Happy MerMay! Dive Into These 8 Mermaid Books

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Merry MerMay! MerMay is most known as an art challenge, where participants make a mermaid-themed piece of art every day based on prompts. Here are the 2024 daily MerMay prompts, including #Kaiju #Feline #CoastalGrandma and so many more. While I love to see mermaid artwork in my feed, I’ll admit that visual art is not my forte — and why should artists get all the mermaid fun? That’s why I’ve put together a list of mermaid books to read for MerMay, whether alongside the art challenge or independently.

I love mermaid (and selkie) stories. We live on a planet mostly covered in water, but below the waves is practically another world for us humans. It’s easy to imagine that anything lives down there, from killer mermaids to an Atlantis-like lost city of peaceful water dwellers. They’re also a subject perfect for illustrations — both the mermaids themselves and their surroundings can be colorful, shimmering, and otherworldly. Graphic novels and picture books featuring mermaids are beautiful reads you can submerge yourself in. (Sorry.)

Today, I have a list of eight mermaid books that all check off tasks in the 2024 Read Harder Challenge. They include a mermaid sci-fi novella, recent mermaid picture books, mermaid horror, a mermaid graphic novel, mermaid manga, and mermaid short stories. Let’s dive in! (Sorry again.)

the cover of The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by S.L. Huangthe cover of The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by S.L. Huang

The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by S.L. Huang

While mermaids may seem firmly in the fantasy genre, you can find them anywhere from YA contemporary novels like Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester to the mermaid horror books below to sci-fi, like this one. The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist is a dark, queer, reversed retelling of The Little Mermaid. Cadence is a scientist studying the Atargati, who are not mermaids…they’re just a lot like mermaids. When she starts to fall for one of them, though, she rescues them, returning them to the deep sea — but she can’t resist the siren song of that watery abyss. This completes task #5: Read a sci-fi novella.

covers of Oona and Once Upon a Mermaid's Talecovers of Oona and Once Upon a Mermaid's Tale

Oona by Kelly DiPucchio and Raissa Figueroa and Once Upon a Mermaid’s Tail by Beatrice Blue

I could not pick just one mermaid picture book for task #11: Read a picture book published in the last five years. As I mentioned above, mermaids are perfect subjects for picture books, and both of these are gorgeous examples. Oona is the first in a series following Oona and her friend Otto as they get into mischief. Once Upon a Mermaid’s Tail is an environmentalist story about a boy who takes home a tiny, beautiful creature only to find she gets weaker and weaker in a tank — he needs to return her to the ocean.

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