Elephants: Books For Kids

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

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.

When it comes to children’s stories about elephants, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Twenty-one Elephants and Still Standing to popular sellers like The One and Only Ivan to some of our favorite hidden gems like Strictly No Elephants.

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, Big Family book
#1
Little Elliot, Big Family
Written and illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Mouse heads off to a family reunion, Little Elliot decides go for a walk. As he explores each busy street, he sees families in all shapes and sizes. In a city of millions, Little Elliot feels very much alone-until he finds he has a family of his own!

Kindness Rules! book
#2
Kindness Rules!
Written and illustrated by Sabrina Moyle and Eunice Moyle
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Manners don’t come naturally to everyone! But did you know that elephants are known for their impeccable etiquette? It’s true! This hilarious guide to good manners offers many fun teaching moments for kids and their parents—it covers all the basics for the preschool set, from saying “please” and “thank you” to sharing and being kind to others. Filled with bright, adorable illustrations in Hello!Lucky’s inimitable style, young children will love learning about manners with this delightful, sturdy board book.

Twenty-one Elephants and Still Standing book
#3
Twenty-one Elephants and Still Standing
Written by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Francois Roca
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

After fourteen years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, much to the delight of the sister cities it connected: Brooklyn and New York City.

Fireworks and top hats filled the air in celebration when the magnificent bridge opened in 1883. But some wondered just how much weight the new bridge could hold. Was it truly safe?

One man seized the opportunity to show people in Brooklyn, New York and the world that the Brooklyn Bridge was in fact strong enough to hold even the heaviest of passengers. P. T. Barnum, creator of “The Greatest Show on Earth,” would present a show too big for the Big Top and too wondrous to forget.

When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles book
#4
When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles
Written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

When your elephant has the sniffles, you better make sure he doesn’t sneeze! This charming and hilarious board book highlights the many ways to make an under-the-weather elephant feel better!

Does your elephant have the sniffles? Make sure to take good care of him because you don’t want him to start sneezing. Gather up your tissues and your pillows and make that elephant feel better! But don’t get too close…or you just might end up with the sniffles, too!

That Fruit Is Mine! book
#5
That Fruit Is Mine!
Written and illustrated by Anuska Allepuz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When five fruit-loving elephants spot a scrumptious hard-to-reach fruit high up in a tree, it’s a race to see who can claim it first! But after one too many fumbles, the elephants begin to lose their cool, and the highly coveted fruit is whisked away by the teeny-tiniest of all jungle creatures—mice! The elephants soon realize they have a lot to learn from this cooperative little bunch.

  1. Have You Seen Elephant? - “Elephant wants to play hide and seek. You can play too, but you’ll have to try your best, he’s very good!”—Back cover.

  2. Special Delivery - Sadie is on her way to deliver an elephant to her Great-Aunt Josephine, who lives completely alone and can really use the company. She tries everything from mailing the elephant to boarding a plane, a train, and an alligator to get to her aunt’s home. Along the way she meets an array of interesting characters, including an odd postal worker and a gang of bandit monkeys, who all help her get where she is going. This eccentric and hilarious story from Philip C. Stead, the author of the Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee and illustrator Matthew Cordell will surprise and entertain from beginning to end. This title has Common Core connections.

  3. Elecopter - A chant-along companion to Monkey Truck features a heroic, fire-fighting elephant who bravely patrols the skies above the Savannah with her fire-hose nose, putting out fires and rescuing her fellow animals.

  4. Strictly No Elephants - When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book. Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend. Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.

Little Elliot, Fall Friends book
#10
Little Elliot, Fall Friends
Written and illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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!

Don't Think About Purple Elephants book
#11
Don't Think About Purple Elephants
Written by Susan Whelan and illustrated by Gwynneth Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Sometimes Sophie worries - especially at night when everything is calm and quiet. Her family all try to help, but somehow they just make it worse. Until her mother thinks of a new approach…that just might involve an elephant or two!

