In today’s day and age, we’re faced with the very serious issues of animal extinction, animal abuse, and other inharmonious ways that humans interact with animals. It’s our job to teach our kids how to love and respect animals and one of the best ways is by reading them stories about just that.
We put together a list of beautifully illustrated books that teach your kids to love and care for the animals in their world.
A hilarious story with an important message
When an elephant in the city zoo picks up a beauty magazine, she makes a horrifying discovery: her wrinkles make her look ancient! After covering herself with anti-aging cream, she passes the magazine on to the other animals in the zoo. Soon the panda is trying to get rid of the dark circles under his eyes, the lion is getting the latest celebrity hairstyle, and the boa constrictor is dressing in leopard print (snakeskin was so last season). But how will people react to the animals’ new looks?
This zany, satirical picture book addresses body image issues and reminds readers to appreciate themselves for who they are.
Another dazzling book from a critically acclaimed team
Where do animals get their food? At the grocery store, of course! At the animal supermarket, polar bears happily prowl the seafood section, cats stock up on bottles of milk, and mice crowd around the cheese counter.
From the award-winning duo who created I Wish I Had. and The Big Book of Slumber (both Eerdmans) comes another imaginative story that will delight animal lovers of all ages.
Animals of the Bible for Young Children
The Bible’s stories abound with animals, from Jonah’s giant fish and Daniel’s lions to humble sparrows and tiny ants. This colorful book uses simple language to introduce children to the menagerie of animals that populate the pages of the Bible, and shows how even the smallest of creatures bear witness to God’s wisdom and love.
A whimsical and soothing bedtime story
At night, all the animals return to their homes to sleep. Birds dream in their nests, polar bears snore inside their ice caves, and children snuggle under the covers of their beds. Everything is in order. Unless, of course, it isn’t. Sometimes the world — or the book — gets turned upside down. And then things aren’t quite as simple.
With its sweet, winsome illustrations, this book is perfect for sharing with children as they drift off into their own imaginative dreams.
The Best Cat in the World
Even the best cat in the world doesn’t live forever, and Victor is very sad when his beloved cat, Charlie, dies. His mother suggests getting a new cat, but Victor isn’t so sure. Finally, when the vet tells Victor she has another cat that really needs a home, Victor agrees to give the new cat a chance.
But the new cat, Shelley, isn’t like Charlie. She doesn’t look like Charlie, or act like Charlie, or like to do the things Charlie used to do. With all these differences, is there any chance that Victor can learn to accept and love Shelley?
Leslea Newman’s gentle story honors the full range of a child’s feelings after losing a favorite pet, while Ron Himler’s soft pencil and watercolor illustrations capture Victor’s poignant emotions as well as the playful antics of his new kitten.
The Big Book of Slumber
A stunning lullaby book that will both delight and soothe
All creatures of the world find time to rest. And in this charming lullaby book, countless cozy animals settle down in their beds. Bears lie under their blankets, the fox snuggles beneath a tree in the light of the moon, and the monkey tucks his banana close beside him.
This brilliant pairing of author and illustrator brings us a vibrant yet elegant bedtime book that is sure to enchant young readers as they drift sweetly into their own dreams.
The Blue Hour
Ages 4 to 8
A lovely and tranquil celebration of nature
The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn’t quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.
With its soothing text and radiant artwork, this elegant picture book displays the majesty of nature and reminds readers that beauty is fleeting but also worth savoring.
The Blue Jackal
Ages 4 to 8
Juno the jackal is the runt of the pack, and the other animals bully him because of his size. One night, Juno is chased by some dogs from the village, and he hides in a vat of indigo dye to escape. When he returns to the forest, his fur is bright blue, and the animals hail this strange new creature as their king. But can Juno keep his true identity hidden?
Featuring illustrations inspired by traditional Warli artwork and an informative historical note, this Indian folktale will spark a wonderful discussion about the relationship between perception and reality.
What begins as a playful game of fetch between a boy and his dog turns into a wild goose chase that springs from one page to the next in this delightful book. Young readers will find themselves caught up in the bright and charming watercolor paintings as they follow the pair on a frolicking escapade, and ultimately, to an endearing reunion.
Do You Have a Dog?
A Dog Like Sam
When a big white dog turns up unexpectedly in their front yard, Kix and Emilia immediately want to adopt him. They name the dog Sam, and even though their parents say they can’t take him in, it isn’t long before Sam becomes a part of the family. But when Sam’s original owner comes looking for him, Kix realizes that deciding where Sam belongs is anything but simple.
