My Favorite Picture Books About the Ocean/Water from Oceans of Possibilities

As many librarians have, I spent the entire summer coordinating all my programs and storytimes to Oceans of Possibilities, the CSLP (Collaborative Summer Library Program) theme for 2022. Having sufficiently exhausted every last iota of interest I could possibly have in the ocean/water, I feel like I am drowning and ready to climb up onto the land! I present to you now a list of picture books that stand out from my waterlogged summer.

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: A boy receives a goldfish for a pet, and after being initially bummed, comes to like him quite a bit

Cute, relatable

Notes: Refrains with “Not Norman” throughout the story.

Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins

Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: FISH!

Vibrant and bold, simple phrases including opposites and counting

Notes: While reading, there are many opportunities for prompting interactions, such as “What animal does this fish look like?” (“An elephant!”)

Bubbles... Up! by Jacqueline Davis, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Bubbles… Up! by Jacqueline Davis, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: Takes place in a community swimming pool and includes events like a passing thunderstorm and saving the baby brother’s ducky.

Lively illustrations, fun phrases, alliterations, and rhymes

Notes: This is an easy tie-in for a fun bubbles activity. After reading this, I broke out the bubble machine and the kids had a blast.

Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

Ocean Meets Sky by Terry Fan and Eric Fan

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: A boy misses his grandfather and dreams he makes a boat that sails up into the sky.

Beautiful illustrations, not too wordy, meaningful, wondrous

Notes: The illustrations simply blow me away. Mesmerizing.

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Barnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: Barnacle is bored and envies a fish… until that fish gets eaten.

Simple, short, funny

Notes: Barnacle is a very envious fellow, so it’s fun to play up his attitude while reading aloud.

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios

How to Code a Sandcastle by Josh Funk, illustrated by Sara Palacios

Audience: Grades 3-6
Topic: At the end of summer, a girl codes her robot to help her build the perfect sandcastle.

Introduces basic coding concepts and problem-solving

Notes: A great follow-up for this book is the app Sprite Box, which is a side-scrolling game that prompts the player to gradually build upon coding basics. The kids loved it.

Can I Give You a Squish? by Emily Neilson

Can I Give You a Squish? by Emily Neilson

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: Kai loves giving squishes, until he hugs a pufferfish who dislikes them and Kai learns to ask what each animal prefers

Teaches consent, short and sparse, sweet mother-son ending

Notes: At the beginning, I established with the kids that squish = hug, which I think helped.

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers

Audience: Preschool storytime
Topic: A goldfish chronicles his boring day-to-day life, becoming grumpier as more items are added to his fish bowl.

Funny, long-ish, some clunky wording, adults enjoyed too

Notes: Probably best for a slightly older group.


Thanks for reading! For more book lists from Slanted Spines, check out this page.