But wait, don’t think about purple elephants, whatever you do! Whimsical and humorous, this little girl’s story of finding a way to ease her worry resonates with children and parents everywhere. Don’t Think About Purple Elephants is an excellent resource for social and emotional learning for parents and teachers.

I Thought I Saw an Elephant book
#12
I Thought I Saw an Elephant
Written by Templar Books and illustrated by Lydia Nichols
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Hide-and-seek fun with sturdy sliders! This silly but stylish slider book is sure to give little ones a giggle. They’ll love joining in a game of hide-and-seek as they move the sliders to reveal the animal hiding in every scene. With beautiful artwork from Lydia Nichols, the whole family will enjoy reading and playing with this novelty series.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) book
#13
Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In a latest entry in a Geisel Award-winning series, the friendship between reserved Gerald and fun-loving Piggie is tested when Gerald faces a difficult decision. By the Emmy Award- and Caldecott Honor-winning author of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! 100,000 first printing.

Maggie and Wendel: Imagine Everything! book
#14
Maggie and Wendel: Imagine Everything!
Written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In this charming picture book, brother and sister elephants come together for an afternoon of epic adventures as they let their big imaginations take them to the wildest of places!

When it comes to playtime, Maggie and Wendel’s imaginations are limitless. Whether the elephant siblings are pretending to rescue a pal from a burning building, buying a pet dragon at the pet store, or going on a wild jungle safari, no adventure is too far-fetched.

Perfect for young siblings of any age, this beautifully illustrated story with minimal text will enchant young readers and show every brother and sister that, with a little imagination, it is possible to get along.

  1. Baby Bedtime - Join these adorable elephants for a lyrical good night routine in this tender bedtime tale from the bestselling author of Time for Bed and Hello Baby! After all the kissing, and the hugging, and the rocking, and the snuggling, there at last comes a time for—sleeping. From beloved, bestselling picture book author Mem Fox, this cozy, dreamy bedtime book is a soothing lullaby that’s just right for lulling little ones to sleep.

  2. Ella WHO? - Mom . . . there’s an elephant in the living room. It’s moving day—and look who slipped in the door: an elephant! But when a little girl tries to tell her family about their unusual guest, the distracted grown-ups just say, “Ella WHO?” Even as children giggle at the girl’s adventures with the smallish pachyderm, and at the fun, recurring refrain, they’ll relate to the poignant theme about making—and sometimes letting go of—new friends.

  3. 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.

  4. How to Find an Elephant - What to do on a dull gray day? Head into the wilds and look for an elephant. You will need a pair of binoculars, a blanket, a flute, some food, a little imagination, and a lot of curiosity. Look and listen closely, because elephants can be anywhere. And watch out, because if you’re not careful, the elephant may find you first! With pleasing prose and “now you see it, now you don’t” artwork, Banks and Kulikov take readers on a spirited romp that will both challenge and delight.

Train! book
#19
Train!
Written and illustrated by Judi Abbot
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-6

Little Elephant loves toy trains, real trains, everything trains! So his parents take him on a train ride where he meets new friends who love other toys. What will it take for them all to try new things? This book is a great choice for introducing kids to the idea of new things and new friends.

The Biggest Kiss book
#20
The Biggest Kiss
Written by Joanna Walsh and illustrated by Judi Abbot and Joanna Walsh
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

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.

Little Elliot, Big Fun book
#21
Little Elliot, Big Fun
Written and illustrated by Mike Curato
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Elliot the little elephant is terrified when his friend Mouse introduces him to the carnival, but Mouse helps him to have fun.

Baby Animals Take a Bath book
#22
Baby Animals Take a Bath
Written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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.

The Smallest Elephant in the World book
#23
The Smallest Elephant in the World
Written by Alvin Tresselt and illustrated by Milton Glaser
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

  1. 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.

