Are you looking for the best under the sea picture books to read aloud with your students or children? I thought so! That’s why I’ve done some intense research into finding only the best ocean-themed picture books for kids.

Out of countless picture books I’ve read with my daughter, these are my top 14 fiction and nonfiction books. Each book is linked if you’re interested in learning more (these are affiliate links, however, I do strongly encourage shopping local! You never know what treasures you might find).

How to Hide an Octopus by Ruth Heller – This nonfiction rhyming book will have children eager to find hidden sea creatures as it explains all about sea animals such as sea dragons, butterfly fish, and octopuses that use camouflage in order to hide.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry – A haughty squid is quickly humbled as it brags about being bigger than countless ocean animals including shrimp, clams, octopuses, and sharks. When it meets a much larger whale, it realizes it is in fact not the biggest thing in the sea, and is now faced with all the animals it boasted to; and in quite an uncomfortable location.

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle – In this heartwarming tale, Hermit Crab needs a new house and travels the ocean to find sea creatures to help decorate. A great SEL story of sharing, helping, and seeing potential in things

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson – In this powerful tale of friendship, Snail wants to see the world and finds a whale to take him. Their friendship grows and in a turn of events, whale needs snail to save him. The rhyme and rhythm in this story is genuinely captivating.

How to Catch a Mermaid by Adam Wallace – Adam Wallace delivers the greatest rhythm in the How to Catch series. In this story, a determined scuba diver sets out with her friends to catch a mermaid. However, their clever traps such as nets and lassos are no match for the swift mermaid. Luckily, the mermaid is aware is quick to help when the group finds themselves in danger.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister – In this classic tale, the rainbow fish is undoubtedly the most beautiful fish in the sea. However, he finds that beauty and pride may not be worth loneliness as he learns about sharing his gift with others.

A Narwhal and Jelly Book Series by Ben ClantonThe Narwhal and Jelly series is a great introduction to graphic novels. My toddler loves reading these short stories and she laughs at the silly illustrations. Narwhal and Jelly take on several adventures and learn about each other as strange, yet fascinating animals of the sea.

Swimmy by Leo Lionni – Swimmy is a fast, black fish who must suddenly leave his life to escape a tuna fish. Alone, he realizes how vast the sea is and what other creatures are out there. He finds a group of his own and teaches them to roam safely in their habitat.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen – When I first read this book, I was hysterical. A tiny and confident fish is swimming about with a hat he explains he stole from a bigger fish while it was asleep. He is sure he’ll be able to get away with it before the fish wakes up, however, with each statement the tiny fish makes, the book pans over to the bigger fish who is determined to retrieve his stolen accessory.

Whale in a Fishbowl by Troy Howell – Wednesday is a whale living in a fishbowl within a city. She sees a blue lining that calls to her and she does whatever she can to get to it. One day, Wednesday meets Piper, who understands that Wednesday is not where she belongs. Piper helps Wednesday realize that the blue lining is the sea and she makes her biggest attempt to make her way there, once and for all.

My Ocean is Blue by Darren Lebeuf – In this great book to introduce opposites, a young girl explains all the ways her ocean looks, sounds, feels, and smells. Every day, the ocean is different, but is always astonishing.

Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle – Fiction meets nonfiction in the sweet tale about Mr. Seahorse carrying eggs laid by Mrs. Seahorse as he swims along his community, catching up with his neighbors and friends until the baby seahorses are ready to hatch.

Ocean Life by Jill McDonald – The breathtaking illustrations in this nonfiction book will keep your learner intrigued as they learn about animals in the sea along with unique facts for each. A few animals in this book are seahorses, lobsters, whales, and dolphins.

Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale – In this wholesome tale, Clark learns a valuable lesson about mindfulness when he realizes his excitement for school is not so exciting for other students. In fact, it’s a bit too much. Clark thinks of ways to remind himself to stay calm during the most exciting parts of his day.


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