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Animal Rescue: Books For Kids

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

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to animal rescue. 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 rescue.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. 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 rescue, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Izzy Gizmo to popular sellers like Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Fisherman & the Whale.

We hope this list of kids books about animal rescue 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.

The Fisherman & the Whale
Written & illustrated by Jessica Lanan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Jessica Lanan’s dreamy and dramatic watercolor paintings bring to life a wordless story about wonder in the natural world. A fisherman takes his son for a trip out on the water. When they encounter a whale entangled at sea, they realize a connection that transcends the animal kingdom.

The Storm Dragon
Written by Paula Harrison & illustrated by Sophy Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

A group of friends set out to save magical creatures from a cruel queen and her wicked soldiers in the first book in the brand-new Secret Rescuers chapter book series.

When Sophy finds a little lost dragon named Cloudy, she knows he’s in danger. It will take all the courage she can muster—and a little bit of magic—to keep the baby dragon safe. But what if there are other creatures in danger? It looks like Sophy’s going to need some friends to help her with her secret rescues…

Adelita, a Sea Turtle's Journey
Written by Jenny Goebel & illustrated by Ana Miminoshvili
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

One moonlit night, a young loggerhead sea turtle crawled into the ocean. As she swam and rode currents, she wandered far from the beach where she’d hatched. How far? Nobody knew for sure. In 1996, this turtle, caught in Mexico, was given a name—Adelita—and a satellite tag was attached to her shell. Then she was set free in the Pacific Ocean. Adelita’s astonishing journey home led to a new understanding of sea turtles and inspired changes that have made the world a better place for them.

South
Written & illustrated by Daniel Duncan
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

When a lonely fisherman finds an injured bird on his boat, he nurtures it back to health and—since the bird can no longer migrate with its family—charts a course to head south for the winter. Together, the two form a special friendship and enjoy life at sea until both the healing process and the journey must come to an end. In the tradition of the classic Amos & Boris, South is a story about making new friends and the bittersweet process of saying good-bye to the ones we love. It beautifully depicts the power of new beginnings and the freedom in coming home.

Izzy Gizmo
Written by Pip Jones & illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Izzy Gizmo loves to invent but gets frustrated when her inventions fail to work properly, so when she finds a crow with a broken wing her grandfather urges her to persist until she finds a way to help.

  • The Star Wolf - Emma rescues a baby star wolf who was caught in a trap in this fifth book in the adorable Secret Rescuers series. Emma lives in a forest full of magical creatures like star wolves! The wolves’ special song makes the stars appear in the sky every night. When Emma rescues a baby star wolf from a trap, she knows she must return the pup to his family. Can she be brave enough to go on a night-time adventure and help to keep the stars shining?

  • The Sea Pony - Grace works to save her beloved sea ponies from the evil Lady Cavendish in this sixth book in the adorable Secret Rescuers series. Grace loves the beautiful sea ponies that live in the warm, clear waters around her village. So when she finds out that cruel Lady Cavendish is sailing out to catch the ponies, Grace needs her new friends, Maya and Sophy, to help her save them. But will their rescue plan work? And will Grace ever be able to talk to her favorite sea pony?

  • The Only Fish in the Sea - Did you hear about little Amy Scott? She got a goldfish for her birthday and then just threw it in the ocean! That doesn’t seem right. I guess Sherman and Sadie will have to go save little Ellsworth (every fish deserves a proper name) on their own. They’ll need: A boat Fishing gear Twenty-one pink balloons A bucket of paint And Appropriate headwear in case of weather―good or bad Don’t worry. Ellsworth is in good hands now, but what ever happened to little Amy Scott? Join Sadie (Special Delivery) on another adventure in The Only Fish in the Sea, a delightful picture book by Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell.

  • The Boy and the Whale - A boy and his father discover a whale tangled in their only fishing net. Is the whale dead? While the man worries about losing their net, the boy worries about the whale. He remembers the fear he felt when, caught in a net himself in childhood, he almost drowned before being rescued by his father. When the whale blinks an enormous eye, the boy knows that he has to try to save the creature, no matter how dangerous doing so may be. Expressive and perfectly paced, this powerful story, The Boy and the Whale, by Caldecott Medal–winner Mordicai Gerstein was inspired in part by a real-life video of a whale’s rescue, and the creature’s joyful dance through the waves after being freed.

