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Hippos And Rhinos: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about hippos and rhinos?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to hippos and rhinos. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about hippos and rhinos.

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 hippos and rhinos, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Keeping Up with Cheetah to popular sellers like But Not the Hippopotamus to some of our favorite hidden gems like Hippopposites.

We hope this list of kids books about hippos and rhinos 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.

You Should, You Should!
Written & illustrated by Ginny Tilby
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Hippo’s morning starts off good, until friends say, “You should! You should!” You should prance! You should sing! Wear this hat! Stretch your wing! Though Hippo wants to be a friend, he wonders when the “shoulds” will end.

Hippo and friends will soon find out that being yourself is what life’s about.

Hello, Elephant!
Written & illustrated by Sam Boughton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Say hello to all your favorite savanna animals in this bright and friendly nonfiction novelty title.

Little ones will love meeting a whole host of friendly savanna creatures in this delightful lift-the-flap book. Sam Boughton’s vibrant animal illustrations bring facts to life with deft humor and memorable explanations. With plenty of flaps to lift and a fantastic double gatefold on the final spread, this book is sure to please young wildlife lovers!

No!
Written by Tracey Corderoy & illustrated by Tim Warnes and Tracey Corderoy
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Everyone thinks Otto is adorable. But then Otto learns the word no — and now he says it all the time! At first, it’s fun to refuse to eat, take a bath, and go to bed. But when Otto has a bad day at school, Daddy has the perfect solution.

Rhymoceros
Written & illustrated by Janik Coat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

A blue rhinoceros unabashedly subjects himself to undignified elements in order to demonstrate sixteen pairs of rhyming words, from “caring” and “daring” to “stinky” and “inky.”

Hippopposites
Written & illustrated by Janik Coat
picture book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Describes opposite aspects of a hippopotamus. On board pages.

  • But Not the Hippopotamus - A shy hippo makes a big impact in this Sandra Boynton classic. Serious silliness for all ages. Artist Sandra Boynton is back and better than ever with completely redrawn versions of her multi-million selling board books. These whimsical and hilarious books, featuring nontraditional texts and her famous animal characters, have been printed on thick board pages, and are sure to educate and entertain children of all ages.

  • Friends Stick Together - Rupert is a rhinoceros of refined sensibilities. Levi, the new tickbird in class, is not. He burps the alphabet, tells corny jokes, and does really embarrassing air guitar solos. Worse, he lands right on Rupert and is determined to be Rupert’s symbiotic best pal! Rupert wants him gone. But when Levi finally does bug off, Rupert finds the peace and quiet a little boring. It turns out, Rupert could really use a friend like Levi.

  • Belly Button Book! - Featuring a beachful of bare-bellied hippos—including one tiny baby who can only say “Bee Bo”—the Belly Button Book is a quirky addition to the phenomenally successful Boynton on Board series. Every page captivates with Sandra Boynton’s inimitable illustrations and joyful rhyming text: Soon after dark, upon the beach, we sing a hippo song, and if you’re feeling in the mood, we hope you’ll sing along: “Belly Belly Button, you’re oh so fine. Ooo, Belly Button, I’m so happy you’re mine.” Shiny and sturdy, and featuring a great (navel-shaped, naturally) die-cut cover, the Belly Button Book provides enduring, giggly, read-aloud fun.

  • Gently Bentley - A little rhino charges around his house and school. Everyone reminds him to be more careful, but his clumsiness continues. Will he remember to be gentle when it’s most important? This lovely story will inspire discussions about appropriate ways of expressing oneself, and can be used to help children develop impulse control and self-regulation.

The Secret Rhino Society
Written by Jonathan E. Jacobs & illustrated by Samantha Cotterill
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

In the spirit of favorites like Stick & Stone and Spoon this warmhearted and hilarious picture book tells the story of a highly unusual group of friends and is stunningly illustrated by Samantha Cotterill.

Meet Hudson, a hippo. Fran, an earthworm. And Jean, a lightbulb.

They have one thing in common: a profound appreciation for rhinos. So, they form a Secret Rhino Appreciation Society, in which a key activity it wearing paper horns. (Sometimes this results in a fire. That’s what happens when a lightbulb wears a paper horn.) But when they meet their first real, live rhino and ask her to do rhino-y things, she doesn’t want to charge or snort—she’s a gardener! She is not what the society expected, but can they learn to appreciate her for who she is?

This funny, character-driven story explores themes of friendship, expectations, and prejudice.

A Porcupine Named Fluffy
Written by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A porcupine named Fluffy is happier with his name after he meets a similarly misnamed rhinoceros.

George and Martha
Written by James Marshall & illustrated by Maurice Sendak
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Collects all thirty-five stories about best friends George and Martha.

