Ten Pirate-y Picture Books for International Talk Like a Pirate Day by Jenni Frencham
International Talk Like a Pirate Day started out as an inside joke among friends, but recently has exploded across the internet. Even Krispy Kreme has gotten in on the pirate action, offering free donuts to people who visit their stores dressed as pirates on September 19th. There are plenty of great pirate novels and movies available, but if you’d like some family-friendly books for the holiday, here are ten great pirate picture books sure to please the whole family.
Half-Pint Pete the Pirate by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (2012, G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
This rhyming tale tells the story of Half-Pint Pete, a pirate with one peg leg, one patched eye, and only half a treasure map. How will he ever find the treasure if he doesn’t have the other half of the map? Fortunately, a fellow pirate comes to the rescue, and together they find more than just treasure.
On a Pirate Ship by Sarah Courtauld (2007, Usborne Publishing)
This colorfully illustrated book is for the youngest pirates. With simple text and inviting illustrations, Courtauld invites children of all ages to wonder if they would be able to survive on a pirate ship.
Pirates Don’t Drive Diggers by Alex English (2015, Maverick Arts)
What if a pirate doesn’t want to be a pirate? This book explores a young pirates fascination with construction equipment and his apparent failure to be a good pirate. In the end, the pirates learn that everyone can contribute in some way, and that even people who like diggers instead of ships can help the pirates get their treasure.
Pirates on the Farm by Denette Fretz (2013, Zonderkidz)
Can pirates make good farmers? The farm families in this book are suspicious of the pirates and laugh at their strange ways, except for one person who helps them to learn how to farm. It turns out that pirates can make good farmers and good neighbors.
Are You the Pirate Captain? by Gareth P. Jones (2016, Anderson Press)
The pirate ship is all ready to go, but it’s missing the most important member of the crew: the captain. A series of people walk near the ship, and each time the crew is hoping to find their captain, when it turns out that their captain has been with them all along. Bright colors and rhyming text make this a great book for young pirates.
The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure by Peyton Leung (2012, Kids Can Press)
This pirate story is also a craft activity. Readers can follow the directions in the back of the book to tell the story and fold a paper at the same time. The end product is a pirate’s shirt, just like in the story itself.
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long (2003, Harcourt)
A wonderfully illustrated tale of a child who joins a pirate crew while at the beach with his family. He initially enjoys the lack of rules and order, but eventually misses his family and returns home.
Where’s the Pirate? by Keith Mosley
This simple story of a grandfather and grandson who work together to follow a treasure map also contains hidden pictures of pirates scattered throughout the pages. Readers can enjoy the story and then return to the illustrations to see if they can find all of the pirates.
Port Side Pirates! by Oscar Seaworthy (2007, Barefoot Books)
Port Side Pirates comes with a CD containing a song version of the story, so the book can be read as a story and also sung either after or during the story-reading. The brightly colored illustrations feature a diverse array of characters. Guitar chords are listed in the back of the book for those who wish to accompany the story on their own instrument.
Pirate’s Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime by Marcie Wessels (2015, Random House Children’s Books)
An excellent bedtime story for pirate or landlubber, this tale follows a young boy as his father attempts to put him to bed. The boy stalls for time, making typical night-time requests, which end up exhausting his father, who falls asleep long before the young pirate is ready to sleep.
Jenni Frencham is the Youth Services Director at Columbus (WI) Public Library. She can often be found surrounded by piles of LEGO bricks or children’s books, depending on the season. You can follow her online at http://frenchizal.blogspot.com.