Best Children's Books About The zoo

The Top 29 Books About The Zoo

Updated Mar. 26, 2019

The Zoo is a fascinating place! To see the real life, exotic animals that you only read about in books is a one of a kind experience. Because these animals are so intriguing, reading about them before or after your trip to the zoo will be one fun adventure.

My Heart Is Like a Zoo book
#1
My Heart Is Like a Zoo
Written and illustrated by Michael Hall
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

LOVE this book! First off, it includes animals that are less commonly used in books. Second, all of the illustrations use hearts in creating their shapes! Third, the similes on each page are tender and sweet!

Thoughts from The Goodfather

While it's the creativity of the illustrations of zoo animals that really makes this a great addition to a young reader's library, the text is also smart and wraps up very well with a clever ending that ties the whole book together.

"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."

Dear Zoo book
#2
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.

Good Night, Gorilla book
#3
Good Night, Gorilla
Written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-2
Thoughts from Grammy

With spare text and rich illustrations, Peggy Rathman walks us through the zookeeper's bidding the animals at the zoo goodnight. There are many funny details to seek and find on each page. The clever ending contains a bit of irony; So many toddlers take a favorite stuffy to bed, why not a gorilla?

Thoughts from Mr. Stacatto

What can you say about such a beloved classic? It's humorous and doesn't spell every little thing out, but provides just enough clues that my 2.5-year-old was able to piece together what was happening. As we've read it several times over, he enjoys pointing out how the gorilla is going to help the other animals from their cages.

A must-have board book for all babies. Good night, Gorilla. Good night, Elephant. It’s bedtime at the zoo, and all the animals are going to sleep. Or are they? Who’s that short, furry guy with the key in his hand and the mischievous grin? Good night, Giraffe. Good night, Hyena. Sneak along behind the zookeeper’s back, and see who gets the last laugh in this riotous good-night romp.

1, 2, 3 to the Zoo book
#4
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo
Written and illustrated by Eric Carle
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

Each car on the train has one more zoo animal than the one before, from the first car with an elephant to the last with ten birds.

The Way to the Zoo book
#5
The Way to the Zoo
Written and illustrated by John Burningham
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Discovering a magical door in her bedroom that leads her to the zoo, a little girl is tempted to bring just one little bear back to her room, and then a menagerie of smaller animals, and then an irresistible medley of big animals, until pandemonium ensues.

Checkers and Dot at the Zoo book
#6
Checkers and Dot at the Zoo
Written by J. Torres and illustrated by J. Lum
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Checkers and Dot visit the zoo, where they meet many different animals with interesting patterns.

Zoo Day book
#7
Zoo Day
Written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Beloved author Anne Rockwell celebrates animals of all kinds with a gorgeous new picture book about a child’s first visit to the zoo! A young boy and his family visit the zoo for the very first time. From gorillas to lions, polar bears to parrots, Anne Rockwell and her daughter, artist Lizzy Rockwell, celebrate a day he will never forget. With simple, lyrical text and bright illustrations that jump off the page, Zoo Day brings the joys of visiting the zoo vividly to life.

If I Ran the Zoo book
#8
If I Ran the Zoo
Written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

If Gerald McGrew ran the zoo, he'd let all the animals go and fill it with more unusual beasts--a ten-footed lion, an Elephant-Cat, a Mulligatawny, a Tufted Mazurka, and others.

Animal Patterns book
#9
Animal Patterns
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

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

1, 2 at the Zoo book
#10
1, 2 at the Zoo
Written and illustrated by Sue DiCicco
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

This is a fun book. My boys really love reading it. It is so simple and repeats the counting of 1 to 2 as it shows different animals and things at the zoo.

Teaches how to count to two using zoo animals, including penguins, giraffes, and elephants. On board pages.

Color Zoo Board Book book
#11
Color Zoo Board Book
Written and illustrated by Lois Ehlert
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-2

Nine animals, nine shapes, and sixteen shades of color'everyone can have fun discovering them all by turning Color Zoo's full-color pages and watching a lion turn into a goat, an ox into a monkey, a tiger into a mouse. . . . 1990 Caldecott Honor Book Notable Children's Books of 1989 (ALA) 1990 Fanfare Honor List (H)

Ida, Always book
#12
Ida, Always
Written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A polar bear grieves over the loss of his companion, based on the real-life Gus and Ida of New York's Central Park Zoo.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee book
#13
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

THE BEST SICK DAY EVER and the animals in the zoo feature in this striking picture book debut. Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee's case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it's time they returned the favor. A Sick Day for Amos McGee is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year and the winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal. This title has Common Core connections.

Zoo Babies book
#14
Zoo Babies
Written and illustrated by Andrews McMeel Publishing
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Learning about the zoo has never been more fun for parents and kids with this board book, which shows baby lions, elephants, and giraffes in action. Get ready to visit the best part of every zoo with Zoo Babies, a book introducing early readers to the pint-sized versions of their favorite exotic animals. This itty-bitty zoo-on-the-go takes adorable baby animals, stirs in some fun illustrations, and adds easy descriptive sentences---a recipe for a guaranteed good time. Baby elephants spraying water, lion cubs at play, and tiny giraffes learning to stand will easily capture the hearts of kids and parents alike in Zoo Babies.

