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Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

A summer reading and hands-on learning initiative from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book

Children's books and activities

Oceans, Rivers and Ponds

Do you know any kids who are happiest swimming in a freshwater lake, body surfing in the ocean, or launching a homemade boat down a stream? Or kids who are curious about ocean tides, the physics of water, and the amazing variety of aquatic animals?

We've gathered up a great collection of books, activities, apps, and websites for learning all about ocean, rivers, and ponds. Try pairing fiction with nonfiction books and exploring different genres (like poetry and biographies) and formats (like graphic novels and audio books). You'll be creating your own "text sets" — collections of texts focused on a specific topic. Reading widely in this way helps children build background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

Oceans, Rivers and Ponds

Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

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All the Water in the World

By: George Ella Lyon

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Rich, rhythmic language combines with lush illustration to poetically describe the water cycle...

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Crustacean Vacation

By: Brian Benoit

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Humans are sure to see themselves in the beach vacation taken by a crab family. From playing in the...

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Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

By: Lynne Cox

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Most elephant seals live in the ocean but one prefers the Avon River in Christchurch, New...

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Have You Seen My Duckling?

By: Nancy Tafuri

Age Level: 3-6 years old

An anxious mother duck leads her brood around the pond as she searches for one missing duckling...

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Hello Ocean / Hola Mar

By: Pam Muñoz Ryan

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A child narrates her visit to the ocean, inviting readers to explore it with her. She experiences...

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Here Come the Humpbacks!

By: April Sayre

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A mother humpback whale and her calf travel from the Caribbean Sea to the coast of New England and...

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I Get Wet

By: Vicki Cobb

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fun hands-on activities: in this beginning science book, a boy learns some of the properties of...

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If You Want to See a Whale

By: Julie Fogliano

Age Level: 3-6 years old

If a whale is what you want to see — as does the boy in this expressive, delicately...

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In the Small, Small Pond

By: Denise Fleming

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A child (and a small green frog) witness the change of seasons in a small, critter-filled pond....

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Jump into Science: Coral Reefs

By: Sylvia Earle

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Readers explore a coral reef with a snorkeling young swimmer and see what the swimmer sees as...

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Kumak's River: A Tale from the Far North

By: Michael Bania

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Spring comes to a remote Alaskan village, and the ice on the frozen river cracks and breaks and...

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Leopard & Silkie: One Boy's Quest to Save the Seal Pups

By: Brenda Peterson

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Join Miles, a young Seal Sitter at the Salish Sea (aka Puget Sound) in Seattle, Washington, as he...

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Looking Closely Along the Shore

By: Frank Serafini

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A full-color, close-up framed by black and a repeated text focuses the reader's eye. Look closely....

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Looking Closely Around the Pond

By: Frank Serafini

Age Level: 3-6 years old

"Look very closely. What do you see?" It may be something familiar or quite out of the ordinary....

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Make Way for Ducklings

By: Robert McCloskey

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for...

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Mr. Gumpy's Outing

By: John Burningham

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Mr. Gumpy lives by a river. One sunny day he decides to take a ride in his small boat. It is...

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On the Way to the Beach

By: Henry Cole

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Young readers are invited to look and listen as they join a girl on a summer morning walk to the...

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Out of the Ocean

By: Debra Frasier

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Open this book and you'll be walking along the ocean shore, looking for all kinds of special things...

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Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach

By: Melanie Watt

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Scaredy Squirrel comes by his name honestly; he's a bit frightened of just about everything! Can...

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Seashells: Treasures from the Northeast Coast

By: Joanne Roach-Evans

Age Level: 3-6 years old

No visit to a beach is complete without finding shells. Those who visit the Northeast coast of the...

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Swamp Chomp

By: Lola Schaefer

Age Level: 3-6 years old

As swamp residents move, water ripples and the creatures munch, gulp, swallow and more. Short,...

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The Seashore Book

By: Charlotte Zolotow

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A young boy who lives in the mountains and has never seen the sea, asks his mother to describe it....

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Trout Are Made of Trees

By: April Sayre

Age Level: 3-6 years old

As two children and their fathers explore a stream and its natural riches, a straightforward text...

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Undersea Animals: A Dramatic Dimensional Visit to Strange Underwater Realms

By: Jane Buxton

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Though not for the youngest hands, stunning colors and amazing pop-ups are used to introduce sea...

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Water Is Water

By: Miranda Paul

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Lyrical language and handsome, realistic watercolors present water in its many forms, from...

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Wave

By: Suzy Lee

Age Level: 3-6 years old

No words are needed to share a child's seaside adventure as she plays with the waves, is knocked...

