The Top 28 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 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.

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!

"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.

Checkers and Dot at the Zoo book
#5
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.

If I Ran the Zoo book
#6
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.

The Way to the Zoo book
#7
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.

Zoo Day book
#8
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.

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!

Color Zoo Board Book book
#10
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)

1, 2 at the Zoo book
#11
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.

Jungle Animals book
#12
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.

Ida, Always book
#13
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
#14
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
#15
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.

Old Macdonald Had A... Zoo? book
#16
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.

The Wolf Keepers book
#17
The Wolf Keepers
Written and illustrated by Elise Broach
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

A thrilling middle-grade historical mystery set in Yosemite National Park from the New York Times-bestselling author of Masterpiece Twelve-year-old Lizzie Durango and her dad have always had a zoo to call their home. Lizzie spends her days watching the animals and taking note of their various behaviors. Though the zoo makes for a unique home, it's a hard place for Lizzie to make lasting friends. But all this changes one afternoon when she finds Tyler Briggs, a runaway who has secretly made the zoo his makeshift home. The two become friends and, just as quickly, stumble into a covert investigation involving the zoo wolves who are suddenly dying. Little do they know, this mystery will draw them into a high-stakes historical adventure involving the legend of John Muir as they try to navigate safely while lost in Yosemite National Park. A Christy Ottaviano Book Praise for The Wolf Keepers: A Junior Library Guild Selection A Green Earth Book Award Nominee "Broach’s intrepid protagonists engage in sleuthing expeditions?moments Ratteree captures in evocative pencil illustrations of human interactions with the natural world. . . A gratifying, thought-provoking tale." —Publishers Weekly, starred review "Despite the fast pace of [this] adventure?which climaxes in a harrowing 48 hours alone together at Yosemite?the text includes plenty of philosophical questions about animal rights and relationships of all kinds. Tyler's wry comments about his race add further dimensions to a thoughtful, well-told tale, as do the pencil drawings. John Muir's spirit hums along under a well-developed plot with likable characters." —Kirkus Reviews "Part friendship story, part mystery, and part survival adventure, this engaging book makes the most of its two unusual settings. Fans of Broach’s Superstition Mountain trilogy will want to try her latest, with its western locale and intriguing jacket illustration." —Booklist "One of Broach’s strengths . . . is creating child characters who are intelligent, resourceful, and willing to take action. . . . The wry humor of Lizzie’s keen observations of the human animals at the zoo and the page-turning adventure give this novel solid middle-grade appeal." —The Horn Book "'[Broach] reveals the characters deftly. . .The historical threads are authentic and clarified in an author’s note that provides young readers and writers with a sense of the research that goes into a well-crafted story with real figures and historical events. Give it to readers who enjoy a good mystery or love to read about animals. They will wolf down all three hundred-plus pages." —VOYA

Construction Zoo book
#18
Construction Zoo
Written by Jennifer Thorne and illustrated by Susie Hammer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

It’s a quiet morning at the zoo, until some strange new creatures roll in—trucks and bulldozers and wrecking balls! They’re tumbling, digging, and roaring alongside the animals. Giraffe, rhino, the monkeys, and the tigers watch the new creatures and, soon, are playing with their new friends. It's party time at the Construction Zoo! But…what happens when the construction is over? Will the party be over, too? The clever rhyming text and simple, bold art will appeal to both kids and their parents.

The Giggly Giraffe book
#19
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?

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.

The Secret Zoo book
#21
The Secret Zoo
Written by Bryan Chick
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Something strange is happening at the Clarksville City Zoo. Late at night, monkeys are scaling the walls and searching the neighborhood— but what are they looking for? Noah, his sister Megan, and their best friends, Richie and Ella, live next door to the zoo. Megan is the first to notice the puzzling behavior of some of the animals. One day Megan disappears, and her brother and their friends realize it's up to them to find her. Their only choice is to follow a series of clues and sneak into the zoo. But once inside, will they discover there's much more to the Clarksville City Zoo than they could ever have guessed?

Boo at the Zoo book
#22
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.

The View At The Zoo book
#23
The View At The Zoo
Written and illustrated by Kathleen Long Bostrom
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A new format for this humorous twist on a visit to the zoo, just who has the more interesting view? As morning dawns, the zookeeper makes his rounds, exhorting the animals to wake up, comb their hair, and stand up straight. Soon their human visitors arrive, and the observations begin to flow: My, what silly things they do, all these creatures at the zoo. Walking on all kinds of feet, dancing to an inner beat. Babies riding on their backs, on their bellies, snug in sacks. Hear the silly sounds they speak, as they howl and squawk and shriek! But just who is talking about whom? With a clever twist of text and bright and festive illustrations, this picture book will have children begging for a trip to the zoo. Ages 4-8.

Put Me in the Zoo book
#24
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.

1-2-3 ZooBorns! book
#25
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!

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected]!