18 Best Books About Whales Update 05/2022

Books About Whales

Orcas, narwhals, and blue whales are just a few of the diverse species of whales that have inspired works of literature throughout history. Whether you’re searching for a maritime epic or a deep dive into cetacean facts, there are whale novels for readers of all ages and levels. Here are some of our favorite whale-related books that transport you to the deep blue sea, no matter where you are in the world.

Children’s Books About Whales

Whether you’re looking for a whale-themed book for a child or an adult, you’ll find lots of options. Check out this collection of whale-themed fiction, which includes anything from picture books to high-concept sci-fi.

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera

“The Whale Rider” is a story about Kahu, a young girl who learns to communicate with whales and proves that she’s just as capable as her male peers in a New Zealand tribe.

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

A baby whale washes up on Noi’s beach in this charming picture book for younger readers. After spending some time getting to know his new acquaintance, he realizes that he can’t keep such a large secret from his father forever.

Humphrey the Lost Whale by Wendy Tokuda, Richard Hall and Hanako Wakiyama

This lovely picture book, which is based on a true event, has been a fan favorite for the past 25 years. After being lost in San Francisco Bay for over 30 years, Humphrey eventually made it back to the ocean.

Is It A Mermaid? by Candy Gourlay

If you look at the title, you’ll notice that the “mermaid” in question is actually an actual dugong.

is a delightful and amusing tale of two young friends and their new sea mammal friend, who discover the wonders of the ocean together.

Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo

During the First World War, a pod of narwhals makes a special appearance in this classic children’s tale of friendship and prejudice over a backdrop of naval action.

Nonfiction Books About Whales

When it comes to understanding whales and other sea creatures, there is no shortage of books for adults to choose from. These books cover topics such as whales in captivity, commercial and cultural whaling, as well as whales’ insights into human nature.

Death at Seaworld by David Kirby

After watching Blackfish, if you’d like to find out more about the problems of keeping orcas in captivity, check out Death at Seaworld by David Kirby. All sides of this difficult topic are represented in this book’s interviews with ex-trainers, marine biologists, animal rights activists, and defenders of SeaWorld.

Swimming with Orca by Ingrid Visser

A renowned researcher has penned a memoir and fact-filled book about the lives of killer whales, which she has dedicated her whole career to studying. Marine biologists and anybody interested in learning more about orcas will find Visser’s story of her life, career, and discoveries fascinating.

Of Orcas and Men by David Neiwert

Of Orcas and Men by David Neiwert

Still curious about killer whales? Orca facts abound in Neiwert’s work, which goes hand-in-hand with Visser’s examination of human-orca interactions throughout history.

The Whale Warriors by Peter Heller

In the Whale Warriors, an illegal whale-rescuing ship’s vigilante crew is followed by an investigative journalist and a high-stakes adventurer. They go to great lengths to obstruct commercial whaling, including sinking industrial whaling ships that refuse to budge.

Spirits of Our Whaling Ancestors by Charlotte Cote

This book by Nuu-chah-nulth Nation member Charlotte Cote examines the Makah and Nuu-chah-choice nulth’s to resume the whale hunt in 1994 after the grey whale was removed from the endangered species list, taking a fresh perspective on the whaling controversy. Animal rights, indigenous rights, and environmental concerns were all raised as a result of this decision and discussed in detail in Cote’s book.

Fiction Books About Whales

If you’re a grown-up looking for a good narrative about whales, you’re going to have a hard time finding one. Here are a few notable adult novels about whales, including one that should go without saying (more on the elusive white whale later).

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Inspired on the most renowned classic tale about whales, this novel portrays the narrative of Una, wife of the sea-captain fromMoby Dick. These retellings of classic tales are sure to please fans of historical fiction and women’s fiction.

People of the Whale by Linda Hogan

People of the Whale tells the narrative of Thomas Witka Just, a Native American whose tribe is split over whether or not to go whale hunting during the Vietnam War.

When the Whales Leave by Yuri Rytkheyu

Yuri Rytkheyu’s recently-translated book, which combines folklore with a soaring family narrative, is a must-read. When the Whales Leave examines the role humans play in the natural world, as well as myths and origin stories.

The Boy and the Whale, by Mordicai Gerstein

Caldecott Medal-winning author Mordicai Gerstein based this story on a real-life whale rescue he watched in a video he saw on YouTube. They come upon a wounded whale tied up in their net one day while fishing. It’s too risky and difficult, his father complains, for the child to give up his plan of releasing the whale on his own. He slips back into the water and dives in to rescue the whale, leading it to sing a happy birthday song in celebration of its newfound freedom.

The Heart of a Whale, by Anna Pignataro

The Heart of a Whale, by Anna Pignataro

Melancholy yet hopeful all at once, this poetic picture book depicts the journey of an isolated blue whale who discovers the joy of singing while drifting through an underwater wonderland. In spite of how much others enjoy his music, it doesn’t full him up until he meets someone who can relate to him. The watercolor pictures of vibrant seascapes bursting with underwater life will enthrall young readers enthralled by the sea.

Breathe, by Scott Magoon

The adventures of a young whale are chronicled in this picture book. The narrative is simple and the images are soothing, making this a great choice for an afternoon read-aloud with your child. At first, the whale’s journey is uneventful but soon becomes more exciting as he encounters unexpected events. He returns to his mother at the end of the day. It’s ideal for children who are just beginning their journeys away from their parents.

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