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Childrens Books About Ships and Boats

Updated on September 14, 2014

Kids Books about Boats and Ships

Boats and Ships fascinate most kids. So, children's books on nautical topics naturally appeal to them, too. If you want a kid to read, give them a book about something they love. Books about ships and boats fill that bill nicely.

Boats and Ships fascinate most kids. So, children's books on nautical topics naturally appeal to them, too. If you want a kid to read, give them a book about something they love. Books about ships and boats fill that bill nicely.

Whether they are sailing a toy boat in a bathtub, kayaking a calm stream with Dad, or planning a fishing trip with Gramps, thoughts of sailing on some type of vessel seem to bring a smile to the faces of children from toddlers to teens.

Tales of sea voyages are tantalizing and mysterious to youngsters, and they love reading about them. They also like stories about tug, and finding out new things, what the different kinds of vessels there are, and which are the largest in the world. I've gathered books and information about all that and more right here on this page.

You'll find books organized by age / reading level, interspersed with some fun facts. quizzes, and videos. If someone asks you the difference between a ship and a boat, I'm going to tell you an easy way to answer the question.

Photo (my own)

Early Morning in Ft. Lauderdale Harbor

The Mail Boat goes back and forth between

Florida and The Bahamas every day.

Cruise Ship carrying Life Boats
Cruise Ship carrying Life Boats | Source

The Difference Between a Ship and a Boat?

An Easy Way to Tell the Difference

If someone asks you what the difference is, here is an easy way to answer the question.

A ship can carry a boat, but a boat can't carry a ship.

This photo shows part of a large cruise SHIP, with several yellow life BOATS hanging on the side.

Generally, ships are larger vessels built for deep water navigation or ocean transport of cargo or passengers.

Boats, on the other hand, are usually designed for inland waterways and/or ocean areas that are close to the coast, rather than ocean travel between lands.

For Toddlers and PreSchoolers

ceramic tile
ceramic tile | Source

Reading To Baby Is Important!

The importance of reading to your baby can't be over emphasized!

Babies who are read to are more likely to become good readers themselves.

Children who are good readers are more likely to succeed in school, too.

If you have a nautical bent, there's nothing wrong with reading to your infant from books on nautical topics. They just love to hear your voice and see the pretty pictures!

Books about Boats - To Read to your Baby or Toddler

Here are a few choices for your youngest mariners, who will love the bright colors and lively illustrations in these books about boats for young children.

Here are a couple of classics that I remember well from when I was a small child. They are appropriate for babies through children of kidergarten age.

Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River
Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures Down the River

Remember this one? it's a heartwarming classic for toddlers


A Tugboat Pushing A Cruise Ship Around

A little tugboat pushing a big cruise ship in Nassau Harbor.
A little tugboat pushing a big cruise ship in Nassau Harbor. | Source

Tugs are Hard Workers - Big Vessels Often Need Their Help

Tugboats are popular subjects for children's stories. Why? Because, although they are small, they are strong and powerful. Big ships that are many times their size need their help to move into and out of ports.

It's an amazing sight to see a tug, pushing a huge cargo ship or a large cruise liner. The tug is so tiny by comparison! But their bigger brothers really do need their help a lot of times.

The above picture was taken from the seventh deck of the Sovereign of the Seas, as a tug was doing its job in the harbor at Nassau, in The Bahamas.

I think the reason tugboats have such an appeal to young children is that they see them as an example of someone smaller (like them) helping someone big and mighty. In fact, this is the underlying theme of a couple of classic stories where the hero is a tugboat.

Books About Ships - For the Very Young

Even if they don't live near the ocean, ships still have a special appeal for many youngsters. Get them a children's book about ships and help them explore beyond their immediate horizon. There's a good chance they'll be fascinated with the topic, and fascinated with having you read to them, too!

Sheep on a Ship board book
Sheep on a Ship board book

From the popular sheep books series, for babies and toddlers


For Early Readers


Keep Your Child Interested in Reading - Provide Plenty of Material to Satisfy their Interests

If your child is not yet reading on his or her own, it's important to continue reading to them daily.

One key to getting them reading is to provide them with plenty of books on a variety of topics that might interest them. (At this age, kids are curious about just about everything, so that part's easy)

Another thing is to provide books that are both right at and just above their level. They'll enjoy the ease of books at their level, and rise to the challenge of ones that are just above. (If everything that's presented to them is perceived as easy, they'll learn a false lesson that life is easy, with no challenges, and they may not develop the habit of trying harder when the need arises.)

Boat Books - Easy Readers for Beginners

These books about boats, and the ones about ships that follow, are rated for those children who are just starting to learn to read, and some for those who are now reading their own.

The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell
The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell

You've heard the song ... now here's the true story of the Edmund Fitzgerald, told for young readers.