Little Dog Lost
Written & illustrated by Monica Carnesi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

On a cold winter day, a curious dog wanders onto a frozen river. Suddenly, the ice starts breaking up, and soon the dog is adrift and traveling — the unwilling passenger on a fast-moving sheet of ice.

The dramatic rescue of this little lost dog, who traveled seventy-five miles in two days, is a true story that will warm reader’s hearts. Monica Carnesi’s poignant text and charming illustrations perfectly convey the excitement of this remarkable tale, and readers will root for this little dog every step of the way.

Shark Dog and the School Trip Rescue!
Written & illustrated by Ged Adamson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Splash! It’s a shark! Woof! No wait, it’s a dog! Hey! It’s Shark Dog: a one-of-a-kind pet! And this time, he’s joining Ms. Ablett’s class on their school trip. For Shark Dog, a trip to the woods means: Jumping in a pond full of frogs! Frolicking in mud! And shaking off mud! The great outdoors is loads of fun and nothing short of an adventure for a pet like Shark Dog. But the muddy fun stops when there’s a loud cry coming from the woods. An animal is in trouble, and it’s up to Shark Dog to save the day! FOLLOW THAT SHARK DOG! From author-illustrator Ged Adamson, Shark Dog and the School Trip Rescue! is the perfect back-to-school book for fans of such favorites as Hello, My Name Is Octicorn, Not Quite Narwhal, and The Adventures of Beekle.

The Mystery of the Zorse's Mask
Written by Linda Joy Singleton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

When a mysterious stranger claims to own Becca’s beloved zorse, Zed, something seems suspicious. Besides, if this person is Zed’s real owner, the Curious Cat Spy Club fears he might be responsible for abusing Zed in the past. Kelsey, Becca, and Leo are determined to uncover the truth before they have to give Zed away. But when a daring rescue attempt puts Kelsey in danger, does the CCSC have enough spy skills to save her or are they in over their heads?

Bat and the End of Everything
Written by Elana K. Arnold & illustrated by Charles Santoso
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

The third book in the funny and joyful series Katherine Applegate has called “tender and important,” by National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold.

Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) has been the caretaker for Thor, the best skunk kit in the world…but the last day of third grade is quickly approaching, and Thor is almost ready to be released into the wild.

The end of school also means that Bat has to say good-bye to his favorite teacher, and he worries about the summer care of Babycakes, their adorable class pet. Not only that, but his best friend is leaving for a long vacation in Canada.

Summer promises good things, too, like working with his mom at the vet clinic and hanging out with his sister, Janie. But Bat can’t help but feel that everything is coming to an end.

National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold returns with the third story starring an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum.

The Baby Firebird
Written by Paula Harrison & illustrated by Sophy Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

In a land far, far away, a small group of animal lovers work to keep magical creatures safe from the grasp of the evil Sir Fitzroy in this third book in the brand-new Secret Rescuers chapter book series! Talia lives in a tropical rainforest that is home to a flock of magical firebirds. One day she meets a baby firebird and they become best friends. But the firebirds are in terrible danger. Can Talia and her friend Lucas protect the firebirds, and save their home from destruction?

  • Kelsey the Spy - Kelsey can’t resist collecting secrets in her spy notebook—just like her hero, Harriet the Spy. When she learns Leo has been hiding something from the group, she writes his secret in her notebook as well. But Kelsey accidentally brings her Notebook of Secrets to school and loses it. Everything she’s collected about classmates, friends, and family could be released into the world! When she receives a ransom note, she tries to solve the mystery on her own but soon realizes she needs everyone in the CCSC to rescue the notebook, help a homesick 130-year-old Aldabra tortoise, and unmask a thief. A surprise ending changes Kelsey’s life in a way she never imagined.

  • Extraordinary Birds - Eleven-year-old December knows everything about birds, and everything about getting kicked out of foster homes. All she has of her mom is the bird guide she left behind, and a message: “In flight is where you’ll find me.” December believes she’s truly a bird, just waiting for the day she transforms. The scar on her back is where her wings will sprout; she only needs to find the right tree and practice flying.When she’s placed with foster mom Eleanor, who runs a taxidermy business and volunteers at a wildlife rescue, December begins to see what home means in a new light. But the story she’s told herself about her past is what’s kept her going this long. Can she learn to let go?An extraordinary story about identity and family perfect for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

  • Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla - In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla. Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact. This is his true story and includes photographs of Ivan in the back matter.

