National Read a Book Day: children’s pirate stories

National Read a Book Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day are both in September. To celebrate, we’ve reviewed our favourite pirate stories for children. From classic tales of swashbuckling adventures to recently published stories starring up-to-date heroes and heroines, we hope you’ll find something your child will enjoy.

Most children love a pirate story because they are thrilling, escapist tales that ignite the imagination. Your child might even be inspired to design their own pirate ship, invent a pirate costume or make up silly pirate names.

What better way to foster a love of reading and help your child’s creativity to flourish than with a pirate adventure?

Pirate stories for National Read a Book Day

Children 9 years +

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Puffin Classics

Although this is a children’s version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story, the text hasn’t been changed. It’s a bloodthirsty tale with good characters as well as villains getting killed. If a cinema version of this Puffin Classic was made it definitely wouldn’t be a ‘U’!

After the death of the evil pirate, Captain Flint, a young boy called Jim Hawkins finds himself in possession of a treasure map. Unfortunately, a band of villainous buccaneers are also after the map. To win the day, Jim Hawkins must outsmart the most famous and sneaky pirate of all, Long John Silver. Although Silver genuinely warms to Jim, he’s a pirate first and foremost, so he has a heart of cold, hard gold.

The main advantage of choosing this Puffin version rather than any other is that it includes profiles of all the characters, so children know who’s who before they read. There are also activities at the end of the book to encourage children to bring the adventure to life.

Comic Classics: Treasure Island

By Jack Noel

This comic-strip version of Treasure Island makes the action-packed classic easier to follow. This version is true to the original and it really conveys suspense and excitement as the plot twists and turns.

We think this graphic version is a great choice for children who need extra support with reading. Children who wouldn’t usually dive into a classic story because of the more complex language might be encouraged to try the original once they know the story.

The BBC Teach website has short videos that tell the story of Treasure Island. Although the website is for schools, it’s a great introduction to Treasure Island for children who need extra help with the comic-strip version. An even better introduction is to watch a stage production. Type ‘Treasure Island on stage’ into a search engine and see what comes up!

Antigua de Fortune of the High Seas

By Anna Rainbow and Oli Hyatt

If you’re looking for a pirate story with a strong female character, this is it! Tiggy dreams of mermaids and ocean adventures. As a well-to-do girl who lives on the Isle of Fortune she’s forced to behave like a lady. Her wild, curly hair is combed straight and she’s made to wear pretty dresses.

Then one day the Pirate King, the most evil of all buccaneers, kidnaps the boys on the Isle of Fortune. Tiggy is determined to rescue them, particularly her little brother. The story has all the excitement and magic of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean with battles on the high seas, fast-paced action and high emotion.

If your child wants to find out more about female pirates after reading this story you could visit the Pirate Quest website. Here you’ll find short biographies of the most famous pirates of the Golden Age including Anne Bonny. If your child would like to learn about Ann, there’s a graphic children’s novel all about her called Anne Bonny: Pirate Queen of the Caribbean by Christina Leaf.

More pirate stories for older children

There are so many fantastic pirate-themed stories for older children that we couldn’t review them all. We also recommend the following:

Children over the age of 8 may enjoy the classic story, Peter Pan by J M Barrie. If you can obtain an original version with Mabel Lucie Attwell’s gorgeous illustrations, all the better.

Secondary school aged children may like Pirates! by Celia Rees. It’s the story of two girls, Nancy and Minerva, who escape their oppressive lives and become pirates. Many readers won’t be able to put this book down, so watch out for torches under the bedcovers!

Pirate stories for children 4+

Pick A Story: A Pirate + Alien + Jungle Adventure

By Sarah Coyle and Adam Walker-Parker

Pick your own adventure books are normally for older children, but here the format has been successfully used in a picture book.

Vincent has lost his dog, Trouble. To help Vincent find Trouble the reader must make choices. Will they decide to take Vincent on a pirate adventure, or will they take another path? There are so many possibilities that children can have a different adventure every time they pick up the book.

The interactive nature of this picture book makes it truly unique. With each twist and turn of the plot there’s another exciting decision to make.

Rockabye Pirate

By Timothy Knapman and Ada Grey

It’s time for pirates to go to sleep.  After reluctantly having a bath and cleaning their teeth, the pirates settle down to listen to Mummy’s story. They go to sleep dreaming of wild pirate parties, walking the plank, and snaffling treasure with a ‘yo-ho-ho!’. 

The story is told in rhyme to the tune of ‘Rock-a-Bye Baby’, so children can build confidence in reading by predicting how each sentence will end and joining in.

This is a great picture book for showing children the importance of having a good night’s sleep. Even pirates need their sleep.  How else would they have the energy for tomorrow’s adventures and misdemeanours? 

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