Literature Connections to
Ocean Currents

Teacher's Guides > Ocean Currents

Across the Big Blue Sea: An Ocean Wildlife Book
Adrift: Seventy Six Days Lost at Sea

Bounty Trilogy
By the Great Horn Spoon!

Call It Courage
The Cay
Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
Into the A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor

Moby Dick
Out of the Ocean
The Robinson Crusoe
Treasure Island
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
The Voyager’s Stone

Windcatcher
The Wreck of the Waleship Essex, a Narrative Account

Across the Big Blue Sea: An Ocean Wildlife Book
by Jakki Wood
National Geographic Society/Simon & Schuster, New York. 1998
Grades: K–3
In this picture book, a young boy launches a tiny red boat into the ocean off the California coast. The story follows its travels around the world to the coast of England. Along the way, the illustrations identify the ocean wildlife and natural objects the boat passes. Includes a map of the boat’s journey. Although the book is below the grade level of the guide, students can use information about currents to decide whether or not the journey of the toy boat is possible.

Adrift: Seventy Six Days Lost at Sea
by Steven Callahan
Random House, New York. 1996
Grades: 7–Adult

After his small sloop capsizes only six days into his solo voyage around the world, Steven Callahan, floating in an inflatable raft, has to fight for his life. He is racked by hunger, buffeted by storms, and broiled by the tropical sun. He fights off sharks with a makeshift spear and watches nine ships pass by. This is the true story of the only man in history to have survived more than a month alone at sea.

Bounty Trilogy
by Charles Nordoff and James Norman Hall
Little, Brown and Co., Boston. 1995
Grades: 7–Adult

These three novels are classics of historical fiction and deal with events stemming from the mutiny of the HMS Bounty. The first, Mutiny on the Bounty, depicts the horrific struggle to round Cape Horn against wind and tide and the Bounty's final failure to do so, conditions which led to the infamous mutiny. The second volume, Men Against the Sea, is the incredible account of the 3600-mile voyage taken by Captain Bligh and 18 loyal men who were set adrift in the Pacific by the mutineers in the ship's long boat. The third volume, Pitcairn's Island, is the narrative of those mutineers who escaped capture and found refuge on an idyllic Pacific island.

By the Great Horn Spoon!
by Sid Fleischman; illustrated by Eric von Schmidt
Little, Brown and Co., Boston. 1988
Grades: 4–8
In this adventure novel about sailing from Boston around Cape Horn to the California gold rush, several passages exemplify the way density figures into the gold panning process.

Call It Courage
by Armstrong Sperry
Aladdin, New York. 1971
Grades: 3–6
Based on a Polynesian legend, this chapter book for older students tells the story of a young boy who overcomes his fear of the sea and proves his courage to himself and his tribe. The story illustrates his culture’s connection to the ocean.

The Cay
by Theodore Taylor
William Morrow, New York. 1991
Grades: 6–8
When the freighter on which they are traveling is torpedoed by a German submarine during World War II, Phillip, an eleven-year-old white boy, blinded by a blow on the head during the explosion, and an old West Indian named Timothy are cast up on a very small Caribbean island—a cay. This is the story of their struggle for survival, and of Phillip’s efforts to adjust to his blindness and to overcome his prejudice and understand the dignified, wise, and loving old man. Timothy of the Cay, the sequel to this book, is also recommended.

Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle
by Felicia Law; illustrated by Judy Brook
Andre Deutsch, Great Britain. 1985
(distributed by E.P. Dutton, New York)
Grades: 4–8
The story of a cabin boy who goes along on Charles Darwin’s five-year voyage. He assists Darwin with his collections of insect, bird, and marine life specimens. The format is oversized, with many drawings, charts, and maps.

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
by Alfred Lansing
Carroll & Graf, New York. 1999
Grades: 7–Adult
A fast-paced and thrilling chronicle of Shackleton's epic Antarctic survival adventure.

