14 Adorable Zoo Books for Kids

14 Zoo books for kids

Before becoming a mom, I worked at the Philadelphia Zoo for almost a decade. This is why my home library has been stocked with zoo books for kids since the first day I brought my babies home from the hospital.

I’ve read everything from middle grade novels to board books to picture books about the zoo, over the past 14 years. So I created the list below to fulfill my own desire to walk down memory lane, while also providing the best recommendations for your home library.

Please let me know if you’ve read any of the stories on the list or if your favorite zoo animal books are missing! I’m always looking to relive those magical zoo moments!

*Zoo kids books post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through links result in a small commission to us at no cost to you. Some books have been gifted. All opinions are our own.

Zoo Animal Books for Babies

Goodnight Gorilla

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

This book is hilarious and a favorite in our house to this day.  The sweet animals and the completely clueless zookeeper are laugh-out-loud funny.  One of my oldest son’s first words was “armadillo” which says something about how amusing this book is.

Why We Love This Book: This wordless picture book is perfect for making up new stories. It’s a creative excercise in storytelling that will delight over and over.
Appropriate for ages 1-3
Find this book in
zoo books, bedtime stories for kids, best books for 1-year-olds, wordless picture books

Dear Zoo and other books for a 1-year-old

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

The descriptions of the animals in this zoo book are so funny. The flaps are fun for little ones and as kids get older, they realize how silly it is to write to the zoo for a pet.

Why We Love This Book: This book was an absolute favorite in our house. It’s lift the flap pages make it a fun interactive book for babies and toddlers.
Appropriate for ages 1-3
Find this book in
Zoo books, best books for a 1-year-old, first books for newborns

and tango makes three

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

An amazing story about two male penguins adopting a penguin. Adorable text and photos will expose your child to this unique and true story while also teaching a lesson that there are many different kinds of families.

Why We Love This Book: This book is a cuddly way to teach a child that love is love.
Appropriate for ages 1-5
Find this book in
Zoo Books, Banned Books, Father’s Day Picture Books, Books for a 2-year-olds, Best Books for Newborns

Preschool Books about the Zoo

fiona the hippo

Fiona The Hippo by Richard Cowdrey

This picture book fictionalizes the true story of Fiona, the premature baby hippo born at the Cincinatti Zoo. Her struggles and ability to grow rocketed her to fame as the whole world cheered her on.

Why We Love This Book: It’s never too early for picture books based on true stories! This one teaches resilience to kids.
Appropriate for ages 1-4
Find this book in
Zoo Animal Books


Ellie by Mike Wu

Ellie the elephant is trying to stop the Zoo from closing with all of her zoo friends. All the other animals chip in to clean up the zoo, but as a baby, she isn’t quite sure how to help.

Then she finds a paintbrush and created art on the wall of the zoo. Soon people are flocking to the Zoo to be painted by Ellie!

Why We Love This Book: Ellie’s ability to find her own creative way to help out is a great lesson for kids. We love books that inspire creativity and problem solving for little ones.
Appropriate for ages 2-6
Find this book in
zoo books

Finding Winnie and more books for a 6-year-old

Finding Winnie by Lindsey Mattick

This is the amazing and true story of the most beloved of all bears- Winnie the Pooh.  In 1914, a military veterinarian name Harry Colebourn rescued a baby bear and named him Winnie after his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada.

That bear found his way to the London zoo where he became friends with a little boy named Christopher Robin.  The best part? This is a true story told by Harry Colebourn’s great-granddaughter.

Why We Love This Book: The book has an album at the back filled with pictures.  This is an adorable book that I know I will be giving to Winnie the Pooh lovers of all ages.
Appropriate for ages 3-7
Find this book in
Preschool books about the zoo, books for 6-year-olds, Winnie-the-Pooh Nursery

Babys first bank heist

Baby’s First Bank Heist by Jim Whalley 

This book is a completely hilarious tale about a baby who loves animals and will go to any lengths to ensure that he has a pet (or two or ten) of his own – even robbing a bank!!! 