  • Dog-Gone Danger - When Kelsey and her friends find an abandoned pug puppy, it looks like another case for the Curious Cat Spy Club. But shortly thereafter, Kelsey’s mother goes missing—possibly in the line of duty as an Animal Control officer—and it’s up to the CCSC to discover what happened. As they search for Kelsey’s mom, they start to wonder if her disappearance is somehow linked to the puppy they found. The fifth book in the Curious Cat Spy Club series is filled with twists and turns and, of course, tons of animal adventures!

Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters!
Written by Marikka Tamura & illustrated by Daniel Rieley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

You may have seen the cute pictures of penguins wearing sweaters—but did you know why they were wearing them? Debut author Marikka Tamura answers this question in this colorful, kid-friendly book that is told simply and charmingly. Penguins love the sea. Happy in the dark blue water. But what is this? One day something is floating in the water. Dark. Gooey. Oily . . . When the penguins become coated in an oil spill, many Big Boots arrive. The humans want to help the cold, greasy penguins, so they knit sweaters to keep them warm. The Big Boots mean well, but . . . penguins don’t wear sweaters! So after a good, soapy scrub, the penguins dive back into the deep blue sea, happily dressed only in their own penguin feathers.

Bringing Me Back
Written & illustrated by Beth Vrabel
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Noah is not having a good year. His mom is in prison, he’s living with his mom’s boyfriend—who he’s sure is just waiting until his mother’s six month sentence is up to kick him out—and he’s officially hated by everyone at his middle school, including his former best friend. It’s Noah’s fault that the entire football program got shut down after last year. One day, Noah notices a young bear at the edge of the woods with her head stuck in a bucket. A bucket that was almost certainly left outside as part of a school fundraiser to bring back the football team. As days go by, the bear is still stuck—she’s wasting away and clearly getting weaker, even as she runs from anyone who tries to help. And she’s always alone. Though Noah ignores the taunts at school and ignores his mother’s phone calls from jail, he can’t ignore the bear. Everyone else has written the bear off as a lost cause—just like they have with Noah. He makes it his mission to help her. But rescuing the bear means tackling his past—and present—head-on. Could saving the bear ultimately save Noah, too?

A Symphony of Whales
Written by Steve Schuch & illustrated by Peter Sylvada
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Glashka is the only one in her village who can hear the voice of Narna, the whale. That gift leads her to great responsibility one day, when she discovers thousands of whales trapped in an inlet. The narrow route to the sea is rapidly icing over, and every day ice covers more of the open water the whales need to breathe. There seems to be no way out. . . . This story, based on an actual event, tells of a dramatic rescue—a tale of bravery and faith and the power of music.

Dream of Night
Written & illustrated by Heather Henson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Untamable. Damaged. Angry. Once full of promise and life, now a fiery knot of resentment and detachment. This is the story of Dream of Night, an injured and abused racehorse. It’s also the story of Shiloh, a sarcastic eleven-year-old foster child. By chance, Dream of Night and Shiloh both find themselves under the care of Jessalyn DiLima. Just in time—it’s a last chance for them both. Jess fosters animals and kids like Dream of Night and Shiloh for a reason—she’s a little broken, too. And as the three of them become an unlikely family, they recognize their similarities in order to heal their pasts—but not before one last tragedy threatens to take everything away.

The Curious Cat Spy Club
Written by Linda Joy Singleton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

No one at school knows that Kelsey, Becca, and Leo are secretly friends. They have nothing in common—until they rescue three kittens and form a club to help animals through volunteering, spying, and solving mysteries. In the first book of this series, Kelsey helps catch a runaway zorse (horse + zebra) with the help of another girl from school named Becca. The two are walking home when they happen upon a litter of kittens trapped in a dumpster and Leo Polanski is the only person around who can help get them out. The three unlikely friends decide to work together to help solve animal crimes with their secret club!

  • Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express - When three guinea pigs from the local pet shop make a great escape, Stink Moody and his friends Webster and Sophie spring into action. TA-DA! The Fantastic Fur Friends round up the little hairballs and bring them safely back to Mrs. Birdwistle’s shop, where they discover — OH-LA-LA! — guinea pig pandemonium! Time for the Great Guinea Pig Giveaway! Stink and company hit the road in a crazy quest to find good homes for 101 squealing, whistling, chirping, wiggly piggies.

