

Maura Jortner Author Of 102 Days of Lying About Lauren

From the list on kids who make it through tough times.

Who am I?

I went through major surgery when I was in eighth grade. The physical pain was bad, but what hurt more was the emotional side. When I returned to school, the friend groups had shifted, shutting me out because of my extended absence. I had to face that time in life alone. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn to works about kids who have to face challenges on their own. When we go through hard times, our true selves come out. They have to; we have no one else. We can’t pretend. We can only try to make it. The books I like show characters that shine through their hardships.

Maura's book list on kids who make it through tough times

Discover why each book is one of Maura's favorite books.

Why did Maura love this book?

This book features a girl named Suzi, who is convinced her friend drowned because of a jellyfish sting. She’s so affected by her friend’s death that she stops talking. I loved seeing Suzi research jellyfish through this book.

I love learning and studying and how she went about it was cool. She was determined and strong. I also appreciated how the plot moves from the present to the past and showed the truth about Suzi’s friendship in the end.

By Ali Benjamin,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Thing About Jellyfish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's peculiar how no-words can be better than words. How silence can say more than noise, or a person's absence can occupy even more space than their presence did.

Suzy is twelve when her best friend, Franny, drowns one summer at the beach. It takes two days for the news to reach Suzy, and it's not something that she can accept: Franny has always been a strong swimmer, from the day they met in swim class when they were just five. How can someone all of a sudden, just no longer be there?

Suzy realizes that they must have got…

Crochet Cute Critters

By Sarah Zimmerman,

Book cover of Crochet Cute Critters: 26 Easy Amigurumi Patterns

Amy Latta Author Of Hand Lettering for Laughter: Gorgeous Art with a Hilarious Twist

From the list on for artists and creatives.

Who am I?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an artist at heart. As a child, I loved to draw and to make all kinds of crafts with my mother. Now, I make a living creating and teaching art. From presenting at conferences and workshops around the country to doing segments on lifestyle shows like Hallmark Home & Family, Good Day PA, Great Day Live Tampa, and more, my favorite things to do are those that allow me to share crafty projects. I have also written five hand lettering books and a guided journal, all with the hope of helping others to discover, explore, and express their own creativity. 

Amy's book list on for artists and creatives

Discover why each book is one of Amy's favorite books.

Why did Amy love this book?

Sarah is a master at creating adorable and very do-able crochet patterns! This book walks you through the steps of crocheting 26 adorable amigurumi animals, including a cat, a giraffe, an elephant, a hippo, a fox, a lamb, a jellyfish, and more. Whether you’re new to crochet or just looking for some cute patterns, this book has something for you.

By Sarah Zimmerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Crochet Cute Critters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Make cute and cuddly animals with easy crochet

Create a colorful collection of pillowy plush critters with the magic of crochet! Crochet Cute Critters is packed with simple patterns for creating adorable animals from alligators to zebras. The easy-to-make designs are perfect for beginning crocheters as well as advanced enthusiasts of amigurumi―the art of crocheting stuffed toys. Stitch, detail, and stuff each character to bring these huggable friends to life. Keep them as desk or bookshelf buddies, or gift them to a critter-loving kid!

Beginner-friendly materials―The crochet patterns whip up quickly using a standard hook and common worsted weight yarn,…

Goodbye, Vitamin

By Rachel Khong,

Book cover of Goodbye, Vitamin

Vibhuti Jain Author Of Our Best Intentions

From the list on father-daughter relationships.

Who am I?

I am a debut novelist writing stories that peel back the layers of complex and often fraught relationships with those who are closest to us, family relationships being among the most intriguing to me. I wrote a novel focused on a single father and his daughter in part as a tribute to my own incredible father, who has dedicated his life to bettering life for my mother, my brother, and me. I also think father-daughter stories go largely unwritten and uncelebrated, so Our Best Intentions is my attempt to fill that void.

Vibhuti's book list on father-daughter relationships

Discover why each book is one of Vibhuti's favorite books.

Why did Vibhuti love this book?