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Where the River Begins

By: Thomas Locker

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Nature is the star in this affecting tale of a boy and his grandfather who journey to a waterway's...

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Wow! Ocean

By: Robert Neubecker

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Izzy and her sister were mountain girls, so one summer the family decided to go see something new...

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

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A Cool Drink of Water

By: Barabara Kerley

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Beautiful full-page photographs and spare, poetic text give global perspective to the idea that...

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A Drop of Water

By: Walter Wick

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Filled with stop-action and close-up photography, this book features images like a single...

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A River

By: Marc Martin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

There's a river outside my window. Where will it take me? So begins the imaginary journey of a...

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At the Sea Floor Cafe: Odd Ocean Critter Poems

By: Leslie Bulion

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Poems introduce sea creatures and their habitats using different poetic forms (e.g., concrete,...

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Beavers

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Beavers are fascinating animals. They build their own homes and live in family groups. They keep...

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Bridges Are to Cross

By: Philomen Sturges

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This ingeniously engineered book takes readers from the car-carrying Golden Gate Bridge in San...

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Coral Reefs

By: Jason Chin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A girl is transported from the library to an underwater world where she observes coral reefs and...

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Deep Sea Floor

By: Sneed Collard

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Rich, realistic illustrations accompany clear text as readers explore what lives in the ocean,...

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Dolphins

By: Penelope Arlon

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Splendid photographs are used along with a crisp, easier to read narrative to introduce dolphins...

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Everglades

By: Jean Craighead George

Age Level: 6-9 years old

As an Indian storyteller guides a boat of children down the sea of grass, he reveals the story...

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Explore Rivers and Ponds!

By: Carla Mooney

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From puddles to lakes, streams to rivers, and bogs to swamps, each body of water contains an...

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Face to Face with Manatees

By: Brian Skerry

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Two different environments, two different authors, one goal achieved: to bring alive the process of...

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Face to Face with Sharks

By: David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Underwater photographers, Hayes & Doubilet, provide basic information about their work as...

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Flotsam

By: David Wiesner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam —...

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Follow the Water from Brook to Ocean

By: Arthur Dorros

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Water is always flowing, from a brook to a stream, to a river to the ocean. Read and find out more...

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Heat Wave

By: Eileen Spinelli

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The mercury is climbing in Lumberville, and the folks are doing everything they can to keep cool...

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I Know the River Loves Me / Yo se que el rio me ama

By: Maya Christina Gonzalez

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Whenever Maya visits the river, the river jumps up to greet her. It cools her when the summer...

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Lotus and Feather

By: Ji-li Jiang

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Inspired by the true story of a crane that rescued a Chinese village. One day, when a village...

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Marshes and Swamps

By: Gail Gibbons

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Get an introduction to the concept of wetlands (swamps have trees, and marshes do not) and learn...

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McElligot's Pool

By: Dr. Seuss

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A small boy is fishing in the tiny, unpromising McElligot's Pool, a puddle that is nothing but a...

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Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story

By: Thomas R. Yezerski

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The 20,000 acres of wetlands in New Jersey now known as the Meadowlands were once home to...

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Ocean Soup: Tide-Pool Poems

By: Stephen Swinburne

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Meet a sea anemone, sea urchin, a sculpin and other inhabitants of a tide pool through poems (in...

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Oceans

By: Seymour Simon

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Simon explores the magnitude of the oceans and their impact on the Earth's climate. He includes...

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Oil Spill

By: Melvin Berger

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Did you know that an oil spill occurs somewhere in the world almost every day of the year? This...

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Otters Love to Play

By: Jonathan London

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Head to the river, where a frolicsome bunch of otters plays all year round in a nonfiction story...

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Our World of Water

By: Beatrice Hollyer

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This book follows the daily lives of children in Peru,Mauritania, the United States, Bangladesh...

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Over and Under the Pond

By: Kate Messner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Discover the plants and animals that make up the rich, interconnected ecosystem of a mountain...

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Pond and River

By: Steve Parker

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This Eyewitness book examines the relationship between ponds, rivers, and the larger bodies of...

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River

By: Debby Atwell

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Explore the changes that occur through the centuries along a riverbank, from the arrival of the...

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River Wild: An Activity Guide to North American Rivers

By: Nancy F. Castaldo

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Learn about the formation of rivers, the water cycle, and the variety of habitats that exist...

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Rivers of Sunlight

By: Molly Bang

Age Level: 6-9 years old

How does the sun keep ocean currents moving and lift fresh water from the seas? What can we do...

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Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems

By: Joyce Sidman

Age Level: 6-9 years old

From spring’s first thaw to autumn’s chill, the world of the pond is a dramatic place. Though...

