In honor of the end of Shark Week, here are our favorite children’s picture books about sharks. Most of our picks are non-fiction. When choosing fiction picture books for themed exploration, I try to choose ones that weave facts into the narrative. While there is no shortage of cute picture books with shark protagonists, the sharks tend to take the role of “scary-looking but really sweet inside.” While sharks are not the indiscriminate man-killers often shown in popular culture, they also are not the misunderstood, kindly friends of fish portrayed in children’s books. There is no real examination of the nature of sharks. Any children’s authors want to bite? Any readers have good suggestions?
Hark! A Shark!: All About Sharks (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library): We always enjoy these Cat in the Hat Learning Library books. They are packed with plenty of facts and the rhyming text makes it easy for the kids to learn. This one addresses pop culture images of sharks, shark anatomy, and different kinds of sharks (including prehistoric sharks).
Surprising Sharks: Read and Wonder, by Nicola Davies: This book has just enough detail for my younger kids. The book is framed within a context that most sharks are not dangerous to humans–and humans are far more dangerous to sharks. The similarities of sharks are highlighted, along with the differences of various species. The graphics and diagrams provide extra insight. This is one of our favorite non-fiction shark books.
National Geographic Readers: Sharks! (Science Reader Level 2), by Anne Schreiber: The highlight of this book is the collection of beautiful photographs. The text focuses on defining key terms. This is a great reference resources for young kids and beginning readers and I appreciate the inclusion of actual photographs.
Amazing Sharks! (I Can Read Book 2), Sarah L. Thomson: Another great choice if you are looking for a photograph book for easy readers.
Shark in the Dark, Peter Bently: One of the few fiction picks on the list, this book follows a hungry shark searching for prey. I am not too keen on a predator being characterized as evil–after all, he needs to eat and does have an important role in the ecosystem. However, this is a more realistic portrayal than a lot of children’s fiction about sharks. And the story is an interesting, engaging one that highlights how different prey animals develop defenses. It is hard out there for a predator!
Sharkabet, by Ray Troll: If you have a shark-obsessed child who loves learning about many different species of sharks, this richly illustrated alphabet book is a perfect choice. There are sharks of all kinds, including extinct sharks.
Shark Mad Stanley (Stanley Strange Relations), by Andrew Griffin: This is another fiction choice about a boy who likes all animals but really loves sharks. In fact, he loves sharks so much that he would like one as a pet. The book details all the information he learns about sharks from one of their fishy relatives–his pet goldfish. As he considers a shark’s needs, Stanley realizes that maybe he is better off just enjoying sharks from afar and taking care of his goldfish. It is a cute way of delivering some decent factual information about sharks and relating it to a child’s world.