The Best Books About Seals (Including a Dopamine-Boosting Option!)

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: May 27, 2024
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Seals are curious animals, with scientists still unsure of their exact origins. They started out as land-dwelling carnivores and over time evolved into the semi-aquatic mammals we know and love today. They’re remarkable, able to regulate their body temperatures even in icy waters. Although they evolved from living on land, they can spend months at a time out at sea, sleeping underwater. On the smaller end, they grow to weigh around 100 pounds, but the largest recorded seal ever grew to weigh over 8,000 pounds!

There is plenty to learn when it comes to seals. We compiled some of the best books about seals in the list below. The first is a deep look into seals and sea lions. The author explores their evolution, lifestyles, and how they’re expected to continue evolving. We couldn’t shy away from the opportunity to incorporate a photography book with a double purpose: to offer educational photographs and give you a nice dopamine boost! We include a book based on a true story, empowering fiction books, and a wonderful coloring book for adults with tons of gorgeous seal illustrations!

  1. Seals and Sea Lions of the World
    • Broadly covers animals of the Pinnipedia order, including seals, sea lions, and walruses.
    • Each animal is described and illustrated.
    • Provides analysis into these animals' relationship with humans.
    Check Amazon
  2. Roly-Poly Round Seals!
    • 96 pages.
    • Covers three particularly round seals from Japan.
    • Arare-chan, Yuki-chan, and Moya-kun — the features seals — all live in Kairukan, an aquarium in Osaka, Japan, where the author, Chiho Kuwodo, photographed them.
    • The best of a huge collection of photos.
    Check Amazon
  3. Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal
    • 48 pages.
    • Recommended by customers for children ages 4 through 7.
    • A fun children's story about a seal becoming a Navy SEAL.
    Check Amazon
  4. A Seal Called Andre
    • 200 pages.
    • Recommended for readers ages 9 through 12.
    • A true story about the author's friendship with a harbor seal.
    Check Amazon
  5. If Memory Surfs: A Book for Healing
    • 37 pages.
    • Recommended for readers ages 7 and older.
    • A book about overcoming fear and grief to live life to the fullest.
    Check Amazon

A-Z Animals Top Picks for Books About Seals

#1 Best Overall: Seals and Sea Lions of the World by Nigel Bonner

The best overall book about seals is Seals and Sea Lions of the World by Michael Bonner.

This book is available in both hardcover and paperback formats. It covers everything you’d want to know about the seals. The author, Nigel Bonner, invites you to explore their evolution. He expands on how although seals are mammals, they very much live an aquatic lifestyle. In fact, their limbs are now completely adapted solely for swimming instead of traversing land. This book also covers information on sea lions and walruses. Essentially, the various families of the order Pinnipedia.

You get to explore not just their evolution but also their life cycles, zoology, classification, and distribution. You gain a solid understanding of their current status and Bonner also invites you to consider their future. Bonner goes even further to examine the relationship that seals have with humans. He doesn’t shy away from controversy and delves deeper to understand the conflicts that exist when it comes to seals, fishing, culling, and the fur trade. He touches on these topics in a very professional way. He does not have an emotional approach; rather, he relays his first-hand knowledge and experience. It also includes color photographs throughout the book along with maps and detailed diagrams to visually complement the subject matter.

Pros and Cons of Seals and Sea Lions of the World by Nigel Bonner

ProsCons
This book explores everything you need to know about seals, including their evolution and life cycle.None
It discusses the relationship between seals and humans.
This book examines the conflicts that seals face when it comes to hunting and fishing.
It includes color photographs, maps, and detailed diagrams.
Best Overall
Seals and Sea Lions of the World
  • Broadly covers animals of the Pinnipedia order, including seals, sea lions, and walruses.
  • Each animal is described and illustrated.
  • Provides analysis into these animals' relationship with humans.
Check Amazon

2. Best Dopamine-Boosting: Roly-Poly Round Seals! by Chiho Kudawa

If you’re looking for something that immediately puts a smile on your face then we suggest Roly-Poly Round Seals! by Chiho Kudawa.

This book presents the roundest seals you’ve ever seen. It features three specific seals. Their names are Arare-Chan, Yuki-Chan, and Moya-Kun. They all live in an aquarium located in Osaka, Japan. Their home has many visitors, including photographers. Chiho Kuwada is the photographer who captured these gorgeous images of these chubby, round seals. Throughout the book, you explore photographs of these three seals being as adorable as they can be. It showcases the best pictures from the collection. You see them swimming about, enjoying their environment. You also see how they ask for food with their little eyes, and how they sleep, which is just as adorable as any other thing they do.