Also available for Kindle.

Everything Goes: By Sea
Everything Goes: By Sea

A fun book in the Everything Goes series.


Real Tugboats Dancing to an All Time Favorite Musical Piece

Tugboats dancing to Beethoven .... how cool is that?

The name of the musical piece is "Fur Elise," a piece that I learned to play as a young girl. (It was one of my very favorites.)

And they're real tugboats, too!

Adults and children alike will enjoy watching this entertaining video.

Tugboat Ballet - Video

Ship Themed Early Readers - That Beginning Readers Will Like

There are plenty of books written for this reading level. And that's how many a child who is learning to read should have - plenty!

U.S. Navy Alphabet Book
U.S. Navy Alphabet Book

Just the thing for a child with a parent, relative, or family friend who is in the Navy. Here's something they'll eagerly read, and easily relate to.


The Theomitor

The Theomitor - a bulk carrier
The Theomitor - a bulk carrier | Source

A Bulk Carrier - At the Port of Tampa

Here's an interesting ship that we saw a while back when cruising out of the Port of Tampa.

This is the Theomitor, and it's a dry bulk carrier. That means it carries dry agricultural products (like grains and corn) or raw materials for industrial use.

See the four large yellow cranes? Those can load the cargo into the ship's five holds and unload it again at the end of the voyage. This means this ship doesn't need heavy equipment on the shore side to do the loading and unloading.

For Older Kids

Reading Material with Boat Themes - for 8 to 12 Year Olds

What you'll find in this section and the next are books for kids of around 8 and up, who are comfortable with reading on their own. Books shown here are ones that will appeal to their naturally inquisitive minds.

Pharaoh's Boat
Pharaoh's Boat

Archeologists unearthed the remains of an ancient egyptian boat in 1954. this books takes you back to when it was build, and then forward again to its rediscovery.

Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)
Paddle-to-the-Sea (Sandpiper Books)

Author Holling's award winning Paddle-to-the-Sea is something of a classic that kids around 9 years and older will learn a lot from - about the Great Lakes. Kids who read this book seem to retain fond memories of it for years.

The Supertanker TI Asia (formerly the Hellespont Alhambra)
The Supertanker TI Asia (formerly the Hellespont Alhambra) | Source

How Big Do Those Seagoing Vessels Get?

Really, Really Big!

While it's difficult to compare different types of vessels to one another, that's just what this table is doing. It shows the world's largest supertanker, the world's largest container ship, and the world's largest cruise ship.

When you look at the table below, think about this: A football field is 360 feet from one goal line to the other. That means that the Allure of the Seas is about as long as three football fields laid end to end!

Next time you attend a football game, take a good look at how big that field is. Then, think again about how big these really big ships really are!

Comparison Chart: Three BIG Ships

TI Asia
1243 ft
Allure of the Seas
Cruise Ship
1181 ft
Evelyn Maersk
Container Ship
1305 ft


- Allure of the Seas has a sister ship, Oasis of the Seas, which is 2 inches shorter.

- Evelyn Maersk has seven sister ships. All their names begin with the letter "E."

- TI Asia originally had three sisters, but she is the only one of the four still in service.

- The Allure of the Seas, with 16 passenger decks, is about twice as tall as the TI Asia

- GT, Gross Tonnage is NOT a measurement of weight, but of inside volume or space. Naturally, a Cruise Ship will have more than a container ship.

Ship Stories for Older Kids - Children Over Eight Will Enjoy These Books

My Ocean Liner: Across the North Atlantic on the Great Ship Normandie
My Ocean Liner: Across the North Atlantic on the Great Ship Normandie

A look at life on a transatlantic voyage of a great ocean liner.

Ghost Ship
Ghost Ship

Who would like to read a mystery story about a 12 year old girl investigating a old pirate ship? Lots of kids would!


Big Ships, Busy Harbor

The huge cargo carriers that transport goods across the sea are pretty amazing. The goods (toys, clothes, kitchen appliances, just about anything you can name) are loaded into large metal boxes called containers. One size container is 8 feet high and 40 feet long, but some are even bigger!

Once the containers are full, huge cranes lift them onto the ship, and off again at the end of the voyage.

The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II
The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk in World War II

It's fiction, but based on a pretty amazing real event from World War II.

A boat and a ship
A boat and a ship | Source

Have You Ever Been on a Boat or Ship? - (a poll)

Have you ridden a ferry or glass bottom boat, or sailed on a sailboat, or rowed a rowboat, or paddled a canoe, or gone kayaking?

Then, you've been on a boat!

Have you taken a sea voyage on a cruise ship? Served on an aircraft carrier or battleship? Worked or traveled on a tramp steamer, or ridden aboard a cargo ship?

