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Animal Behavior: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about animal behavior?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to animal behavior. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about animal behavior.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about animal behavior, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Exploding Ants to popular sellers like Princess Cora and the Crocodile to some of our favorite hidden gems like Beware of the Crocodile.

We hope this list of kids books about animal behavior can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Flamingos Fly
Written by Douglas Florian & illustrated by Barbara Bakos
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Discover what these animals do in this playful board book by award-winning author Douglas Florian. Flamingos fly. Sailfish swim. Monkeys swing on a jungle gym! Discover what different animals do in this fun, rhyming story by award-winning author Douglas Florian! Animals include flying flamingos, swimming sailfish, swinging monkeys, diving dolphins, soaring swallows, creeping starfish, digging prairie dogs, lunging lizards, plunging pelicans, jumping jaguars, leaping llamas, and sleeping sloths.

Beware of the Crocodile
Written by Martin Jenkins & illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

You probably know a little about crocodiles already. They’re reptiles, they have an awful lot of teeth, and they’re pretty scary — at least, the big ones are! They’re not very fussy about what they eat, and when it comes to hunting down dinner, crocodiles are very determined . . . and very cunning. But there’s more to crocodiles than just their appetites. They love to nap on warm sandbanks and cool off in calm waters, and crocodile mothers are very gentle with their babies. This fascinating look at one of Earth’s most infamous creatures is full of information for amateur scientists, with back matter that includes an index, notes on species, and suggestions for further reading.

Mama Dug a Little Den
Written by Jennifer Ward & illustrated by Steven Jenkins
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

There are so many different kinds of dens that mother animals make for their babies, from desert burrows to snow caves to elaborate underground tunnels. Jennifer Ward introduces young readers to all sorts of animals and the cozy burrows they call home in this bouncy, rhyming picture book, illustrated by Caldecott Honoree Steve Jenkins.

Hello, Love!
Written & illustrated by Taro Miura
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

How do animals show their love? By touching trunks, beaks, and noses! Toddlers will delight in adorable pairs of fish, ducklings, elephants, and monkeys as they splash, swim, dance, and swing, all while showing affection. Author-illustrator Taro Miura brings a playfulness and verve to this love-affirming board book, which culminates in the ultimate celebration of love: a child embraced by loving parents.

Sleep: How Nature Gets Its Rest
Written & illustrated by Kate Prendergast
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

All animals sleep. But do they dream? Facts inspire imaginations in a beautifully illustrated nonfiction picture book for curious young minds. Some animals sleep alone. Others sleep in packs. Some slumber at night, and others prefer the daytime for getting some z’s. Whether large or small, familiar or unusual, all animals must find a way to get some rest. Did you know that giraffes sleep standing up? That sloths sleep upside down? Or that fish sleep with their eyes open? Take a close look at the sleeping habits of meerkats, bats, horses, birds, and other animals around the world in a book for young nature enthusiasts that is certain to spark a sense of wonder.

  • Where Does Kitty Go in the Rain? - “A little girl steps out into her rainy yard in search of her missing kitten. She discovers a series of charming garden denizens on the way to finding Kitty. After celebrating the glories of a rainy day, the book ends with a heartwarming reunion between girl and cat”—

  • Baby Animals Take a Bath - Sometimes bath time means a roll in the mud, and sometimes it’s a plunge in the snow. Little ones learn how baby animals friends clean up.

  • A Nest Is Noisy - “Fans will rejoice at the first sight of A Nest Is Noisy,” promises School Library Journal, and they’re right. From the award-winning creators of An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, A Butterfly Is Patient, A Rock Is Lively, and A Beetle Is Shy comes this gorgeous and informative look at the fascinating world of nests, from those of tiny bee hummingbirds to those of orangutans high in the rainforest canopy. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this carefully researched book introduces children to a captivating array of nest facts and will spark the imaginations of children whether in a classroom reading circle or on a parent’s lap.

