Avast! A Pirate Storytime for Booklubbers

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19, we read books about pirates this week. I opened with some pirate words from TalkLikeaPirate.com, and told my favorite pirate joke: “What is a pirate’s favorite letter?” Inevitably someone guessed “R!” to which I replied, “Ah, yeh’d think it’d be R, but it’s really the C they love!” One dad responded to my joke with one of his own, “How do you know Olivia (his daughter) is a pirate?” “Because when she got her ears pierced, it cost a buck-an-ear!”

Here are the books we read:


Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy; illustrated by Pete Kennedy (Amazon.com link)

Pirate Pete and his parrot are interviewing scallywags for their crew. Though many of them can fire a cannon, have eyepatches and are good at stealing treasure, not one of them can talk like a pirate. This one was fun to read aloud, since I not only got to “talk pirate” but trot out a lot of very “posh” voices too. The kids liked chiming in on the repeated line: “But you can’t talk like a pirate!”


Bubble Bath Pirates by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Amazon.com link)

This was the perfect follow-up to Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate, because it was short, and gave the kids a chance to talk like pirates themselves. Three pirate boys are ordered to take a bath by their pirate mom. “Arghh!” cry the little pirates. The bath time consists of lots of pirate phrases: “Blimey!” “Shiver Me Timbers!” and “Walk the Plank!” among others. The storytime kids also enjoyed counting down from 5 to 1 as the pirates pull the plug in the tub. And they liked the “treasure” at the end: chocolate fudge ice cream. This is one of the few pirate picture books that is short enough for toddlers, and it is always a hit.

dirty joe

Dirty Joe the Pirate by Bill Harley and Jack E. Davis (Amazon.com link)

I love this book, even though I can’t read it half as well as my former manager, Thom Ball, who does the best pirate voice. Dirty Joe is a dreadful pirate who roams the seas in search of dirty socks, until he tries to take on Stinky Annie, a pirate who steals underpants. The rhymed verse is clever and hilarious, and there’s a great twist at the end. The parents laughed at this one too.


How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long; illustrated by David Shannon

When pirates land on the beach, they invite little Jeremy Jacob to join them to help them bury their treasure. At first, Jeremy loves being a pirate: there are no vegetables, no manners, and no bedtimes. But there are also no bedtime stories and no one to comfort him when a huge storm threatens the ship. Fun, engaging story, with lots of opportunities for the kids to echo pirate phrases. It was the perfect lead-in to my treasure map activity.


When I Was One

I learned this song from my coworker Christina Olsen, and I’ve used it lots of times. I’ve even adapted it for space themes, and changed it to “When I was one, I had some fun, when I flew to outer space. I met a big green alien, with eight eyes on his face.” In any case, it’s a fun action song that gives the kids a chance to suggest rhymes. I usually sing it unaccompanied, but it’s easy to play on the ukulele with C and G7. Click on the triangle for the tune:

When I was one, I had some fun, (C)
When I travelled out to sea. (C G7)
I jumped aboard a pirate ship (G7)
And the captain said to me. (C G7)

He said, Go this way! (lean right) (C)
That way! (lean left) (C)
Forward! (lean forward) (C)
Backward! (lean backward) (C)
When you travel out to sea!” (G7 C)

I asked the kids to come up with a rhyme for “two” for the next verse. One girl suggested “Boo!” so I sang, “When I was two, a ghost said, ‘Boo!’ When I travelled out to sea!” For three we had “I climbed a tree,” for four “I slammed a door!” and for five “I took a dive!” Sometimes it takes a while for the kids to come up with rhymes, but this group was really quick.


I love this song. I learned it in Girl Scouts when I was a kid. At camp we would often make “barges” by melting birthday candles onto pieces of bark, then lighting them and sending them out into the lake while we sang the song. I suppose it might have been a fire hazard, but I always loved it. There are a lot of additional verses online, but here are the lyrics I use. Click on the triangle for the tune. On the ukulele, you can play it by cycling through C, F, and G7 all the way through the song:

Out of my window, looking through the night, (C F G7)
I can see the barges flickering light. (C F G7 C)
Softly flows the river to the sea (C F G7)
And the barges too go silently. (C F G7 C)

Barges, I would like to go with you. (C F G7)
I would like to sail the ocean blue. (C F G7 C)
Barges, have you treasures in your hold? (C F G7)
Do you fight with pirates brave and bold? (C F G7 C)

Out of my window, looking through the night,
I can see the barges flickering light.
Carrying their cargo out into the sea,
How I wish that someday they’d take me.


ACTIVITY: Treasure Map


I had done this activity once before for a Map-themed storytime at our other branch. The picture above is actually from that library. I hand drew the map and copied it onto tan paper. I crumpled up each copy before spreading it out again to give it to the kids. I made signs to mark tables with names like Ship-Shape Shelter, Parrot Paradise, Mermaid Isle, and Dragon Isle.

The map included an instruction to “Stop and Say, ‘Arrrr!'” at the circulation desk (I don’t think I warned my coworkers about that, but they’re usually very forgiving of my weekly mayhem). I hid the treasure in the 910.4 area of the nonfiction section (the Dewey Decimal number for pirates and shipwrecks). I used my daughter’s Playmobil Pirate Chest (yes, I plundered her toy closet), and filled it with toy gold coins and spyglasses (extending telescopes) from Oriental Trading Company. Each child was allowed to take one coin and one spyglass.

The Treasure!

The Treasure!

The innovation I added this week was throwing in a craft at the table near the “Storytime Cove,” for the kids to do while I hid the treasure and put the signs around the library to mark different landmarks. My coworker Angela Luis had given me an ice cream craft, with colorful pictures of different flavored ice cream for the kids to stack on paper cones (I don’t know where she got it, but it was very cute). It didn’t exactly fit the theme, although I labelled the table “Isle of Ice Cream” to tie it in. I think if I do it again, I will have the kids make hooks out of aluminum foil and plastic cups, a craft they have enjoyed in the past. (There’s an example of this, along with several other pirate crafts on the Summer Camp for Kids site).

Ice Cream Cone Craft on the Isle of Ice Cream

Ice Cream Cone Craft on the Isle of Ice Cream

isle ice

All and all, it was a fun evening, and the kids were excited about the treasure hunt. I think next year, I may add more “islands” with even more craft stations.

What are your favorite pirate books?