The best turtle books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about turtles and why they recommend each book.

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The Windward Road

By Archie Carr,

Book cover of The Windward Road: Adventures of a Naturalist on Remote Caribbean Shores

The Windward Road is a whimsical yet eye-opening account of the lesser-explored communities who hunted and ate turtles along the Caribbean coast of Central America and islands in the Caribbean Sea. Although Archie Carr was a renowned herpetologist, he was also a superb storyteller. His adventures will undoubtedly make you laugh, squirm, and empathize with the turtles and the communities that hunted them.


Who am I?

Although my Midwestern roots in southwest Michigan situated me far away from the sea, I am now an expert on small islands and remote communities in the greater Caribbean. As a result, I grew to understand that much of the everyday lived experiences of island people must contend with the sea. As a result, I have spent the last two decades studying topics such as migration, fishing, and even conservation as related to small islands from the better-known Cayman Islands to the lesser-known San Andrés and Providencia Islands. I am a history professor at the US Naval Academy.


I wrote...

The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making

By Sharika Crawford,

Book cover of The Last Turtlemen of the Caribbean: Waterscapes of Labor, Conservation, and Boundary Making

What is my book about?

Illuminating the entangled histories of the people and commodities that circulated across the Atlantic, Sharika D. Crawford assesses the Caribbean as a waterscape where imperial and national governments vied to control the profitability of the sea. Crawford places the green and hawksbill sea turtles and the Caymanian turtlemen who hunted them at the center of this waterscape. The story of the humble turtle and its hunter, I argue, came to play a significant role in shaping the maritime boundaries of the modern Caribbean.

Truman

By Jean Reidy, Lucy Ruth Cummins (illustrator),

Book cover of Truman

I love that Truman is not your typical first day of school jitters book! In this story, it’s Sarah who goes off to school and her pet turtle Truman who is left alone. He doesn’t know where Sarah went or if she will ever return. Truman is afraid of life without his Sarah! But Sarah means so much to him, he sets out to find her – climbing out of his tank, making the treacherous journey across the living room rug, and finally making it to the door. Seeing how far he travelled over the course of the day made Truman feel brave, and in that instant Sarah arrives home safe and sound. This story shows children that simply setting out to do something we are afraid of is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.


Who am I?

I’m a picture book writer who struggles with anxiety. Some things that seem like no big deal to most people can become a very big worry for me (like Giraffe worries about Spider in It Will Be OK). I found that identifying and naming our emotions—in this case fear—makes it easier to address our feelings and work through them. I want to share my experience of being fearful of things, both big and small, with children to let them know they are not alone and they can have power over scary emotions.


I wrote...

It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

By Lisa Katzenberger, Jaclyn Sinquett (illustrator),

Book cover of It Will Be OK: A Story of Empathy, Kindness, and Friendship

What is my book about?

Giraffe and Zebra meet every day under their favorite tree to walk to the watering hole. But today, Giraffe isn't there. Where could he be? Zebra spots him hiding in the tree; Giraffe has seen a spider and is scared silly. Zebra patiently talks to Giraffe and does the very best thing: supports Giraffe for as long as Giraffe needs it.

One Tiny Turtle

By Nicola Davies, Jane Chapman (illustrator),

Book cover of One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder

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.

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.

Yertle the Turtle

By Dr. Seuss,

Book cover of Yertle the Turtle

Dr. Seuss is the master of the parable. Yertle the Turtle is a classic example of an illustrated picture book with a point about the pitfalls of unbridled ambition, and while I chose this book to highlight, The Lorax is another great example of a story with an equally consequential moral.


Who am I?

The role of the parable is an important one to help understand the roots of right and wrong. We live in such a fractured and untrusting world, that I think it’s important to rediscover the simple truths of honesty and integrity over-ambition, and the pursuit of power for its own sake. And so, I have an interest in the topic because I am a citizen hoping for a better world, and an expertise in the subject because I’m a father raising two children in that same fractious environment.


I wrote...

The Lying King

By Alex Beard,

Book cover of The Lying King

What is my book about?

The Lying King is a fable about an ambitious warthog, who lies his way to the top of the animal kingdom only to fall from grace caught in the web of his own lies. The book is a modern parable about what happens to those who tell lies to advance their own nefarious purposes, and while not overtly political, it does take a clear stand against those who deceive and divide.

Turtle Diary

By Russell Hoban,

Book cover of Turtle Diary

Turtle Diary is one of my all-time favorite books. The intimate tone pulls the reader in immediately. Hoban alternates point of view between William and Neera, two lonely Londoners who accomplish a heroic feat and manage to rescue themselves in the process. The writing is spare and beautiful, peppered with delightful asides and observations: “She had a theatre programme in her hand, fresh air and perfume had come in with her. Her blonde hair and leopardskin coat looked as if they’d go out even if she stayed at home.”

