The most recommended penguin books

Who picked these books? Meet our 15 experts.

15 authors created a book list connected to penguins, and here are their favorite penguin books.
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Book cover of Spill: Saving Africa's Oiled Penguins

Dyan deNapoli Author Of The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World's Largest Animal Rescue

From my list on penguins for adults.

Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and life-long animal lover. I was a Senior Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium, where I worked for 9 years. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and give presentations at schools, universities, libraries, conferences (including the International Penguin Conference), and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I’ve given 4 TEDx talks, wrote and narrated a TED-Ed video about penguin conservation, and am a frequent guest expert on radio, podcasts, and TV in the US and abroad whenever penguins hit the news.

Dyan's book list on penguins for adults

Dyan deNapoli Why did Dyan love this book?

This is the only other book for adults (besides mine) about the world’s largest animal rescue, when 40,000 penguins were rescued from the Treasure oil spill in Cape Town, South Africa. Spill is written by six individuals from various organizations who headed up this groundbreaking rescue effort. At just 96 pages, and featuring numerous dramatic photos, this 8x12” softcover is more of a coffee table book. The riveting stories are all told by rescuers who were on the front lines of this historic event. The compelling photographs by award-winning photographer, Jon Hrusa, bring the reader face to face with the oiled penguins and their polluted environment. Published in South Africa, Spill is out of print, but rare copies occasionally pop up online. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for.

By International Fund for Animal Welfare,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Smithsonian Q & A: Penguins: The Ultimate Question & Answer Book

Dyan deNapoli Author Of The Great Penguin Rescue: 40,000 Penguins, a Devastating Oil Spill, and the Inspiring Story of the World's Largest Animal Rescue

From my list on penguins for adults.

Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and life-long animal lover. I was a Senior Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium, where I worked for 9 years. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and give presentations at schools, universities, libraries, conferences (including the International Penguin Conference), and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I’ve given 4 TEDx talks, wrote and narrated a TED-Ed video about penguin conservation, and am a frequent guest expert on radio, podcasts, and TV in the US and abroad whenever penguins hit the news.

Dyan's book list on penguins for adults

Dyan deNapoli Why did Dyan love this book?

This is an incredibly informative and fun book! The author is a field researcher who has written many books about penguins - all imbued with his cheeky sense of humor. The Q&A format makes this book easily digestible for both adults and kids. Each themed chapter has many questions that are answered with a few paragraphs and photos. The answers are both detailed and succinct. The Q&A format even works well for those with dementia. When my father had Alzheimer’s, and could no longer comprehend what he was reading, he actually read this book for a few solid hours, often turning to me to say, “Did you know that penguins could…[x, y, z]?” I already loved this book - but this gave it a permanent special place in my heart.

By Lloyd Spencer Davis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smithsonian Q & A as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a whole lot more to these adorable tuxedo adorned birds than meets the eye. Penguins are remarkable creatures with fascinating behaviors. SMITHSONIAN Q & A: PENGUINS refutes common myths and reveals often–unknown facts as it answers hundreds of unusual and fascinating questions about the complex courting, breeding, and eating habits of penguins.

Why can't penguins fly?

Do penguins make nests like other birds?

Why do penguins fast annually?

Do mates remain faithful for just one season, or for a lifetime?

Hundreds of full–color photographs and illustrations enhance and illustrate the text. Published in association with the Smithsonian.


Book cover of Penguin Problems

Tom Lichtenheld Author Of Louis

From my list on pictures about crabby characters.

Who am I?

I am an author and illustrator who makes books for children and people who used to be children. I have worked as a sign painter, set designer, printer, and art director. After a long career in advertising, I stumbled into the job I was always meant to do, creating children’s books. Seven of my books have been New York Times bestsellers and all are noted for their humor, expressive characters, and rich – sometimes hidden – detail. In my spare time I enjoy riding my bike, eating chocolate, and getting other peoples’ kids all wound up then sending them home.

Tom's book list on pictures about crabby characters

Tom Lichtenheld Why did Tom love this book?