Footloose book
#15
Footloose
Written by Kenny Loggins and illustrated by Tim Bowers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-6

In this version of the pop rock song "Footloose," zookeeper Jack joins the zoo animals in an all-night dance party.

Put Me in the Zoo book
#16
Put Me in the Zoo
Written and illustrated by Robert Lopshire
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Spot believes he deserves to be in the zoo with the other amazing animals. In this Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss, Spot shows two young friends all the exciting things he can do with his spots. From changing their color and juggling them to moving them onto everything around him, you won’t believe what Spot can do. Beginning readers will be delighted by Robert Lopshire’s lively tale that proves there is a special spot for everyone. Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

The One and Only Ivan book
#17
The One and Only Ivan
Written by Katherine Applegate and illustrated by Patricia Castelao
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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!

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True! book
#18
Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True!
Written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Margaret Spengler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

There's an animal strike at the zoo! oh no, oh my! What's a zookeeper to do when the lions and tigers and bears refuse to roar and prowl and growl? And when little Sue, who has been waiting all year for this trip to the zoo, enters the gate, will the animals decide to give their strike a break? Karma Wilson's fun, playful text paired with Margaret Spengler's bright and lively pastels create an unforgettable, irresistible zoo of chaos and fun!

Old Macdonald Had A... Zoo? book
#19
Old Macdonald Had A... Zoo?
Written and illustrated by Iza Trapani
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

An extended retelling of the classic children’s song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” by beloved author/illustrator Iza Trapani featuring zoo animals running amok on the farmstead. Iza Trapani is known for her clever twists on classic nursery rhymes. This time she outdoes herself with a vist to longtime favorite Old MacDonald. His busy little farm–with a moo, moo here and a moo, moo there is out of controwhen zoo animals like kangaroos, elephants, and hippos join the menagerie. What’s a farmer to do? Iza Trapani’s hilarious, jam-packed illustrations are full of details animal-loving readers will point at with glee. And the sweet ending will keep them giggling until the next reading.

Peek-a-boo at the Zoo book
#20
Peek-a-boo at the Zoo
Written and illustrated by Kimberly Dixon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-6

Peek-a-boo is Baby’s favorite game, and what better place to play than at the zoo? From silly monkeys to trumpeting elephants, Daddy and Baby meet all kinds of animals. With beautiful, full-color illustrations by Claudia Tenorio-Pearl, this book by second-time author Kimberly Dixon is a fun way for children to learn about different types of animals and the sounds they make.

Jungle Animals book
#21
Jungle Animals
Written and illustrated by Max and Sid
board book
Recommend Ages: 1-3

The Tiny Touch board books series teaches concepts to little ones in a stimulating and interactive manner! Little ones will love learning about jungle animals in this interactive board book! Embossed pages create a tactile experience for tiny hands.

A Thief at the National Zoo book
#22
A Thief at the National Zoo
Written by Ron Roy and illustrated by Timothy Bush
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

KC and Marshall investigate the theft of a precious emerald, brought by representatives of the Chinese government to bring luck to two baby tigers born at the National Zoo.

1-2-3 ZooBorns! book
#23
1-2-3 ZooBorns!
Written by Andrew Bleiman and illustrated by Chris Eastland, Andrew Bleiman
picture book
Recommend Ages: 0-8

Count and cuddle with a whole new herd of zoo babies in this number-filled picture book from the creators of ZooBorns.com. Attention, animal lovers! It’s time to count along with a whole new crew of adorable zoo babies. Featuring irresistible animal photos, bouncy text, and a fact-filled glossary, this just might be the cutest counting book ever to hit the shelves!

The Giggly Giraffe book
#24
The Giggly Giraffe
Written by Amelia Cobb and illustrated by Sophy Williams
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Zoe loves living at her uncle's rescue zoo because there's always something exciting going on. And Zoe also has an amazing secret: she can talk to the animals. A giraffe has been born. Jamie baby giraffe's wobbly walk on his long legs makes everyone laugh, and he just loves to play tricks! But his tricks can cause trouble, and with the Best Zoo Competition coming up, can Zoe help Jamie behave and have fun?

Boo at the Zoo book
#25
Boo at the Zoo
Written by Jeffrey Burton and illustrated by Emma Trithart
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

Get ready for a costume party at the zoo with this Halloween lift-the-flap adventure featuring your favorite animals all dressed up to trick-or-treat! Welcome to BOO AT THE ZOO! Where the animals wear Halloween costumes, too! It’s Halloween at the zoo, and the animals don’t know what to wear! Lift the flaps to discover costume tricks and treats that lead to a big BOO AT THE ZOO! From Giraffenstein to Flaminghosts to Vamtigers and more, little ones will love lifting the sturdy flaps to reveal the silly Halloween costumes hidden underneath.

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