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Best Pirate Books for Kids

Below are some fun pirate books for children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. You don't exactly have to twist kids' arms to get them wanting to hear about pirates, especially when it's the fun, cartoony versions like in those below.

I think kids like how pirates disregarded the rules and societal conventions that they would never dare break themselves, or even want to. Kids find their 'bad behavior' funny and the authors and illustrators of kid's books have certainly capitalized on this. If your students like books full of naughtiness and grossness, you can hardly find a better genre than children's pirate books!

And, if you have a reluctant reader, ask if he or she likes the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. Sometimes it takes a little Hollywood magic to jump start an interest, but it's likely books that take that interest to the next level.

best pirate books

The interest age of the books increase as you move down the page. And, as you will notice, the cutesy factor also decreases as you move down! Kids in upper elementary school and middle school don't want that kiddie stuff. They want more realistic depictions and action-packed stories.

Dirty Joe the Pirate
(pirates sail the seas looking for
their big treasure--smelly socks!)

by Bill Harley
Preschool - 2nd grade

Edward and the Pirates
(a boy who loves to read suddenly
finds himself in the pirate story)
by David McPhail

Preschool - 2nd grade

Roger, the Jolly Pirate
(Roger is "too happy" to be a serious pirate...until he saves the day!)
by Brett Helquist

Kindergarten - 3rd grade

Everything I Know
About Pirates

(comical reference book)
by Tom Lichtenheld

Kindergarten - 2nd grade

Tough Boris
(one boy discovers that pirates
may not be so mean after all)
by Mem Fox

Preschool - 2nd grade

There Was an Old Pirate
Who Swallowed a Fish

(funny take on the familiar format)
by Jennifer Ward

Preschool - Grade 2

How I Became a Pirate series
Three titles: How I Became a Pirate, Pirates Don't Change
Diapers, and Pirate Activity Book

by Melinda Long & David Shannon

Preschool - 3rd grade

Pirateology: The Pirate Hunter's Companion
This series features a lavish novelty book set up thats "perfect for reluctant readers"
School Library Journal). Books in the series include Pirateology, The Pirateology
Handbook: A Course in Pirate Hunting,
and Pirateology Guidebook & Model Set.
by Dugald Steer
2nd grade - 6th grade

Pirates and Pirates: Most Wanted
A novelty book formatted overview of pirate history and general information. Loaded with special features (fold out pages, small glued on books, playing cards). Booklist rightly called this series a "browser's delight"
by John Matthews

5th grade & Up

Lives of the Pirates
Short, readable biographies of 20 well-known pirates, including women! An entertaining mix of verified facts and fascinating rumors.
by Kathleen Krull

4th grade - 7th grade

The Pirate Primer
Subtitled: Mastering the Language of Swashbucklers & Rogues, this book provides the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation used by pirates.
by George Choundas
(for teachers for reference)

Caribbean Pirates:
A Treasure Chest of
Fact, Fiction and Folklore

Separates pirate facts from Hollywood fiction. Loaded with color photos and pirate history, put together by a former Disney Imagineer!  (Grade 4+)

The Not-So-Jolly Roger
The Time Warp Trio boys find themselves on a desert island, and soon run into the dreaded pirate Blackbeard, who captures them and takes them aboard his ship. 
by Jon Scieszka
3rd grade - 6th grade)

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series
Magic Marks the Spot , The Terror of the Southlands, The Buccaneers' Code
(a pirate series full of humor and action. We love the inclusion here and
there of letters, newspaper clippings, and maps. Fun stuff!)
by Caroline Carlson
3rd grade - 7th grade

Magic Tree House: Pirates Past Noon
This is a Magic Tree House perennial favorite, and how could it not be... it involves pirates and adventure and buried treasure! In this book, Jack and Annie are whisked back in time to a deserted island and right in the midst of a pirate treasure hunt. With the usual drama and suspense characteristic of this series, the two kids need to solve a dilemma (in this case, finding the buried treasure) without getting into too much trouble (being captured by pirates)!

And while (or after) your kids read this book, be sure to give them the companion guide about pirates as well. We love how this series pairs a page-turning fictional book with a related and equally compelling non-fiction book. With all the built-up excitement about the topic, kids learn so much more...and it's great for early exposure to these two different kinds of writing (fiction and informational texts).  (1st grade - 4th grade)

Isle of Swords  and  Island of Fire
Isle of Swords: A high seas adventure featuring a lost young man with no memory of who he is, a Captain on a desperate search for riches, and a ruthless pirate out to find a fabled treasure hidden by monks. Throw in an erupting volcano, a sea creature, and massive storms. What a page turner!

Isle of Fire: This sequel to Isle of Swords continues Cat's story, after his memory has returned, and a new fleet sets out to hunt down the pirates. When a huge hurricane blasts the region, who will survive?

Two additional pirate books are rumored to be in the works. We'll stay on the look out! :)

5th grade - 8th grade

Nick of Time: An Adventure Through Time
12-year-old boy Nick can't believe his luck when he finds a sea chest with a curious shining globe inside that turns out to be a time travel device. But pirates from the past know about the globe and begin chasing Nick down to get it. Desperate to outrun the pirates, Nick bounces through time and ends up fighting not only pirates, but also Napoleon's forces and Nazi spies.   (6th grade - 9th grade)

Pirates! by Celia Rees
Nancy, an orphan living on her family's plantation in Jamaica, is desperate to flee an arranged marriage, so she and one of the plantation slaves run off to join a band of pirates. Told through her writings, this book is great for students who, at a younger age, enjoyed Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. School Library Journal said this book is "oceans of adventure with a feminine twist."  (Grade 6+)

Terror of the Spanish Main: Sir Henry Morgan & His Buccaneers
Buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan was the legendary leader of raids on Spanish New World settlements, and was even knighted for his thievery. This book proves that fact is sometimes stranger than fiction! "Not for the weak of stomach...this gripping and complex historical drama [is] impossible to put down" (Publ. Weekly). (6th grade & up)

Enjoy the books!

Betsy, Cindy, and Virginia (the teachers/sisters behind this website)

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