Into the A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet
by Deborah Lee Rose; illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Scholastic, New York. 2000
Grades: K–3
The delightful rhyming text combine with the vivid cut-paper illustrations to give the reader a tour of the ocean and its inhabitants—from Anemone to Zooplankton. Each verse succinctly captures its creature’s unique attribute—"…where kelp forests sway and leopard sharks prey…" A glossary provides further information on each animal, and a teacher’s supplement is available. Although intended for a young audience, this book is useful for learning about the variety of marine organisms.

Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O’Dell; illustrated by Ted Lewin
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1990
Grades: 5–12
Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Native American girl spends eighteen years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life. Interwoven are descriptions of the island, of fish and ocean vegetation, animals and plants. The way she interacts with nature to survive, hunt, build shelter, and design clothing, both as she had been taught by her people and as she develops her own technological and artistic skills, is a particularly strong aspect of the book.

The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor
by Joanna Cole; illustrated by Bruce Degen
Scholastic, New York. 1992
Grades: 1–4
In her own predictable style, Ms. Frizzle takes her class on a field trip to the ocean (though the students expected a trip to the beach). The class explores many different ocean habitats and learns about the organisms in each. In one of the reports along the edge of the page, a student discusses the "rivers" in the ocean—the ocean currents.

Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
Viking Penguin, New York. 1996
Grades: 7–Adult
The full version of this classic novel of the obsessed Captain Ahab may prove daunting for your students. The abridged version removes the sections that detail life aboard a whaling ship and concentrates on the fate of the Pequod. That said, Ahab's tracking of Moby Dick follows ocean currents nearly around the world.

Out of the Ocean
by Debra Frasier
Harcourt Brace and Company, San Diego. 1998
Grades: Preschool–3
As a young girl and her mother walk along an Eastern Florida beach, they marvel at the many treasures cast up by the sea and the wonders of the world around them. Detailed and illustrated pages at the end of the book give information about the items found. One of the items is a note-filled bottle and ocean currents are discussed. Although for younger students, the book is great for extolling the riches of the ocean.

The Robinson Crusoe
by Daniel Defoe
Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, New York. 1995
Grades: 7–Adult
Consistently popular since its first publication in 1719, this is the classic story of a young man who sets sail for a life of adventure in far away places. Fleeing pirates, he is swept ashore a deserted tropical island and must learn how to survive and deal with his isolation.

Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, New York. 1988
Grades: 7–Adult
Originally published in 1883, this is the classic tale of adventure on the high seas and the search for buried treasure featuring such characters as the young and honest cabin boy Jim Hawkins, the sinister Israel Hands, and the hero-villain Long John Silver.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
by Avi
Avon, New York. 1990
Grades: 5–8
In the summer of 1832 aboard a ship crossing the Atlantic from England to America, thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle—the only passenger on the ship—finds herself caught between a ruthless captain and a mutinous crew. This book is her account of that voyage which tests her courage and her will to survive.

The Voyager’s Stone: The Adventures of a Message-Carrying Bottle Adrift on the Ocean Sea
by Robert Kraske; illustrated by Brian Floca
Orchard Books, New York. 1995
Grades: 3–6
A message-carrying bottle, thrown into the sea by a boy vacationing in the Caribbean, makes its way eastward in the Atlantic, then south to Antarctica, and onward to Australia, where it is discovered by an Aborigine girl. Through the bottle’s voyage, oceanography is explored—covering such topics as currents, animals, and the variety of life found along the margins of the world’s oceans.

Windcatcher
by Avi
William Morrow, New York. 1992
Grades: 4–7
While learning to sail during a summer visit to his grandmother’s house on the Connecticut shore, eleven-year-old Tony becomes excited about the rumors of sunken treasure in the area and starts following a couple who seem to be making a mysterious search for something.

The Wreck of the Waleship Essex, a Narrative Account
by Owen Chase, First Mate;
edited by Iola Haverstick and Betty Shepard
Harcourt, Brace & World, New York. 1965
Grades: 7–Adult
A firsthand account of the tragedy of the whaler Essex if somewhat self-serving.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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