With the release of a
reimagined from Disney, you’re not alone if you’ve been singing a lot more while splashing around in your kiddie pool. To be fair, though, there are many of us who always have The Little Mermaid mermaids on our minds. With several new mermaid titles coming out over the last few months, I took a deep dive into the world of mermaid books — and am happy to report that the Barbie-in-fins version of our youth has had a major upgrade.
Today’s mermaid mains are diverse and more enchanting than ever. From Afro-Carribean folklore to the merrow of Irish legend, celebrate your love of a good “tail” with this collection of picture books and chapter books that feature mermaids.
Mermaid and Pirate — Written by Tracey Baptiste, Illustrated by Leisl Adams
New this year, this charming book for young readers (recommended age: 3 to 7) tells the story of two very different sea creatures — a mermaid and a pirate. Because they don’t speak the same language, they cannot understand one another at first. Soon, a friendship is forged based on kindness, empathy, and adventure.
The Mermaid Princesses: A Sister Tale — Written by Maya Cameron-Gordon, Illustrated by Mirelle Ortega
In this recent release, three mermaid sisters all want the underwater crown. But it is their smarts, and their problem-solving skills, that determine who will wear it. Steeped in African mermaid mythology, it’s a story of three very different sisters who each have their own strengths and a reminder of the value of being individual. For ages 4 to 8.
Mermaid Day — Written by Diana Murray, Illustrated by Luke Flowers
Coming soon to a bookshelf near you, this July 5 release by the duo behind
Unicorn Day features energy-driven lyrics with rhyme! On Mermaid Day, the mer-queen throws a fin-tastic party, decorates her castles, and invites all kinds of underwater guests. But when a big, bad shark arrives, will the queen allow him to stay? Ages 4 to 8.
Julián Is a Mermaid — Written by Jessica Love
When little Julián sees costumed mermaids in a parade, he is enchanted. He wants a mermaid costume, too. So he hunts around the house to find a curtain for a tail and potted fern fronds for his headdress. How will his beloved Abuela react to the mess he makes, and to him in a dress? This book not only celebrates the imagination of a child full of awe but also offers a firm and gentle message that being an individual — and not conforming to prescribed gender roles — is something to celebrate, too. Author-illustrator Jessica Love followed this book up with
, more proof that she truly embodies her last name. Ages 2 to 6. Julián at the Wedding
The Little Mermaid: Against the Tide — Written by J. Elle
This original novel by
New York Times best-selling author J. Elle, based on the reimagined Disney film, was published just a few months ago. The story features the beloved characters from the film, including Ariel, her six sisters, and King Triton. It tackles tricky family dynamics, grief, and coming-of-age responsibility through the lens of a good old-fashioned mystery. Ariel and her sisters are somewhat estranged after the death of her mother, but when one of the sisters gets abducted, the crew must work together to help find their sister. For ages 7 to 9.
Mermaid Kenzie: Protector of the Deeps — Written by Charlotte Watson Sherman, Illustrated by Geneva Bowers
Told in poetic
African American Vernacular English (AAVE), this book celebrates Black mermaids and reminds us all that we need to protect the ocean. When Kenzie is out snorkeling around a shipwreck, she finds more plastic bags than fish. Using her own spear and net, she begins to work to clean up the shoreline and the sea, inspiring a community to follow suit. Ages 4 to 8.
Oona — Written by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by Raissa Figueroa
New York Times bestselling author Kelly DiPucchio and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winner Raissa Figueroa teamed up to create the mermaid Oona, two additional books have come out (so far): and Oona and the Shark . All showcase a loveable duo — Oona, the mischief-loving mermaid, and her sidekick, Otto, who set out looking for adventure but find trouble instead. For ages 4 to 8. Oona in the Arctic
Mermaid Days Series — Written by Kyle Lukoff, Illustrated by Kat Uno
A three-book series (so far!) with
the most recent one published earlier this year, the books are illustrated, early reader chapter books aimed at giving kids ages 5 to 7 confidence in reading longer books independently. Featuring Vera the mermaid and her friend Beaker, the octopus, together they solve problems, explore the sea, and make new friends. Why isn’t this a cartoon series yet?!