A Dress for Me!
Written by Sue Fliess & illustrated by Mike Laughead
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Should we shop now? I say, Yes! Mom says I can choose a dress! Hippo is looking for a new dress. There are so many choices! Dresses with beads and fringe, dresses with shiny sequins, dresses with stripes and checkers, and more! Watch me as I try them all! Will Hippo find the perfect dress? Sue Fliess’s rhyming text and Mike Laughead’s adorable digital illustrations bring to life Hippo’s exciting day at the mall.

Rhino in the House
Written & illustrated by Daniel Kirk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“This is a nonfiction picture book for young children. It tells the true story of Anna Merz, a wildlife protector in Africa, and Samia, a black rhinoceros she saved after it was abandoned by its mother.”—

  • Fabio The World's Greatest Flamingo Detective: The Case of the Missing Hippo - This hilarious, brightly illustrated chapter book starring Fabio the flamingo detective and his sidekick Gilbert the giraffe is perfect for fans of CatStronauts and The Bad Guys. In a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee lives the world’s greatest flamingo detective. His name is Fabio. He’s not tall or strong, but slight and pink. And he’s very, very clever. When Fabio and his giraffe associate Gilbert drop in to the Hotel Royale for a relaxing glass of lemonade (pink, naturally), Fabio is persuaded to judge the hotel’s talent contest. But when the most promising contestant—Julia the jazz-singing hippopotamus—goes missing, Fabio must put his thinking cap back on and solve the mystery! Don’t miss these other books from Laura James! The Pug series Captain Pug Cowboy Pug Safari Pug

  • Hippopotamister - The zoo isn’t what it used to be. It’s run down, and Hippo hardly ever gets any visitors. So he decides to set off for the outside with his friend Red Panda. To make it in the human world, Hippo will have to become a Hippopotamister: he’ll have to act like a human, get a job, and wear a hat as a disguise. He’s a good employee, whether he’s a construction worker, a hair stylist, or a sous chef. But what he really needs is a job where he can be himself.

  • The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm - When little Mica Mouse is scared by thunder booming outside her cozy home, Papa Mouse reaches for just the right story to comfort her. Hugging her close, he begins to read The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm. In this poetic book-within-a-book, a happy little rhinoceros is overwhelmed by a storm that sweeps away everything he loves. Swallowing the storm just makes him feel worse, so Rhino sets off on a whimsical journey toward healing. Along the way, he meets many friends, including a kind spider, a brave kangaroo, a wise tortoise, and an uplifting whale. With their help, Rhino lets go of the storm inside and learns to see the light in a world turned gray. Mica Mouse is soothed by the story and Papa’s gentle reminder that even though bad things sometimes happen, the world is full of people who care. In his first children’s book, longtime Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton gives us an engaging resource to help children express their feelings and navigate through difficult experiences. The “Take a Deeper Look” page at the end of the book even provides discussion questions to facilitate a healing dialogue.

  • The Rhino in Right Field - A boy who loves baseball must get past his hard-working immigrant parents—and the rhino in the outfield—to become a batboy in this laugh-out-loud middle-grade novel in the tradition of The Sandlot.

Fiona's Friends
Written by John Hutton & illustrated by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Fiona, was born six weeks premature. She was too weak to stand and nurse from her mother, Bibi, so caregivers and vet staff stepped in to provide. With help from #TeamFiona, the premature hippo grew into a healthy hippo and an amazing ambassador for her species. Some of the other species represented in this book, like black rhinos and Malayan tigers, are critically endangered. There is hope for them, but people must care enough to want to save them.

Tug of War
Written & illustrated by Naomi Howarth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Financial Times: ‘gorgeously vibrant’ Tortoise is on the hunt for a friend, but only encounters huge Elephant and Hippo, who are mean about his small size and wrinkly skin. But although Tortoise isn’t big, he is certainly brainy! He sets out to show Elephant and Hippo that biggest doesn’t mean best by challenging them to a tug of war. They sneeringly accept… but little do they know that they have really agreed to fight each other! A funny, heartwarming retelling of this well-known folk tale about brains vs brawn with beautiful, stylish illustrations. A special book that teaches that wit and wisdom are more important than size and physical strength, and friendship is what matters most.

The Truth About Hippos
Written & illustrated by Maxwell Eaton III
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Did you know that there are two types of hippo: the common hippo and the pygmy hippo (which is like a common hippo but smaller)? Did you know that all hippos live in Africa? Did you know that hippos can’t actually swim? Discover these facts and many more in this nonfiction picture-book series that injects humor and bright, vivid animals into popular subjects like bears and hippos.

Little Hippo
Written by Julie Abery & illustrated by Suzie Mason
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Little Hippo grazes on African plains, falling behind his herd, when a flock of oxpecker birds won’t leave him alone. Mama helps him and all becomes right again. A sweet story of youthful adventure and motherly love, told with short rhyming lines and warm illustrations.

