Ahoy Matey!

Books to Share

  • Do Pirates Take Baths? by Kathy Tucker.
  • Edward and the Pirates by David McPhail.
  • The Pirate Queen by Emily Arnold McCulley.
  • Robin Hook: Pirate Hunter! by Eric Kimmel.
  • Seadogs: An Epic Ocean Operetta by Lisa Wheeler.
  • Sloop John B: A Pirate’s Tale by Al Jardine.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • Everything I Know About Pirates by Tom Lichtenheld.
  • Giant Rat of Sumatra: Or Pirates Galore by Sid Fleischman.
  • Grace the Pirate by Katherine Lasky.
  • How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell.
  • The Kingfisher Treasury of Pirate Stories by Tony Bradman.
  • Time Warp Trio: Not So Jolly Roger by Jon Scieska.
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Women Pirates: Eight Stories of Adventure by Myra Weatherly.

Bulletin Board

Upstart, www.highsmith.com, sells posters and bulletin board decorations with the theme, “Captain Book.”


Ahoy, Matey! Discover the Treasures Hidden Inside

Purchase a treasure chest box, beads and necklaces, and plastic gold coins, or gather these items and make a treasure chest. Decorate the treasure chest with a bounty of treasures, including some of the books suggested above.  Surround the treasure chest with books about pirates.

Pirates of the Caribbean Cardboard Figures

Decorate your library with a lifesize cardboard standup of Capt. Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann, Will Turner, or Davy Jones! Available for less than $35 from Cardboard Standups at www.cardboardstandups.com/pirates.htm. These 5 to 6 foot standups of Capt. Jack and crew will brighten up the library and entice young readers to have a jolly roger time at the library.


Oriental Trading Company, www.orientaltrading.com, sells frosted pirate suckers and chocolate gold coins. Serve fruit punch or root beer and call it “grog.”


Upstart, www.highsmith.com, sells a variety of inexpensive stickers and tattoos, including some from the Captain Book theme that could be used as prizes and incentives.

Rhode Island Novelties, www.rinovelty.com, sells a variety of inexpensive pirate items that could be used as prizes and incentives.

Rhymes and Poetry

“Captain Hook” in Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

“Durk of Dowdee” by Mildred Plew Meigs in A Child’s Anthology of Poetry by Elizabeth Hauge Sword.


Play the theme song for the 2007 Texas Reading Club, “Sail Away With Books” by Lucas Miller.

Audio Recordings

“The Ballad of Dirty Joe” on Blah Blah Blah: Stories About Clams, Swamp Monster, Pirates and Dogs by Bill Harley. Lyrics are online at www.billharley.com/NewsDetail.asp?NewsID=23.

“I’m a Pirate” and “Pirate Party” on Pegleg Tango by Captain Bogg and Salty.

Puppet Plays

Oriental Trading Company, www.orientaltrading.com, sells pirate hand puppets that can be used with the books listed above in “Books to Share.”

Reader’s Theater

Provide copies of “The Pirates’ Code: A Reader’s Theater Script” by Barrie Teague Alguire in the Reader’s Theater section of this manual.

Riddles and Jokes

Q: What does a pirate drive?

A: A caaaarrrrr.

Q: What do pirates do for fun?

A: They play caaaarrrrds.

Q. Why do pirates always carry soap with them?

A. If they get shipwrecked they can wash themselves ashore.

Find additional jokes and games in Pirates!: Puzzles, Jokes, and Things to Make and Do by Cathy Gale.


Treasure Map


  • Brown grocery bags
  • Markers
  • Crayons
  • Ribbon

treasure map craft



Before the program, cut apart grocery bags of various sizes. Give a piece of a paper bag to each of the children and have them crumple it tightly into a ball, and then flatten the paper out again. Distribute markers and let everyone draw their own map. Remind them they will want a compass mark, obstacles, such as waterfalls, skull rock, or a mountain of doom, and an “X” with a dotted-line trail that winds around the map. When they are finished, let them roll up the maps and tie them with ribbons. Look for examples on Billy Bones’ Pirate Locker web site: www.deadmentellnotales.com/index.shtml

Pirate Hat


  • Newspaper Sheets
  • Tape
  • Feathers

pirate hat


Give each child a sheet of newspaper. Fold the paper in half. Fold down each side of the newspaper to make a triangle and then fold up one of the bottom flaps. Flip the hat over and fold up the other bottom flap. Tape the folds to secure them and add a feather for decoration. This project is similar to the hats mentioned at the web site below, if you need to see an illustration. A simple origami style hat is available at Kids Craft Central at www.kid-craft-central.com/origami-hat.html.