Sukey and the Mermaid — Written by Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
This Coretta Scott King Honor-winning 1996 picture book features a young girl who finds respite in the sea and meets Mama Jo, a beautiful Black mermaid. Mama Jo shows Sukey a world beneath the sea, full of magic and free of pain. Based on the Afro-Carribean mermaid folklore, this is one story kids ages 5 to 8 will never forget.
Lola: The Bracelet of Courage — Written by Sarah Cullen and Carmen Ellis, Illustrated by Zuzana Svobodova
Lola the mermaid has an enchanted bracelet that makes her brave, but when she loses it, she must discover just how strong she truly is without it. Written in charming rhyming style, this book helps normalize fear and anxiety while encouraging kids to trust themselves. Ages 2 to 6.
Mermaid and Me — Written & Illustrated by Soosh
Written and illustrated by bestselling author and artist Soosh, this lovely book tells the story of a human girl who befriends a magical mermaid. Together, they learn to navigate friendship through challenges, including the fact that they are from two different worlds. For ages 4 to 8.
Even Mermaids Have Blah Days: A Feelings Journal for Kids with Writing & Drawing Prompts from Little Red Hen
Kids are encouraged to draw and write out their feelings in this charming book designed for kids to help manage anxiety and promote positive self-care. Also recommended as a grief journal or for kids who have experienced trauma, each day they are invited to note three emotions they’ve felt that day, a space to draw in the mermaid’s face to express how they felt, a top three things you loved that day, and more. Encourage kids to acknowledge feelings and express gratitude and mindfulness as well. There’s also lots of space to color.
Where Do Mermaids Go on Vacation? — Written by Kim Ann, Illustrated by Nejla Shojaie
If you live in the sea, where do you go on vacation? Do mermaids build sandcastles and explore shipwrecks? Head out on vacay with the mermaids and discover the beauty of the ocean with them.
The Mermaid Moon — Written & Illustrated by Briony May Smith
A twist on the “best friends from two different worlds” theme, Molly the human girl and Merrin the mermaid are friends, but it’s not without challenges! Merrin can’t visit Molly’s house, and Molly can’t breathe underwater. Then one night, the Mermaid Moon rises, and sea creatures fly through the air. Molly and Merrin visit the Mermaid Moon festival, where they eat ice cream and play. But Merrin must return home before the Mermaid Moon sets, or the magic of the moon and the festival will disappear forever.
Rise of the Jumbies — Written by Tracey Baptiste, Cover Illustration by Vivienne To
The second book in author Tracey Baptiste’s novel series rooted in Caribbean folklore, the jumbies are trickster spirits that haunt the forest. In this one, the protagonist — the extraordinary (but also ordinary) girl Corinne La Mer — knows the jumbies have kidnapped children, and now the people of the island are blaming her! To clear her name, Corinne dives deep into the ocean to get the help of Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But the task she is given to carry out as payment for Mama’s help is risky. Can Corinne make it? With only mermaids to aid her on her adventure, will Corinne make it and rescue the children? For readers 8 and up.
Merrow — Written by Ananda Braxton-Smith
In the fairy lexicon of Irish and Celtic mythology, merrow is the term for the mer-creatures that haunt the waters. Young readers age 9 and up will be taken in by this middle-grade novel set on an island where 12-year-old Neen Marrey lives. Her mother has disappeared and is said to be a merrow. But Neen has never met her mother, and her father drowned. Could it be true that her mother is a mermaid? And what does that make Neen?
Sing Me to Sleep — Written by Gabi Burton
This one skews older: A YA fantasy novel your mer-teens will love, about a magical siren forced to choose between protecting her family and following her heart in a prejudiced kingdom where her existence is illegal. Readers will fall in love with the fierce Saorise Sorkova, a siren-in-hiding, trained assassin, and magical creature. This stand-out novel will keep you guessing! Ages 13 and up.