The 33 Best Animal Books for Kids of All Ages

The Best Animal Books for Kids of All Ages

There are so many wonderful animal books for kids that I had difficulty narrowing down my choices. Kirsten and I have read every one of these picture books with our kids and our kids have read every one of these chapter books- sometimes more than once.

You can be assured that if there is an animal book on this list, it has been pre-approved. The board books are adorable. The picture books are so much fun and the chapter books are engaging. There is something for everyone on this list.

The Beyond the Bookends summer reading challenge includes a prompt to read an animal novel. We included a few chapter books in this list that would fit that prompt very nicely. Some of the books in this list make great reading for adults as well. Some of my favorite books of all time are “middle grade”.

If there are books you think I missed, please let me know. Otherwise, happy reading!

*Animal Children’s 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.

Best Animal Books

Best Children’s Books About Animals

Should I share my Ice cream

Should I Share My Ice Cream (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie are adorable. In this pick from preschool books about ice cream, Gerald is so excited to have his ice cream but cannot decide if he should share it with Piggie.

Why I Love It: Each of the Elephant and Piggie books is not only funny, but teaches sweet and important lessons about friendship and kindness.
Appropriate for Ages: 3-6
Find This Book In: Animal Books for Kids / Ice Cream Books for Kids

Mother Bruce and more books for a 4-year-old

Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins

Mother Bruce is the first in a fantastic series about a grumpy bear who becomes the adoptive mom of 4 young geese. He tries to get rid of them but soon realizes they are part of his family.

The rest of the series continues the story of Bruce, his geese children, and the inhabitants of the forest. Just wait until your children read about the meddlesome mice in future books!

Why I Love It: Bruce is so grumpy, I cannot help but laugh at him. No matter how grumpy he gets, he is also a great parent to the geese.
Appropriate for Ages: 2-5
Find This Book In: Animal Books for Kids / Educational Books for a 3-Year-Old

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 I Love This Book: This book will touch your heart. Even though there are sad parts in this 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

Board Books: Animal Books for Kids ages 1-4

giraffes cant dance

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Gerald is a giraffe who wants to dance but things that is can’t. Thanks to a friend who encourages him, Gerald finds a way to embrace his differences.

Why I Love It: I absolutely love this book about following your heart and being true to yourself. The bonus of rhyming makes this book that much more special. This is one of the children’s books about being different that I was happy to read over and over.
Appropriate For Ages: 2-4
Find This Book In: Animal Books / Books for a 4-Year-Old / Rhyming Books

brown bear brown bear

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a classic for a reason. It uses Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s signature style to teach about colors and animals.  The repetitive pattern is addictive.  There are so many activities that can be done with this great book for toddlers. But the colors and pictures are perfect for even the littlest reader.

Why We Love This Book: It’s a great introduction to colors and animals.
Appropriate for ages 0-4
Find this book in Color Books / Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / Learning Books for 1-year-olds / 2-year-old Books / Classic Kids Books

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 exercise 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 / Animal Children’s Books

But Not the Hippo

But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton

Animals are all playing together- cavorting in a bog, drinking juice etc. and the hippo is not joining them.

Why I Love This Book: I loved reading with my kids. It is utterly ridiculous and completely wonderful. One of my oldest son’s first words was “armadillo!” It really is a perfect classic children’s book.
Appropriate for Ages: 1-4
Find This Book In: Animal books for kids / Books for a 2-Year-Old

Time for Bed and more books for 2-year-olds

Time for Bed by Mem Fox

Rhyming, animals, and the sweet words in this book make it the perfect companion before bed. I loved setting up a routine that let my kids know bedtime was coming.

We would bathe, put on lotion, and snuggle up to read a story. I made sure that my voice was quiet and soothing. Even if you have a new baby, incorporating a book into your nightly routine is a wonderful way to end the day.

Why I Love This Book: Rhyming for language development and lovely illustrations of animals make this a perfect going-to-bed book to include in the first books for babies.

Appropriate for ages 0-3
Find this book in Bedtime Books / Classic Books for Kids / First Year Reading Tips / Newborn Books / Best Board Books / 1-year-old Books / Animal Books for Kids

Llama Llama Red Pajama and more llama llama books in the Anna Dewdney collection.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

As the original book in the Lama Llama series, Llama Llama Red Pajama has a special place in our hearts. It’s the story that introduced us to our pal and his amazing Mama Llama.

In this one, Llama Llama is having trouble falling asleep – something every child can relate to, but his behavior has Mama maintaining a firm but loving routine to help Llama.