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The Big Rivers: the Missouri, the Mississippi, and the Ohio

By: Bruce Hiscock

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The book focuses on the 1993 floods in the Midwest, showing how unusual weather patterns affected...

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The Boxcar Children: Houseboat Mystery

By: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with heir...

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The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks

By: Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Ms. Frizzle, an unflappable science teacher, drives the magical school bus into a cloud where...

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The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor

By: Joanna Cole

Age Level: 6-9 years old

When Ms. Frizzle drives the Magic School Bus full speed ahead into the ocean, the class takes a...

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The Open Ocean

By: Francesco Pittau, Bernadette Gervais

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Guess whose silhouette? Find out with a lift of a flap. Examine a close-up, lift the tab and up...

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The Raft

By: Jim LaMarche

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nicky isn't one bit happy about spending the summer with his grandma in the Wisconsin woods, but...

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The Water Princess

By: Susan Verde, Georgie Badiel

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce and she...

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Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe

By: Vera B. Williams

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Follow the red canoe from page to page as it journeys down river carrying the family on a camping...

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Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube

By: Pat Mora

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Evocative watercolors and short, lyrical poems take readers on a trip, “Around our round world”...

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Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems

By: Kate Coombs

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Translucent watercolors and short, varied poems take readers on a trip to the sea. There they...

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Water Sources

By: Rebecca Olien

Age Level: 6-9 years old

How much water is on Earth? This title introduces readers to the different places on Earth water...

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Water: National Geographic Kids

By: Melissa Stewart

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Water is all around us; we drink it every day. In this level 3 reader, kids will learn about the...

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

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A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams

By: Jen Bryant

Age Level: 9-12 years old

When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls. Willie’s...

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Caught in the Rapids (Science to the Rescue)

By: Felicia Law

Age Level: 9-12 years old

During a trip to survey a river, Dr. Bea and Joe are suddenly swept into the water, and must use...

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Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon

By: Sy Montgomery

Age Level: 9-12 years old

The author joins several field scientists to find the mysterious encantado, the pink dolphins of...

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Flush

By: Carl Hiaasen

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the...

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Luz Makes a Splash

By: Claudia Davila

Age Level: 9-12 years old

With a heat wave and a drought threatening the city's water supply, Luz and her friends dive...

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Make a Splash! A Kid’s Guide to Protecting Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers and Wetlands

By: Cathryn Berger Kaye, Philippe Cousteau

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This book teaches elementary kids about the earth’s water crisis and empowers them to do...

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Not a Drop to Drink: Water for a Thirsty World (National Geographic Investigates)

By: Michael Burgan

Age Level: 9-12 years old

The scarcity of clean drinking water will have dramatic consequences for humanity in the 21st...

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One Well: The Story of Water on Earth

By: Rochelle Strauss

Age Level: 9-12 years old

All water is connected. Every raindrop, lake, underground river and glacier is part of a single...

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Paddle-to-the-Sea

By: Holling Clancy Holling

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A young Indian boy carves a little canoe with a figure inside and names him Paddle-to-the-Sea....

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River of Words: Young Poets and Artists on the Nature of Things

By: Pamela Michael

Age Level: 9-12 years old

The California-based River of Words trains teachers, park naturalists, and others to incorporate...

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Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks

By: Skila Brown

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A poem about the well-known Great White begins this handsomely illustrated collection of poems...

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The Aquarium Book

By: George Ancona

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Take a tour through four national aquariums and learn how they are set up, the educational displays...

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The Negro Speaks of Rivers

By: Langston Hughes

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Dazzling watercolors turn Hughes' short poem into an unforgettable glimpse of African...

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The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans

By: Elizabeth Rusch

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Journey to the wave-battered coast of the Pacific Northwest to meet some of the engineers and...

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Water Wow!

By: Paula Ayer, Antonia Banyard

Age Level: 9-12 years old

A colorful infographic look at the many surprising and fascinating facts about water. Where did...

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Water: DK Eyewitness

By: John Woodward

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Water dives into every aspect of Earth's most precious resource-its chemical properties, its...

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White Water! National Geographic Kids

By: Brenna Maloney

Age Level: 9-12 years old

From hippo attacks on the Okavango River to Chitina headwaters in Alaska, this chapter book is...

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Wild River

By: P.J. Petersen

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Twelve-year-old Ryan goes kayaking and fishing on a California river with his older brother,...

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You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Clean Water!

By: Roger Canavan

Age Level: 9-12 years old

How would you cope in a world without water? Featuring comprehensive diagrams, a timeline,and...

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