However, customers offer a reminder that this is mostly a picture book so you’re not getting a ton of informative text.

Pros and Cons of Roly-Poly Round Seals! by Chiho Kudawa

ProsCons
This book follows the lives of three seals at an aquarium in Japan.It it largely a picture book so does not contain much informative text.
It features photographs of them eating, sleeping, and swimming.
It showcases the best pictures from the collection taken by the author.
Best Dopamine-Boosting
Roly-Poly Round Seals!
  • 96 pages.
  • Covers three particularly round seals from Japan.
  • Arare-chan, Yuki-chan, and Moya-kun — the features seals — all live in Kairukan, an aquarium in Osaka, Japan, where the author, Chiho Kuwodo, photographed them.
  • The best of a huge collection of photos.
Check Amazon

3. Best for Kids: Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal by William H. McRaven (Author) and Howard McWilliam (Illustrator)

In our opinion, the best book for kids is Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal by William H. McRaven (Author) and Howard McWilliam (Illustrator).

This book is amazing for children because it helps them develop a sense of responsibility. In this story, a seal becomes a navy SEAL. The author is Admiral William H. McRaven. He presents Skipper the seal who starts training with the Navy SEALs. He meets new friends who are incredibly hard-working, and they learn so much together. It’s not just about passing a swimming test or learning how to dive off a ship. To make it as a SEAL, you also have to know how to navigate failure, remain resilient when times get tough, and take risks. This isn’t just SEAL training, it’s training for life. The book is incredibly encouraging for young children. It’s suitable for kids between four and seven years old.

Unfortunately, some customers reported that this book lacks a real storyline and instead focuses on promoting the Navy SEALS,

Pros and Cons of Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal by William H. McRaven (Author) and Howard McWilliam (Illustrator)

ProsCons
This is a sweet story about a seal that becomes a Navy SEAL.Some customers report that it lacks a real storyline and instead promotes the Navy SEALS.
It teaches children about responsibility.
This book explores how to navigate failure and teaches children how to remain resilient during tough times.
It is suitable for children ages four to seven years.
Best for Kids
Make Your Bed with Skipper the Seal
  • 48 pages.
  • Recommended by customers for children ages 4 through 7.
  • A fun children's story about a seal becoming a Navy SEAL.
Check Amazon

4. Best True Story: A Seal Called Andre by Harry Goodridge

If you’re looking for a heartwarming true story then we suggest A Seal Called Andre by Harry Goodridge.

This book is based on a true story. It follows an unusual and special friendship between a seal named Andre and Harry Goodridge. Andre is a harbor seal who found both Penobscot Bay and Goodridge’s home equally comfortable. The story is set in Rockport, Maine. Goodridge does a fantastic job telling his story about this wonderful relationship. Andre would swim south when wintertime came around and once spring rolled around, so did Andre. This book is available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle formats.

Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars. They find it interesting and captivating. One customer says that the movie version is great, but this book really covers so many more details. It explains how harbor seals respond to training and really elucidates the wonderful personalities of these marine mammals. She learned that they’re very individualistic and that their personalities really shine when you’re paying attention.

Pros and Cons of A Seal Called Andre by Harry Goodridge

ProsCons
This book is a based on a true story about the friendship between a man and a harbor seal.None
It explains how harbor seals responds to training.
Customers report that it covers more details than the movie version.
A Seal Called Andre
  • 200 pages.
  • Recommended for readers ages 9 through 12.
  • A true story about the author's friendship with a harbor seal.
Check Amazon

5. Best for Coloring: Seal Coloring Book by Kodomo Publishing

Seal Coloring Book by Kodomo Publishing is a little different because you’re not going to be reading, but rather coloring.

This book contains 8.5” x 11” pages, all of them single-sided. The aim of this book is to provide you with a relaxing experience as you color in various illustrations of seals. If this is an animal you love, this coloring book is perfect. You get a chance to bring each page to life in your own unique way. It’s appropriate for people of all ages and skill levels.

It includes some coloring tips and even color test pages. You get two copies of every image so if you happen to make a mistake, don’t worry because you get another try. Each of the illustrations is printed on black-backed pages to reduce any bleed through. This is especially important if you have a preference for more pigmented mediums like markers.

