The 6 Best Children’s Books About Boats for Babies, Toddlers, and Older Kiddos

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: November 3, 2022
© Manivannan T/Shutterstock.com

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Key Points

  • The best overall children’s book about boats is Boat Book by Gail Gibbons.
  • Explore board books about boats for little ones, sweet bedtime stories that introduce your kids to different types of boats, and even some books with a historical approach that teach your kids about boat history.
  • Before deciding on the best book, be sure to consider the reading level and whether it’s a fun story or more of an educational type of book.

There are fishing boats and dinghy boats, houseboats, catamarans, and more. You might be a boat lover yourself and want to get your kiddo interested in the same topic. They may even have developed a passion for boats on their own. No matter the reason, there are some awesome children’s books about boats to explore. Some books share important events in history and how boats played a part. Other books teach children about the different types of boats while also helping them learn the alphabet.

There are board books, paperbacks, some hardcovers, and of course, Kindle options. The first book we highlight in the list below teaches children about how humans use different kinds of boats. The next is a cute little board book that teaches children about the experience of being on a boat and encountering different ocean animals. The third is an adorable bedtime story. We also include two books about history and boats and one alphabet book for the youngest of readers.

  1. Boat Book
  2. Boat Book
    • Perfect for babies and toddlers who love boats and ships
    • Written by award-winning author and illustrator Gail Gibbons
    • Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars
    Check Amazon
  3. Little Blue Boat Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Book (Babies Love)
  4. Little Blue Boat Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Book (Babies Love)
    • Lift-a-flap board book with lots of simple sentences that help to reinforce language-learning
    • Introduces seals, dolphins, sharks, and otters
    • Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars
    Check Amazon
  5. Good Night Boats (Good Night Our World)
  6. Good Night Boats (Good Night Our World)
    •  Features tons of different boats and ships to learn about
    • Made with durable construction for curious young hands
    • Customers rate this book 4.7 out of five stars
    Check Amazon
  7. Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books)
  8. Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books)
    • Charming story about a tugboat
    • Great way to help little ones learn about a dark chapter in American history
    • Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars
    Check Amazon
  9. If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic (If You Were a Kid)
  10. If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic (If You Were a Kid)
    • An account of the sinking of the Titanic suitable for children
    • Available in paperback and hardcover formats
    • Customers rate it 4.7 out of five stars
    Check Amazon
  11. The Boat Alphabet Book
  12. The Boat Alphabet Book
    • Great coverage of Viking ships
    • Lots of helpful illustrations
    • Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars
    Check Amazon

Boat Book

The best overall children’s book about boats is Boat Book by Gail Gibbons. This is a title that you can purchase in a board book, paperback, or hardcover format. The book introduces children to a fleet of boats. It’s non-fiction and it’s perfect for babies and toddlers who love boats and ships. In the book, Gibbons covers canoes, cruise ships, speed boats, tug boats, and even submarines. She presents boats of all different shapes and sizes and explains how we use them in different ways. Some are for transportation, some are for police work and fighting fires, and some are for recreation.

In the book, children learn all about how boats move and how humans use them. A board book is a great option, especially for younger children who want to get their hands on these colorful pages. Gibbons is an award-winning children’s author who has other board book transportation titles including Bicycles, Planes, and Trucks. She is an author and illustrator and through her work, many young children learn all about the world around them. She makes all of these concepts accessible and super kid friendly. Each of her books is perfect for sparking the innate curiosity of babies and toddlers.

Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars. They recognize Gibbons’ work and recognize her as an excellent author. Her books are both wonderful and informative. Customers also appreciate that it’s a very colorful book, which appeals to their young children. One customer, a boat lover herself, wanted to introduce boats to her child before taking her out on the water. It’s easy to read, teaches her three-year-old all about different kinds of boats, and is serving as a perfect introductory book to get her very excited about their first boating trip.