  • The Chupacabras of the Río Grande - The fourth book in the fully illustrated, globe-trotting middle grade fantasy-adventure series about mythical creatures and their cultures of origin, from the Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale. Elliot and Uchennna have only just returned from their most recent Unicorn Rescue Society mission when they (along with Jersey!) are whisked away on their next exciting adventure with Professor Fauna. This time, they’re headed to the Mexican border to help another mythical creature in need: the chupacabras! The Chupacabras of the Río Grande is co-written with David Bowles, author of the Pura Belpré Honor-winning book, The Smoking Mirror!

  • Tiger Boy - “One of the new tiger cubs has escaped from the reserve!” When a tiger cub escapes from a nature reserve near Neel’s island village, the rangers and villagers hurry to find her before the cub’s anxious mother follows suit and endangers them all. Mr. Gupta, a rich newcomer to the island, is also searching—he wants to sell the cub’s body parts on the black market. Neel and his sister, Rupa, resolve to find the cub first and bring her back to the reserve where she belongs. The hunt for the cub interrupts Neel’s preparations for an exam to win a prestigious scholarship at a boarding school far from home. Neel doesn’t mind—he dreads the exam and would rather stay on his beloved island in the Sunderbans of West Bengal with his family and friends. But through his encounter with the cub, Neil learns that sometimes you have to take risks to preserve what you love. And sometimes you have to sacrifice the present for the chance to improve the future.

  • The Creature of the Pines - Elliot Eisner isn’t exactly thrilled with the first day at his new school. His class is going on a field trip to a creepy forest called the Pine Barrens. The trip is being led by Professor Fauna, the weirdest teacher Elliot has ever met. And the only kid who will talk to Elliot, Uchenna Devereaux, isn’t afraid of danger. She likes danger. Elliot and Uchenna are about to become part of a secret group of adventurers, The Unicorn Rescue Society, whose goal is to protect and defend the world’s mythical creatures. Together with Professor Fauna, Elliot and Uchenna must help rescue a Jersey Devil from a duo of conniving, greedy billionaires, the Schmoke Brothers.

Sasquatch and the Muckleshoot
Written by Adam Gidwitz & illustrated by Hatem Aly
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The third book in the fully illustrated, globe-trotting new middle grade fantasy-adventure series about mythical creatures and their cultures of origin, from the Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor’s Tale. Elliot and Uchenna, along with Jersey, are back for their next adventure with Professor Fauna, searching out and rescuing a new mythical creature.

The Basque Dragon
Written by Jesse Casey and Adam Gidwitz & illustrated by Hatem Aly
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Across the vast, blue ocean, in the mountains of the Basque Country, a fearsome creature has gone missing. And the Unicorn Rescue Society are the only ones who can save it. Elliot and Uchenna—and Jersey!—have barely recovered from their first adventure with Professor Fauna when he approaches them with an all-new quest. Except this time they’re going to have to cross an ocean. In the mountains of the Basque Country, the Unicorn Rescue Society must track down a missing dragon. But how could someone even kidnap a dragon? And for what evil purpose? And is their newest, fire-breathing rescue more than they can handle?

Liz and the Nosy Neighbor
Written by Callie Barkley & illustrated by Tracy Bishop
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Liz has a big class project to complete but how can she focus on it when her nosy new neighbor seems to be popping up everywhere? Liz must solve both problems in the nineteenth book of the Critter Club series. When a boy Liz’s age moves in next door, Liz hopes they might become friends. But right away Liz can tell the boy has no interest in being friendly. So why does he keep showing up everywhere she is? Plus, Liz has a big class project to complete—an animal habitat diorama—but she can’t think of anything to create and her nosy new neighbor isn’t helping! With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, The Critter Club chapter books are perfect for beginning readers!

Gimme Shelter: Misadventures and Misinformation
Written by Doreen Cronin & illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The Chicken Squad is back for their fifth (mis)adventure in this “lip-bitingly funny” (School Library Journal) chapter book from the bestselling author of Click, Clack, Moo and The Trouble with Chickens.

The Chicken Squad prides themselves on being ready for anything. Marshmallow life preservers? Check. Copious bags of jellybeans for a car ride? Check. Storm shelter? Storm shelter! They need a storm shelter in case there is ever a storm. So Sugar takes it upon himself to build one in the yard. But it turns out it’s not big enough for everyone. And the big dig has unearthed some mysterious surprises.

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