Why I Like This Book: Every child has trouble with bedtime at some point. This sweet book helps kids realize they are not alone.
Appropriate for Ages 1-3
Find This Book In: Bedtime Books for Kids / Best Animal Books for Kids

The best Animal Children's Books for Kids of all ages

Picture Books: Animal Books for Kids ages 4-7

the circus ship by chris van dusen

The Circus Ship by Chris van Dusen

As a circus ship is headed toward Maine, it encounters a storm and begins to sink. The animals who are left to fend for themselves make it to safety and become part of the town.

When the horrible owner of the circus comes looking for the animals, he encounters a surprise.

Why I Love This Book: This book about a sunken circus ship is not only funny, but it is heartwarming as well. Chris Van Dusen is a master of rhyme. The rhyming scheme in this book is fantastic which only adds to the delight of this animal book
Appropriate for ages: 4+
Find This Book In: Animal Book for Kids / 31 Great Rhyming Books

the pigeon finds a hot dog

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems

Mo Willems is a must-know author if you have preschoolers. He writes the best books for 4-year-olds! His pigeon series is particularly funny. In this story, the pigeon finds a hot dog but a clever bird outwits him into sharing!
Why I Love This Book: Pigeon is hilarious and his antics are so ridiculous that even younger readers will recognize his silliness. This is the perfect book to keep kids interactive when reading the book. It is also a great tool to teach appropriate social behavior because Pigeon is so silly.
Appropriate for Ages: 3+
Find This Book In: Books for 5-year-olds/ Kids Food Books


Animalia by Graeme Base

In 10 years, I don’t think I have ever found everything on ANY page in this book. The illustrations are completely amazing, creative, and mesmerizing as well. This is the alphabet book that I can read with all my kids (including my 16-year-old).

Why I Love This Book: This is one of the best alliteration books I have ever read and the fact that it is also a mystery makes it a wonderful pick for the whole family.
Appriporate For Ages: 4+
Find this Book In: Alliteration Books / Alphabet Books / Animals Books /

if you give a mouse a cookie

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk. And so the story continues in a big circle until the mouse is thirsty again. The adorable pictures and silly consequences will help your little one understand sequencing.

Why I Love This Book: I use this book in speech therapy all the time to work on sequencing and cause and effect. This is a great book to give you question prompts for your little one.
Appropriate for Ages: 2-5
Find this book in Books for a 3-Year-Old to Create a Love of Reading/ Best Books 2-Year-Old / Kids Books About Food / Animal Books


The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

This book is another classic in our house. Mouse proves that a little bit of brain is all you need when faced with a whole lot of muscle. We adore this rhyming wonder.
Why I Love This Book: Not only is this book written in rhyme, but it is funny as well. It also has a very strong message about brains vs. brawn as well as bullying.
Appropriate for Ages: 3-7
Find This Book In: 31 Great Rhyming Books For Your Emerging Reader / Best Books for a 4-Year-Old to Develop Pre-Reading Skills / Animal Children’s Books / Best Books for a 5-Year-Old Getting Ready to Read

The Wonky Donkey

The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith

This book starts with what seems like a simple story. I was walking down the road and I saw a donkey who only had three legs… This story progresses into a hysterical tail of a donkey that will leave you in tears from laughing so hard.

Why I Love This Book: This book is hilarious! But more than that, this book is a great book to read with your child to practice their auditory memory skills. The description of the donkey repeats in its entirety with each new item added to give your child a chance to remember and repeat.
Appropriate for Ages: 2-8
Find this book In: Books About Animals for Kids

More Animal Children’s Books

Bunnys Book Club

Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro

Bunny has loved books since the first time he stumbled on a librarian reading outside to children. But when cold weather set-in, he couldn’t hear the stories anymore. So he set out with a plan.

He snuck into the library in the middle of the night to “borrow” some books for his home. Soon his woodland friends want to get in on the reading fun, but when they get caught one late night at the library, things don’t go quite as they planned.

Why I Love This Book: Aside from the cuteness of woodland critters reading books, we love that the ending shows that the library is a welcome home to book lovers of all creatures!
Appropriate for Ages: 2-6
Find This Book In Rabbit Books / Kids Books About Books

Alfie The Turtle That Disappeared

Alfie (The Turtle That Disappeared) by Thyra Heder

Nia loves her pet turtle even if he is not cuddly and cannot do tricks. The night before her 7th birthday, the turtle disappears. This is when the book switches perspectives to the turtles. 