We presume all animals love their habitat and their lot in life; birds love the sky, snakes love the grass, and bears, of course, love the woods. But not so much for the star of this book; a petulant little penguin who seems to have gotten up on the wrong side of the ice floe. He’s crabby about the too-white snow, the too-cold temperature, the too-salty sea, and his too-lookalike colony of penguin pals. Basically, everything makes him crabby, but in a way that’s amusing. After a day of carping, a wise walrus gives him a lecture about appreciating the beauty of his world and the love of his companions. This improves his attitude…for about two pages.

By the end of the book, the little grump is back to his old self, griping about the weather and the early darkness. It’s refreshing to see a character who doesn’t completely transform…

By Jory John, Lane Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Penguin Problems 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?

Have you ever thought: I have so many problems and nobody even cares? Well, penguins have problems too! Discover them in this hilarious collaboration from Jory John (All my friends are dead. and Quit Calling Me a Monster!) and Lane Smith (The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales).

This penguin has come to tell you that life in Antarctica is no paradise. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol' crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.

It seems there…


Book cover of The Emperor Lays an Egg

Dyan deNapoli Author Of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

From my list on nonfiction about penguins for kids.

Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!

Dyan's book list on nonfiction about penguins for kids

Dyan deNapoli Why did Dyan love this book?

This charming book gives a very comprehensive overview of the life and breeding cycle of the Emperor penguin. And it does so in simple - but entertaining - language, making the information very accessible for younger children. The large, graphic illustrations on each page are very eye-catching, and are sure to engage young children. (Even younger than the recommended age range for this book.) While this book talks about the many challenges that both parents face during the long breeding season, it focuses more on the male penguin’s job of incubating and protecting the egg while his mate is off at sea for two months. (The next book on this list focuses on the female penguin’s job during the breeding season.) Best for ages 4-8.

By Brenda Z. Guiberson, Joan Paley (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Emperor Lays an Egg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

All the other wild creatures have left the Antarctic. The wind is too cold and the sun does not shine during the long, dark months of winter. But the father emperor stays behind with thousands of other fathers. Each of them takes care of an egg . . .

Follow as a penguin grows from egg to adulthood
in the coldest place on earth

In the middle of winter, in the coldest place on earth, the mother emperor penguin lays her egg. The father rolls the egg onto his feet and keeps it warm. He doesn't eat or even move…


Book cover of Vampenguin

Joyce Grant Author Of Can You Believe It? How to Spot Fake News and Find the Facts

From my list on to improve kids’ critical thinking.

Who am I?

I’m a journalist and a social media prof. I talk to thousands of kids every year about what they read on the Internet. And frankly, they’re confused—as we all are—about what’s true online and what isn’t. To spot misinformation, kids have to become better critical thinkers. That’s why I wrote Can You Believe It? and it’s why I’m recommending these great books. It’s also helpful to know what credible journalism looks like. My TeachingKidsNews.com (TKN) is a kid-friendly news source that kids and teachers can trust. In addition to publishing TKN, I’ve authored six children’s books and I have a Master’s degree in Creative and Critical Writing. 

Joyce's book list on to improve kids’ critical thinking

Joyce Grant Why did Joyce love this book?

To encourage young readers to think critically, Vampenguin is a good choice. The misdirection isn’t quite so obvious. A family of vampires is at the zoo. The smallest vampire gets switched with a penguin (hilarious drawings make this sleight-of-hand possible). The child reader can see what the family in the story doesn’t—their “baby” is actually a penguin. Even better, the baby vampire and the penguin switch themselves back and the family never finds out. Once again, the young reader has out-smarted everyone by thinking critically. Nice!

By Lucy Ruth Cummins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vampenguin as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From the critically acclaimed author and illustrator of A Hungry Lion and Stumpkin comes a charming, wryly humorous story of adventure, mistaken identity, and a vampire family's day at the zoo.

On a Saturday morning, baby Dracula visits the zoo with his family, where baby Penguin lives with hers. But these intrepid young adventurers are not content with staying in their proper places.

Instead, baby Dracula slips into the Penguin House to spend the day eating, swimming, and hanging around, while baby Penguin waddles into the stroller to explore the rest of the zoo. Dracula's family doesn't even notice the…


Book cover of Penguins and Antarctica

Alicia Klepeis Author Of Penguins & Polar Bears: A Pretty Cool Introduction to the Arctic and Antarctic

From my list on the polar regions for children.

