There’s something special about pirates. Many young children love to focus their let’s pretend play around the adventures and excitement of sailing the high seas and following the clues of maps to find treasure. They love to dress up with great pirate gear like hats, pirate belts, vests, and colorful bandanas. There are lots of excellent books for Little Mateys to enjoy -and there are also many new websites that are part of the contemporary pirate parody culture for grown-ups to enjoy along with young pirates.
The Night Pirates by Peter Harris, illustrated by Deborah Allwright
A night-time adventure, with a moonlit ocean voyage where “rough, tough little girl pirates” allow young Tom to join their crew. This is a wonderful simple, rhythmic story, where the pirate children trick the grown-up pirates out of their treasure. The illustrations are captivating (no pun intended), and the lettering rolls across the pages in the same motion as the ship across the waves of the ocean. It’s also nice for parents of little girls (and boys!) to have their kids see pirate girls that “let” the boy join the crew.
Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel, illustrated by Henry Cole
Pirates are plundering the alphabet letters! And they want more than just “RRRRRRR.” This clever alphabet book is peopled with animal pirates who are on the lookout for each letter, often “hidden” near objects that begin with the letter’s sound (like “gold” or “parrot,” although “X” marks the spot on the treasure, of course). Children love the characters, especially the pirate captain, a swashbuckling crocodile, complete with a hook!
How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon
When young Jeremy’s extraordinary digging talents are discovered one day at the beach, he agrees to join Captain Braidbeard and his crew digging for pirate treasure. They promise to have him home in time for soccer practice, so he sails forth on the high seas with this rather uncouth group of buccaneers. At first, he loves their lack of table manners, not having a bedtime and his exciting high sea adventures. But he misses being tucked in and the comforts of home, and convinces the crew to take him to his own backyard to bury their treasure. David Shannon’s goofy illustrations are perfect with this humorous pirate tale. If you like this, don’t miss Pirates Don’t Change Diapers, where Jeremy is reunited with his pirate friends for another (stinky) adventure.
Do Pirates Take Baths? by Kathy Tucker, illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott
Young children who are interested in pirates will enjoy this simple text, written in verse form, that answers 13 questions about the pirate life. The illustrations are cheerful watercolors, and show the pirates living their energetic, adventurous-and in this case, good-natured-lives. They only tie up their rivals, or capture their competitors’ ships for sport. (And yes, “when they smell very bad,” they do jump into the sea for a quick scrub!)
Don’t Mention Pirates by Sarah McConnell
Another pirate girl with an adventurous spirit! Scarlet lives in the house she inherited form her famous Grandma: Long Joan Silver! In this fun-and funny-swashbuckling story, Scarlet makes her brother walk the plank (into his wading pool!), sails the high seas in search of buried gold, and reclaims her pirate birthright. The energy in the illustrations adds to the playfulness of the story.
Bubble Bath Pirates by Jarrett Krosoczka
This book came to our attention as we have become obsessed with one of the author’s other great works: Punk Farm. Krosoczka is a wonderful author who writes with a voice similar to Mo Willems and Jon Scieszka– it’s that fun and funny modern voice that kids love and relate to instantly. This simple book about two little boy pirates who have fun in the tub, then plunder the kitchen for ice cream is really appealing to young kids who love pirates, bath time and ice cream, but maybe aren’t as big fans of hair rinsing or pulling the plug from the drain.
Fun Pirate Websites
Stuff for Junior Pirates is the kid-version of the website from the creators of “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD) is a holiday parody invented in 1995 by John Baur (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy), of Portland, Oregon, who proclaimed September 19th each year as the day when everyone in the world should talk like a pirate. For example, an observer of this holiday would greet friends not with “Hello,” but with “Ahoy, me hearty!” The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized-and humorous–view of the Golden Age of Piracy.
In The Guide to Pirate Parenting, there is a wealth of resources, from nursery rhymes about pirates, to suggestions for how to raise pirate children. For the modern (suburban) pirate family!