Emotional and gripping, this book will be an instant favorite with any reader who has a soft spot for animals.
The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have
A beautiful exploration of happiness and hope
Nino doesn’t have a dog, but he likes to imagine that he does. His imaginary dog chases squirrels and plays in the lake with him. His imaginary dog licks the tears off Nino’s face and helps Nino feel less lonely while his dad is traveling. But when Nino gets a real dog, it’s not quite what he expected. As he spends more time with his dog, though, Nino learns how to be content with what he has, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing to dream.
This award-winning book beautifully depicts the art of finding a balance between imagination and reality.
A globetrotting story that’s the cat’s pajamas
Felix has everything a cat could want—he has a food bowl, a balcony, and a cozy pillow. But he’s curious about the rest of the world, so he takes a trip to go visit his feline relatives. He drinks herring tea with snow leopards in China, warms himself in a lynx’s yurt, and takes an afternoon nap with a pride of lions. After seeing such beautiful, far-off places, where will Felix decide to call home?
With its rich, lovely artwork, this fanciful story will be an instant favorite for cat lovers.
Fur, Fins, and Feathers
A fascinating and factual book that will delight animal lovers
Abraham Dee Bartlett knew from a young age that he wanted to spend his life working with animals. But in Victorian London, there weren’t many jobs that provided an opportunity to do that. Still, Abraham spent years gaining knowledge and pursuing his dream until he eventually became superintendent in the London Zoo. Driven by his compassion for the animals, Abraham dramatically improved the conditions of the zoo to ensure that the animals could be happy and healthy.
With engaging back matter and charming illustrations, Cassandre Maxwell’s book brings to life the little-known story of the man who helped to create the modern zoo.
I Wish I Had . . .
With its sharp eyes, the blackbird can see every blade of grass in the meadow. The wings of the wild goose can carry it far away. And the song of the whale fills the wide ocean. Each animal has skills and beauty wholly unique to itself. And in this lyrical book, a child describes the skill and the beauty possessed by various animals.
Giovanna Zoboli’s fluid and lyrical descriptions, complemented by Simona Mulazzani’s bright and charming illustrations, will leave the reader charmed by its sense of wonder and awe.
Kids can add their own personal touch with a coloring page. Crayons not included.
God made Whale and gave him a home in the blue-deep waters of the sea, a family with whom he could play and splash, and a joyful song to sing. And then one day, when a wild storm raged above, God gave Whale a job to do. Whale’s faithful spirit fills the pages of this vibrant story and gives a new twist to the classic, well-loved biblical tale.
Eileen Spinelli’s charming retelling of this familiar story will delight readers of all ages, as will Giuliano Ferri’s rich and vivid illustrations.
Klimt and His Cat
Katze, the loyal cat of Gustav Klimt, takes readers on an exciting journey into the world of the famous Viennese painter. From distracting Gustav’s models to tagging along with Gustav on vacations, Katze always provides keen insight about the artist’s work and thoughts.
Enchanting illustrations, suggestive of Gustav Klimt’s own style and enlivened by the lovable and curious Katze, make Klimt and His Cat a book for readers of all ages. This book not only teaches about the artwork of the Secessionist artist, but also suggests the importance of hard work, dedication, and being true to oneself.
Bank Street College, Best Children’s Books of the Year (2006)
Little Naomi, Little Chick
An adorable day in the life of both Little Naomi and Little Chick
Little Naomi has a busy day! She gets ready for school, plays with all her friends, builds with blocks, bakes mud pies, colors pictures, eats lunch, and helps mom with the shopping. Little Chick has to stay at home with the other barnyard animals, but that doesn’t stop him from having adventures of his own.
In this sweet and fun book, two parallel stories run side-by-side, linked by the implicit friendship between Naomi and Little Chick and brought to life by endearing illustrations.
Get a sneak peek into the book on EerdWord.
Kids can add their own personal touch with a coloring page. Crayons not included.
A lovely retelling of the Christmas story from the perspective of the animals
There is a legend that describes how, at midnight on Christmas Eve, all creatures are granted the power of speech for one hour. In this rich collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins and a dozen other poets imagine what responses they might offer. The poems represent a diverse group of animals, but all come together with one singular purpose: celebrating the joy of the miraculous event.
This collection of graceful poems provides readers with a Nativity story unlike any other — at times gently humorous, at times profound, but always inviting readers to appreciate the wonder of Christmas. This book is a perfect gift for the holiday season.