Who am I?

I’m a geographer and the author of more than 170 (mostly nonfiction) books for kids. I began my career at the National Geographic Society and have worked on a variety of projects for them over the last three decades. I also taught middle-school geography for years. In addition to my featured book, I have written numerous magazine articles on topics related to polar regions—from Siberia’s Eveny people to climate change in the Arctic. I am the author of Living in the Arctic and several books on countries in the polar regions. I was recently interviewed by PBS Books for my book on Benjamin Franklin’s scientific work.

Alicia's book list on the polar regions for children

Alicia Klepeis Why did Alicia love this book?

As a fan of the Magic Tree House series, I love the way that this nonfiction book weaves great information with illustrations and photographs in a fun-to-read format. This title will be a hit with animal lovers, whether they are curious about the daily lives of penguins in Antarctica or why krill are so important to the food web here. Adventure seekers will revel in the daring exploits of explorers from the past. They’ll also learn about what it’s like to visit Antarctica today. The additional resources in the back of the book looked terrific and made me want to explore more of this frozen continent.

By Mary Pope Osborne, Natalie Pope Boyce, Sal Murdocca (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Penguins and Antarctica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

The #1 bestselling chapter book series of all time celebrates 25 years with new covers and a new, easy-to-use numbering system! Getting the facts behind the fiction has never looked better. Track the facts with Jack and Annie!!
 
When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #12: Eve of the Emperor Penguin, they had lots of questions. What do penguins eat? Why do they huddle together in groups? Who won the race to the South Pole? What happens at a research station in Antarctica? Find out the answers to these questions and more…


Book cover of My Last Continent

Céline Keating Author Of The Stark Beauty of Last Things

From my list on immersing yourself in nature.

Who am I?

I’ve loved nature and being outdoors since childhood, when I would escape our apartment complex by berry-picking in a park or sneaking onto the lush grounds of a local mental hospital. I grew up in Queens, New York, at a time of rapid development, and mourned as trees were felled for housing. I became an avid hiker, canoeist, and gardener as an adult, and serve on the board of an environmental organization in Montauk, Long Island. What we lose when we lose our connection to nature, saving our last wild places, and leaving a sustainable world to the next generation are key themes in my forthcoming novel--and personal motivation.

Céline's book list on immersing yourself in nature

Céline Keating Why did Céline love this book?

I found this novel, a kind of elegy for Antarctica, completely transporting. I was swept up in the immensity of the glaciers, the cold and danger, the intensity of life lived so apart from the rest of the world.

The story is about several kinds of love – a romance between a female field researcher and another worker, love for the emperor and Adélie penguins she studies, and most of all, love for this imperiled continent in which most of the action takes place. I was completely captivated by the love story and the penguins, and my heart was in my mouth when the novel builds toward a disaster at sea amid dangerous calving icebergs.

The scenes in this stunning landscape are truly breathtaking. This is a truly unforgettable book, one that makes the strongest case for saving our planet than any I’ve read. I enjoyed learning about Antarctica, scientific…

By Midge Raymond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This unforgettable debut, set against the dramatic Antarctic landscape, is “refreshingly different, vivid and immediate. Midge Raymond has an extraordinary gift for description that puts the reader bang in the middle of its dangerous and endangered world” (M.L. Stedman, New York Times bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans).

It is only among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica that Deb Gardener and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For a few blissful weeks each year they study the habits of Emperor and Adelie penguins and find solace in their work and in one another. But Antarctica,…


Book cover of A Mother's Journey

Dyan deNapoli Author Of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

From my list on nonfiction about penguins for kids.

Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!

Dyan's book list on nonfiction about penguins for kids

Dyan deNapoli Why did Dyan love this book?