The story of thirty-year-old, recently unengaged Ruth Young, who moves back in with her parents for a transitional year to help care for her father, Howard Young, a history professor recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Khong’s novel, written as a diary, contains astute vignettes on a daughter's understanding, misunderstanding, and re-learning to love her father. The novel addresses the heavy topic of caring for one’s aging parent, who is in the throes of dementia. And while the Fosters will, at times, make you weep, they remarkably are also able to elicit a chuckle in the next breath. 

By Rachel Khong,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Goodbye, Vitamin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An O: the Oprah Magazine Best Book of 2017

'Khong is a magician ... Brilliant' Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies

'Khong's first novel sneaks up on you - just like life, illness and heartbreak. And love. A million small, human and often deeply funny details gather force to tell a tale that is ultimately, incredibly poignant' Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man

Ruth is thirty and her life is falling apart: she and her fiance are moving house, but he's moving out to live with another woman; her career is going nowhere; and then she learns…

The Story of Life

By Catherine Barr, Steve Williams, Amy Husband (illustrator)

Book cover of The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution

Jordan Bell Author Of Aunt Jodie's Guide to Evolution

From the list on evolution for children.

Who am I?

As a kid, I never stopped asking “But why?” Learning the answers always led me to new questions, and I’ve been on a life-long journey to understand the world, and how everything works. I wanted to give the joy of discovery, and the empowerment of understanding, to a new generation of readers. The amazing story of evolution seemed to be a great starting point. I wrote the book I wanted to read to my own daughter, full of adventures and grown-up science, told in a way kids can understand. 

Jordan's book list on evolution for children

Discover why each book is one of Jordan's favorite books.

Why did Jordan love this book?

The Story of Life is a good introduction to the history of life on Earth for younger readers. Introducing Earth from before life existed, it traces the changes in the planet as life begins to develop, then bloom, then flourish in every possible niche. There’s a thorough treatment of dinosaurs, which will be a favourite section for many readers. The illustrations are energetic, clever, and funny, with enough detail to let kids read and re-read as they catch every little interaction on each page. A handy time-tracker on the bottom left of each double-page spread keeps you oriented in time as you turn each page. Along with a glossary at the back, this book makes a great introduction to evolution for kids in the early primary years.  

By Catherine Barr, Steve Williams, Amy Husband (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This wonderful book introduces children to the story of life and how it all began. Using bitesize text and beautifully bright illustrations this is the perfect book for budding scientists and those eager to learn more about our amazing planet.

Are you ready for an exciting and dramatic story about how life began and developed on Planet Earth? Packed full of fascinating facts and funny illustrations, this is the perfect introduction to life on earth for even the youngest of readers.

At first, nothing lived on Earth. It was a noisy, hot, scary place. Choking gas exploded from volcanoes and…

Princess Jellyfish 1

By Akiko Higashimura,

Book cover of Princess Jellyfish 1

Hannah Krieger Author Of All My Friends Are Ghosts

From the list on for kids who feel like outcasts.

Who am I?

As someone who struggled with connections growing up, I have a big heart for outcasts. When Shane-Michael Vidaurri and I collaborated on All My Friends are Ghosts, we wanted to reach out to kids who may be experiencing the same struggles with loneliness that we faced in our own childhoods. When it feels like the whole world is against you, it’s important to find those alcoves in your life where you feel safe and seen… and books can be exactly that! 

Hannah's book list on for kids who feel like outcasts

Discover why each book is one of Hannah's favorite books.

Why did Hannah love this book?

This series turns the “tortured outcast” trope on its head: these nerd characters are proud to be outcasts, and the one thing they don't want to be associated with is beautiful, popular people! I love this story because I, too, once fell into the “us vs. them” mentality against people I thought were too cool for me as a youth— people who could have potentially become my best friends! This manga series beautifully celebrates how we are all different, but still might have more in common than we think.

By Akiko Higashimura,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Princess Jellyfish 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two very different worlds collide in this hit manga series by Akiko Higashimura! Tsukimi Kurashita has a strange fascination with jellyfish. She's loved them from a young age and has carried that love with her to her new life in the big city of Tokyo. There, she resides in Amamizukan, a safe-haven for girl geeks - the last place she'd expect to meet a fashionable socialite! There's much more to this woman than her trendy clothes, though. Their odd encounter is only the beginning of a new and unexpected path for Tsukimi and her friends.