Why I Love This Book: There are so many things that are great about this adorable book. Alfie is trying to find a birthday present and accidentally hybernates for the winter
Appropriate for Ages: 3-7
Find This Book In: Animal Children’s Books

a boy a mouse and a spider

A Boy, A Mouse, and A Spider- The Story of E.B. White by Barbara Herkert

The adorable picture book tells the story of beloved children’s author E.B. White. As a young boy, Elwyn was bedridden and he befriended a mouse. He began writing in a journal and from that journal came some of the most beloved classic children’s books of all time.

Why I Love This Book: This is a wonderful nonfiction pick.
Appropriate for Ages 5-9
Find This Book In: Animal Books for Kids

The wolf the duck and the mouse

The Wolf The Duck and the Mouse by Mac Barnett

This is a funny book that at its heart is about making a bad situation better.  A duck and a mouse find themselves inside a wolf’s belly and decide they like their life there.  There is good food, and it’s relaxing so when they find themselves back in the real world, they decide to find a way back. 

Why I Like This Book: This is a strange and funny book that is so original
Appropriate for Ages: 3-7
Find This Book In: The Best Animal Books for Kids

The Princess and the Crocodile

The Princess and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca

When a Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces, this book is the result.  Can this overscheduled princess get a day off?  The princess makes her misbehaving pet crocodile take her place so she can relax.  Will this silly plan work?
Why I Love This Book: The illustrations are fantastic as well as the story. It is funny because it is so ridiculous and everyone loves a good laugh.
Appropriate for Ages: 3-7
Find This Book In: Best Animal Children’s Books

Classic Animal Books

cat in the hat

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

This classic book for kids marks the first appearance of one of the most beloved characters in literature. The Cat in the Hat is one of the most well-known classic children’s books because of the cat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the funny rhyming phrases within the book.

Why I Like This Book: This classic book is so silly, it is fun to read. There are also a lot of beginning words that can be sounded out which makes it a great pick if you are looking for something for reading readiness
Appropriate for Ages: 1-4
Find This Book In: Classic Books for Kids/ Animal Books

Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh

The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne

Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, and Christopher Robin have lived in the hearts of children for generations. This edition features the complete works of A. A. Milne’s stories and is essential for any home library.

Why We Love This Book: This is such a heartwarming classic book for kids. We dare you to read it without crying.
Appropriate for ages 
Find this book in
Rabbit Books / Best Audiobooks for Kids / Best Animal Books for Kids

peter rabbit

The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter’s Tales of Peter Rabbit are some of the most beloved stories in children’s literature. Her fantastic illustrations and Peter’s engrossing escapades have stood the test of time.

I was so pleased when I learned there would be a movie adaptation of the series. This book should be on every kid’s bookshelf! And don’t forget to watch the Netflix book adaptation!

Why I Like This Book: This is a classic that withstands the test of time. There is nothing cuter than talking animals and the illustrations are beautiful and so realistic.
Appropriate for ages: 3-7
Find This Book In: Books about Rabbits / Best Animal Books

because of winn

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn-Dixie is a well-written, heartwarming book about the story of a girl named Opal who finds friendship with a smelly, dirty stray dog causing chaos in a supermarket. The dog soon helps Opal make friends and becomes her best friend in the process.

Why I Love This Book: I love this pick from animal fiction books because it is a wonderful story about coming of age and finding yourself. It is a classic book for middle-grade through adult.
Appropriate for Ages: 7-10
Find This Book In: Classic Books for Kids / Animal Books

Chapter Books About Animals for Ages 5+

baby monkey

Baby Monkey Private Eye by Brian Selznick

This book is the perfect mystery book for a VERY beginning reader who is looking for a chapter book that looks like it’s made for older kids. Baby Monkey is a detective who is ready to solve mysteries.

Why I Love This Book: With Selznick’s signature illustrations, easy language, and repetitive sentences, this book is hysterical and a great way to learn to read. Baby monkey putting his pants on gets me every time!
Appropriate for Ages: 3-7
Find This Book In: Books for a 6-Year-Old / Mystery Books for Kids / Animal Books for Kids

Charlottes Web

Author: E.B. White

Illustrator: Garth Williams

Year: 1952

Genre: Children’s Classic

Age: 5-8

More info: Newbery Winner

This is such a wonderful story of unconditional love and friendship.  When Fern saves the life of Wilbur, the runt of the pig litter, she promises to take care of him. As Wilbur grows, he befriends Charlotte, a spider, who ultimately saves his life a second time.

This is such a heartwarming classic book for kids. We dare you to read it without crying.

