These beautiful animals have been captured more and more in picture books and we have read them all. I’m a bit obsessed.
When I was creating our 30+ Ocean Picture Books list I think half of them probably could have been about whales.
Instead, I saved them to share here.
The best of the best whale picture books you do not want to miss.
Best Picture Books for Preschoolers about Whales
1. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano
I am sucked into Julie Fogliano’s simple style of writing and Erin E Stead’s whimsical way of illustrating. This book follows a darling boy and his faithful dog as they wait to see a whale. Written as a sort of “how to” guide, the narrator carefully describes that if you want to see a whale, you must focus and wait. A gentle humor informs you that one cannot be distracted by the roses or potentially boat filled pirates or ever changing clouds. If you really want to see a whale you must have an immense capacity for waiting. The New York Times Bestselling team of And Then It’s Spring, Fogliano and Stead have crafted a beautiful book about a little boy and his great desire to see a whale. It is brief in text and small in focus, but immense in vision and determination. My favorite part is the illustration of the boy and his dog waiting in their tiny yellow boat to spot the giant whale that is silently filling the sea below them. A lovely simple read that you will want to read again and again. 3+
2. The Storm Whale by Denji Davies
A lonely boy stumbles upon a beached whale. Unsure how to proceed and angling for some company, he brings the whale home and puts him in the tub. Eventually, his father helps him return the whale to the ocean. The heart of this story is the relationship between father and son. A sweet tale about a warm relationship and a patient understanding father set in a dazzlingly illustrated storm. 3+
3. Big Blue by Shelley Gill
If I am being honest, I picked this book off the shelf at the library for me. The cover is graced with an enormous blue whale impressively dominating the page with a tiny girl swimming in the corner. It is beautiful and curious at the same time. Fortunately, my almost four year old agreed with my assessment and we have since read this book cover to cover countless times. It tells the remarkable true story of a little girl named Kye who is determined to swim with a blue whale. Her mother, who drives a whale-research boat in Alaska, helps her make her dream come true. This book is equal parts informative and inspiring. The little girl shares the vast quantities of information she has amassed about blue whales with the reader. Mostly, it is an inspiring story about following your passions and waiting patiently for a magical moment to come true. 4+
4. Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino
A dad and his baby whale are migrating South together following the whale songs. When the little whale gets curious and swims off, he remembers his dad’s words and listens for his papa’s call. A beautifully illustrated story about the never ending love of a father for his child. 3+
5. Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh
This book got me from the cover. The illustrations are stunning. They perfectly depict the quiet strength and size of whales. The illustrations, however, are really just the beginning. This is the story of a beautiful humpback swimming along until a dangerous fishing net leaves her trapped and sinking. This true story is full of suspense, heroes and inspiration. 3+