January may not bring Antarctic temperatures your way, but that shouldn’t stop you from reading about penguins. Here are some of my favorite penguin books for kids. I have included some great nonfiction choices along with some fun fictional characters, too!
Throughout this post I have included links to each penguin book. You can click on book covers to learn more about them.
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Penguins (National Geographic Kids)
I’ve mentioned this series before as one of my favorite nonfiction series books for kids. This level 2 book is perfect for your first and second grade readers. You can find some activities to pair with this book here.
Penguins by Gail Gibbons
I’m always adding Gail Gibbons books to my personal library because her nonfiction books read just like picture books. This book about penguins is no exception! This includes information about a penguin’s habitat, physical characteristics, and behavior.
Penguin Chick (Level 2) Betty Tatham
This is a Level 2 text in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series. An emperor penguin lays an egg on the Antarctic ice. In the bitter cold, miles away from the only source of food, how can the chick survive?
Penguins and Antarctica (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker) by Mary Pope Osborne
This is the nonfiction companion to Eve of the Emperor Penguin. When Jack and Annie got back from their adventure in Magic Tree House Merlin Mission #12: Eve of the Emperor Penguin, they had lots of questions. What do penguins eat? Why do they huddle together in groups? Who won the race to the South Pole? What happens at a research station in Antarctica? Find out the answers to these questions and more as Jack and Annie track the facts.
Penguin Problems by Jory John
Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it’s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?
Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no more a picnic than yours is here. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol’ crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.
Yes, it seems there is no escaping the drudgery of your daily grind, whatever it might be. Or perhaps we’ve just learned that grumps are everywhere. . . .
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
This book is the first of many about Tacky the Penguin. In this book, all of Tacky’s friends think he is annoying until his odd behavior saves the day!
Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice by Steve Metzger
This book is a fun winter spin on the traditional Five Little Monkeys song. You can read more about how I have used this poem and book for fluency practice and creating mental images here.
Pierre the Penguin: A True Story by Jean Marzollo
When Pierre, an African penguin living at the California Academy of Sciences, begins to lose his feathers, the zoo staff is at a loss as to what to do. The lack of feathers causes Pierre to lose warmth, making him afraid to swim in the zoo pool. And the other penguins start to shy away, giving Pierre the “cold” shoulder. Unfortunately, heaters and medications fail to correct the situation. But one rainy day, inspiration strikes a biologist named Pam. While walking her dog in the rain, Pam notes that her pet wears a raincoat. Could a “raincoat,” or wet suit, help Pierre? A tiny neoprene wet suit is designed especially for Pierre. But will it work?
The Emperor Lays an Egg by Brenda Z. Guiberson
This book follows along as a penguin grows from egg to adulthood in the coldest place on Earth.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater
Long before the movie was made, Florence and Richard Atwater wrote this story. I should also add that the book is WAY better than the movie! It is hard enough for Mr. Popper to support himself, Mrs. Popper, Bill and Janie Popper. The addition of twelve penguins to the family makes it almost impossible to make ends meet. Now Mr. Popper has sixteen mouths to feed! But Mr. Popper has a splendid idea – the talented penguins would be a sensation on stage! You can find activities that pair with this book here.
Ready, Freddy! The Penguin Problem by Abby Klein
The Ready, Freddy! series is a great chapter book choice for first and second graders. In this story, Freddy’s first-grade class is learning all about penguins, including the fact that some species are endangered. When Freddy suggests a penny drive to help save the penguins, everyone loves the idea. But Freddy can’t find his penny jar! How will he save the penguins now? You can find activities that pair with this book here.
Magic School Bus Chapter Book #8: The Penguin Problem by Judith Bauer Stamper
Beep! Beep! Do your kids love the Magic School Bus series? If so, they will love this chapter book. In this story, Ms. Frizzle whisks her students away on a cool trip to Antarctica, where they learn all about the South Pole and come face to face with playful penguins and colossal icebergs. But when the kids are magically changed into real penguins, they need Ms. Frizzle’s help to solve their penguin puzzle.You can find activities that pair with this book here.
Eve of the Emperor Penguin (Magic Tree House Merlin Missions) by Mary Pope Osborne
Jack and Annie arrive on the one continent they haven’t visited before: Antarctica! What can they hope to learn about happiness in such a barren place? Only the penguins know for sure…Jack and Annie are about to find out! This book pairs with Penguins and Antarctica, the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker mentioned above.
If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor
If you are short on time, this would be a great pick. This includes short text with colorful illustrations.
The Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins
Can you imagine spending the winter outdoors in Antarctica without anything to eat? That’s just what the male Emperor penguin does. While his mate is off swimming and catching loads of fish, he stands around in the freezing cold with an egg on his feet for two whole months, keeping it warm and waiting for it to hatch. Welcome to the story of the world’s most devoted dad!
Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks
With bare cupboards and hungry bellies, three cats steal a penguin to catch them fish. A hilarious sequence of events unfolds as the penguin makes his escape, gets mistaken for a nun and a waiter, then finds his way safely home. Meanwhile, the cats are caught for their crime and sent to jail — for a lifetime of gruel.
Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica by Johnathan London
From the time the little penguin crawls out of his cracked egg, cradled on his father’s feet, until the day when he goes off to live at sea alone, he is a majestic figure in an extraordinary setting—the emperor of Antarctica. He faces natural predators and the struggles of survival in a challenging climate. Then one day, he cradles his own little penguin on his feet.
A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis
This colorful tale is perfect for little ones. Edna the penguin only knows the three colors that surround her: white ice, black night, and blue sea. She is convinced there is something more out there. So she sets out on a quest—a quest for color. When she finally finds what she’s been looking for, it’s everything she hoped for and more. But that doesn’t mean she will ever stop looking.
Where is Home, Little Pip?
For Little Pip, the baby penguin, home is a pebbly nest on the cold Antartic shore. Mama and Papa always reminds Pip not to wander far, and she never does…until one day a black, glittery feather leads Pip on a chase far, far from home. As she tries to find her way back to her parents, Pip encounters some friendly animals, a mighty blue whale, a gull, and even a sled dog. But while these animals know where their home is, they do not know where Pip’s home is. In her sadness, Pip begins to sing a song about home that her parents taught her, and the sound of her voice guides her parents straight to her! This is just one of the books in a series that follows Pip.
Sergio Makes a Splash
A penguin who can’t swim? Your kids will never believe you! Sergio is a penguin. He loves fish, soccer, and water. He loves drinking water, bathing in water, spraying water, just about anything with water! But he has one big problem; he can’t swim. So when his class takes a field trip to the ocean, Sergio must decide whether he should face his fear or avoid something he loves. If your students enjoy this book on Sergio, be sure to look for the other books that follow his adventures!
And Tango Makes Three
At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.
What are your favorite penguin books for kids? I’d love to check them out!
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