Under the Sea: Books About the Ocean


Paper Shark by Stephanie

Such a fun storytime this week, with a big fun crowd of multiple ages.  We read books about the ocean and sea creatures. Often when I’m working with a theme, I end up reading at least one or two books that I haven’t shared with a group before, and I don’t know how they’re going to go over with the kids.  But these books were all old favorites of mine that I was eager to share.  Here they are:


I’m a Shark by Bob Shea (Amazon.com link)

I had actually read this book to two second grade classes in the morning before storytime, and I still wasn’t tired of reading it aloud, because it is so much fun.  You get to take on the persona of a shark who claims to not be scared of anything.  Squid, dinosaurs, the dark, bears, they all just make him laugh.  But clearly he gets nervous about the very idea of spiders. “That’s not scared,” he says. “That’s smart!”  Hilarious book that would work well for a theme about fear or emotions (the message is that everyone is afraid of something).  It could also lead into a fun writing assignment, where kids could write from the point of view of a different type of animal and describe the kinds of fears they might have.  The book was a big hit with both the second grade and the family storytime crowd, and two kids desperately wanted to check it out at the end.


I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (Amazon.com link)

Like I’m a Shark, this book also features a large, boastful sea creature, this time a giant squid.  “I’m the biggest thing in the ocean!” he brags, and then points out all of the creatures that are smaller than him.  “I’m bigger than these shrimp.  I’m bigger than these clams.”  But then a giant whale comes along and puts him quite literally in his place.  Not to fear.  He finds a way to look on the bright side: “I’m the biggest thing in this whale!”  There were a lot of kids who wanted this one too, and I wish I had thought to order over more than one copy.


Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway (Amazon.com link)

I remember my friend Barbara Bruxvoort telling me about this one years ago, when her son was still a toddler.  He loved the line, “Out shot Tiddler!”  This one goes well with I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean because it’s about a tiny, very active fish, who accidentally swims into a big fish’s mouth, and then escapes.  The illustrations are colorful and appealing.  I don’t even know which of my storytime kids checked this book out, because it was snatched up the instant I finished reading it.


Swimmy by Leo Lionni (Amazon.com link)

Classic Leo Lionni book that several of the Kindergartners recognized.  Swimmy is a tiny black fish who manages to escape when all of the other little fish he knows get eaten.  He roams the ocean, seeings lots of wonderful sea creatures, until he finds another school of small red fish.  Swimmy wants to play, but the other fish are too frightened of being eaten to come out of hiding.  Swimmy devises a plan so they can all swim together like one giant fish, and scare all the big fish away.


There’s a Spider on the Floor

I did this song to go along with I’m a Shark, in honor of the shark’s arachnophobia.  I usually do it with a large spider puppet, but I forgot to bring it out.  Instead I had the kids make spiders with their hands, and act out the song.   I’ve changed the lyrics a bit from the original Raffi version, so these are the words I sing. The tune is the same as If You’re Happy and You Know It:

There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.
Who can ask for any more
Than a spider on the floor.
There’s a spider on the floor, on the floor.

There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.
There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.
Oh, he’s really, really big, this old spider on my leg,
There’s a spider on my leg, on my leg.

There’s a spider on my tummy, on my tummy…
Oh, I look so very funny, with a spider on my tummy…

Now the spider’s on my neck, on my neck…
Oh, I’m gonna’ be a wreck, I’ve got a spider on my neck!…

Now the spider’s on my face, on my face…
Oh, I’m such a big disgrace, I’ve got a spider on my face…

Now the spider’s on my head, on my head…
Oh, it fills my heart with dread to have this spider on my head…

But it jumps off!

Now, there’s a spider on the floor, on the floor…

Slippery Fish

The perfect song to accompany I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean. Most of the kids knew it from swimming classes or preschool.  Here’s a YouTube video by Silvia Sanchez with the song.  I do hand motions: swishing my hands for the fish and putting my hands on my cheeks for the “Oh no!”


An easy counting fingerplay.  Click on the triangle for the tune:

Once I caught a fish alive.
Then I let it go again.

Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so!
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on the right.

CRAFT: Paper Shark

I found this craft online at Almost Unschoolers: http://almostunschoolers.blogspot.com/2011/03/paper-plate-shark-craft.html.  I didn’t have paper plates, so I used a CD to trace and cut out white circles for the mouths.  I drew the shark shapes on blue paper and cut them out ahead of time, then gave the kids googly eyes, gluesticks, crayons, and kids scissors.  I had made my example like the Almost Unschoolers ones, with triangular shaped teeth, but I let the kids cut their teeth however they wanted, and they each did something different.  Some kids cut straight lines all the way around the circle, while others cut the circle in half.  It was fun to see the variety.


Paper Shark by Lena


Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark by Deborah Diesen; illustrated by Daniel X. Hanna (Amazon.com link)

The sequel to The Pout-Pout Fish, an adorable story about a “pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face” who spreads “the dreary-wearies all over the place.”  In this book Mr. Fish braves the scary dark of the deep sea to search for Ms. Clam’s lost pearl (I thought only oysters made pearls, but I looked it up, and apparently clams occasionally make them too).  Again there is a refrain that recurs throughout the story: “I’m fast as a sailfish, I’m strong as a shark, I’m smart as a dolphin, but I’m scared of the dark!”  I’m partial to this book because when my son was 2 and 3, he was obsessed with deep sea creatures, and my husband and I searched everywhere for books about angler fish, gulper eels, dumbo octopus, and all the other bizarre, toothy, glowing things that live down there.  I would have been thrilled to find this one.  A similar story is Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea by Marcus Pfister.

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead (Amazon.com link)

We’ve been seeing a lot of whales off the coast lately, and it’s always a thrill.  This book captures the patience required to look for them, and the joy and wonder you feel when they suddenly appear.

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle (Amazon.com link)

I love this story about a little hermit crab who outgrows his shell.  His new shell is very plain, so as he explores the ocean, he invites other creatures (anemones, coral, a sea star) to attach themselves to his shell and join him on his adventures.  A lovely story featuring Eric Carle’s colorful illustrations, and including information about different sea creatures.

Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex (Amazon.com link)

Whenever Billy Twitters doesn’t do what he’s told, his parents threaten to buy him a blue whale.  He doesn’t believe they’ll follow through, but one day, much to his shock, a blue whale is delivered to his house, and it’s up to Billy to take care of it.  Wacky story packed with whale facts, by one of my favorite author/illustrator combos.

Baby Beluga by Raffi; illustrated by Ashley Wolff (Amazon.com link)

This song has become one of our standards for Musical Storytime, and one that kids often request.  This board book version, featuring illustrations by Ashley Wolff, is perfect for babies on up.

What are your favorite picture books about the ocean?



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