-Updated 2024-

If you love adventures


you love picture books.

These books are the perfect blend.

Here are some of my VERY FAVORITE BOAT BOOKS. Old and New.

Get ready to set sail!

Boat on the water and a few seagulls.

OLD WOOD BOAT by Nikki McClure. Published by Candlewick

A dilapidated boat gains a new life and offers a new life in return. Full of beautiful cut-paper illustrations, this lyrical story of adventure is a feast for the eyes. It is also full of meaning and heart. Overall, it is just lovely.

Cute little sailboat with a face on the water.

LILY LEADS THE WAY by Margi Preus and Matt Myers. Published by Candlewick

Lily is a really cute sailboat who shares the harbor with much larger boats. She has to learn to use her voice if she is going to be able to get in and out of the harbor through the lift bridge. This book has a very authentic feel infused by the author’s life experiences.

Sea monster in the water. Book titled Monsters in the Briny.

MONSTERS IN THE BRINY by Lynn Becker and Scott Brundage. Published by Sleeping Bear Press

Written to the tune of “What do you do with a drunken sailor?”, each verse talks about a different sea monster. The words line up perfectly with the tune and the illustrations are vivid and fun.

The rhyming! The artwork! The animals! I don’t know what I like best about THE CIRCUS SHIP by Christ Van Dusen, but it is a story you don’t want to miss. The circus animals’ ship sails and they make their way inland where they try to win over the local townspeople.

Classic book with animals and plants.

THE MAGGIE B. by Irene Hass. Published by Margaret K McElderry Books

Originally published in 1975, this charming book is about a little girl who longs for an adventure on the sea “with someone nice for company.” In the most whimsical of ways, her wish comes true.

Older man and a little girl in a boat.

SWASHBY AND THE SEA by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez-Neal. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

I am a HUGE Beth Ferry fan and this book is right there at the top. Swashby is a salty old sailor, but it is hard to stay tough and cold when a friendly neighbor comes along. Honestly, this book is brilliant.

A boat floating on water on the cover of the picture book THE PAPER BOAT.

THE PAPER BOAT by THAO LAM. Published by Owl Kids Books.

Okay, so I am also a big Thao Lam fan. This book is wordless, but vividly conveys feelings associated with her parents’ flee from Vietnam when she was two years old. It is inspirational and touching.

Beautiful night on the ocean with stars in the sky.

WISHES by Muon Thi Van and Victo Ngai is another refugee story. “If you had to leave everything behind and travel by boat across rocy waters to find safe harbor… What would you wish for.” This story gorgeously offers some of those answers. Honestly, some the most incredible illustrations out there.

Cute little classic looking boat on the water.

I don’t think it is possible to recommend boat books without including the classic, SCUFFY THE TUGBOAT by Gertrude Crampton and Tibor Gergely.

This is the cutest little Golden Book written in 1946 about leaving his home to explore the world, only to discover the place he loves most is home.

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.” – Jhumpa Lahiri


Other Great Picture Book Lists-

Little cartoon worm and lots of books about worms.
Lots of picture books about underwear and a picture of underwear with a smile
Unicorn picture books. Lots of books.