The Best 84+ Books About Animals

Updated Apr. 10, 2019

Calling all animal lovers! There are plenty of children's books about animals, but we've rounded up our very favorites with a wide variety of story, illustrations, and animal characters. From little hands learning where animals live and what they say to independent readers looking for animal adventures, these books will entertain even those who claim not to be animal people.

Gotta Go, Buffalo book
#1
Gotta Go, Buffalo
Written by Kevin Meyers, Haily Meyers and illustrated by Haily Meyers
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

A clever concept, adorable illustrations, great design, and flaps to lift: what more could you want?! My toddler daughter loves reading this book, and she loves using the silly phrases whenever she's telling someone goodbye. We read this book over and over again, and if we lost our copy, I'd absolutely be ordering a new one ASAP.

Make goodbyes fun with animal rhymes and colorful lift-the-flap illustrations! “So long!” “See you later!” There are so many ways to say goodbye! Lift the flaps in this colorful book to discover favorite animals (and maybe a few new ones, too) and fun goodbyes. Children and grown-ups alike will be giggling before you can say, “Toodle-Loo, Kangaroo!”

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear book
#2
The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
Written and illustrated by Don Wood, Audrey Wood
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thoughts from Grammy

I have long loved this book and read it literally hundreds of times. The likable Little Mouse, loaded with personality, expends great effort and imagination to protect the strawberry from the thieving bear. Use of varying font sizes cues the reader and adds to the drama and suspense as do the delightful illustrations. There is one illustration in particular, where the mouse is desperately tugging on the stem of the strawberry, in which the manner of illustrating--visual vibrations-- communicate perfectly the mouse's actions. With plenty of suspense and humor along the way, this story has a satisfying ending, although it does leave one wondering just who has been speaking to the mouse.

Little Mouse worries that the big, hungry bear will take his freshly picked, ripe, red strawberry for himself.

Where the Red Fern Grows book
#3
Where the Red Fern Grows
Written by Wilson Rawls
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from The Fun Uncle

I have very fond memories that come flooding back whenever I read this. I love Old Dan and Little Ann (Billy's two hounds)! Rawls tells an incredible story that tugs at the heart of any reader. There are so many gold nuggets that carry great lessons, like Billy's determination to catch his first coon, Billy's diligence throughout the book in caring for his dogs, and the family unity that Billy and his family share. Where the Red Fern Grows is one of the best books there is.

"Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he's finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own--Old Dan and Little Ann--he's ecstatic. It's true that times are tough, but together they'll roam the hills of the Ozarks. Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan's brawn, Little Ann's brains, and Billy's sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy waits for these determined hunters--now friends--and Billy will learn that hope can grow out of despair and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past. This beloved classic is sure to delight readers of all ages as it captures the powerful bond between man and man's best friend. To commemorate more than fifty years in print, this special edition includes historical materials to enrich this treasured novel."

Eyes book
#4
Eyes
Written by Michael E. Smith
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This was my son's favorite book for about a year and when this book accidentally got left in the rental car (since we NEEDED to take it on vacation!) we replaced it. It's a wonderfully unique take on the classic animal book just looking at an animals eyes. The typography is gorgeous and the illustrations wonderfully modern and stylized. I'm not sure if it would capture the attention of a toddler as much just reading the animal name, but when my son and I read this together we make each animal sound (including chest pounding for the gorilla page) and it makes it a wonderfully interactive reading experience.

Did you know animal eyes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors? Read this picture book to your kids and explore the uniqueness of eyes.

A Boy Called Bat book
#5
A Boy Called Bat
Written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Charles Santoso
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I absolutely adore this book. Bat is a wonderful, developed character that can really help children reading understand and have empathy for those on the Autism spectrum. You get to learn a lot about skunks as Bat takes a particular interest in one, and he has a mother who is a veterinarian!

The first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum, from acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso. For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet. "This sweet and thoughtful novel chronicles Bat’s experiences and challenges at school with friends and teachers and at home with his sister and divorced parents. Approachable for younger or reluctant readers while still delivering a powerful and thoughtful story" (from the review by Brightly.com, which named A Boy Called Bat a best book of 2017).

Appleblossom the Possum book
#6
Appleblossom the Possum
Written by and illustrated by Holly Goldberg Sloan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

What a darling book! I love both the realistic aspects about possums as well as the entertaining scenarios the possums are involved in. Appleblossom ends up falling into a house and breaking one of the main possum rules--staying away from humans! Luckily, she has a great possum family and a kind human girl who help her out. The possums are great examples of being there for your family members and pushing out of your comfort zone in order to help those around you. I also learned quite a few fun things about possums!

Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they’re about to find out! With dynamic illustrations, a tight-knit family, and a glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view, this cozy animal story is a perfect read-aloud and a classic in the making.

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR! book
#7
The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!
Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This is one of my very favorite recent books. I love the illustrations, I'm an absolute sucker for a great rhyme scheme and the message is phenomenal: friends matter more than winning.

From the award-winning author and illustrator of Blown Away, Rob Biddulph, comes a delightfully hilarious story about a grizzly bear named Fred who loses his GRRRRR. Each year, for as long as the forest has stood, a contest is held for the bears of the wood… Fred is the champion. He’s the best. But being the best takes time and training, especially when it comes to having the loudest growl. Then, one morning, disaster strikes—Fred’s GRRRRR is gone! Oh, no! Will Fred find his GRRRRR and realize that there’s more to life than being a winner?

This Little Hamster book
#8
This Little Hamster
Written and illustrated by Kass Reich
board book
Recommend Ages: 5-6
Thoughts from Grammy

This Little Hamster is a fun and playful new take on a book about color. The spirited hamsters celebrate their eclectic collections of colorful objects in unexpected combinations in clever, rhyming couplets. The spare, consistent illustrations allow for easy identification of each item, facilitating the assembly of our own colorful objects.

This Little Hamster is a spirited playful board book for babies and toddlers. Rhyming couplets and cheerful illustrations will capture the interest of both child and adult readers. This follow-up to Kass Reich's bestselling debut, Hamsters Holding Hands, is a charming introduction to basic colors that will fascinate little ones.

The Chicken Squad book
#9
The Chicken Squad
Written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Kevin Cornell
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

As far as intermediate reading level books go (between early reader and chapter), this is one of my favorites! Definitely an easier read, but entertaining and funny the whole time. The big question of this book is what the "big" "scary" thing is in the yard--but it turns out there's nothing to be afraid of. This book will have you laughing and is fun to read aloud!

They might be chicks, but they sure aren’t chicken, and they’re on a mission. And on this, their first (mis)adventure “in this delightful spinoff of the J.J. Tully series” (Kirkus Reviews), the Chicken Squad launches a galactic backyard expedition. Meet the Chicken Squad: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie. These chicks are not your typical barnyard puffs of fluff, and they are not about to spend their days pecking chicken feed and chasing bugs. No sir, they’re too busy solving mysteries and fighting crime. So when Squirrel comes barreling into the chicken coop, the chicks know they’re about to get a case. But with his poor knowledge of shapes (“Big” is not a shape, Squirrel!) and utter fear of whatever it is that’s out there, the panicky Squirrel is NO HELP. Good thing these chicks are professionals. But even professionals get worried. Especially once they see that round, shiny, green, BIG thing in the yard. What if it’s a UFO full of aliens who want chickens as pets, or worse, dinner? It’s up to the Chicken Squad to crack a case that just might be out of this world.

Bears Are Big book
#10
Bears Are Big
Written by Douglas Florian and illustrated by Barbara Bakos
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

The funny illustrations, unique animals—get ready to explain what a shrew is!—and clever rhyming make this a totally enjoyable (and quick) read, that at least I rarely get tired of reading. The first two times I read it, it really bothered me that the center two pages didn't seem to go with the "opposites" pattern, but now I enjoy the departure from the norm! This is my favorite of this little series of board books (Flamingos Fly & Once I was a Pollywog).

Discover animal opposites in this playful board book by award-winning author Douglas Florian. Bears are big. Bees are small. Shrews are short. Giraffes are tall. In this fun, rhyming story by award-winning author Douglas Florian, little ones can meet pairs of animals and discover how they're different! The pairs include bears/bees, shrews/giraffes, rhinos/tigers, turtles/snails, sloths/cheetahs, eels/tree frogs, hippos/butterflies, and ravens/doves.

The Trumpet of the Swan book
#11
The Trumpet of the Swan
Written by E.B. White
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This story is a delightful read with a swan who believes he can do anything, and he does. I loved following along in his adventures and seeing how he dedicates himself. His friend, Sam, was also one of my favorite parts of the book. Louis never quits--which is what allows him to find his best friend, Sam, his true love, Serena, and his many talents, including his trumpeting. Louis learns to make his weakness (being mute) a strength (learning how to play the trumpet) and never thinks he can't do anything just because he's a swan--he even learns to read and write!

