If you’re looking for books for a penguin theme, you’re in the right place!
While I was putting together our giant winter theme pack, my Three and I read many, many winter books. In fact, we’ve already shared a list of books about snow, snowman books, and winter animals. But we enjoyed the penguin books the most! Even if you’re not doing a penguin unit, you should look for some of these favorites at your library. I think they’ll become your favorites, too!
Penguin and the Cupcake, by Ashley Spires
This is a hilarious book about a penguin who wants to go to the northern hemisphere, where he’s heard they have cupcakes. But the plane drops him off in the wrong place – the Arctic, where he meets a funny polar bear and walrus. I love the conversations between the animals. The penguin says to the walrus, “Do you know where I can find some cupcakes?” The walrus replies, “Oh no. I don’t eat cupcakes. All that sugar goes straight to my third chin.”
Besides the funny story, there are little nonfiction blurbs in the sidebar for kids who are interested.
A Baby Penguin Story, by Martha E.H. Rustad
Nornally I’m a huge fan of Pebble Plus nonfiction for kids, but this one was kind of boring. Still, the photographs are fabulous and the book has good information.
Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, by Jonathan London
This is a truly excellent book and one of my favorites from this list. Told in story form, it gives great information about how an emperor penguin grows up. Even though my Three had heard many books about penguins by the time we read this one, he stayed engaged and loved it. Definitely one to find!
Penguin in Peril, by Helen Hancock
This is a quirky book about three cats who kidnap a penguin from the zoo so he can get fish for them. The penguin realizes he’s “in peril” and escapes – and the cats find the black and white bird hard to spot in the bustling city. It’s an unusual but captivating story.
Penguins, Penguins, Everywhere, by Bob Barner
I didn’t feel this rhyming book was anything special, but my Three really liked the short rhymes and colorful pictures. I did like the extra facts and pictures of penguins from all over the world at the end of the book.
The Penguin and the Pea, by Janet Pearlman
This is a silly take on the classic Princess and the Pea. I like that the Prince and Princess fall in love after spending time together instead of the “love at first sight” stuff you find in most fairy tale adaptations. Plus there’s just something about seeing a wig on a penguin… I can’t help but smile.
Penguin Chick, by Betty Tatham
We adored this book which had our complete attention from beginning to end. It was fascinating to learn more about emperor penguins, told as a story rather than as a collection of facts. We were so surprised to learn that the father penguin keeps the egg on his feet for 2 months and doesn’t even eat! The book tells about how the mother is gone this whole time, getting food for herself and the baby. The book also talks about the egg hatching, and the baby penguin taking his first trip to the ocean. Highly recommended!
The Emperor’s Egg, by Martin Jenkins
This is another fascinating book about the emperor penguin, and a nice companion to Penguin Chick. Told in a more conversational style, it really helps kids think about the challenge of caring for a penguin egg in the frigid Antarctic.
A Penguin Story, by Antoinette Portis
We just loved this book about a penguin trying to find something that is not black, white or blue. He finds it when a team of scientists arrive at Antarctica. This is a simple story with simple pictures, but it’s very engaging. One to read!
The Penguin Lady, by Carol Cole
A woman’s friends and relatives send her penguins from all over the world until she is known as the penguin lady. It’s kind of silly story, as it tells nothing about how she keeps them cool, fed, etc. But I like that on each page the author names her new penguins and tells where they’re from, making this book a great review or introduction to the different types of penguins. “In the den, nine Macaroni penguins from Argentina napped on the piano.”
I Like it When…, by Mary Murphy
Okay, this book has nothing to do with penguins except they are what’s being illustrated instead of people. But it’s very cute board book about a tender relationship between parent and child. “I like it when you read me stories. I like it when you hug me tight.” My Five really liked it because it was easy to read by himself. My Three liked it too.
If You Were a Penguin, by Wendell and Florence Minor
Here’s another cute book about a baby penguin and what it would be like to be one. I love the large, beautiful illustrations. The book shows that penguins live in different habitats, look different and have different names. There are fun facts at the end for children who are interested in more information.
Penguins, by Liz Pichon
This is a laugh-out-loud book about penguins at the zoo who find a camera someone left behind — and then take their own pictures. So much fun to read!
Cuddly Dudley, by Jez Alborough
Dudley is tired of the closeness of his penguin family. He doesn’t want to be cuddled any more – so he heads off by himself to a remote cabin. Unfortunately, the cabin owner is a fisherman who thinks Dudley is so cute he wants to cuddle. After being chased by the fisherman, Dudley is happy to be home again.
I like Jez Alborough’s books and illustrations, but the fisherman is kind of creepy.
Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester
This is a funny story about a penguin named Tacky. Unlike the other penguins (Goodly, Angel, Neatly and Perfect), Tacky doesn’t walk in a straight line, does cannonballs, and wears outrageous clothes. He’s an embarrassment to the other penguins – until hunters arrive. It turns out that Tacky’s odd ways come in handy!
Penguins!, by Gail Gibbons
After editing out the reference to evolution, I thought this was a nice book of nonfiction for young children. My boys really liked the map showing where penguins live. Some of Gail Gibbons’ books are so packed with information that they’re just too much, but this one wasn’t too overwhelming.
There are quite a few books in the Little Pip series, and they’re done by a dynamite author/illustrator team. But for the life of me, I just couldn’t get into them! The stories felt too long. I didn’t like the odd songs for which I had to make up a melody. I dreaded finding another one of the series in our stack of books. But – of course! – my preschooler and kindergartner loved them. And they’re quite popular, so they deserve a place here.
My Penguin Osbert, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
A boy asks for a penguin for Christmas, and Santa finally comes through. But it’s not easy taking cold baths, eating fish for breakfast, and playing in the snow for hours. Maybe he doesn’t want a penguin after all. Now what?
Penguin and Pinecone, by Salina Yoon
A little penguin finds a pinecone, which becomes his new friend. Penguin knits Pinecone a scarf and has fun with him in the wintry weather – but Pinecone isn’t doing so well. Penguin’s grandpa tells him to take Pinecone far away to the forest, where he can grow big and strong. One day Penguin returns to the forest to reunite with his old friend, and he finds a tall pine tree with scarf around its top. Sweet!
Turtle’s Penguin Day, by Valeri Gorbachev
Little Turtle becomes fascinated by penguins after hearing his father read a story about them. He dresses like one and heads to school, where all the other animal children pretend to be penguins too. The last page is a list of penguin facts.
Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice, by Steve Metzger
This book follows the pattern of the familiar Five Little Monkeys rhyme. In my opinion, it falls flat; the rhymes are often awkward. But since my Three and Five liked it, I’m including it here.
Lost and Found, by Oliver Jeffers
One day a boy finds a very sad penguin standing at his door. The boy decides that the penguin must be lost, so he sails with the penguin all the way to the South Pole. Along the way the two become good friends. After dropping off the penguin at the South Pole, the boy is discouraged to see that the penguin is not cheered up after all. Finally he realizes that the penguin was sad not because he was lost, but because he was lonely. The two are reunited at the end of this cozy story.
Cinderella Penguin, or The Little Glass Flipper, by Janet Perlman
The pictures in this book crack me up, but it’s also a great version of Cinderella told exceptionally well. My Three wasn’t interested at first, but as the book got going and he recognized the familiar fairy tale, he was hooked.
Penguin’s Hidden Talent, by Alex Latimer
This is wonderful book about an animal talent show. As it turns out, all the animals have a talent except for Penguin. Yet, behind the scenes, he’s a great organizer. When he’s dejected about not winning a prize, his friends hold a party for him to cheer him up – but it’s a flop because Penguin isn’t the organizer!
This book doesn’t teach about penguins, but it’s a hilarious read!
Penguin, by Polly Dunbar
This is a bizarre book about a boy who gets a (stuffed?) penguin for a gift – but no matter what he does, he can’t get it to talk. When a passing lion eats the boy for being too noisy, Penguin bites his nose and the boy comes out. Penguin’s tongue is unleashed. A strange but enjoyable story.
Go, Jojo, Go, by Tessa Bickford and Jennifer Castles
This book is unique because it’s a first person account by a penguin with photographs instead of illustrations. penguin has always wondered when he’ll be ready for his first swim – now it’s time! This book helps kids see the world from a penguin’s perspective.
Penguins Can’t Fly! by Richard Byrne.
A gull and penguin are good friends from the day they hatch from their shells… and are dejected to learn that Gregory the gull can fly, but Hudson the penguin cannot. Hudson is discouraged when Gregory’s new friends make fun of him for not being able to fly. But when Gregory is caught underwater by a fisherman’s net, Hudson saves the day by diving under to rescue him.
Sergio Makes a Splash, by Edel Rodriguez
This is a funny book about a penguin who loves soccer, fish, and water… but not swimming. Eventually he overcomes his fears. Cute!
Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups, by Tadgh Bentley
This is a really cute story about a penguin asking the child reading the book to scare the hiccups out of him. Finally an orca does the job… and it’s so surprising it will scare you too! One of the best parts of the book is the surprising ending.
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