Includes poems by…
- Lee Bennett Hopkins
- Joan Bransfield Graham
- Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
- X. J. Kennedy
- Jude Mandell
- Marilyn Nelson
- Jane Yolen
- Ann Whitford Paul
- Prince Redcloud
- Rebecca Kai Dotlich
- Michele Krueger
- Alma Flor Ada
- Alice Schertle
Mikis and the Donkey
Another moving animal tale from the award-winning author of Soldier Bear
One day, Mikis’s grandfather has a surprise for him: a new donkey waiting! Mikis falls in love with the creature, but his grandparents tell him that the donkey is a working animal, not a pet. However, they still let Mikis choose her name — Tsaki — and allow the two of them to spend their Sundays together. Mikis and Tsaki soon become fast friends, and together the two have some grand adventures. Eventually, both Mikis and his grandfather learn a bit more about what exactly it means to care for another creature.
Brought to life by drawings from Philip Hopman, Bibi Dumon Tak’s gentle, humorous story is perfect for any readers who may have their own soft spot for animals.
A light-hearted, rollicking story about finding a place to belong
When young Rosana visits the zoo and hears a strange voice speak to her, she is shocked to discover that the voice belongs to a hippopotamus! The hippo, who insists on being called Mister H, politely asks her to release him from his habitat. Once free, Mister H begins to explore the world around him. But how will people react when they see a hippo roaming the streets? And will Mister H be able to find his true home?
This funny, one-of-a- kind illustrated novel will keep even the most reluctant readers entertained.
Mom, There’s a Bear at the Door
A funny and imaginative read- aloud
A mother is surprised when her son tells her that there is a bear standing outside their door. How did the bear get all the way from his cave in the forest to their eleventh-floor apartment? And what is it doing here in the middle of the city?
This sweet story of a wacky chain of events will appeal to young readers who like to make up their own tall tales.
My Wild Cat
A merciless hunter, an unrivaled expert in stealth and deception—a cat is no ordinary pet! Sure, he may look harmless as he snoozes on the sofa, or under the rug, or on top of the radiator. Sure, he may seem sweet as he snuggles a stuffed animal, but don’t let that fool you! When you least expect it, he’ll pounce…
No Place Like Home
Piper is a gentle dog, courageous and anxious to please. His mother told him to always obey his master, and he does his best to follow her advice. But when his grim new master treats Piper badly, he is terrified and runs away. Will his humble, quiet courage be better appreciated in the big city?
This story, written and illustrated by award-winning author and illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, will inspire young readers to stand up for themselves. And the lovable Piper is sure to capture their hearts.
In this lovely book, young readers are introduced to a variety of beautiful birds, from the familiar chicken to the exotic ibis. But lurking in the background of every page is a cat, who also seems very interested in the birds.
With its funny illustrations and engaging concepts, this clever counting book will invite readers to linger over every page.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
- New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books (2017)
- Society of Illustrators “The Original Art” Annual Exhibition 2017
- 2018 USBBY Outstanding International Books
- 2017 Foreword Indies Award-Honorable Mention
The Queen of the Frogs
An enchanting modern fable
The frogs enjoy their life at the pond, filling their days with fly brunches and night music. But one day a little frog finds a crown at the bottom of the pond and is instantly pronounced a queen. She starts doing what queens do: making demands and expecting others to serve her. But when her royal subjects start to question her authority, she must prove she’s fit to rule—if she can.
Reminiscent of Aesop’s fables, this beautifully illustrated book is sure to start a discussion about the concept of leadership and the importance of humility.
Sam in Winter
Sam, the mysterious dog Kix met last summer, is now a part of the family. But Sam has been acting strange lately, and even Kix can’t ignore the fact that his beloved dog is getting old. Still, Kix isn’t worried—until the day Sam disappears and doesn’t return.
As winter sets in, Kix becomes desperate to find Sam, so desperate that he decides to turn to an old enemy for help. Will they be able to rescue Sam before it’s too late?
Edward van de Vendel once again delivers a deeply affecting story that will stay with readers long after they turn the final page.
A sensitive book about mourning the loss of a pet
In this poignant story, a family grieves the loss of their beloved dog, Scout. There’s pouring rain when Scout dies, and the sky looks like it’s never seen the sun. Even so, Scout’s family begins the terrible task of burying her. Then Little Brother hears the thunder rumble and realizes it sounds just like Scout growling at the mail carrier. He starts wondering where Scout is now—if she has food to eat, pigeons to chase, sticks to fetch. And his search for answers helps the whole family find a sense of peace.