Swan Song Like the rest of his family, Louis is a trumpeter swan. But unlike his four brothers and sisters, Louis can't trumpet joyfully. In fact, he can't even make a sound. And since he can't trumpet his love, the beautiful swan Serena pays absolutely no attention to him. Louis tries everything he can think of to win Serena's affection--he even goes to school to learn to read and write. But nothing seems to work. Then his father steals him a real brass trumpet. Is a musical instrument the key to winning Louis his love?

Flamingos Fly book
#12
Flamingos Fly
Written by Douglas Florian and illustrated by Barbara Bakos
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love the illustrations by Barbara Bakos! They are incredibly cute and colorful! This animal board book contains some different animals than the normal ones you'd think of, which I love. There's also a fun rhyme.

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.

The Tale of Despereaux book
#13
The Tale of Despereaux
Written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The adventures of Desperaux Tilling, a small mouse of unusual talents, the princess that he loves, the servant girl who longs to be a princess, and a devious rat determined to bring them all to ruin.

Mice of the Round Table #1: A Tail of Camelot book
#14
Mice of the Round Table #1: A Tail of Camelot
Written by Julie Leung and illustrated by Lindsey Carr
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

My favorite part of this book are the strong message to believe in yourself. Throughout the story, Calib saves the day only by having courage and believing he can do it. Watching Calib grow in his confidence makes this book so rewarding, not to mention all the adventure and suspense involved!

An epic new middle grade series in the tradition of Redwall and Poppy, based on Arthurian legend and told from the perspective of Camelot’s most humble creatures: mice Young mouse Calib Christopher aspires to be a Knight of the Round Table. For generations, his family has valiantly led the mice who live just out of sight of the humans, defending Camelot from enemies both big and small. But when a new threat arises—one that could catch even the Two-Leggers off guard—it's up to Calib and his friend Cecily to unmask the real enemy, unite their forces, and save the castle they all call home. With the sweeping adventure of New York Times bestselling series like Wings of Fire and Warriors, Mice of the Round Table brings to life a legendary world of animals and magic that kids will want to return to again and again.

My Heart Is Like a Zoo book
#15
My Heart Is Like a Zoo
Written and illustrated by Michael Hall
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Grammy

I am amazed at how creatively Michael Hall illustrates so many different animals, somehow also communicating their size and character in blocks of bold color. Told in rhyming couplets with great vocabulary the animals engage in some typical and some zany activities. At the end of the sleepy zookeeper's day, it all makes perfect sense. This is a favorite with my grandson and I am happy to read it again and again.

"A simple heart shape and bright primary colors become lions, herons, and other zoo animals. Entertaining short sentences about each animal are fun to read, and as kids learn their numbers they can count the hearts that make up each animal, giving this title a little extra longevity." - Seira Wilson, Amazon Editor The New York Times bestseller My Heart Is Like a Zoo features bright colors, simple sentences, playful animals, and more than 300 hearts for children to count and enjoy. Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick says, "Starting with one simple shape, Michael Hall shows us a nearly infinite number of ways to make a menagerie of love." This board book edition of the award-winning picture book is perfect for little hands and the very youngest readers, who will learn that a heart can be hopeful, silly, happy, rugged, snappy, or lonely. A heart holds every different feeling, and author-artist Michael Hall captures each one with his bold, graphic artwork. An ideal springboard for conversations about emotions, and for introducing concepts, math, and art projects in the classroom and at home. School Library Journal called it an "outstanding choice for one-on-one sharing."

Hide and Seek book
#16
Hide and Seek
Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I love this hide-and-seek board book! The illustrations are cute and I love all of the different objects you get to find. This is a great one for older kids, too, because some of the hidden objects are a little tricky (though perfectly suitable for little ones, who may need a little help from parents).

In this sly activity board book from celebrated international favorite Taro Gomi, young readers will delight to find hidden objects amidst familiar characters. When a crocodile's dangerous smile can become a shiny toothbrush and a butterfly's camouflage transforms into adorable heart shapes, there's no telling what comes next! Kids will love learning that not everything in this world is as it seems. Sure to be a hit during both storytime and playtime!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book
#17
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
Written by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Eric Carle
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-2
Thoughts from Readerly Mom

This book is a perennial favorite for a reason: its call-and-response pattern makes it easy for even very young children to engage with the book. It lends itself particularly well to incorporating elements of rhythm--clapping, snapping, etc. Eric Carle's classic illustrative style is bold and bright, and the animals stand out well on their plain white backgrounds. This book is great for reading to babies, and can be enjoyed for years.

