Books About Boats

50 Books About Boats


The release of the first volume of Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust last year was greeted in literary circles with much excitement. The author who had famously drawn on Paradise Lost for the His Dark Materials Trilogy now looked to Spenser’s The Faerie Queen, Homer and even the Bible for inspiration. But fans of children’s literature will have detected another strong influence – Belle Sstories about boats. Without Swallows and Amazons, The Wind in the Willows and Philippa Pearce’s The Minnow on the Say, Laauvage might have struggled to stay afloat.

Over the next few months I’ll be writing about my fifty favourite boat adventures. From fantastical nautical epics to salty graphic yarns, we’ll see how these stories form a central strand of children’s literature, and also learn more than is strictly necessary about blige, ballast, binnacles and barnacles. And I promise, no more iffy seafaring analogies.


From: A Sea Voyage by Gerard Lo Monaco (Thames and Hudson)

50 Books About Boats (in no particular order)

  1. The Book of Dust Vol. 1 – La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
  2. Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor by Mervyn Peake
  3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  4. Moominpappa at Sea by Tove Jansson
  5. The Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce
  6. Nightbirds over Nantucket by Joan Aiken
  7. Shackleton’s Journey by William Grill
  8. Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
  9. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  10. Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone
  11. Where the Wild things Are by Maurice Sendak
  12. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
  13. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
  14. Asterix and the Great Crossing by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo
  15. The Farthest Shore (Earthsea 3) by Ursula K. Le Guin
  16. The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll
  17. The House that Sailed Away by Pat Hutchins
  18. The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd Stanton
  19. Tintin – The Crab with the Golden Claws by Herge
  20. Lost and Found Oliver Jeffers
  21. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graheme
  22. Rivers at Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston
  23. The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius
  24. Captain Pugwash by John Ryan
  25. Tales of the Black Freighter by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
  26. The Green Ship by Quentin Blake
  27. The Story of the Map by Roger Duvoisin
  28. The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies
  29. The Real Boat by Marina Aromshtam
  30. The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Peter Spier
  31. Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner
  32. The Ship that Flew by Hilda Lewis
  33. Stuart Little by E.B. White
  34. The Little Captain by Paul Biegel
  35. Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo
  36. The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean by R.M Ballantyne
  37. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  38. A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis
  39. The Adventures of Uncle Lubin by W. Heath Robinson
  40. A River by Marc Martin
  41. Journey by Aaron Becker
  42. Floodland by Marcus Sedgwick
  43. Dougal’s Deep Sea Diary by Simon Bartram
  44. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  45. The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear
  46. A Sea Voyage by Gerard Lo Monaco
  47. A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton
  48. Yellow Kayak by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon
  49. Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  50. Kidnap in the Caribbean by Lauren St John

Is your favourite boat missing from this list? Let’s have a heated debate below the line.

9 thoughts on “50 Books About Boats

  1. Glad to see quite a few favourites of mine on this list, including Hilda Lewis’ The Ship That Flew, Night Birds and The Farthest Shore. Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe perhaps, especially the condensed versions I read as a kid? They both began with voyages, didn’t they. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner I also read as a kid.

    Looking on our grandkids’ shelves now:
    Where the Wild Things Are.
    The Heroes (Charles Kingsley).
    Peter Pan.
    Five on a Treasure Island.

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