Then, you are probably a seaman, or at least a cruiser.

Have you been on a boat or a ship?

See results

Is one of your childhood favorites included here, or is there another one you'd like to recommend?

Or, maybe you'd just take a moment to say hello, matey!

The Guestbook Is: OPEN

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    • chrisilouwho profile image

      chrisilouwho 4 years ago

      Thank you this was fun!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 5 years ago

      Some great choices of books here and interesting about the differences between ships and boats.

    • KayeSI profile image

      KayeSI 5 years ago

      I have to admit, thanks to perpetual seasickness, it really wasn't much of a pleasure BUT this lens IS a pleasure - grand for teaching our grandkids nautical necessities. :) And since they are building their own ships and boats on Minecraft, perfect timing. I'm linking to it in my upcoming lens on educational books for kids. :) Thank you.

    • Michelllle profile image

      Michelllle 5 years ago

      Love this! Really nice list of books!

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Perfect for children who love boats and ships. For a while my son was focused on the Titanic... I think that was in first grade.

    • gaga6599 profile image

      gaga6599 5 years ago

      Nice collection of children's books!

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      @AlleyCatLane: Thank you!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 5 years ago

      I enjoyed boating as a child and sailing as an adult and my son learned to sail as a child, too. I have been buying up books for a collection here for my grandson so I will have to find one for him here amid the great selection of children's books about ships and boats.

    • profile image

      mistaben 5 years ago

      Amazing resource for kids! Great stuff.

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      I've been on a ferry many times from Vancouver to Vancouver island, but never on a cruise :)

    • BelleBanks profile image

      BelleBanks 5 years ago

      My youngest loves all things boats. Will look into these books more. Thanks :)

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      @Bill Armstrong: Good point, Billy!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      Scruffy the Tugboat is a really sweet story book about boats.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      Good job I got all the questions correct ;) just thought I would mention, a Submarine is also known as a boat ;)

    • craftycollector profile image

      craftycollector 5 years ago

      I groew up on a sailing ship, TS Arethusa, and have a lens about it. I learned to row, scull and sail all kinds of smaller boats fromcanoes to ship's cutters and whalers. I lived there for more than 20 years. It was wonderful.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Love the explanation between a boat and a ship.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      very useful book collection for kids. nicely done

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      @mihgasper: Thanks!

    • profile image

      rhazor 5 years ago

      Recommended for the kids

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a great resource for parents and teachers. Nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I forgot to say, congratulations on front page honors!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just cruising by to enjoy your children's books about ships once again and making a delivery!

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 5 years ago

      What a nice collection of books on boats for children. If I had a little one I would be going over this list for bedtime stories.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I enjoy books about people who have survived being lost at sea or shipwrecked. I don't enjoy the scary shark parts, but I love it when individuals find a way to make it until help arrives. I also enjoy books about people who go on sailing adventures (like a solo journey around the world, etc.). Thanks for another great collection of books. Appreciated!

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      We like Scuffy the Tugboat around here. Great themed book lens!

    • melissiaoliver profile image

      melissiaoliver 6 years ago

      Really interesting lens! Another children's book that involves boats is Arthur Ransome's classic Swallows and Amazons. Such a great book!

    • profile image

      LincolnsNonFictionalTimes 6 years ago

      Nice info given on ships and books for children

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      I used to be so fascinated by ships when I was little - probably because we lived in landlocked Missouri, but also just because it matched my sense of adventure.I have pinned this to my board "Children's Books I love" so that more folks can see it.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      You turned a children's book lien into something adults will love too. :)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Even the really older kids in our family love boats and ships. We watch the whole Horatio Hornblower series and Master and commander every year. Enjoyed your lens very much.

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 6 years ago

      That remind me to buy some book about ships and boats to my kids :)

    • profile image

      YourFirstTime 6 years ago

      Tons of information here. I think I can use it in the classroom for sure.

    • profile image

      Natural_Skin_Care 6 years ago

      I was infatuated with boats and ships as as child. I guess I still am.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wonderful resource for children! Good to get the feet wet early on in life! :)

    • profile image

      Auntie-M LM 6 years ago

      Fun books. Do you have anything on a pirate ship?

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 6 years ago

      Great selections here for kids. I love cruising.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      @AnnaleeBlysse: hmmm... Interesting!

      Now that I think about it, I can see where those stories would be enticing, too!

    • profile image

      AnnaleeBlysse 6 years ago

      Some of my favorite books as a child go in the opposite direction of your lens here. I wasn't so much interested in reading about sailing, but what happened when that didn't work out so well for the hero or heroine. I loved reading stories like about shipwrecks and castaways. Stories like Island of the Blue Dolphins. I read that book ragged I loved it so much.