Hello shark week! While we are not huge fans of sharks in this house, we are huge fans of the ocean. J has been fascinated with oceans, dolphins, and coral reefs since she was in 1st grade (she’s going into 7th!) and still considers being a marine biologist. E has always been fascinated by the ocean, adores squids and jellyfish, and wants to find a way to clean up the oceans (she’s my future president). So while the rest of the internet goes crazy about shark week, I’m going to focus my energy on oceans in general.
For kids who love learning about the ocean and how things work, National Geographic Kids has come out with a great series of books that are part graphic novel part guidebook to a few subjects. I was able to review Dr. E’s Super Solar System last year and now I have their newest book, Captain Aquatica’s Awesome Ocean.
This book is so full of colorful pictures and images it is sure to grab a child’s attention. But there is also a wealth of information! Want to learn about plate tectonics? It’s in here. Tidle waves? Yes. A whole chapter about sharks and a chapter about a wide variety of other ocean animals. There is even a chapter abut saving our oceans and what factors are doing the most harm. An awesome book for budding marine biologists!
Another gorgeous book that tells about the animals of the ocean as well as how ocean ecosystems work is Ocean: Secrets of the Deep by Sabrina Weiss and illustrated by Giulia de Amicis. This book gives a great overview of the ocean and then has chapters that show some of the more curious aspects of the deep – the various depth zones of the ocean, animals that are giants of the sea, camouflage, unusual friendships, like the clown fish and sea anemones, and more! The information is not quite as dense as Captain Aquatica, but pieced together to excite a young mind to discover more.
National Geographic Kids has put out many other wonderful ocean themed books, but I think my favorite is Ultimate Oceanpedia. This is one of those books that can grow with your kids and has something for everyone. This book is broken down into seven sections – Oceans, Ocean Life, Ocean in Motion, Wild Weather, Underwater Exploration, Along the Coast, and When People and Oceans Meet. The information itself has large chunks about main topics and then fills in holes with lots of little details, so while it is an encyclopedia, it could be read like a book – which is what fascinated kids like to do.
Another beautiful book for younger children is Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes and Jeanette Canyon. The illustrations are absolutely stunning! They are all made from clay and are so full of details. The book features a different animal on each spread and is also a counting book. After getting two lines about the group on the page, there are two lines that talk about something that is special about that animal – like dolphins jumping and seahorses fluttering. The words can actually be sung to “Over the Meadow,” and even if you don’t sing them, the author has included hand motions to go along with each spread. This would make a wonderful read aloud!
W is for Waves: An Ocean Alphabet is a great addition to the Science Alphabet series. This beautiful book takes you from Atlantis to Zooplankton and everything in between. You get to meet Jacques Cousteau and also learn of accidents like Exxon Valdez. Each letter gets a gorgeous image with a 4 line rhyming couplet along with detailed paragraphs of information for older kids. From mythical to scientific, this book is a great one for young ocean lovers to look through.
No book list on oceans during shark week could possibly leave out Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenia Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating. I actually wrote about this book in 2017 when it came out. It is the wonderful story of Eugenia Clark and how she ignored those who said that a girl couldn’t be a zoologist and especial not one who swam with sharks. For a complete review, check out my older post.
Another fascinating book for older kids is The New Ocean: The Fate of Life in a Changing Sea by Bryn Barnard. This book takes a look at the horrifying amount of plastic that is getting thrown in the ocean and how it is affecting habitats and animals. After giving a general overview of what is happening to the ocean, Barnard looks at 6 different species. Fascinating information such as the fact that an Australian box jellyfish called the sea wasp is considered the most venomous creature in the ocean. Readers also learn how humans are contributing to animal extinction, such as the fact that sea turtles see plastic bags floating in the ocean and think they are delicious jellyfish. Unfortunately, when they eat a plastic bag, it slowly starves turtles to death. An important book for older kids to read to understand what changes they can make and perhaps get more involved.
Finally, I love the Science Comics series. We have Science Comics – Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean due to J’s love of coral reef’s. There is also a book on Sharks: Natures Perfect Hunter. What is awesome about these books is that they are scientific graphic novels. Kids love graphic novels and publishers are taking advantage of that fact. By having the images and the text together, these books manage to hold students’ attention longer. So even though these might look simple, they are really intended for older elementary and middle school kids. There is a lot of detailed information that would completely go over the head of a younger child and potentially bore them. Just another example of how publishers and authors are making nonfiction fun.
Finally, considering that it is shark week, I felt I had to throw in one other amazing book that I can’t believe I never actually reviewed on the blog. I posted this on instagram in October of 2018. Scholastic has come up with a great readable biography series called “she dared.” The first two books were on Malala Yousafzai and Bethany Hamilton. Not everyone knows who Bethany Hamilton is, but it was a shark that turned her into a symbol of strength and determination. She shows everyone that you can never give up on your dreams, even after a shark bites off your arm. This book allows us to follow her journey from injury to her comeback, understanding her fears and set-backs. If you haven’t checked out this series, it is well worth it for kids in grade 3-7.