  • Animal Grossology - Author Sylvia Branzei and illustrator Jack Keely prove once again that they know what fascinates&150and completely disgusts&150kids of all ages. Learn about slimy creatures, vomit-munchers, bloodsuckers, and unforgettable animal poops. It’s an icky concoction of information, but it contains a heaping helping of real and memorable scientific facts. With a perfect-bound spine and all new covers, Animal Grossology is easy to read! And it is perfect timeing, as the Grossology Museum Tour begins this summer.

If Animals Went to School
Written by Ann Whitford Paul & illustrated by David Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

If animals went to school, what would they do? Fox would head to the story nook, Lemur would climb the jungle gym at recess, and Ms. Cheetah would teach them shapes and letters. Beaver wouldn’t want to go at first . . . but then he wouldn’t want to leave! In this next installment in Ann Whitford Paul and David Walker’s successful series, following If Animals Kissed Good Night and If Animals Said I Love You, little readers can imagine how animals would spend a day in the classroom.

50 Wacky Things Animals Do
Written by Tricia Martineu Wagner & illustrated by Carles Ballesteros
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Did you know that giraffes clean their ears with their tongues? Or that food passes through a giant squid’s brain before going to its stomach? 50 Wacky Things Animals Do describes 50 unbelievable animals and the things they do that seem too crazy to be true - but are! Whether incredible, funny, or just plain gross, these peculiar and fascinating animal behaviors will surprise and delight fun-fact lovers of all ages.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile
Written by Laura Amy Schlitz & illustrated by Brian Floca
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.

I Love You, World
Written & illustrated by Aleksandra Szmidt
board book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Spread the love with this adorable book that teaches little readers how to say “I love you” in thirteen different languages including French, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Setswana, Chinese, Swahili, and more!

About the Global Greetings series: These beautifully illustrated, sturdy board books teach young readers to greet the world in languages from around the globe. Featuring simple pronunciation guides, these books are designed to help little ones master each word and encourage them to broaden their language skills, all while the adorable animal illustrations keep them entertained read after read.

Whose Nose Do You Suppose?
Written by Richard Turner & illustrated by Margaret Tolland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Richly detailed and realistic illustrations of various animals in their natural habitat invite children to guess which animal each nose belongs to, then to learn a variety of facts about each animal. An enjoyable, educational resource for children, caregivers, and classrooms alike.

  • Look at Me!: How to Attract Attention in the Animal World - Have you ever noticed that certain creatures have fur, feathers, and features designed to catch your eye? Chock-full of the fascinating facts and stunning art readers have come to expect from Jenkins and Page titles, Look at Me! is a pleasure to look at and an engrossing read. Showcasing the most attention-grabbing animals on the planet gathered together, Look at Me! helps readers understand the range of ways animals try to get one another’s attention and why. From luring in prey to warning off predators, protecting themselves to attracting a mate, each animal has a remarkable display. These are animals you won’t want to miss.

  • A House in the Sky - Some animals build nests, some live in holes in the ground, and some even live in books! Turtles, birds, fish, beavers, and kangaroos are just like people—they need homes, and take up residence in unusual places. Readers get a glimpse of the similarities between human and animal homes with sidebars that detail the unique qualities of each animal and its home. Robbin Gourley’s stylized yet realistic watercolor illustrations prove that nonfiction can be accurate and elegant. Backmatter includes more information about each animal—their habits and their habitats.

  • Twilight Chant - As day slips softly into night, sharp eyes catch glimpses of the special creatures who are active at dusk. Lyrical text and lush art capture the richness and life of this magical time in a sumptuous picture book that will inspire budding naturalists and anyone who has ever chased a lightning bug at twilight. An author’s note about twilight is included.

  • Whose Poop is That? - Poop! Ewwww! No, don’t say “Ewwww.” Ask, “Whose poop is that?” This simple, and yes, charming book asks this question about seven examples of animal poop. By investigating visual clues, young readers can learn to identify the animal through its droppings. For instance, find a sample of poop with bits of bone and tufts of hair. Turn the page to learn it came from a fox! Kelsey Oseid’s illustrations are both accurate and beautiful. Backmatter includes further information about the poop and what scientists can learn from an animal’s droppings.

