Best Children's Books About Animals

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.

Dear Zoo book
#26
Dear Zoo
Written and illustrated by Rod Campbell
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4

Rod Campbell’s classic lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo has been a firm favorite with toddlers and parents alike ever since it was first published in 1982. Young readers love lifting the flaps to discover the animals the zoo has sent—a monkey, a lion, and even an elephant! But will they ever find the perfect pet? With bright, bold artwork, a catchy refrain, and a whole host of favorite animals, Dear Zoo is a must for every child’s bookshelf.

Can't Sleep Without Sheep book
#27
Can't Sleep Without Sheep
Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

After you read this adorable bedtime book, you definitely will not take counting sheep for granted! Super cute premise, adorable illustrations and a great lesson to be appreciative of those helping you, be they real or imaginary. This book also gets points from me for having a diverse main character .

Whenever Ava can't sleep, she counts sheep. But Ava takes so long to fall asleep, it's the sheep that are growing tired-until finally, they quit! When the sheep promise to find a replacement that Ava can count on, chaos ensues as chickens, cows, pigs, hippos, and more try their hand at jumping over Ava's fence. Finding the perfectly peaceful replacement for sheep might not be so easy after all. With irresistibly adorable art, this delightful take on a familiar sleep tactic is sure to become a bedtime favorite.

Animal Numbers book
#28
Animal Numbers
Written and illustrated by Thomas Flintham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book is beautiful, I love the cute, colorful illustrations! This rhyming book introduces little ones to new animals while learning to count to ten. I love the ending where all of the animals meet up and are playing a game!

Join Thomas Flintham on a vibrantly colorful animal adventure that will have the littlest readers counting from one to ten. This friendly whale is number one. He leaps up high, and then he's gone. Four elephants stomp in a row, Marching high and marching low! Filled with bright colors and eye-catching artwork, the critters in Animal Numbers are running, swimming, splashing, dashing, and counting up a storm!

Little Alphaprints: Animals book
#29
Little Alphaprints: Animals
Written and illustrated by Roger Priddy
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book is so cute! I love that the animals are made up out of fingerprints as well as other objects. It makes it fun to go through each image and see what you recognize and how they made certain objects look like the animal. Plus, the illustrations are made with raised embossing, so there's a fun texture/feeling experience. Very cute!

This charming board book with fantastic fingerprint pictures of amazing animals will captivate and delight even the youngest of children. Brightly colored fingerprints are turned into a parade of animals by adding photographs of fun, everyday things for children to spot. Each animal has raised embossing for little fingers to reach out for and explore, creating a visual and tactile experience that children will want to repeat over and over again.

Arf! Buzz! Cluck! A Rather Noisy Alphabet book
#30
Arf! Buzz! Cluck! A Rather Noisy Alphabet
Written by Eric Seltzer and illustrated by David Creighton-Pester
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-4
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

This clever take on an alphabet book (using their noises rather than the animals themselves!) has great cadence and vibrant illustrations. I love how the variety of habitats shown and how each page seamlessly combines different animals and their sounds.

Moo! Neigh! Oink! Peep! This silly and inventive alphabet board book teaches little ones the ABCs with animal sounds! We Arf We Buzz We Baaah We Coo We Chirp and Cluck and cock-a-Doodle-Doo!

Ribbit! book
#31
Ribbit!
Written by Rodrigo Folgueira and illustrated by Poly Bernatene
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

When a pig visits a frog pond, sits on a rock, and says only "Ribbit!", news spreads fast but only the wise old beetle has an explanation.

If Animals Kissed Good Night book
#32
If Animals Kissed Good Night
Written by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by David Walker
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Grammy

I could read this book night after night. The text rhymes along cleverly describing how each animal pair would kiss goodnight if they kissed as we do. The illustrations are delightful and the layout of the text on the page, as well as the emphasis of strategic words, complement the animals' creativity. Really, it is a pleasure to read.