Why We Love This Book: It is such a funny and silly story, you will definitely enjoy reading it as much as your little one and the illustrations are so fun to peer over!
Appropriate for ages 3-7
Find this book in
Preschool books about the Zoo, baby boy books

A sick Day for Amos Mcgee

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

Amos McGee works at the city zoo where he takes care of all his favorite animals. He plays chess with the elephant, races the tortoise, and helps the rhino blow his nose among other things.

One day, Amos gets a cold that keeps him home sick from work, so his animals friends hop on the bus to take care of him!

Why We Love This Book: It’s got a lovely messasge about being their for your friends and what child wouldn’t love the idea of having zoo animals visit their home!
Appropriate for ages 2-5
Find this book in
Zoo Books

Picture Books about the Zoo

Wild About Books

Wild About Books by Judy Sierra

When the Library on Wheels accidentally ends up in the zoo, the animals are quick to take to begin learning to read! Soon Molly, the sweet librarian, is fulfilling book requests left and right. We love seeing the different genres read by each animal.

Why We Love This Book: Rhyming prose and pretty pictures make this story a must-read!
Appropriate for ages 2-7
Find this book in
Zoo books

vampenguin and other halloween books for kids

Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins

The Dracula family goes on a visit to the zoo in this charming tale. When baby vampire decides to hang out with the penguins and put a penguin in his stroller instead.

As the rest of the family explores the zoo, he experiences life as a penguin!

Why We Love This Book: This book is perfect for Halloween but can be kept out all year.
Appropriate for ages 4-8
Find this book in
Halloween Picture Books, Zoo books


Fraidy Zoo by Thyra Heder

This is one of the cutest alphabet books in my collection. A little girl is afraid of something at the zoo, but can’t remember what. So her family dresses up as different animals in A-to-Z order to help her overcome her fear.

Why We Love This Book: With vivid images depicting homemade animals of every letter, there is so much to see in this fun tale.
Appropriate for ages 4-8
Find this book in
Zoo Books, Alphabet Books, Books for 4-year-olds

Middle Grade Zoo Kids Books

belly up and other mystery books for tweens

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

After a hippo dies at FunJungle Zoo, it’s up to Teddy and his friend Summer to prove that the Hippo was murdered.

But investigating Hippo’s homicide is a dangerous affair. This funny story kept this former zoo employee quite entertained.

Why We Love This Book: A funny, clever story that’s the first in the FunJungle series by Stuart Gibbs.
Appropriate for ages 9-12
Find this book in
books for 10-year-olds, Zoo books, best middle grade books, best mystery books for tweens

Winnies Great War

Winnie’s Great War by Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhunt

This book is based on the real story of the world’s most famous bear, Winnie the Pooh. From his beginnings in the forests of Canada to the London Zoo where he met the real Christopher Robin, this book mixes one part imagination and one part history to create Winnie’s first big adventure.

Why We Love This Book: It’s the perfect chapter book for older readers, particularly those who love the Caldecott medal winner, Finding Winnie.
Appropriate for ages 8-12
Find this book in
Zoo animal books, books for 9-year-olds, books for 10-year-olds

one and only ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Based on the true story of Ivan, a gorilla trapped in a shopping mall, this feel-good story is one of the best family audiobooks for any road trip.

Stella, a young girl gets Ivan to start painting again and she realizes how lonely he is. Bob, a stray dog, works to help Ivan and Ruby, a baby elephant, garner the attention they need to be sent to a better home.

Why We Love This Book: This book will touch your heart. Even though it is partially a sad book, the ending will make it worthwhile. This is one of the best animal fiction books for middle grade and adults.
Appropriate for ages 8-10
Find this book in
Books for 9-year-olds, Zoo Books, Family Audiobooks, Animal Novels / Audiobooks for Kids

Which of these zoo books for kids do you love?

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