Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to elephants. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about elephants.
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, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about elephants, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Horton Hatches the Egg to popular sellers like The One and Only Ivan to some of our favorite hidden gems like Elmer.
We hope this list of kids books about elephants 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.
Little Elliot, Fall Friends - It’s autumn in the Big City! Little Elliot and Mouse love the hustle and bustle of the city streets. But sometimes it feels like there are too many people, too many noises—just too much! The best friends decide to get out of town for a vacation in the countryside. There, they’ll discover the sights and smells of autumn in the country. Everything is more fun when shared with a friend!
Merry Christmas, Little Elliot - Best friends Little Elliot and Mouse are back for another adventure—and this time, they’re looking for Christmas spirit! Little Elliot the elephant isn’t quite sure what Christmas spirit is, but he suspects he doesn’t have it. Not even a visit to Santa Claus can put Elliot in the right mood. But when chance blows a letter for Santa into Elliot and Mouse’s path, the two friends discover what Christmas is all about—and make a new friend, too. A heartfelt celebration of the season of giving! Perfect for sharing around the holidays. Godwin Books
Hopper and Wilson Fetch a Star - Have you ever wanted your very own star? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have your own star for a nightlight? It is this thought that begins Hopper and Wilson’s second adventure. They fill their airplane with lemonade and soar into the night sky. So many stars to choose from! One is too pointy. One is too heavy. Another is too bright! Taking a break on the moon, the two friends look directly above and spot it—the perfect star! As Hopper lays down for a nap, Wilson ventures off on his own, to the dark side of the moon. Yet now he is lost! How can he find his way back to Hopper? The perfect star, of course. Wilson spots it in the sky and follows it back to his friend. In another deceptively simple story, Maria van Lieshout shows how sometimes the best part of nature is that it’s found only in nature—and that everything has its proper place . . . be it stars or even best friends, who always belong together.
Are You a Cat? - From the creator of Can Cat and Bird Be Friends comes a delightful story featuring an adorable cat and an inquisitive dog. Dogs chase cats. Everyone knows this, especially cats. When Dog wants to chase Cat, he politely asks, “are you a cat?” To outrun and outsmart Dog, Cat pretends to be other animals that dogs wouldn’t ordinarily want to chase. It’s a masterful plan indeed. But when an unexpected creature walks by, it’s impossible for Cat to play pretend for much longer. In a charming picture book filled with pleasing banter and hilarious quips, rising talent Coll Muir creates the perfect story about staying true to yourself. Perfect for fans of Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat.
Want to see books about mice?
Can I Play Too? - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Can I Play Too? Gerald and Piggie meet a new snake friend who wants to join in a game of catch. But don’t you need arms to catch?
The Biggest Kiss - There’s a kiss here for everyone in this warm and cozy Classic Board Book edition of The Biggest Kiss! Do worms kiss underground, with the soil all around? Do fish kiss like this—splosh, splash, splish? Everyone needs kisses, so what could be better than a book that’s full of them? With darling animals on every page and irresistible text that begs to be read aloud, parents and grandparents will love sharing this collection of affection with the youngest of readers.
The Smallest Elephant in the World - Mocked throughout the jungles of India, the smallest elephant in the world-no bigger than a house cat-has decided enough is enough. If he’s no bigger than a house cat, then a house is where he belongs! After a long journey, this smallest elephant in the world finds himself a home with a nice little boy inside. Unfortunately, the boy’s mother doesn’t believe elephants make suitable house pets… First published in 1959, The Smallest Elephant in the World, written by Alvin Tresselt and illustrated by Milton Glaser, is a witty, sweet, and funny tale of friendship, unlikely disguise, and the search for home.
Are You Ready to Play Outside? - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Piggie can’t wait to go play in the sunshine. But will a rainy day ruin all the fun?
I Love You, Elephant! - With the turn of each page, young readers share the love Monkey feels for his friends! “I love you!” is the refrain on each spread of this joyful story. Readers will delight in seeing new faces appear and then change when the page is turned, thanks to the magical Venetian blind element built into the book. This sweet novelty board book is great fun to read aloud, and the perfect addition to our Changing Faces series.
My Friend is Sad (An Elephant and Piggie Book) - When Gerald the Elephant is sad, Piggie is determined to cheer him up, but he soon finds after many tries that it only takes the simplest thing to change Gerald’s mood. 75,000 first printing. $150,000 ad/promo.
Little Elliot, Big Fun - Elliot the little elephant is terrified when his friend Mouse introduces him to the carnival, but Mouse helps him to have fun.
My New Friend Is So Fun! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In My New Friend Is So Fun!, Piggie has found a new friend! But is Gerald ready to share?
The Elephant - In this, Jenni Desmond’s third nonfiction children’s book about one of the large, endangered animals of Earth, we join a young boy as he learns about The Elephant. From Africa to Asia, the elephant makes its home. Light on their feet, despite their great weight, these magnificent creatures appear light and graceful because they’re always walking on their tip-toes. They have excellent hearing and can detect the rumblings of other elephants from six miles away. And, just like humans being right handed or left handed, elephants can be right tusked or left tusked! The recipient of the 2016 New York Times Best Illustrated award for her book The Polar Bear, Desmond creates illustrations that are scientifically accurate, strikingly detailed, and beautifully rendered in collage, paint, and colored pencil.
Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants - Elephants never forget During a drought in Tanzania, Grandma Elephant is in search of water for her herd. Little Calf follows along and mimics her grandmother at each stop on their journey. When Grandma leads them to a watering hole she recalls from years before, the elephants are overjoyed and Little Calf splashes about with her tender leader. Grandma’s persistence and powerful memory is something Little Calf will never forget. Based on true events. Sandra Markle’s acclaimed nonfiction writing takes on a more lyrical style alongside Fabricio VandenBroeck’s gorgeous illustrations making this story of animal behavior accessible for younger readers. Back matter includes further information about the phenomenon of a herd of elephants that survived a drought, as well as fascinating elephant facts.
Want to see books about science and nature?
Welcome Little One - Welcome Your Little One to the World! On the day you were born, it was love at first sight. We welcomed you, little one, and held you so tight. For parents, the arrival of a newborn child is an event that offers the promise of never-ending love. Filled with lively illustrations and heartfelt rhyming text, Welcome Little One allows parents and children to celebrate and cherish their bond
Wish - As an elephant couple embark on a life together, thoughts of children are far away-at first. But as the desire for a child grows, so do unexpected challenges. And it’s only after thwarted plans and bitter disappointment that their deepest wish miraculously comes true.
Always - One little elephant learns that a parent’s love is unconditional. There is always love between parent and child, which is the heartwarming message in an exquisite new title from Emma Dodd. Featuring stunning illustrations of an elephant family and with interior pages embellished with foil, this makes a handsome addition to any nursery bookshelf.
Wishes For Little One - Perfect for baby showers, Wishes for Little One is a heartfelt picture book that also functions as a guest book. Filled to the brim with Sandra Magsamen’s adorable illustrations and heartwarming text, this book makes a high-quality keepsake of an unforgettable day!
Want to see books about parents?
I'm a Frog! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In I’m a Frog! Piggie has some ribbiting news! Can Gerald make the leap required to accept Piggie’s new identity?
Harold & Hog Pretend For Real! - Hog is careful. Harold is not. Harold cannot help smiling. Hog can. Hog worries so that Harold does not have to. Harold and Hog are best friends. But can Harold and Hog’s friendship survive a game of pretending to be Elephant & Piggie?
Nancy Knows - Nancy knows she’s forgotten something. Something important. When she tries to remember, she thinks of all kinds of other things instead. She remembers things she knows and things she doesn’t quite know. She remembers things one way, then another. Sometimes she remembers with her ears or her stomach or even her heart. But Nancy knows she’s still forgetting something. It’s only when Nancy stops thinking altogether that she finally remembers the very important thing she’s forgotten. Nancy Knows is the charming story of an elephant who remembers lots of things, except the very thing she is trying to remember. Each spread of this whimsical, arresting board book features fantastic miniature paper sculptures within expressive outlines of a puzzled pachyderm. It’s a book not to be forgotten.
Want to see books about imagination?
Elmer - “McKee’s gentle humor and love of irony are in full force in this celebration of individuality and laughter.” —Publishers Weekly This padded board book has a soft, padded cover and rounded edges, perfect to share with the smallest readers. Elmer the elephant is bright-colored patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him! If he were ordinary elephant color, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn’t it? David McKee’s comical fable about everyone’s favorite patchwork elephant teaches readers to be themselves and celebrates the power of laughter.
Thank You and Good Night - Patrick McDonnell’s first bedtime book captures the magic of a sleepover with friends, and reminds us to cherish life’s simplest pleasures. During a fun pajama party, three animal friends dance and play, but at last everyone is getting sleepy. Is it time for bed yet? Not before taking the time to say thank you for the day, the night, and good friends.
Little Elliot, Big City - Elliot the little elephant has a hard time with a lot of things in the city he loves until he meets Mouse, who is even smaller—and hungrier.
Wakey, Wakey, Elephant! - A tickly feather. Roosters crowing. Even a marching band. Will ANYTHING wake Elephant? How do you make a snoozing, sleepyhead Elephant get up? Edgar tries everything, from putting a silly hat on Elephant’s head to dancing a cha-cha on the bed. Nothing works . . . until Edgar whispers something very special in his friend’s ear. SURPRISE! It’s Elephant’s birthday—and he’s ready to party. Lively, silly, and full of fun, this picture book is a joyful celebration.
Today I Will Fly! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. Today, I Will Fly! is the funny introduction to the characters. Piggie is determined to fly. But Gerald the elephant knows that’s impossible—isn’t it?
Listen to My Trumpet! - When Piggie plays her new trumpet for Gerald, the elephant decides he must be honest in his response.
I Am Invited to a Party! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In I Am Invited to a Party! Piggie is invited to her first party. She doesn’t know what to wear, though, so she asks her best friend Elephant for help. Elephant’s advice is odd to say the least, so Piggie will try on all sorts of zany outfits before finally arriving at the party for a hilarious surprise.
