Ocean-based books for young kids often have no true relation to the underwater world their scuba-diving parents love. However, we’ve scoured the bookshelves and found five delightful dive books for young children. The following books depict divers and realistic marine life in a way that that scuba-loving parents will respect and children will adore.
By Jennifer Berne
“Bubbles rising through the silence of the sea,
Silvery beads of breath from a man deep, deep down
In a strange and shimmering ocean land
Of swaying plants and fantastic creatures.”
So begins the magical “Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau,” filled with lyrical text and rich illustrations in marine blues and greens. Detailing the life of the curious little boy who grew up to become our champion of the oceans, your inner diver will thrill to see a simpler version of the same Cousteau story you already love.
Children will be fascinated with Cousteau’s underwater explorations. But the book also teaches about curiosity, achieving your dreams and marine conservation. As with other books about the beginnings of scuba, there are a couple of descriptions that may make you wince, such as the line about hitching rides on sea turtles. However, this is just a small blemish on an otherwise fantastic book which will inspire children to scuba dive.
Age range: 4 to 7 years old
By Eric Carle
While author Eric Carle doesn’t depict any divers in this story, the brilliantly illustrated book includes a sweet tale about “Mister Seahorse” who carries Mrs. Seahorse’s eggs around in his pouch and meets other underwater fathers also caring for their young. Merging a creative lesson in camouflage with the play of hide and seek, special acetate pages conceal and then reveal surprises like stonefish behind rocks and leaf fish behind seaweed.
Serving as a tribute to dads and unique marine life like pipefish and tilapia, this is the perfect book for a scuba-diving father to read to his child. In addition, the innovative design and tissue-paper collage artwork will remind you of the author’s most well-known book (“The Very Hungry Caterpillar”) in the very best way.
Age range: 4 to 7 years
By Salina Yoon
This adorable dive guide by Salina Yoon explores the ocean with your child in an interactive board book. Introducing eight common marine animals, from jellyfish to pufferfish, it even correctly uses the term “sea star” instead of starfish. Extra-large flaps, perfect for little hands, flip up reveal fun, basic facts about each animal. The bright, happy colors and brief rhyming verse focus kids’ attention while the written words are clear and easy to read.
This sturdy, die-cut book is rounded on one corner to follow the curve of the diver’s head on the cover. Whether by design or happy accident, this evokes the feel of a scuba mask when the book is fully opened, forming curved edges on both sides. This cute book is pleasing to the eye and could even serve as a paper-based version of a child’s very first dive.
Age range: 3 to 7 years
By Lonely Planet Kids
Lonely Planet aims to kick-start the travel bug in younger audiences with “Let’s Explore…Ocean,” a story of two junior explorers roaming the world on a dive trip.
While the use of the word “flippers” instead of fins is a little cringe-worthy, this activity book pays enough careful attention to other diver details to create a true underwater adventure. Vibrant stickers and inducements to draw encourage creativity while puzzles and marine facts promote learning.
With over 250 stickers and varied puzzles in a lengthy 48-page book, this is ideal rainy day or car-trip entertainment to keep children amused and bring the ocean to life.
Age range: 5 to 8 years
By Marianne Berkes
Whether you sing the included verses or simply read along, “Over in the Ocean” by Marianne Berkes is a charming tool for learning to count. Both kids and adults will love the breathtaking designs created by shaping clay into exquisite constructs which are then photographed to produce an almost animated 3-D effect. Scuba-loving mothers and fathers will also relish the casual references to scuba divers along with common marine sights and sounds.
The rhythm and rhymes of the story coupled with the recommended hand movements included at the end of the book meant to accompany each animal introduction help deliver an enchanting read to any kindergartner.
Age range: 5 to 6 years