Animal Babies Do the Strangest Things
Written & illustrated by Charles Fuge
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Meet a menagerie of the animal kingdom’s most adorable and beloved creatures - babies! Award-winning illustrator Charles Fuge pairs unlikely baby animal friends-big, small, slimy, and furry-to show what makes our favorite stars of the natural world unique. Along with vibrant illustrations, Fuge presents silly, funny, laugh-out-loud rhymes to stir a child’s fascination with animals. Learn what makes each amazing animal baby unique and what they all have in common. This enchanting picture book is guaranteed to delight children of all ages.

Daylight Starlight Wildlife
Written & illustrated by Wendell Minor
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

In amazingly lifelike, luminous paintings, Wendell Minor, one of America’s finest wildlife and landscape painters, reveals the variety of animals that surround us when we are awake and when we are sleeping.

Minor’s vivid introduction to diurnal (daytime) and nocturnal (nighttime) creatures invites readers to experience the movements, sounds, colors, and textures of nature. By day a red-tailed hawk soars through sky, and by night a barn owl silently swoops through it. In the daylight a family of fluffy cottontail rabbits hops into a field to forage for food, and under starlight a family of pink-nosed opossums does the same. As day turns to night and night to day, amazing critters large and small come and go. Children will enjoy comparing and contrasting the roaming habits of the wonderful wildlife that surrounds us.

Snuggle Up, ZooBorns!
Written & illustrated by Chris Eastland and Andrew Bleiman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

Cozy up with this cuddly Level 1 Ready-to-Read about baby zoo animals that’s perfect for emerging readers!

What do koala bears, panda bears, sea otters, snow leopards, and people have in common? They all love to snuggle! Nestle up with your little ones and the ZooBorn babies in this sweet Level 1 Ready-to-Read that’s perfect for even the youngest animal lover!

Exploding Ants
Written & illustrated by Joanne Settel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A wasp lays its eggs under a caterpillar’s skin so that its young can eat the caterpillar’s guts as they grow. A young head louse makes its home on a human hair and feasts on human blood. Frogs use their eyeballs to help swallow their food. From small worms that live in a dog’s nose mucus to exploding ants to regurgitating mother gulls, this book tells of the unusual ways animals find food, shelter, and safety in the natural world. If animals all ate the same things and lived in the same places, it would be impossible for all of them to survive. So they specialize. Some animals eat the bits that others leave behind, such as skin and mucus. They find all kinds of unusual places to shelter, including the cracks and holes in another creature’s skin or its internal organs. They use their own bodies to protect themselves from predators by imitating unsavory items such as bird droppings and even by blowing up. These habits that may seem disgusting to us are wonderful adaptations that make it possible for a great variety of creatures to live and thrive on Earth. Read about them and marvel at the amazing ways animals adapt to the natural world.

Gray Squirrels
Written & illustrated by G.G. Lake
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

Gray squirrels leap from high heights to move from tree to tree. Discover these delightful rodents’ life cycle and lifestyle in the woods.

  • Picky Eaters - Did you know that koalas eat only eucalyptus? That arctic foxes dine on lemmings? Or that leatherback turtles enjoy a dish of jellyfish? Like children, animals can be very, very fussy about their food! This rhyming board book, with engaging lift-the-flaps, introduces toddlers to ten choosy creatures and their minimal diets. After meeting each animal, kids lift the flap to see what it eats. Most important, in addition to having fun, little ones learn that it’s good to eat adventurously.
    Put a new food on your plate,
    You may find it’s something great!

  • My Very First Book of Food - Feast your eyes on the latest split-page board books from Eric Carle. In the sumptuous My Very First Book of Food, children can match each animal with the food it eats. Do you know what a squirrel eats? How about a seal? In My Very First Book of Motion, children can match each animal with the way it moves. Which animal hops? Which one waddles? Only you can match them. These fun books are full of bright animals, and are lots of fun for young children.

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