  2. The One and Only Ivan - Soon to be a major motion picture! This Harper Classic edition of the Newbery Medal winner and #1 New York Times bestseller includes an author’s note, a letter from the real Ivan’s caretaker at Zoo Atlanta, Ivan’s “signature,” discussion questions, and more. This unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself. Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes. In the tradition of timeless classics such as Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Katherine Applegate’s novel blends humor and poignancy to create this incredible tale of friendship, art, and hope. The One and Only Ivan was named to multiple state lists, received three starred reviews, and was hailed as a best book of the year by Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Amazon. Plus don’t miss Katherine Applegate’s Endling series!

  3. 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.

  4. 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 book
#28
Always
Written and illustrated by Emma Dodd
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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.

Meet Miss Fancy book
#29
Meet Miss Fancy
Written by Irene Latham and illustrated by John Holyfield
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A charming and significant story set prior to the Civil Rights Movement about a boy who finds a way to challenge segregation laws.

Frank has always been obsessed with elephants. He loves their hosepipe trunks, tree stump feet, and swish-swish tails. So when Miss Fancy, the elephant, retires from the circus and moves two blocks from his house to Avondale Park, he’s over the moon! Frank really wants to pet her. But Avondale Park is just for white people, so Frank is not allowed to see Miss Fancy. Frank is heartbroken but he doesn’t give up: instead he makes a plan!

Frank writes to the City Council so his church can host a picnic in the park, and he can finally meet Miss Fancy. All of his neighbors sign the letter, but when some protest, the picnic is cancelled and Frank is heartbroken all over again. Then Miss Fancy escapes the zoo, and it’s up to Frank to find her before she gets hurt.

Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants book
#30
Thirsty, Thirsty Elephants
Written by Sandra Markle and illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

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.

The Saggy Baggy Elephant book
#31
The Saggy Baggy Elephant
Written by B. Jackson and K. Jackson and illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

After a parrot makes fun of Sooki’s big ears, long nose, and wrinkled skin, the “saggy baggy” elephant isn’t too sure of himself. But once he meets some beautiful creatures who look just like him, Sooki celebrates with a joyful “one-two-three-kick.” For over 50 years, parents and children have treasured this tale, with gorgeous art by Gustaf Tenggren, the illustrator of The Poky Little Puppy.

The Elephant's Child book
#32
The Elephant's Child
Written by Rudyard Kipling and illustrated by Jonas Laustroer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

The tale of how the elephant got its trunk is one of the most beloved of the Just So Stories Rudyard Kipling wrote for children. The insatiably curious elephant’s child peppers every animal he meets with questions about the mysterious crocodile who lives on the banks of the Lompopo River. When he finally meets the crocodile, he nearly becomes dinner. This rollicking story and Jonas’s Laustroer’s vibrant art have the makings of a modern classic.

  1. The Truth About Elephants - Did you know that an elephant’s tusks never stop growing? Did you know that elephants can sometimes purr like giant cats? And that they use six sets of teeth throughout their lives? Impress your friends and teachers with these facts and more in this wildly entertaining (not to mention hilarious) nonfiction picture book offering everything you want to know about elephants.

  2. Tusk Tusk - Once, elephants came in two colours: black or white. They loved all other creatures - but each set wanted to destroy the other. Peace-loving elephants ran and hid in the deepest jungle while battle commenced. The war-mongers succeeded: for a long time it seemed that there were no elephants in the world at all, not of any colour. But then the descendants of the peace-loving ones emerged from the jungle, and by now they were all grey. ‘This book was one of my favourites as a kid, I simply relished in the gloriousness of a load of elephants battling it out in a bizarre forest. It wasn’t until I was a bit older that I recognised the importance of the message that lay (not so subtly) underneath.’ OLIVER JEFFERS

  3. 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.

  4. Princess Arabella's Birthday - It’s Princess Arabella’s birthday. She wants a very special present: an elephant. But will she get what she wants?

Noodlephant book
#37
Noodlephant
Written by Jacob Kramer and illustrated by K-Fai Steele
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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.

Mom Loves Little Jumbo book
#38
Mom Loves Little Jumbo
Written and illustrated by Yasushi Muraki
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

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.

Nancy Knows book
#39
Nancy Knows
Written and illustrated by Cybèle Young
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

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.

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!