18 Super Bath Time Stories
Splish Splash: 18 Super Bath Time Stories
It's time for a bath! No matter our age (or our species), we all have to take the occasional bath. Here are some of my favorite fiction and nonfiction picture books about bath time for animals, children, and even a zany king. All these books are in print and should be available from your local library or favorite bookstore. Those titles available from The Global Baby are linked.
Around the World in a Bathtub by Wade Bradford, illustrated by Micha Archer (2017)
All over the world, it’s bath time, and little ones are none too happy. In Japan the whole family takes turns in a square tub called an ofuro, and in the Alaskan tundra families take a steam bath in a maqii. But no matter where they are, the children resist getting clean. “No, no,” they cry. “Yes, yes,” their mamas repeat. This interesting picture book highlights a sample of bathing traditions around the world (including more detailed notes at the end of the book), while emphasizing the connections between little ones.
Bears in the Bath by Shirley Parenteau, illustrated by David Walker (2014)
Four little bears are dirty, muddy, sweaty, and stinky, and Big Brown Bear says it’s time for them to take a bath. But the little bears have other plans. As Big Brown Bear tries to wrangle them, he gets just as dirty as the little bears, so he decides to get in the bath himself. That’s all the encouragement the little bears need for some bath time fun. With pleasant rhyming text and cheerful illustrations, Bears in the Bath is a lovely choice for bath time.
Dini Dinosaur by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Daniel Roode (2012)
After a fun day playing outside, Dini Dinosaur is covered in mud from head to toe. His mother announces that it is time for a bath, but Dini’s bath time routine is silly to say the least. First, he washes his toes, but he forgets to take off his shoes, so back into the bath he goes. Karen Beaumont’s rhymes are always fun to read aloud, and little ones will giggle at Dini’s antics.
Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd (2000)
A white dog, with one black spot on his ear, goes off on a day of adventures that leaves him covered in a rainbow of spots—until bath time that is. This simple story is a perennial storytime favorite and lots of fun to retell with young children.
Five Minutes’ Peace by Jill Murphy (1986)
Mrs. Large, an elephant mother, is desperate for five minutes of peace from her three rambunctious children, so she takes a breakfast tray and the newspaper up to the bathroom to enjoy a bubble bath by herself. Unfortunately, her children are not far behind her. Is there any place in her house where Mrs. Large can be alone? This funny story, which will be only too real to moms everywhere, is accompanied by charming illustrations.
Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup (2015)
Ellie the elephant is taking a bath, but some unwanted friends decide to join her. What’s an elephant to do? Sure to be a hit with little ones, this title combines bright, textured illustrations; simple text (and some good sound words); and interactive opportunities (the author invites readers to shake and tilt the book). A perfect precursor to bath time!
Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer (2016)
Penguin is very grumpy, and no matter what he does—stomping his feet, kicking off his grumpy boots—nothing makes him feel better. But then he gets into the tub, and slowly but surely his grumpiness starts to wash away. Claire Messer’s lovely linoleum-printed illustrations are a treat.
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham (1956)
In this classic story, Harry the dog really does not want a bath. So, he takes matters into his own hands and buries the scrubbing brush in the backyard. Then he sets out on a day of adventures. By the time Harry gets home, he is so dirty that his family barely recognizes him. Harry’s determination to avoid bath time will resonate with many young readers.
Hogwash by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jim McMullan (2011)
One spring day, a farmer decides it is time to give all of his animals baths. All is going according to plan until it comes time to wash the pigs. The pigs board up their pen and refuse to let the farmer in to give them baths. Although the farmer comes up with all sorts of clever plans to bathe the pigs, they are always one step ahead of him, and eventually he realizes that mud baths aren’t so bad. Karma Wilson’s rhymes are always delightful, and Hogwash just begs to be read aloud. Jim McMullan’s silly illustrations just add to the fun.
How Do You Take a Bath? by Kate McMullan, illustrated by Sydney Hanson (2018)
Cats lick their fur to take a bath, while turtles let fish eat algae off their shells. But how do little children take a bath? Gentle rhymes and soft illustrations combine in this simple, charming bath time story.
How to Give Your Cat a Bath by Nicola Winstanley, illustrated by John Martz (2019)
This is a step-by-step guide to giving your cat a bath—only the five easy steps turn out not be so easy for a little girl attempting to bathe her cat, Mr. Flea. The illustrations of the mayhem that results from her attempts are hilarious, and the story’s conclusion is satisfying. As every cat lover knows, it’s best to just let your cat take care of bath time on its own.
I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow (2005)
After making a terrible mess, a young boy assures the reader over and over again that he “ain’t gonna paint no more”—though he continues to paint all over his body until he eventually ends up in the bathtub. I adore this book, from its silly rhymes to its colorful, boisterous illustrations, and I've always preferred to sing the words (try it—it’s lots of fun). The best part is that the rhymes allow young listeners to guess which body part the messy little artist will paint next. I have used this in storytime more times than I can count—always to rave reviews.
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Don and Audrey Wood (1985)
In this Caldecott Honor book, a young page alerts the court that their king is in the bathtub and won’t get out. A knight, the queen, and many others try to lure King Bidgood out, but instead they just end up in the tub with him. So, it’s up to the page to come up with a real solution to the problem! The illustrations of this picture book are magnificent, with a stateliness that belies their ridiculous subject matter. King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub rewards careful looking.
Little Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo (2015)
Although Little Bird doesn’t like rainy nights, he loves the puddles they bring because puddles mean bath time. One beautiful morning, after a rainstorm, he finds the perfect puddle in a park, but he is continually interrupted—until so much of his puddle has been splashed away that he is no longer able to enjoy it. Where will he find a place to take a bath?
The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems (2004)
Pigeon is VERY dirty, and it is up to you to convince him to take a bath. Told with Mo Willems’s characteristic humor, joy, and pure silliness, this story will have you and your child giggling hysterically.
Scrubba Dub by Nancy Van Laan, illustrated by Bernadette Pons (2003)
Nonsense rhymes and joyful illustrations of a little bunny in the bath capture the fun of bath time for babies and toddlers.
Something Smells by Blake Liliane Hellman, illustrated by Steven Henry (2018)
Elliot wakes up one morning to an awful smell. He looks everywhere around his house for the source of the smell—under his bed, in the trash, in his baby sister’s diaper—but he just can’t figure out what smells. Though Elliot remains oblivious to the source of the smell, it is clear to the reader that he (and the unwashed skeleton costume he is wearing) is the culprit. And, of course, a bath and clean pajamas prove to be the solution to the terrible smell.
Time for a Bath by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (2011)
Though you may need to skip around (and paraphrase) when reading this nonfiction book about animal baths to younger readers, it’s filled with relatively simple explanations of the bathing habits of all sorts of interesting animals—from emus (who enjoy mud baths) to pangolins (who crush ants beneath their scales). Steve Jenkins’s collage illustrations are always a treat, and the small scale of this book makes it especially appealing for little hands and eyes.