Games and Activities

Pirate Trivia

Use 100 Things You Should Know About Pirates by Andrew Langley, Pirates: A Nonfiction Companion to Pirates Past Noon by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne or similar ones available in your collection, or National Geographic Pirates web site, www.piratesinfo.com/main.php to develop trivia questions. Divide the group into teams of five or six children. Each team will be asked a question and have five minutes to answer or the other team can attempt to answer the question. Give a prize to the team with the most correct answers. Let the children choose new teams and play several rounds.

Find The Hidden Treasure

Use the children’s department floor plan or create a map of the children’s area and copy it on to tan paper. Design four or five maps to be used by teams of children. Each team will have a map with “Dewey Clues,” such as those suggested below, to find a hidden treasure. Pirate maps usually say things like “go past the dangerous rocks,” “pass the water falls,” etc. The library map might say things that lead the treasure hunters past key Dewey book areas. Some clues might include:

  • A dog makes a fine pet.
  • A book about Florida.
  • A book about pirates.

Have the clues lead to a bag or treasure chest of treats and treasures, such as candy, inexpensive necklaces, bookmarks, etc.  To make a treasure chest, cover a shoebox or other small box with tissue paper or wrapping paper and decorate it with stickers, glitter, and sequins.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19 is “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” self-declared by a couple of crazy guys and endorsed by humorist Dave Barry. Since it is a made-up holiday, declare any day of your choosing to be “Talk Like a Pirate Day” at your library. Ask staff to dress up like pirates and to use as much pirate lingo as possible. For basic lingo and other program ideas, go to International Talk Like a Pirate Day, http://talklikeapirate.com/howto.html. Check out the kid-friendly pages for chants, activities, and PG-rated lingo. The site also includes links to other sites, including one that provides party ideas. Select additional activities from The Great Pirate Activity Book by Deri Robins. This children’s book includes patterns and instruction for building a pirate ship, dressing like a pirate, and holding a pirate-themed party.

Web-Based Activities

Awesome Stories


Although some areas of this site require registration, it’s easy and free to register your library. This article provides the story behind the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean, and provides hyperlinks to primary documents and maps.

High Seas Adventure


National Geographic for Kids presents a “Pirates High Seas Adventure” game.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs, or segments of them, to the children. Otherwise, display them for home use. Times are indicated for the entire film.

The New Swiss Family Robinson. (89 minutes)

Professional Resources

  • 100 Things You Should Know About Pirates by Andrew Langley.
  • Pirates!: Puzzles, Jokes, and Things to Make and Do by Cathy Gale.
  • Pirates: A Nonfiction Companion to Pirates Past Noon by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne.
  • The Great Pirate Activity Book by Deri Robins.

Billy Bones’ Pirate Locker


A variety of pirate related resources are provided on this web site.

Dead Men Tell No Tales


Links to list of pirate books, music, games, toys, decorations, crafts, costumes, accessories, artwork and more.

Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates : Fiction, Fact & Fancy Concerning the Buccaneers & Marooners of the Spanish Main


The complete text of this book of pirate stories and pictures by nineteenth century artist-author Howard Pyle is online at the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. Published in 1921, it is in the public domain.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day


It’s a made-up celebration, but this site includes everything you need to have a good time talking like a pirate.

Kids Craft Central


In addition to instructions for an origami hat, this site provides an assortment of craft ideas.

National Geographic Pirates


The history of piracy, biographies of pirates, and more are provided by National Geographic.

Oriental Trading Company


This carnival supply company sells many pirate-themed items.

Pirates and Privateers


A guide to web sites with facts and fiction about pirates, buccaneers, and privateers.

Rhode Island Novelties


This novelty supplier sells many pirate themed items.

Shanties and Sea Songs


Lyrics to traditional maritime songs, particularly sea shanties.

Story Lovers SOS: Searching Out Stories


Features compilation of more than fifty stories to tell about pirates.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


This site provides an example of a treasure map, along with other activities related to the book.



This library supply company sells pirate-themed bookmarks, posters, and other items.


Texas Reading Club 2007 Programming Manual / Sail Away with Books!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011