Polar Oceans: Virtual Bookshelf

The Virtual Bookshelf provides a list of recommended children’s books that reflect the theme of the issue and offers ideas on how to integrate them across the curriculum.


With freezing temperatures, unpredictable weather, and icy water, polar oceans are some of the most precarious environments on earth, but that doesn’t make them uninhabitable! Students will learn about the different oceans of the world and the mammals that call them home through the books listed on this virtual bookshelf.

We’ve divided the bookshelf into three sections: oceans, marine species, and penguins and polar bears. As always, we feature mostly nonfiction text for its ability to increase science content knowledge and build vocabulary.


OCEANS

W Is for Waves: An Ocean Alphabet. Marie and Roland Smith. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-3.From Atlantis to Zooplankton, this book is an introduction to our world’s oceans and ocean life. Great for all ages!
Oceans. Sandy Sepehri. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5.Did you know that about three-fourths of our planet is covered by an immense body of salt water called the World Ocean? Continents and islands divide this ocean into different areas. The North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans make up the seven major divisions. Learn these and other interesting facts from this book!
The Arctic Ocean. Anne Ylvisaker. 2003. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-4.This book introduces the earth’s smallest ocean with information about its depth, seafloor, climate, animals, and plants. The book also provides instructions for an activity to demonstrate how ice floats. Use as a read-aloud for younger students and independent reading for older students.
The Antarctic Ocean. Anne Ylvisaker. 2003. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-4.This resource for early learners has information about the southernmost ocean and provides an activity for measuring the coldness of ice. Pair with The Arctic Ocean for a compare/contrast activity.
Southern Ocean. Kate A. Furlong. 2003. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grade 5 and up.The Southern Ocean has not always been considered a separate ocean. In 2000 the International Hydrographic Organization officially established the Southern Ocean’s boundaries. This book provides information about the newly delineated ocean, which surrounds the continent of Antarctica. Best for older students and those needing extra challenge.
Arctic Ocean. John F. Prevost. 2003. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grade 5 and up.This book surveys the origin, geological borders, climate, water, plant and animal life, and economic and ecological aspects of the Arctic Ocean. Best for older students and those needing extra challenge. Pair with Southern Ocean for a compare/contrast activity.

MARINE SPECIES

Narwhal Whales Up Close. Jody Sullivan Rake. 2009. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 1-3.Did you know that narwhal whales are called “unicorns of the sea” and have tusks that can grow up to nine feet long? This book presents an up-close look at narwhal whales, including their body features, habitat, and life cycle.
Beluga Whales Up Close. Jody Sullivan Rake. 2009. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 1-3.Did you know that beluga whales are often called “sea canaries” because of their ability to mimic noises they hear? They have even been known to imitate the sounds of motorboats! This introductory book includes photographs of this fascinating mammal.
The Migration of a Whale. Tanya Kant. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 1-3.With collage-style illustrations, this book is a great introduction to whales, their life cycles, and their migration patterns.
Super Swimmers: Whales, Dolphins, and Other Mammals of the Sea. Caroline Arnold. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5.Realistic watercolors present a variety of sea mammals. This introduction to marine mammals begins with whales, dolphins, and porpoises and then goes on to discuss seals, sea lions, walruses, manatees, dugongs, sea otters, and polar bears.
Seals. Tom Jackson. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5.Seals belong to a group of animals called pinnipeds, which means “fin-footed.” The seal’s flippers aren’t much use on land but are excellent for swimming. Learn interesting facts about seals from this book.
Penguins. Amy-Jane Beer. 2009. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5.Penguins depend on the ocean for their food. The smaller species of penguins eat mostly krill and larger penguins eat squid and fish. Photographs and interesting text will capture the imagination and curiosity of older learners.
Polar Bears. Jolyon Goddard. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5.Did you know that polar bears evolved from an isolated group of brown bears about 200,000 years ago? They adapted to survive in the Arctic. Learn more fascinating facts about polar bears from this book designed for older learners.
Killer Whales. John Malam. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5.What do killer whales eat? How do killer whales hunt? How can they survive in extreme cold? Do killer whales deserve their scary name? Readers can find answers to their questions in this book from the Scary Creatures series.
Sea Secrets: Tiny Clues to a Big Mystery. Mary M. Cerullo and Beth E. Simmons. 2008. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-5.Students are engaged in mysterious changes happening to seabirds, whales, and penguins. They learn about the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and how this effort has helped scientists understand the effect of warming ocean water on marine food webs. Download lesson plans and other materials from the LTER web site.

PENGUINS AND POLAR BEARS

Solo. Paul Geraghty. 1995. Fiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2.This is a story about emperor penguins. In the dark Antarctic winter, newborn Solo is cared for by both parents until her father does not return from hunting fish. Then her mother must go hunting or they will starve. Solo is left alone to face the dangers of a predatory bird, deep crevices, and possible starvation.
Polar Bear Alert! Debora Pearson. 2007. Nonfiction. Recommended ages: Grades 2-3.In this book, readers visit Churchill, Manitoba, which is called the Polar Bear Capital of the World, and learn about the threats posed to these animals.

This article was written by Julie Moran. For more information, see the Contributors page. Email Julie at beyondpenguins@msteacher.org.

Copyright May 2009 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.

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