Alphaprints: Hungry Hippo and Other Safari Animals
Written & illustrated by Roger Priddy
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Children will love this entertaining Alphaprints board book, with kooky characters to meet, fun rhymes to read, and novelty googly eyes to jiggle. With funny illustrations on every page, these friendly safari critters are sure to make toddlers giggle! The raised embossing on each illustration adds an engaging touch-and-feel element to each page—great for little hands to explore. Alphaprints is a bestselling series of books featuring images made from fingerprints and photographs of everyday things. Other titles in the series: Happy Dog and other furry friends, Quirky Bird and other feathered friends, Silly Squid and other fishy friends, Curious Cat and other fluffy friends, and Rocky Raccoon and other safari friends.

  • Let's Explore... Safari - In Let’s Explore Safari, things are about to get really wild! Join your guides on a jeep safari in Africa, and keep your eyes peeled for some incredible animals. Spot the big five, discover who’s drinking at the waterhole, find out about some true animal superheroes and loads more. An African adventure awaits. Let’s explore!

  • Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm - Get ready for a rainy-day adventure with Duck and Hippo! Duck and Hippo may be completely different, but they are best friends. When playful Duck invites careful Hippo to go for a walk in the rain, they have trouble sharing Duck’s umbrella. But Duck and Hippo won’t let that stop them. Soon they are puddle-jumping and sailing down the river! Until…WHOOOSH! A terrible wind sends the umbrella flying up, up, up into the air, with one friend holding on. What will Duck and Hippo do now? Jonathan London’s charming text and Andrew Joyner’s delightful art bring to life two lovable friends in this fun new series.

  • Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? - A rhino makes the best kind of friend in this 50th Anniversary Edition of a cherished classic from Shel Silverstein. Looking for a new pet? Bored with cats, dogs, goldfish, gerbils, and hamsters? How about a cheap rhinoceros? Shel Silverstein’s loving look at the joys of rhino ownership may convince you to be the lucky person who takes home this very, very unusual pet. This 50th Anniversary Edition features jacket art from the original 1964 edition, plus a commemorative anniversary sticker.

  • Shoes for Me! - Feet got bigger, heel to toe. Time for new shoes. Off we go! Hippo needs new shoes. Maybe she’ll choose shoes with glitter and jewels or shoes that roll on wheels or shoes with bows. There are so many choices! Will Hippo find the perfect pair? Endearing graphite-and-ink illustrations by Mike Laughead show that choosing a new pair of shoes has never been more fun!

Keeping Up with Cheetah
Written by Lindsay Camp & illustrated by Jill Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

Cheetah appreciates his friendship with Hippopotamus more when he learns there are more important qualities in a friend than being able to run fast.

Solomon and Mortimer
Written & illustrated by Catherine Rayner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Solomon Crocodile is back in a brand new adventure! And this time, he’s not on his own…Solomon Crocodile and his friend Mortimer are bored. They want to find some fun, but what can they do? Tree-climbing is tricky, chasing lizards doesn’t end well and flying turns out to be a lot harder than it looks. But then they spot the biggest hippo in the river. Just imagine the splash he’d make if two naughty crocodiles were to surprise him! But Solomon and Mortimer are about to get a whole lot more than they bargained for… Sure to delight fans of the original Solomon Crocodile, which has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide, this warm, funny and charming tale from the Kate Greenaway Medal winning Catherine Rayner is one that young children will ask for again and again.

Books for Me!
Written by Sue Fliess & illustrated by Mike Laughead
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Books are awesome! Reading’s free…Let’s go to the library!

Hippo is looking for a new book. There are so many to choose from. There are books about pirates, bears, superheroes, and more! And as Hippo looks around the library, she imagines the stories inside each book. How can Hippo choose just one? Maybe she doesn’t have to…Sue Fliess’s sing-song text combines with Mike Laughead’s adorable illustrations for a fun celebration of finding just the right books.

A Perfect Mess
Written & illustrated by Steve Breen
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Readers who love Olivia and Little Elliot, Big City will fall head over heels for this sweet little rhino who always makes a big mess

Henry McHenry is one messy rhino, but he tries his best to stay clean for a very important day. He jumps over a mud puddle (and splashes his friend), passes on a gooey jelly donut (just in time for a glob to land on his neighbor), and even manages to shake the ink from his leaky pen (all over his classmates). And while Henry is still neat and tidy at the end of the day, his classmates are anything but . . .

This irresistible school story from Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Steve Breen is all about finding happiness in imperfections and being yourself . . . especially on class picture day!

Big Little Hippo
Written & illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Little Hippo is the youngest in his family . . . and the smallest. Smaller than his parents, his siblings, and all his friends, too. And even though his mom promises he’ll grow, he wants to be big RIGHT NOW! But when he helps a creature even tinier than himself, Little Hippo learns that it’s the size of his heart that counts most of all.

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