Who am I?

Ever since I was a child, sitting on fallen logs in the forest and making notes on the wildlife, I have been an admirer of animals and their mysteries. That animals feel pain, fear, and affection is obvious, and while we are warned against anthropomorphism, I think the greater mistake is in limiting them to the range of human feelings. I am especially intrigued with the subject of consciousness, believing that all creatures possess their own version of it. In studying the cognizance of other beings, we become better humans, more aware of the unity of all living things. While we have no idea how far we can go in our understanding of animal behavior, it is thrilling to consider the possibilities of this frontier.


I wrote...

Survival Skills: Stories

By Jean Ryan,

Book cover of Survival Skills: Stories

What is my book about?

The characters who inhabit Jean Ryan’s graceful, imaginative collection of stories are survivors of accidents and acts of nature, of injuries both physical and emotional. Ryan writes of beauty and aging, of love won and lost—with characters enveloped in the mysteries of the natural world and the animal kingdom.

In “Greyhound,” a woman brings home a rescued dog for her troubled partner in hopes that they might heal one another—while the dog in “What Gretel Knows” is the keeper of her owner’s deepest secrets. In “Migration,” a recently divorced woman retreats to a lakefront cabin where she is befriended by a mysterious Canada goose just as autumn begins to turn to winter. As a tornado ravages three towns in “The Spider in the Sink,” a storm chaser’s wife spares the life of a spider as she anxiously waits for her husband to return. And in “A Sea Change,” a relationship falls victim to a woman’s obsession with the world below the waves.

Always Remember

By Cece Meng, Jago (illustrator),

Book cover of Always Remember

Some picture books about death spend the majority of their pages leading up to the death of a character, but in this colorfully illustrated and powerfully written story, Old Turtle dies on the first page. The remainder of the book is spent reflecting on all the ways Old Turtle impacted the ocean creatures around him: he helped a whale find her pod, he saved a starfish, and he rescued a manatee tangled in fishing net. 

Throughout the story, the reader is reminded that turtle “made his world a better place” and that each of these animals impacted by turtle will always remember him. This story helps readers understand the importance of their actions and the connections we all have.


Who am I?

As a teacher-librarian, I’m often asked for books on difficult topics, including death. When I was young, a close family member died and I struggled with grief. I didn’t know how to honor my loved one or how to begin healing from the loss. The books I’m sharing are books I wish I’d had as a child and books that I’m grateful to be able to hand to children and families when needed. If you’re an emotional person like I am, you may want tissues nearby when you read them. I hope they’re as helpful and therapeutic for you as they have been for me!


I wrote...

Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks

By Jolene Gutiérrez,

Book cover of Bionic Beasts: Saving Animal Lives with Artificial Flippers, Legs, and Beaks

What is my book about?

What happens when a young elephant steps on a buried land mine? Or when a predator injures a sea turtle’s flipper? Thanks to recent advances in technology, we have new ways to design and build prosthetic body parts to help these animals thrive.
Meet an elephant named Mosha, a sea turtle named Lola, a dog named Cassidy, a goose named Vitória, and a pig named Pirate. Each of these animals was struggling, but through a variety of techniques and technologies, humans created devices that enabled the animals to live and move more comfortably. Discover the stories of how veterinarians, doctors, and even students from around the world used 3D printing and other techniques to build bionic body parts for these amazing animals!

Nightlights

By Lorena Alvarez,

Book cover of Nightlights

This story plays more on our own insecurities and how that can take on a form of its own that torments us. Young people don’t always have the experience to put to words the things they’re feeling but not knowing if we’re good enough and the anxiety that stems from that is very relatable and universal. Lorena Alvarez does an incredible job of telling a story that weaves that in while presenting stunning, jaw-dropping art to her audience.


Who am I?

As a kid, I was obsessed with the fantastical, especially when it came to books. I was constantly trying to find my own door to Narnia to go off on an incredible adventure. While I never found a door that led to another world, I found that books offered me a similar experience…and all from the comfort of my fave places to read. Magic is still something I’m enthralled with and love exploring in books I read as well as the ones I write. And these are some of my favorite magical graphic novels.


I wrote...

Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

By Stephanie Cooke,

Book cover of Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse

What is my book about?

It’s fall break in the supernatural town of North Haven, and young witch Abby’s plans include pitching in at her mom’s magical coffee shop, practicing her potion making, and playing board games with her best friends—a pumpkinhead, a wolf-girl, and a ghost. But when Abby finds her younger sister being picked on by some speed demons, she lets out a burst of magic so strong, it opens a portal to a realm of chaos bunnies. And while these bunnies may look cute, they’re about to bring the a-hop-ocalypse (and get Abby in a cauldronful of trouble) unless she figures out a way to reverse the powerful magic she unwittingly released. What’s a witch to do?