The Second Sky
An inspiring story about finding your true element
Ever since he first hatched, Gilbert has wanted to fly. But with his big, clumsy feet and small, fluffy wings, learning to fly is a bigger challenge than Gilbert anticipated. His fellow penguins tell him to give up, but Gilbert is sure that if he keeps trying, he’ll be able to soar…
Young readers will fall in love with this sweet, motivating story about overcoming obstacles and discovering your hidden talents.
The Secret Cat
An imaginative book for anyone who’s ever wanted a pet
Lucy wants a pet more than anything, even though her mom always says no. But one night, Lucy hears a scratching sound from behind her wallpaper, and a ghostly cat named Silvring appears. Silvring takes Lucy on an adventure and introduces her to a world filled with secret pets just like hers. Not all the secret pets are as friendly as Silvring, though.
Filled with magical realism, this beautiful book will resonate with animal lovers of all ages.
The Song of Francis and the Animals
“Baa-baa,” sang the lamb.
“Shoo, go play,” said Francis,
but the little lamb just grinned
and trotted happily behind the man
who preached to people and dogs
and flowers and fish and frogs.
With lilting verse and playful imagery, award-winning author Pat Mora celebrates the tender relationship between the beloved saint and the animals he loved. Woodcut artist David Frampton captures the exuberant songs of Francis and the animals in charming, colorful woodcuts that underscore the harmony between humans and the natural world.
Inspired by Saint Francis’s own reverence and love for animals, this book will encourage readers young and old to join in with the clucks of the chickens, the whirring of the cicadas, and the songs of the nightingale.
A Story That Grows
A whimsical bedtime book perfect for sharing
Reading stories is a cherished bedtime ritual, a special moment that parents savor with their children—no matter what their species! In this funny yet tender book, a stork reads to her chick in their rooftop nest, a walrus tucks his calf into an igloo cradle, and an alien tells his child a story in zero gravity.
Both parents and children will fall in love with the adorable cast of characters in this charming book.
Ages 4 to 8
A gorgeous bedtime book from an award-winning creator
From the celebrated creator of Plume and The Blue Hour comes another enchanting animal book. Countless cozy animals are settling in for the night, but they all sleep in different ways. A bat dreams upside down, a hedgehog snuggles into a pile of leaves, and a humpback whale spins in its sleep like a ballerina.
With its poetic language and lush illustrations, Sweet Dreamers will dazzle young readers as they drift off to sleep themselves.
Two Little Birds
A sweet story about nature’s patterns and about growing up
Two little birds hatch and grow until one day, they see an amazing sight: hundreds of birds, all flying together in one direction. They decide to join in, and so begins an amazing and sometimes dangerous journey that they never could have imagined. Eventually they return home — and the cycle starts over again.
This simple story, nicely complemented by warm and colorful illustrations, subtly celebrates the wonder of migration. Two Little Birds is a perfect book for introducing young children to nature’s small miracles.
The Very Big Carrot
When six rabbits find a giant carrot, they’re not sure exactly what they should do with it. They have all sorts of grand and adventurous ideas: Maybe they could make it into a boat and visit all the fishes! Or they could make a carrot airplane to fly to far-off lands! Or they could turn it into the largest house ever!
When the rabbits have exhausted their ideas and dreamed all their carrot dreams, they find that they are rather hungry. . . and they may have forgotten the most obvious solution of all.
The Very Big Carrot offers the perfect opportunity for young children to let their own imaginations run wild as they enjoy this adorable book that is perfect for reading aloud.
A Well-Mannered Young Wolf
A hilarious story about why manners matter
One morning, a young wolf eagerly sets out on his first hunting trip. But before he can devour his prey, he must honor their final wishes, just as his parents taught him to do. But the wolf’s would-be meals aren’t quite as honorable as he is! Can common courtesy prove effective amidst the wild laws of nature?
Perfect for fans of Jon Klassen, this wryly humorous book demonstrates that good manners can bring unexpected results.
When a Wolf Is Hungry
A darkly humorous tale with a twist ending
Edmond Bigsnout, lone wolf that he is, loves his solitary cabin in the woods. But lately he’s been craving urban rabbit for dinner, so he travels into the city to catch one. Unfortunately, the rabbit has a lot of neighbors—who mistake Edmond for a kind and helpful resident! Perhaps Edmond can become a good neighbor, despite his bad intentions.
Readers of all ages will devour this story about a wolf who decides that if you can’t eat them, join them.