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9 Terrific Books about Turtles

Enjoy these fiction and non-fiction books about turtles and introduce kids to one of the few animals that takes their house with them as they travel!

When we take our evening walks through the neighborhood, we often see various animals — other dogs, squirrels, deer, sometimes a wild turkey and believe it or not — one very large turtle!

Actually, he’s a tortoise and his owner give him the run of their backyard on these nice days 🙂

And then there are all the turtle we see at the pond in our local park — more than a dozen peek their heads up when we head over to feed the fish.

So in honor of World Turtle Day on May 23rd, I thought we’d share some of our favorite books plus a few really cool turtle facts this week!


9 Turtle Books for Kids

First, a few really cool facts about turtles:

  •  Turtles are one of the oldest reptile groups on Earth dating back to the time of the dinosaurs (more than 200 million years!)
  • Turtles can live in a variety of habitats depending on their species — you’ll find them in ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans!
  • Turtles are aquatic reptiles while tortoises are land reptiles.
  • Sea turtles can swim up to 35 miles/hour!  And I’ll bet you thought all turtles were slow movers 😉


Children’s Books about Turtles

Our book list contains fun stories (both fiction & non-fiction) about all types of turtles and the stories are great to read before a trip to a nature center, pond or even your next zoo visit.  We’ve included affiliate links so you can learn more about each of the books on our list.

If you happen to have a pond or lake near you, but sure to visit these science & water activities for a day at the pond (there’s a FREE printable list for you too!)


Turtles In My Sandbox by Jennifer Curtis is a cute story about a mother diamondback terrapin turtle who chooses to lay her eggs in a Maggie’s sandbox.  The young girl helps the eggs to hatch, learns more about the turtles as they grow and finds experts who help her release the turtles into the wild.  Great for kids ages 5 – 9 years old.


Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling is an award-winning book about the life of a female snapping turtle.  She is shot by a boy, saved by a Native American, swims over a waterfalls and travels on a 25 year journey to the Gulf of Mexico.  Beautiful illustrations are very engaging for the readers!  Wonderful story for kids ages 8 – 12 years old.


Where Should Turtle Be? by Susan Ring is an adorable story about a hatchling sea turtle that needs to find his way home.  He begins to ask the forest animals where his home might be and each of them shares their knowledge about a ‘where a turtle should be’ — but each new place just doesn’t seem like home.  Kids will learn that there are many types of turtles and each lives in a different environment.  Fun read for kids ages 5 – 9 years.


Sea Turtles by Gail Gibbons is an entertaining non-fiction book.  Kids learn about a number of different types of sea turtles along with fun facts about their diet, habitat and size. Includes information about the green sea turtle so kids can learn more about Gertrude when they visit SeaLife.  Great book for kids ages 4 – 9 years old.

If your kids are interested in sea turtles, be sure to check out the printable Sea Turtle pack and activities.  Also see our Animal Life Cycle activities for the life cycle of a sea turtle!


Look Out for Turtles! (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Melvin Berger is a fun, early science reader for kids!  Learn why turtles have survived for so long, how their shells protect them and why turtles can live almost anywhere. 


One Tiny Turtle: Read and Wonder by Nicola Davies shares the story of a loggerhead turtle that swims the oceans for 30 years before heading back to the beach where she was born to lay her own eggs.  The book shares some wonderful nature and science information along with the full life cycle of a loggerhead turtle.  Best for ages 4 – 8 years old.


Franklin’s Neighborhood by Paulette Bourgeois is one of a number of books in the Franklin the Turtle series.  Children love to learn along with Franklin as he goes to school, makes friends, learns about his neighbors and experiences many of the thrills and fears similar to many kids.  This series is a childhood favorite!  Best for ages 3 – 7 years old.


Turtle Splash!: Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwall is a fun nature and counting book for kids.  The book features eastern painted turtles and shares some lovely information about their pond habitat.  Kids ages 3 – 7 years old will enjoy this colorful read!


Mossy by Jan Brett is a touching story about a turtle growing a beautiful garden on her back.  When a biologist finds her, she takes the turtle to live in a museum.  A young girl notices how unhappy Mossy is at her new home and encourages the museum to set her free again.  As with all Jan Brett books, the illustrations are gorgeous!  A wonderful story for kids ages 3 – 8 years old.


For more book ideas, visit our Reading Ideas & Book pages on the blog.