I Am Going! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In I Am Going!, Piggie ruins a perfectly good day by telling Gerald she is going. If Piggie goes, who will Gerald skip with, play Ping-Pong with, and wear silly hats with?
Return to the Jungle - In Return to the Jungle, the middle-grade sequel to Bear Grylls’s Spirit of the Jungle, Mak returns to the jungle where he is determined to set a captured endangered elephant free…
The Magician's Elephant - A classic tale by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, America’s beloved storyteller
When a fortuneteller’s tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller’s mysterious answer (an elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that you will hardly dare to believe it’s true. With atmospheric illustrations by fine artist Yoko Tanaka, here is a dreamlike and captivating tale that could only be narrated by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo. In this timeless fable, she evokes the largest of themes — hope and belonging, desire and compassion — with the lightness of a magician’s touch.
With dreamlike illustrations and a cover by Yoko Tanaka.
A Big Guy Took My Ball! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In A Big Guy Took My Ball! Piggie is devastated when a big guy takes her ball! Gerald is big, too…but is he big enough to help his best friend?
Noodlephant - Famous for her pasta parties, Noodlephant is shocked when the law-loving kangaroos decide noodles are only for them! Noodlephant won’t let this stand—Noodlephants can’t survive on sticks and branches, after all. Determined to do something to push back against an unjust law, she and her friends invent a machine that transforms pens into penne, pillows into ravioli, and radiators into radiatori. With that, the pasta parties are back! But that very night, the kangaroos come bounding through the door… ready to enforce their unjust laws. A zany tale of full of pasta puns, friendship, and one Phantastic Noodler, Noodlephant, written by Jacob Kramer and illustrated by K-Fai Steele, explores a community’s response to injustice.
Want to see books about values and virtues?
Eppie the Elephant (Who Was Allergic to Peanuts) - Go on a school-time adventure with Eppie, the elephant who is allergic to peanuts! It’s the first day of school for Eppie the elephant, and she’s a bit nervous about one thing: that her new classmates won’t understand her allergy to nuts. Like many kids today, this fun-loving elephant can’t partake in peanuts, pecans, or pistachios and has to be careful about what she eats. Eppie makes fast friends with Allie the alligator and Pearl the squirrel, but when Eppie’s allergy is explained at lunch, will her friends still stand by her side? Readers of all ages will relate to this heartwarming, lyrical story of understanding and acceptance.
Elmer's Day - From dawn to dusk, with lots of food and fun between, join Elmer on his day! This chunky board book with easy-grip toddler tabs on every page is perfect for the very youngest Elmer fans.
Want to see books about health and daily living?
Watch Me Throw the Ball! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Watch Me Throw the Ball!, Gerald is determined to teach Piggie that ball-throwing is serious business… but Piggie is just as determined to have serious fun.
Pigs Make Me Sneeze! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Pigs Make Me Sneeze!, Gerald believes he is allergic to his best friend! Will he have to stay away from Piggie forever?
Happy Pig Day! - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In Happy Pig Day! Piggie celebrates her favorite day of the year! But will Gerald the Elephant be included in the festivities? Using vocabulary that is perfect for beginning readers (and vetted by an early-learning specialist), Mo Willems has crafted a heartfelt story about celebrating the special occasions in life. Fans of the Geisel Award-winning duo will want to join the party!
I Love My New Toy! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) - Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In I Love My New Toy!, Piggie can’t wait to show Gerald her brand new toy. But will an accidentally broken toy accidentally break a friendship?
Babar's Little Girl - The arrival of new baby Isabelle creates much excitement in Babar’s family, particularly after she learns to walk and gets lost in the mountains, in a reissue of a delightful story in the Babar series.
Mom Loves Little Jumbo - A celebration of the deep, unconditional love between mother and child Little Jumbo’s mama is not only the greatest, but the biggest elephant ever! Naturally, she is not really the biggest in the world but from his perspective, she is a giant. She is brave and protects him; she plays with him, finds the tastiest fruit and cuddles him when it is time to sleep. And best of all—Mama loves him just like he loves Mama.
The Goose Egg - From the author of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record pick Quackers comes the story of Henrietta the Elephant, whose life goes from calm to chaotic when a baby goose comes to stay.
Owls are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet - A delightful book of curious, little-known “facts” about animals—one for each letter of the alphabet! Did you know that chipmunks love to stay up past their bedtime? Or that dragons cry at happy endings? I bet you’d never have guessed that iguanas sometimes get homesick at sleepovers. Sara O’Leary pulls back the curtain on the animal world and gives us an absolutely charming little one-line “fact” about one animal for each letter of the alphabet. Kids will love to see their own quirks reflected in these adorably rendered creatures, and perhaps will be comforted to know that—just like them—narwhals can be perfectly happy all on their own and quail also get tired of being told to be quiet. This is more than just an alphabet book. It’s a charming, hilarious, and touching look at the diversity of personalities in the world—worth many, many rereads.
Want to see books about birds?