Find this book in: Best Classic Books for Kids / Read Aloud Children’s Books / The Best Family Audiobooks / Animal Books for Kids

Stuart little

Stuart Little by E.B. White

Adventure- Check. Animals- Check. Animals who can talk and wear clothes- Check check. This is a tale that everyone loves about a boy who also happens to be a mouse.  All my kids love this great story.

Why We Like This Book: Stuart has amazing adventures and displays great bravery in this classic book.
Appropriate for Ages: 5-8
Find This Book in Read Aloud Children’s Books / Best Classic Books for Kids Animal Book for Kids

The Best Animal Books for Children ages 10-12

Chapter Books for Ages 10+

A Wolf Called Wander and other books for a 10-year-old

A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry

Rosanne does a marvelous job of telling the true story of a wolf trying to survive when separated from his family. Without the protection of his pack, Swift must learn how to thrive on his own.

Swift’s journey takes him across 1,000 miles of forests, highways, and rivers with danger facing him at every turn.

Why We Love This Book: My family was riveted by this story when we listened on a recent family road trip. Even though this is a middle-grade book, we love this for adults as well.
Appropriate for ages 8-11
Find this book in
Animal Novels / Middle-Grade Fiction / Audiobooks for Kids / Animals Books for Kids

warrior cats

Warrior Cats Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

This series is about a pet cat named Rusty who lives with his human and longs to be beyond his fence. He knows the stories of the ferocious clan cats who ruthlessly kill anything in their way. One day, he gets in a fight with a clan cat and the leader of the Thunder clan sees his fighting skills and brings him to the clan to prove his worth. He leaves his human and goes to live with the warrior cats.

This is the first in a 6 book series; however, there are multiple Warrior Cat series that are interconnected. There are also special edition books and guidebooks.

Why I Like This Book: This book is so interesting and creative. It is well-written with intricate plot lines. Each character has a unique personality and charms.
Appropriate for Ages: 9-12
Find this book in Books About Animals for Kids

The Secret Zoo

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

Megan and her brother Noah live next to the zoo so it is easy for her to notice that the animals are acting strange. When Megan goes missing, Noah needs to rescue her and enlists the help of their best friends, Richie and Ella.

Why I Love This Book: This is a perfect pick for any tween who loves fantasy and mystery which means it is perfect for this house
Appropriate for Ages: 8-10
Find this book in Animal Books for kids

song for a whale

Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

This coming-of-age story is about a deaf girl who is struggling to connect with her community and a whale named Blue 52 who can’t find his ocean community either. She sets out to connect with Blue 52 and along the way she finds her inner strength beautifully.

Why We Love This Book: This was one of the realistic fiction audiobooks for tweens I listened to with my kids and we all just adored it. I had tears streaming down my face at the end.
Appropriate for ages 9-12
Find this book in
Books for 10-year-olds / Audiobooks for Kids / Realistic Fiction / Coming-of-Age Novels / Animal Books for Kids

Graphic Novel

The Bad Guys and more of the best books for a 9-year-old

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey

Aaron Blabey’s famed series about the bad guys is a favorite in our homes. This graphic novel series is perfect for early readers.

The series is all about four “bad guys” who are trying to become good guys by trying to save those around them in funny ways.

Why I Like This Book: This book is hilarious which means kids will enjoy reading it. The more they read, the more it becomes a habit and they will improve their reading skills.
Appropriate for Ages: 6-8
Find This Book In: Early Reader Books for Emergent Readers / The Best Books for 7-Year-Olds / Animal Books for Kids

Dog Man and more books for a 7-year-old

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey is THE author of books for reluctant readers. His graphic novels never disappoint. From Dog Man to Captain Underwear, these books will keep your kids laughing AND reading.

This particular story is about a half-man, half-dog hero.

Why We Like This Book: Dog Man is a funny character that kids love to read. The more your child reads, the better they get at reading! It’s a great cycle.
Appropriate for Ages: 6-9
Find This Book In: Animal Books / Books for a 6-Year-Old

scaredy squirrel

Author: Mélanie Watt

Illustrator: Mélanie Watt

Year: 2006

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Age: 3-7

More info: First in a series

The first book in a series of delightful tales of a neurotic squirrel, this is a laugh-out-loud funny story. After reading it, my boys became obsessed with squirrels.

Now the series is 9 books long, so your kids will have lots of Scaredy Squirrel to read in the future!

Scaredy Squirrel is completely neurotic and hilarious. But he also makes some teachable moments that kids can relate to.

Find this book in: Animal Books For Kids