Rhyming text explores what would happen if animals kissed like humans do, from a slow kiss between a sloth and her cub to a mud-happy kiss from a hippo calf to his father.

Chimpanzees for Tea! book
#33
Chimpanzees for Tea!
Written and illustrated by Jo Empson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A silly, fun version of the game “telephone”—in which a grocery list committed to memory goes playfully awry. One day, Vincent’s mother asks him to go to the store to pick up a few items: “a bunch of carrots, a box of rice, some China tea, a big, firm pear, and a tin of peas” to be precise. “And hurry home in time for tea!” she says. Sounds easy enough. Yet distractions are at every turn, causing havoc with Vincent’s memory. All of a sudden, a tin of peas is replaced by a trapeze; a big, firm pear becomes a big furry bear; and a box of rice transforms into a box of mice! Needless to say, Vincent’s mother is in for quite a surprise. Told with a playful rhythm for reading aloud and illustrated with exuberance and great child appeal, this humorous picture book will have kids laughing and asking for repeated readings.

Cuckoo! book
#34
Cuckoo!
Written and illustrated by Fiona Roberton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

The illustrations in this book are amazing and delightful! This sweet story about a bird that speaks differently and goes on an adventure to find someone he can understand, tries to learn other's languages, and finally finds someone he can talk to is fun and entertaining, and this book is so fun to read aloud with all of the "cuckoos" and other animal noises!

Cuckoo hatches. And all is well. But when his brothers and sisters sing out Too-too-weet! Too-too-weet! Cuckoo instead chirps Cuckoo! and no one can understand him. When he leaves his nest, Cuckoo still can’t find anyone who speaks his language. He tries to communicate with the other animals—coomooing and buckooing and cabooing along the way—but he doesn’t sound like anyone else out there! Just when he thinks all is lost, Cuckoo finds an unlikely friend who understands him perfectly.

Who's at Home? book
#35
Who's at Home?
Written by Jane E. Gerver and illustrated by Kathryn Lynn Davis
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This lift-the-flap book is colorful and mostly simple, but when you lift the flaps, you discover the cutest little illustrated animals! I like that this has a woodland theme and helps little ones learn where different animals live.

Woodland animals play a guessing game with the little ones in this interactive board book! Each spread poses a riddle to young readers: "Who's at home?" Children will love lifting the flaps to reveal a furry bear, a wide-eyed owl, a cheery squirrel, a dozing beaver, and a cuddly rabbit all snuggled up in their homes.

Grumpy Monkey book
#36
Grumpy Monkey
Written by Suzanne Lang and illustrated by Max Lang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

A hilarious picture book about dealing with unexplained feelings…and the danger in suppressing them! Jim the chimpanzee is in a terrible mood for no good reason. His friends can’t understand it—how can he be in a bad mood when it’s SUCH a beautiful day? They encourage him not to hunch, to smile, and to do things that make THEM happy. But Jim can’t take all the advice…and has a BIT of a meltdown. Could it be that he just needs a day to feel grumpy? Suzanne and Max Lang bring hilarity and levity to this very important lesson. This picture book is an excellent case study in the dangers of putting on a happy face and demonstrates to kids that they are allowed to feel their feelings (though they should be careful of hurting others in the process!).

1, 2, 3 Sea Creatures book
#37
1, 2, 3 Sea Creatures
Written and illustrated by Toko Hosoya
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book has you count in a few different ways! It also has a lot of different sea creatures and helps you learn their names. I like that it isn't just a normal counting book, it mixes things up a little and also is a little more interactive as it has you look for different creatures and try to remember their names. :) The illustrations are cute and I love all of the fun colors!

Beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations of sea creatures help teach the 1,2,3s in a fun and unforgettable way. This charming picture book is sure to engage early learners in counting and picture recognition skills until the very last page! The book also comes with a poster displaying the silly sea creatures matched with their corresponding numbers!