This captivating book details the female Emperor penguin’s extraordinary journey during the long breeding season. In gorgeous prose - that includes detailed information very rarely found in other children’s books about this species - author Sandra Markle shares remarkable insights about the many challenges faced by the female Emperor penguin in preparation for raising her chick. This includes a long trek across sea-ice to the open ocean, where she hunts for two months to fill her belly with food for her soon-to-be-born chick. The beautiful illustrations help young readers visualize the many different aspects of her journey. I can guarantee that nearly every adult who reads this book with their children or students will also learn many details about Emperor penguins that they didn’t know before. Best for ages 4-8.

By Sandra Markle, Alan Marks (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Mother's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed nonfiction author Sandra Markle presents the daring story of a mother emperor penguin's struggle to reach the sea, find food, avoid predators, and make her way back to her mate and their newborn chick before they starve. Alan Marks' luminous illustrations highlight the harsh conditions and stunning landscapes of Antarctica.


Book cover of Reggie: Kid Penguin

Jay Cooper Author Of Styx and Scones in the Sticky Wand: Ready-to-Read Graphics Level 2

From my list on silly early graphics readers.

Who am I?

I take “silly” graphic books quite seriously: I’m a firm believer that encouraging young people to read for pure enjoyment creates lifelong readers. Originally a reluctant reader myself, it was primarily graphic books that strengthened my reading skills, my vocabulary, and that ultimately turned me into a fierce advocate for literacy. Now a professional creative, I try to share my love of books and graphic books by paying it forward and creating my own books that I hope will resonate with readers and turn them into strong readers as well! 

Jay's book list on silly early graphics readers

Jay Cooper Why did Jay love this book?

Even though Reggie, Kid Penguin isn’t in the Ready-To-Read graphics series, it’s a very sweet book with a lovable main character, Reggie.

This is a longer book, but is separated into short tales… Readers will be able to read as much as they want, or take the book one small chunk at a time. Jen’s art and colors are so delightful to navigate, and I adore her typography. I’m sure that Reggie will become a favorite of your household!

By Jen de Oliveira,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reggie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Fans of Babymouse and Owly will love this early graphic novel series about the everyday adventures and high jinks of Reginald "Reggie" Guinn, a little kid penguin with a big personality! Reggie is just like any other kid: always looking for fun and adventure! But Reggie's curious, playful side sometimes gets him into trouble. Like when he tries to give himself a haircut before picture day...and ends up gluing his feathers back on his head! Or when he sneaks a mouthful of cookie dough from the kitchen...then feels the sun baking cookies in his tummy! Or when his babysitter puts…


Book cover of A Visual Introduction to Penguins

Dyan deNapoli Author Of All about Penguins: Discover Life on Land and in the Sea

From my list on nonfiction about penguins for kids.

Who am I?

I’m a penguin expert, TED speaker, and lifelong animal lover. After getting a BS degree in Animal Science, I became a Penguin Aquarist at Boston’s New England Aquarium. For 9 years, I took care of the penguins there and educated visitors during daily talks. In 2000, I helped manage the rescue of 40,000 penguins from an oil spill in South Africa. (With the help of 12,500 volunteers, we saved most of them!) I founded my educational company The Penguin Lady in 2005, and speak at schools, universities, libraries, for TED-Ed and TEDx, and on National Geographic’s ships in Antarctica. I love sharing my knowledge, and passion for penguins with others!

Dyan's book list on nonfiction about penguins for kids

Dyan deNapoli Why did Dyan love this book?

This beautiful book is written by a famous penguin expert who wrote the ‘bible’ about penguins for adults, so you can be absolutely certain that all of the information is 100% accurate! (Which, unfortunately, is not always the case for books written by individuals who aren’t penguin experts. That said, you can be assured that every book on this curated list has extremely accurate information about penguins!) Each species in this book has a page with fact sheets, geographical ranges, and biological details. There are also numerous photos and absolutely gorgeous illustrations that are highly detailed, bringing the author’s words to life in a visually engaging way. This is the perfect book for children who want to take a deeper dive into the lives of penguins. Best for ages 9-12.

By Bernard Stonehouse, Martin Camm (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Visual Introduction to Penguins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This illustrated guide to penguins includes profiles of emperor penguins, king penguins, adelie penguins, chinstraps and gentoos, rockhopper penguins, macaroni and royal penguins, fjordland snares island and erect-crested penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and jackass penguins.