Children see a variety of animals, each one a different color, and a teacher looking at them. On board pages.

Lion's Lullaby book
#18
Lion's Lullaby
Written by Mij Kelly and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
Thoughts from Mr. Stacatto

The illustrations in this book are beautiful with a unique touch. Each page appears only half-illustrated a creative use of solid white shapes. The cadence is calming and makes for a great going-to-bed book. I can't put my finger on why, but this book reminds me of simplicity and the innocence of a child.

With the help of hugs and lullabies, a young girl tucks her stuffed animals into bed, one by one, in this cuddly good-night read. Holly Clifton-Brown's soft palette and adorable illustrations paired with Mij Kelly's comforting rhyming text set the perfect tone for bedtime.

Little Friends: Big and Small book
#19
Little Friends: Big and Small
Written and illustrated by Roger Priddy, Natalie Munday, Barbi Sido, Amy A. Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

Such a fun book to learn opposites with, especially because of the fun mini book that fits into the bigger book! The mini book has pages with the baby animals related to the animal on the page in the bigger part of the book, and the opposites are in the big book and the corresponding page in the little book. :) The illustrations are really cute, too!

Invites young readers to match the sentences on each page with similar sentences featuring opposing terms that appear in a corner of the book that has pages that move independently.

Tacky the Penguin book
#20
Tacky the Penguin
Written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Tacky's perfect friends find him annoying until his odd behavior saves the day.

The Whale in My Swimming Pool  book
#21
The Whale in My Swimming Pool
Written and illustrated by Joyce Wan
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

I'm a huge fan of Joyce Wan's signature illustration style (as a side note, did you know she can even make worms look cute?! I digress). This cute book combines a preposterous situation with one little boy's innovation and problem-solving to create happy humor and good feels all around.

One sunny day, a little boy heads outside for a swim, but his pool is already taken . . . There's a big whale in the water and it's not budging! The boy tries everything to get the whale to leave. Nothing seems to work. Not fetch. Not tag. Not even offering his allowance. What's a boy to do? Luckily, he comes up with the perfect solution: he decides to chill out on a spray of water over the whale's spout. This colorful whale of a tale from the talented Joyce Wan is sure to inspire giggles from little guppies!

Giraffes Can't Dance book
#22
Giraffes Can't Dance
Written by Giles Andreae and illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

The message of this book is wonderful--I love that it inspires confidence in oneself and not worrying about what others think of you, and embracing your differences. The whole idea of the dancing animals is so fun, as are the illustrations!

Gerald the giraffe is too clumsy to dance with all the other animals at the Jungle Dance, until he finds the right music. On board pages.

Hatch book
#23
Hatch
Written and illustrated by Heather Brown
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This is such a cute lift-the-flap book and definitely a favorite of my toddler's, so much so that it made the two books cut for the airplane bag. I'm not personally convinced that the top of the book needed to be a circle, particularly since it makes the spine a little weaker, but this book has been dragged all around our house and is no worse for the wear (plus, my son is obsessed with circles... so it gets bonus points from him there.) The rhyming is cute, and the content is simple yet informative, and it's a unique take on eggs!

Can you guess what each egg will hatch? Read the rhyming clues and let your child guess before they “hatch” each egg by lifting the flap to find out who is inside. This lift-a-flap book has a smart but simple design that will entertain and educate about egg-dwelling baby animals.

All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep book
#24
All the Awake Animals Are Almost Asleep
Written by Crescent Dragonwagon and illustrated by David McPhail
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Thoughts from Mr. Stacatto

This is a sweet alphabet book that includes lots of alliteration, but it's not overdone. It's not a book I'd want to read over and over again in the same setting because it's a little bit of mouthful, but the fact that you do have to slow down to read it correctly adds to the soothing tone of the story and it is one I would happily read every day. The watercolor illustrations are soothing as well.

Now in board book format, this lyrical animal ABC book is just right for bedtime--or anytime! From antlered antelope to zzz-ing zebra, all the awake animals are getting sleepy in this abridged board book edition of a favorite bedtime alphabet book, from an acclaimed author and bestselling illustrator. This exquisite celebration of language and nature is perfect for lulling little ones into a cozy, soothing slumber.

Blue Chicken book
#25
Blue Chicken
Written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Grammy

This book is one beautiful image after another combined with deceptively spare text. Loaded with barnyard fun, it is a delight to read, exploring every page for the action and antics of the animals.

An enterprising chicken attempts to help an artist paint the barnyard and accidentally turns the whole picture blue.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!