Read Around the World: Children’s Books Set in the Arctic and Antarctica
I’ve always been fascinated with “the ends of the earth.” Plus, I think penguins are pretty cute. However, when I mentioned Antarctica has a top spot on my bucket list of travel destinations, my spouse and children promptly told me I’d have to go alone. Talk about cold! Until I convince them that a polar expedition would be incredible, I’ll have to visit vicariously through books. If you’re looking to explore the icy far reaches of the planet through literature, check out this list of books set in the Arctic and Antarctica for all ages.
yes no Picture Books 9781623542320 Ten Animals in Antarctica by Moira Court
Antarctica is unique, and so are its animal inhabitants. From “lumbersome, cumbersome southern elephant seals” to “inky, slinky Antarctic squid,” these featured creatures are fun to read about and count. The collage illustrations bring each species to life in a creative way. Also, the back matter has more information for curious readers.
9780593406908 Penguins Don’t Wear Sweaters! by Marikka Tamura, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Penguins are busy “doing the penguin thing” when an oil spill stops them. Will the cute sweaters that people send help them get clean and stay warm? Actually, no! Inspired by actual events, this story teaches kids to look deeper and ask questions when thinking about how to solve big problems.
9781570618611 Arctic Aesop’s Fables by Susi Gregg Fowler, illustrated by Jim Fowler
This collection re-imagines traditional fables with Arctic settings and animals. The characterizations of the Wolf, Arctic Fox, Polar Bear, and many other creatures are enjoyable, whether or not children are familiar with the original versions. Kids might even want to try out writing their own adapted fables after reading this book.
9780399549540 Polar Bear Babies by Susan Ring, illustrated by Lisa McCue
In this repetitive early reader title, a pair of oh-so-cute polar bear cubs must learn about fishing, swimming, and walking on ice. One cub is always sleeping — until they have to race home to their den to stay safe. New readers will be excited to read about a high-interest topic.
9780399247927 The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
Kids love this new twist on the familiar tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears set in the icy Arctic. When three polar bears leave their igloo, little Aloo-ki sneaks in to taste their soup, try out their cozy boots, and snuggle up in their fur-covered beds. Jan Brett traveled to the Arctic region to research Inuit people and their culture while writing this book; it’s an excellent opportunity to talk with children about the rich cultural history of the Arctic. It could be a springboard for finding out about present-day life there.
yes no Early Readers and Chapter Books 9780448428444 Amazing Arctic Animals by Jackie Glassman, illustrated by Lisa Bonforte
Animals who survive in the vast and cold Arctic landscape are pretty special. This informative title teaches kids about Arctic animal adaptations with relatable language and fun facts.
9780744056532 DKFindout! Arctic and Antarctic by DK
This installment of a go-to series for curious kids will help answer young readers’ questions about the polar regions. There are many high-interest topics, from animals and explorers to auroras and glaciers. There’s also up-to-date information on protecting these unique regions. A user-friendly table of contents, headings, and index makes it easy for kids to find out what they want to know, and the wow-worthy facts will fascinate them.
9781680104981 Little Polar Bear Rescue by Rachel Delahaye, illustrated by Suzie Mason and Artful Doodlers
The Little Animal Rescue series entrances kids who love animals and taking care of the environment. In this installment, Callie gets magically transported to the Arctic and must use what she’s learned in her Forest Club meetings to help a baby polar bear find its family. Kids will love imagining what they’d do in Callie’s situation.
9780679883418 Polar Bears Past Bedtime by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca
The Magic Tree House series titles are some of the best for transporting young readers to fascinating places and times. Jack and Annie aren’t prepared for the Arctic chill when the tree house brings them to the frigid tundra, but luckily, the adventure includes sealskin parkas and help from a dogsled team.
9780763666637 North by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson
Outstanding nonfiction gives readers the chance to expand their perspectives and grapple with new ideas. When we think of Arctic animals, we often think of well-known species toughing it out all winter long amidst the icebergs. But many animals make long treks to spend spring and summer in the Arctic each year. This poetic book will have kids cheering them on.
9783791374567 Antarctica by Mario Cuesta Hernando, illustrated by Raquel Martin
This oversized picture diary chronicles an exciting expedition to an Antarctic research station. Imagine what it’s like to set sail through Drake’s passage, learn about penguins, seals, and glaciers, and withstand an Antarctic summer snowstorm. Aspiring field researchers will be ready to zip into their down parkas and join this fascinating work!
yes no Middle Grade 9781524717728 Freya & Zoose by Emily Butler
Freya, a rockhopper penguin (the kind with the fantastic hairdos), and Zoose, a brazen London mouse, meet as stowaways on a hot-air balloon expedition to the North Pole. The two travelers must put aside their differences to survive the harsh Arctic conditions. This comprehensive, imaginative chapter book will appeal to kids who like getting swept up in adventure stories. It also works as a family or classroom read-aloud!
9781524787592 Where Is Antarctica? by Sarah Fabiny and Who HQ, illustrated by Jerry Hoare
This informative book dives into the history and ecology of Antarctica in engaging, readable short chapters. It gives kids more background on the continent beyond information about its animal inhabitants.
9780448479316 Who Was Ernest Shackleton? by James Buckley, Jr. and Who HQ, illustrated by Max Hergenrother
When Ernest Shackleton and his crew became stranded in the Antarctic winter on a mission to the South Pole in 1914, he had no way to contact rescuers. Could they survive? This compelling chapter book tells the story of Shackleton’s life, impressive leadership, and taste for harrowing missions.
9780763670931 The Impossible Rescue by Martin W. Sandler
It’s 1897, and winter is setting into the far reaches of the Arctic when a fleet of whaling ships gets trapped in the ice. Their rescue made history. This exciting narrative nonfiction title reads like a storybook, with the heroes facing one challenge after another.
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