Pros and Cons of Seal Coloring Book by Kodomo Publishing

ProsCons
This book provides numerous images of seals for you to color in.None
Each page is single sided and black-backed to prevent the color from bleeding through.
There are two copies of every image.
It includes color test pages.
Best for Coloring

6. Most Inspirational: If Memory Surfs: A Book for Healing by Christy Burbidge (Author) and Rhonda Van (Illustrator)

The most inspirational book on the list is If Memory Surfs: A Book for Healing by Christy Burbidge (Author) and Rhonda Van (Illustrator).

This book is about a seal whose name is Memory. In the story, something bad happens, she gets injured, and she comes to the understanding that life for her just won’t be the same. She ends up recovering at a rescue center where she meets some new friends. Those new friends are going through something similar, with injuries of their own. They get a chance to know one another better together during the time of healing. When eventually the time comes for Memory to start surfing the waves again, she has a trauma response.

She’s so fearful, she freezes up. But she knows that if she doesn’t take this next step and conquer her fear, she won’t ever be able to see her family again. In this book, you find out what decision Memory makes and how she comes to make it. It’s a fantastic story for kids and adults alike. It’s illustrated throughout and offers insight into how our natural world works, how grief works, and the importance of helping others. With this story, you learn more about self-esteem and how to navigate difficult emotions. You learn how Memory overcomes even the most insurmountable of problems.

Unfortunately, some reviewers reported that the action scenes in this book are rushed.

Pros and Cons of If Memory Surfs: A Book for Healing by Christy Burbidge (Author) and Rhonda Van (Illustrator)

ProsCons
This is an inspirational story about a seal who is injured and her subsequent recovery.Some reviewers reported that the action scenes were rushed.
It teaches about the importance of helping others.
It explores how grief works.
This book teaches about self-esteem and how to navigate difficult emotions.
Best Inspirational
If Memory Surfs: A Book for Healing
  • 37 pages.
  • Recommended for readers ages 7 and older.
  • A book about overcoming fear and grief to live life to the fullest.
Check Amazon

Criteria: What to Look For in Books About Seals

There are a few factors for you to consider before purchasing a book about seals. First, decide if you want something educational about seals or if you’re more interested in a fun story with an empowering message. There are actual seals and there are seal characters in fictional narratives. For many people, having both in their library is ideal. However, if you are focused on research, you definitely need something fact-based.

It’s also important to consider the reading level of the book. If you’re buying something for the wonderful seal-loving kiddo in your life, make sure it’s appropriate for them. Luckily, many authors manage to put together beautiful works that are indiscriminate of age — you can usually enjoy these books along with your kids. Other books like photography books and coloring books are also awesome because you can share them with your whole family.

If you have a fascination with seals, almost any book will do. You might enjoy a book that is put together by a photographer and incorporates gorgeous photos of sweet, smiling seals. You may even just enjoy a coloring book that allows you to appreciate your favorite animal in a different way. You can spend time looking at seal illustrations while coloring them in and reducing your stress. You can also invite your children to fall in love with seals the way you have. There are lots of options for you to peruse and the ones in this list are a great place to start.

About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

The Best Books About Seals (Including a Dopamine-Boosting Option!) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Will seals let you pet them?

It may be tempting to approach a seal, but these animals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is actually illegal for you to touch a seal. You can’t feed them either. You have to keep a safe distance away from them and just enjoy their cuteness from afar.

Are sea lions and seals the same?

Some people might use these terms interchangeably, but sea lions and seals are not the same. They have different characteristics. For example, sea lions are brown, and they have very loud barks. They sort of waddle on land using their large flippers. Seals do not wobble on land, but rather they sort of wriggle on rocks using their bellies. While sea lions have earflaps, seals don’t.

Are seals friendly?

Usually, seals are not aggressive toward humans. They can be quite playful and curious. There are places like zoos and marine parks where you can watch how seals interact with humans. However, you can also safely watch seals in their natural habitats to see how they interact with one another.

What are three interesting facts about seals?

Seals have a preference for colder waters, they enjoy sunbathing, and grey seals can live long lives, some up to 25 years!

Are seals intelligent?

They sure are! They are very curious creatures that demonstrate their intelligence in a variety of ways. For instance, they are very coordinated. When in captivity, seals learn tricks rather quickly.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.