Alphabet Kingdom book
#38
Alphabet Kingdom
Written and illustrated by Starla Michelle Halfmann
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-4
Thoughts from Lemony Snickers

Alphabet Kingdom is full of beautiful, kaleidoscopic illustrations. Each page is vibrant with color and life, and Staria Michelle Halfmann has a beautiful style. For a child who appreciates beautiful art, this would be a great choice. On the other hand, if children are interested in variety and words, this might not be the perfect fit. This book will catch the attention of most adults, but I'm less confident that it will interest most children. Still a favorite when it comes illustration-only, or at least, illustration-focused children's books.

In this large-format alphabet book, the letters of the English language come alive through the artwork of Austin-based fine artist Starla Michelle Halfmann. Children will learn and marvel as their ABCs become members of the animal kingdom, and adults will appreciate the beauty of this gorgeously rendered wordless picture book.

Animal Homes book
#39
Animal Homes
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from The Book Snob Mom

After a first read through on my own, I'd probably have given this a 4.5, but my toddler is obsessed with this book, as are several of our other toddler friends, so I've developed a lot of appreciation for this book. The illustrations are really cute and the interactive activity of matching animals to their homes, with the raised textures on each illustrations to add interest, makes this an enjoyable read. It's also one my son is happy to "read" to himself!

Introduce little ones to all sorts of different homes for animals! In Animal Homes, little ones will be asked which homes belong to which animals. The pages of this book are filled with familiar, kid-friendly animals such as cats, fish, dogs, birds, and more, rendered in soft colors that make this an even more enjoyable experience for babies. Each page includes an embossed animal home, creating a tactile experience for tiny hands. And on the last spread, all the animals appear with their correct homes!

Sam the Man & The Chicken Plan book
#40
Sam the Man & The Chicken Plan
Written by Frances O’Roark Dowell and illustrated by Amy June Bates
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Sam the Man wants to earn some money and he’s got a cluck-worthy plan in this endearing chapter book that’s the first in a new series from Frances O’Roark Dowell. Sam the Man needs a job. Even his sister gets twenty bucks a pop for mowing people’s lawns! But seven-year-olds aren’t allowed to mow lawns, so Sam decides to ask his next door neighbor if she needs help doing other chores. It turns out she’ll pay him a whole dollar each time he can convince her dad, Mr. Stockfish, to join him for a walk. But it turns out that getting Mr. Stockfish to leave the living room isn’t easy. AND a dollar a pop isn’t going to cut it. So when Mrs. Kerner, another neighbor, asks if Sam would like to watch her chickens, Sam jumps on the task. You can count on him, yes indeed. Watching chickens is more fun than he expects, and comes with an added bonus: it turns out that visiting the chickens is the one thing that can coax Mr. Stockfish out of the house! But what does a seven-year-old do with all the money he’s earning? It’s too little for a bike, and too much for candy. But wait! It’s just enough for a chicken of his own—the kind that lays BLUE eggs! Soon he has a whole waiting list of kids who want to buy a blue egg. And what does Sam plan on doing with his new fortune? Buy Mr. Stockfish his own chicken, of course!

Animal Inn 3-Books-in-1! book
#41
Animal Inn 3-Books-in-1!
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The first three novels in the Animal Inn chapter book series, where the fur—and fun—flies at an animal spa and hotel, are now available together in a fur-tastic paperback edition! The Animal Inn is an all-inclusive pet resort and spa for animals from dogs to rabbits, cats to ducks, parrots to lizards. From doggie and kitty daycare, to grooming, and group play—you name it, and the Animal Inn has it. The Inn is run by the Tyler family along with their pets Leopold, the Macaw; Fuzzy and Furry, the gerbils; dogs Dash and Coco; felines Shadow and Whiskers; and a rollicking horde of animal visitors. In A Furry Fiasco, when the animals hear that a new boarder—a Komodo Dragon—will be coming to the Inn, they panic! Will it gobble them all up and then devour their family? In Treasure Hunt, the animals are convinced a pirate with a glittering treasure is visiting the Animal Inn. Will the animals have to walk the plank in order to survive? Arghhh! And in The Bow-Wow Bus, Cassie Tyler’s first grade class takes a field trip to Animal Inn for a meet and greet. And it’s a furry good time for all—even for the newest kid in class, a goldfish named Blub.