Best Overall
Boat Book
  • Perfect for babies and toddlers who love boats and ships
  • Written by award-winning author and illustrator Gail Gibbons
  • Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars
Check Amazon

Little Blue Boat Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Book

This next book is a fun board book that babies and toddlers can enjoy. This story follows along with the Little Blue Boat, on which your baby or toddler and you can follow along to meet all kinds of ocean creatures. The book introduces seals, dolphins, sharks, and otters. It’s a lift-a-flap board book with lots of simple sentences that help to reinforce the language children are learning. The flaps are quite sturdy so as your child engages by grasping and lifting them, the book also helps them develop those important fine motor skills. It’s a perfect first-boat book to start your child’s library.

Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars. They appreciate that it’s made well and of great quality. The pages are thick and durable. One customer shares that she is a second-year early learning provider for children between one and three years old. This is the best little board book she has ever come across. She’s very impressed with the attachment of the flaps. She certainly had her fair share of experience with these types of books and notes that these hinges have yet to be torn. It’s not for lack of exploration or attempt, though! She highly recommends this title.

Best Board Book
Little Blue Boat Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Book (Babies Love)
  • Lift-a-flap board book with lots of simple sentences that help to reinforce language-learning
  • Introduces seals, dolphins, sharks, and otters
  • Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars
Check Amazon

Good Night Boats

Certainly, you need a perfect bedtime story centered around boats, so we included this one. Good Night Boats features tons of different boats and ships including fishing boats, tug boats, riverboats, cruise ships, harbor cruises, and even houseboats. You can help your young reader discover his or her own sea legs as they take this magnificent journey across different oceans and lakes on some of their favorite types of boats. This book is a part I have a best-selling series, which means there are plenty of other titles to explore from the same authors.

This book is made with durable construction because we all know how children love to pull and tear as they explore their colorful books. The writing structure is very simple, allowing your child to effortlessly explore their own imagination. Your child gets a good morning greeting and a goodnight sign-off with every book, as they are taken away into a fun story that keeps their attention. Since this book is a part of a series, it’s a wonderful gift and a wonderful book to pick up for your own kids to start your entire collection.

Customers rate this book 4.7 out of five stars. They appreciate that it’s long-lasting and that it offers a basic introduction to different types of boats. The pictures are bright and colorful, and one customer reminds parents and teachers that this is not a storybook, rather it walks children through different types of boats. It’s an educational title and attractive to young children. One customer purchased this for her grandchild who has already developed quite a fascination and passion for different kinds of boats. He was not disappointed.

Best Bedtime Story
Good Night Boats (Good Night Our World)
  •  Features tons of different boats and ships to learn about
  • Made with durable construction for curious young hands
  • Customers rate this book 4.7 out of five stars
Check Amazon

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey

This next book is a storybook and it’s available in paperback and Kindle formats. It’s about the John J. Harvey fireboat. This boat was a well-known boat at the time. It was known as the fastest and shiniest of all fireboats but by the time the year 1995 rolled around, the city just didn’t require these types of fireboats any longer. The Harvey retired from its duties as a fireboat until one day, a group of people decided to save it. It was found in a scrap heap.

The story goes on to tell of that fateful day in September 2001 when something awful happened. The whole world shook. In the midst of the madness, a call came through from the fire department, asking if Harvey could help with battling the flames. This is an inspiring story based on true events that brings a New York City icon back to life. Children learn that Harvey the fireboat, even though dormant for years, continued its heroic quest when it got the call to serve.

Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars. They feel it is a fantastic kindergarten teaching tool. It helps teachers indirectly explain what happened on 9/11. It can also be a perfect book on patriot day. Although it was a tragic day as we all know it, this book shifts the focus to the heroes and helpers instead of all of the pain. One customer calls it “a soft introduction to a terrible piece of history.” Another customer shares that it delivers an age-appropriate historical account. She was looking for something truthful but of course age-appropriate for her four-year-old. She was so happy to have found this book and appreciates the perspective from which it’s told.

Best Heroic Story
Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey (Picture Puffin Books)
  • Charming story about a tugboat
  • Great way to help little ones learn about a dark chapter in American history
  • Customers rate this book 4.8 out of five stars
Check Amazon

The Boat Alphabet Book

If you’ve got a kiddo who is learning the alphabet, this is a fabulous book to pick up. It’s available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle formats and children get on board to learn all about a variety of different boats. The author explains to children how people need boats and have for thousands of years. He talks about reed boats as some of the first to ever be built and how the Viking’s wooden ships were always quite strong and very ornate. In modern times, there is an aircraft carrier that houses 6,000 people and can even carry over 100 planes.

