For discerning gift-givers looking for books about mermaids beyond the umpteenth Disney Princess Ariel book or retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” here are some recommendations for quality merpeople-themed books that meet the needs of a variety of children of different ages.
Age-Appropriate Mermaid Books for Babies and Toddlers
That’s Not My Mermaid by Fiona Watt [Usborne Books, 2006] Each page of this sturdy board book shows a picture of a different mermaid with one part (tail, hair, etc.) that is made with a touchable fabric with a distinct texture. Children can use this book to learn descriptive words and hone fine-motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and awareness of different kinds of surfaces.
Usborne Sparkly Touchy-feely Mermaids by Fiona Watt and Helen Wood [Usborne Books, 2004] The volume of text and the complexity of its illustrations make this book more suited for toddlers than babies. Children learn about life under the sea while examining detailed pictures that include patches of different textures to touch, see details.
Fun Mermaid Picture Books for Ages 4–8
Both Dear Mermaid by Alan Durant [Candlewick, 2007] and The Mermaid’s Bracelet by Beth Harwood [Cartwheel, 2007] are interactive stories, containing notes and letters to read and real treasures for children to find and play with.
Both Mermaid Dreams by Mark Sperring [The Chicken House, 2006] and The Tiniest Mermaid by Laura Garnham offer sweet looks at life as a merchild in the ocean.
Entertaining Nonfiction Mermaid-Themed Books
The Mermaid’s Manual by Dawn Apperly [Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books, 2004] Suitable for ages 4 and up, this book offers instructive lessons in how to be a mermaid, along with a full set of dress-up mermaid accessories.
How to Draw Fairies and Mermaids by Fiona Watt [Usborne Books, 2005] Provides art-loving kids ages 4 and up with step-by-step instructions for creating a series of mermaid-themed illustrations. Younger children may need adult assistance to complete crafts successfully.
Mermaid Cookbook by Barbara Beery [Gibbs Smith, 2008] is full of sea-themed recipes suitable for children ages 9–12 (and younger, with adult help) to make, including treats like Sea Turtle Cookies and Water Fairy Ice Pops.
Recommended Mermaid Guides and Reference Books
With supervision, complicated books about mermaid folklore, legends, and myths may be suitable for younger audiences. Parents should keep in mind:
- Before purchasing any mermaid guidebooks, especially ones meant for adults, cautious parents should always preview their content and illustrations. Some books may contain mermaid nudity or overt references to paganism that certain households will find inappropriate.
- Some guides will contain a greater percentage of examples of historically based mermaid folklore, while others will rely more on the imaginations of the authors. Parents more interested in teaching children mythology than fantasy will prefer guides of the former kind.
The Mermaid’s Treasure by Stephanie True Peters [Dutton, 2008] is an enchanting and imaginative reference book about mermaids, including information about how to find them and what they like.
For readers ages 9 and up, The Book of Mermaids by Patricia Saxton [Shenanigan Books, 2006] is a comprehensive and beautifully illustrated reference book on “mermaidology” that covers subjects ranging from mermaid culture and celebrations to mermaid style.
Instead of adding one more version of the same story to a child’s mermaid library, seek out books that encourage children to think about what life under the sea might really be like.
For other mermaid-themed gifts, check out Great Mermaid Gift Ideas for Boys and Girls for suggestions for mermaid costumes, room accessories, dolls, and toys.