Meow Said the Cow

By Sarah Mazor,

Book cover of Meow Said the Cow: Help Kids Go to Sleep With a Smile

This book has adorable illustrations and wonderful, amusing rhymes that children and families will want to read again and again. It’s sure to bring smiles to everyone. Not only is it fun, but also educational. At the end of the book, there are engaging riddles with answers listed under them, so children and their families can see how well they remember the information presented in the book. It’s a must-have bedtime story for the little ones, in my opinion.

I adore this story. It first presents silly pictures, like a cow laying eggs, followed by an illustration of a hen and information on the hen and what she does. It’s so funny as well as educational. In addition to the story, there are endearing riddles at the end I feel the book will appeal to toddlers and preschoolers and they will learn a great deal by reading this funny, fact-filled…


Who am I?

My parents encouraged me to become a children’s author when I was very young. At first, I thought that was the silliest idea ever, but I found creating stories to be fun and inspiring. I’ve been an award-winning published author since 2009, when I had an intuition to try writing stories for children. I love being a role model for children; someone who can show them that they can achieve much more than they imagine if they persevere. My personal story, My Life at Sweetbrier; A Life Changed by Horses, is a testament that remarkable things can be accomplished through perseverance. I’m honored my work has earned many literary awards. 


I wrote...

My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses

By Deanie Humphrys-Dunne,

Book cover of My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses

What is my book about?

What if you grew up on a horse farm and your single passion was to become a champion rider? This problem is, you were born with a disability. This happened to Deanie. Doctors told her parents she’d never walk, let alone ride. What happened next? What did Deanie’s dad do that changed her life? Could a failed racehorse and a handicapped girl become a winning team? This is the author’s true story. If you love horses and are someone who has been counted out becoming a winner in every way, you will love this book.

Small Gods

By Terry Pratchett,

Book cover of Small Gods

This is a book that I can reread again and again. It’s easy to read but it explores a deep topic in a fun, satirical way with diverse characters who keep a reader engaged. It definitely doesn’t have the typical fantasy hero protagonist, which makes for new ways of approaching problems. The characters clash with each other and grow in an unexpected but hilarious ways.


Who am I?

Storytelling is my passion. I have loved writing in the science fiction and fantasy genres since I learned to read as a kid. I’ve won multiple awards, have an optioned screenplay, and am actively working on several paid script projects. I love to swap stories with other writers and dive into new worlds.


I wrote...

Crown of the Realm (All Things Impossible)

By D. Dalton,

Book cover of Crown of the Realm (All Things Impossible)

What is my book about?

Crown of the Realm is 6-time award-winning novel. The elven king and queen murdered. The crown of the realm stolen, and the elven lands aflame. A banished evil has returned. Not far away, unhinged men hunting an outlaw crash into Derora Saxen’s peaceful village while she play jousts on ponies. She sets out to find help with her protesting best friend, Kelin. But in assisting a stranger on the run, Caleb, they’re pulled headfirst into the chaos of the elven war. 

Facing ancient evils, arrogant elves, a sarcastic knight mentor, and one traitor—maybe more—Derora, Kelin, and Caleb have to choose: gamble desperately or hope that traditional strategy can take them to victory against enemies who have been perfecting their revenge for two thousand years.

Franklin's School Play

By Paulette Bourgeois, Brenda Clark (illustrator),

Book cover of Franklin's School Play

Stage fright is a challenge that some performers must overcome. Some do so more easily, but when everyone’s favorite turtle Franklin is cast in the school’s production of The Nutcracker, his nerves start to get the better of him. This story is not only a great introduction to theatre, but it also features a relatable character overcoming a struggle and persevering.

Who am I?

As a longtime arts educator who has worked predominantly with kids ages 3 to 12, I initially set out to find books that could inspire them about theatre. For many years I have searched for the perfect books that achieve this and have used all of these books in my teaching.


I wrote...

The Magical Mice of Broadway

By Mark A. Robinson, Sandra Simpson (illustrator),

Book cover of The Magical Mice of Broadway

What is my book about?

The Magical Mice of Broadway is a fairytale about Broadway during Covid, imagining an alternative reality for what happened on the Great White Way when performances halted on some of our favorite Broadway musicals. When the people are away, the mice will play…or at least these lovable rodents do, taking over such shows as Wicked, Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, Chicago, and The Phantom of the Opera, keeping theatre’s flame alive until the people can return. This book is both an enchanting and hopeful look into the world of Broadway during a trying time.

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