The author walks children through all of these different types of boats using the entire alphabet. The illustrator does a fantastic job of providing dramatic settings for all the different types of boats the author presents. He manages to capture a distinct mood in each different body of water. For example, the author presents a red canoe, and the illustrator presents a serene lake. Another example is when the author presents a three-masted Xebec, and the illustrator matches the energy of this boat with images of a roaring ocean.

Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars. They appreciate that it contains so much wonderful knowledge on all these different kinds of boats. One customer purchased this for her four-year-old but after reading through it, she felt that a six-year-old would be better able to follow along. She appreciates that the artwork is well done and has a realistic effect. Although she initially thought that this book would go slightly over her four-year-old’s head, she actually realized after giving it to him that he loves it. He started noticing the boats in paintings and around the ocean where they live, getting more and more excited each time he spotted a new type of boat he recognized.

Best Alphabet Book
The Boat Alphabet Book
  • Great coverage of Viking ships
  • Lots of helpful illustrations
  • Customers rate this book 4.6 out of five stars
Check Amazon

If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic

This next story invites children to discover what happened on the day the Titanic collided with an iceberg and started to sink. The story follows a girl named Alice Carver. She’s aboard the titanic alongside her mom. Their plans are to start anew in the United States. Another character in this book is William Alexander III. He is on board the Titanic along with his very wealthy family. The book takes readers on several explorations of all the different features of the Titanic. The characters intertwine as they search for fun activities aboard the ship.

This book is available in paperback and hardcover formats and is suitable for children between five and nine years old. Customers rate it 4.7 out of five stars. Customers appreciate that this book is educational and keeps the interest of young readers. One customer says that it puts the reader in the shoes of someone on board the Titanic. She shares that her child is obsessed with the Titanic and this book offers him an opportunity to see what life was like on the ship. It also touches on the magnitude of the Titanic’s tragedy but in simple terms that children understand.

Best Historical
If You Were a Kid Aboard the Titanic (If You Were a Kid)
  • An account of the sinking of the Titanic suitable for children
  • Available in paperback and hardcover formats
  • Customers rate it 4.7 out of five stars
Check Amazon

Criteria: What to Look for in Children’s Books About Boats

From the list above, you can see that there are lots of different children’s books about boats to select from. The topic is broad, and each author takes a different approach, sometimes focusing on the alphabet, and other times focusing on teaching children about important events in history.

Reading Level and Book Type

Some books, like board books, are perfect for babies and toddlers. You can let them hold these books and even chew on them with their gums because they’re the kind that last. These books sometimes have a lift-a-flap style to them, which also helps with helping your child develop fine motor skills. They’re very simple with lots of bright and colorful pictures throughout. They keep little ones engaged and they stay intact, which is super important when you hand over a book to a baby. There are some other books that help reinforce what your child may already be learning. For example, if your child is learning the alphabet, a board book that teaches children about different boats using each letter of the alphabet is ideal.

Then, there are other types of books with a higher reading level. These books help your young reader evolve their comprehension and vocabulary. Sometimes, they incorporate important messages like life lessons into either a fiction or nonfiction story. These books are better for older readers because younger readers may not be able to grasp these concepts just yet. They also may not be able to follow along with longer sentences and more complex vocabulary. Making sure you select the right reading level ensures that the kiddo in your life gets full enjoyment with their boat book.

About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

The 6 Best Children’s Books About Boats for Babies, Toddlers, and Older Kiddos FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What are the main types of boats?

There are two broad boat categories that you can consider. The first is unpowered. These types of boats include gondolas, kayaks, and rafts. There are sail-propelled boats called sailboats and engine-powered boats are motorboats.

What are cabin boats called?

Cabin boats are cabin cruisers. These types of boats are perfect for overnight boat trips because they’re very spacious. They’re similar to houseboats and yachts. They typically have tons of amenities, including a kitchen, toilet, and sleeping area. There are different sizes you can check out, depending on how many people you plan to take out on the water with you.

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