Literature Connections to
Only One Ocean

Teacher's Guides > Only One Ocean

The fiction we've selected as literature connections for Only One Ocean range from ocean-specific stories to broader ecological tales. The Great Kapok Tree, for example, carries a strong conservation message. The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor gives students a look at the entire ocean ecosystem.

In the listings below, the grade-level estimates reflect both interest level and reading level. Many of the books can be enjoyed by a wide age range—older students can read them on their own and they can be read aloud to younger students. Some books (like the rhyming "alphabet of the ocean," Into the A, B, Sea) are marketed for a young audience but can be inspired tools for helping middle school students organize their thoughts, figure out what's important, do research, and use words in innovative ways. They're also excellent for encouraging language development in English-language learners.

Please be sure to see the many excellent resource and reference books for students and teachers listed in the "Resources" section on page 163 of Only One Ocean. You may also want to refer to the GEMS literature connections handbook, Once Upon a GEMS Guide: Connecting Young People's Literature to Great Explorations in Math and Science. It lists books according to science themes and mathematics strands, as well as by connections to GEMS guides. We're always looking for titles to add to future editions of Only One Ocean and Once Upon A GEMS Guide. Please let us know how these suggestions work for you, and send us your nominations for more books about the interconnectedness of our one, vast ocean.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Case of the Missing Cutthroats: An Ecological Mystery
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
Into the A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Just A Dream
The Magic School Bus On the Ocean Floor
The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats
Out of the Ocean
Shark Beneath the Reef
Waterman’s Boy

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne
1870: many contemporary editions available
Grades 3–Adult

The classic and still-compelling yarn. Plenty of creative oceanography and exaggeration . . . but great fun and surprisingly relevant.

The Case of the Missing Cutthroats: An Ecological Mystery
by Jean Craighead George
HarperCollins, New York. 1996
(originally published by E.P. Dutton in 1975 as Hook A Fish, Catch A Mountain)
Grades: 3–7
After Spinner Shafter catches a cutthroat trout in the Snake River, she and her cousin Alligator search the nearby mountains to determine where the endangered fish came from and how it survived. The author has written several other worthwhile ecological mysteries including Who Really Killed Cock Robin? and The Missing ’gator of Gumbo Limbo.

The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
by Lynne Cherry
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, San Diego. 1990
Grades: K–4
The many different animals that live in a great kapok tree in the Brazilian rainforest try to convince a man with an ax of the importance of not cutting down their home. Although this picture book is meant for a younger audience, it is useful to demonstrate that in the same way one tree in a forest is important to many other animals, one species in the ocean—like squid—are important to many other species in the ocean.

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 combines 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.

Just A Dream
by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1990
Grades: All Ages
When he has a dream about a future Earth devastated by pollution, Walter begins to understand the importance of taking care of the environment. Unique and evocative pictures of what our future may hold provide the powerful backdrop as young Walter becomes enlightened and changes his thinking and actions.

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 learn about the organisms in each. In one of the reports along the edge of the page, a student discusses how all the oceans of the world are connected to form "one world ocean."

The Old Ladies Who Liked Cats
by Carol Greene; illustrated by Loretta Krupinski
HarperCollins, New York. 1991
Grades: K–6
When the old ladies are no longer allowed to let their cats out at night, the delicate balance of their island ecology is disturbed, with disastrous results. Based on Charles Darwin’s story about clover and cats, this ecological folk tale demonstrates the interrelationships of plants and animals.

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.

Shark Beneath the Reef
by Jean Craighead George
HarperCollins, New York. 1989
Grades: 5–12
Fourteen-year-old Tomas has two loves, school and fishing, and is supported by his proud fisherman grandfather and his caring high school science teacher. Tomas comes from a family of shark fishermen on the island of Coronado on the Sea of Cortez whose livelihood is threatened by governmental plans for tourism and Japanese factory fishing boats. The oceanic environment flows through the book, as Tomas observes the activity in a tide pool or tracks a fish underwater, giving a real sense of the interrelation between marine life and its habitats.

Waterman’s Boy
by Susan Sharpe
Bradbury Press, New York. 1990
Grades: 3–6
Two boys from a small town on the Chesapeake Bay help a scientist interested in cleaning up the water for the benefit of animals, plants, and people, while risking parental disapproval of people with too much education and of outsiders’ interference in their means of earning a living.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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