Wiggle! book
#42
Wiggle!
Written and illustrated by Taro Gomi
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

It's more than a book—it's a game! Every spread is missing a key element of a featured animal—from an elephant's trunk to a penguin's beak, these creatures are incomplete. And it's up to young readers to help them out! Kids can finish the illustration by wiggling their fingers through suitably placed die-cuts. Children are sure to giggle at the silliness of turning their fingers into elephant trunks and chameleon tongues—and learn a bit about animal features on the way!

I've Loved You Since Forever book
#43
I've Loved You Since Forever
Written by Hoda Kotb and illustrated by Suzie Mason
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Lyrical text and illustrations of baby animals and their mothers show the love of a parent.

The Nice Book book
#44
The Nice Book
Written and illustrated by David Stein
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

A perfect introduction to manners and playing nice, by David Ezra Stein—author of Caldecott Honor winner Interrupting Chicken, Pouch! (a Charlotte Zolotow Honor book) and Leaves (recipient of the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award). From cuddling koalas to friendly penguins, an array of animals illustrates fun, sweet, and silly examples of “how to be nice,” showing simple ways young children can show they care for those around them. The lyrical text, funny illustrations and upbeat friendship message make this a great gift and a wonderful introduction to manners.

Jane Foster's ABC book
#45
Jane Foster's ABC
Written and illustrated by Jane Foster
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Introduce little ones to letters in this bold and graphic style board book by illustrator and textile designer Jane Foster. In this ABC board book, children will be introduced to letters by associating them with animals, such as D for duck, L for lion, and Z for zebra.

When Your Llama Needs a Haircut book
#46
When Your Llama Needs a Haircut
Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

When it’s picture day and you realize your llama needs a haircut, you’ll need a good comb and some luck! This charming and hilarious board book features one shaggy llama and a whole lot of hairstyles! Uh-oh. It’s picture day and someone's a mess! Does your llama need a haircut? After a hilarious shampoo, it’s time to decide which style would be best for your shaggy llama. A mohawk? Layers? Or how about a brand-new fur color? But be careful…or you just might end up with a haircut, too!

My Backpack! book
#47
My Backpack!
Written by Scholastic and illustrated by Weldon Swanson
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

A lift-the-flap board book featuring the lovable characters from Skip Hop's Zoo backpacks! What's inside your backpack? Join Bee, Dog, Elephant, Ladybug, and Penguin in this delightful interactive story based on the beloved Zoo backpack line from Skip Hop. Lift the flaps to find out what each animal likes to pack in their backpack, which looks exactly like the real thing! With adorable animal illustrations and a surprise on each spread, this story is sure to get little ones excited about school!

My Love is For You book
#48
My Love is For You
Written by Susan Musgrave and illustrated by Marilyn Faucher
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2

A beautiful board book that weaves the purity, strength and endlessness of love with simple joys of nature.

Sunrise, Moonrise book
#49
Sunrise, Moonrise
Written and illustrated by Betsy Thompson
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Day turns into night and some animals drift to sleep while others spring to life in this beautiful high-contrast board book. Sun rises. Bird sings. And so the day begins in this beautifully simple board book with bold artwork and lyrical text that shows us the passing of time in the day. Fish swim under a blue sky, squirrels dream as the sun sets, the moon rises as stars blink, and an owl hoots when night falls. With word repetition and a single tree that houses both the bird who sings as the sun rises and the owl who hoots after the moon rises, little ones can begin to understand that the day begins and ends in the same way.

Alphaprints: ABC book
#50
Alphaprints: ABC
Written by Roger Priddy
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Indentifies the letters of the alphabet using illustrations of animals representing each letter, comprised of finger and thumb prints.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.