Animals have been a source of imagination and interest in children since the dawn of time.
These children's books with animals have strong morals and key lessons that still ring true to this day. Even the most modern child will benefit from reading one of these golden oldies.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Suitable For: Ages 2+
Written in 1969, this masterpiece of children's storytelling is a bookshelf essential. The interactive pages take you through the life cycle of a caterpillar with cute and colourful pictures. It introduces the circle of life in an easily digestible way and will remain a childhood classic for years to come.
The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone
Suitable For: Ages 4-7
As the oldest story on this list, with its origins dating back to the 1870s, this classic farmyard tale has been reimagined many times. The Little Red Hen works hard tending the field for days while her lazy friends sit back and relax. They expect to reap the same rewards without putting in the effort but things do not turn out to their plan. This book discusses the value of hard work and shines a light on the things that go on behind the scenes of everyday life that don't always get appreciated.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munroe Leaf
Suitable For: Ages 5+
First published in 1936, this beautiful book shows that there is always more to someone than what meets the eye. The original story is much more heartfelt than the recent film adaptation, as we follow Ferdinand the Spanish bull as he is prepared for a match with the matadors. Although Ferdinand is the biggest and burliest bull of them all, he would much rather sit and smell the flowers than fight for show. This touching story with sweet imagery will stay with your child for years to come.
Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by David McKee
Suitable For: Ages 4-7
These bold and brilliant illustrations are bound to capture the imagination. Here we are introduced to Elmer, whose bright patchwork skin simply does not fit in with the rest of the grey elephants. This story takes us through his journey across the jungle as he learns that animals come in many different patterns and colours. It teaches an important lesson about loving yourself regardless of what the world around you may think!
The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr
Suitable For: Ages 3-7
This sweet and beautifully illustrated book answers the age old question, what would happen if a tiger came to tea? Sophie and her mum find out one day as a very hungry tiger invites himself over for dinner. The wild events that follow are sure to make an entertaining read for both you and the children.
Fun Loving Fables
For some wholesome books about friendship and animals all around the world, here are five exciting adventures that will give you a belly laugh while also sneaking in some deeper meaning and life lessons for your child to absorb.
Dogs Don't Do Ballet by Anna Kemp
Suitable For: Ages 4+
This hilarious children's book will even have the parents laughing out loud at bedtime. Biff the dog has no interest in playing fetch or digging bones, instead, he longs to dance! Accompanied by wonderful illustrations, this dog delights the imagination while encouraging kids to have passion and determination to do the things they love.
Pandamonia by Chris Owen
Suitable For: Ages 4+
This fantastic tale has just one rule; whatever you do, don't wake the panda! With a great rhythm and stunning art, this book sings the sounds of the zoo using the interesting noises of Australian animals. Fun and fast-paced, it will become a reliable bedtime staple to read over and over again.
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Suitable For: Ages 3-8
The author of the Gruffalo is back with another hit. This sweet animal adventure describes the unlikely friendship between a snail and a whale who stick together through dangerous twists and turns. With catchy rhyme and the recognisable and lovable illustration from Alex Scheffler, this book is the perfect read for parents and children to enjoy together.
Ayobami and the Names of the Animals by Pilar López Ávilia
Suitable For: Ages 5-8
This gorgeously illustrated book takes us to the heart of Africa where we meet Ayobami, a young girl excited to start school after the end of the war. However, she gets lost along the way and has to ask the local animals for help to guide her on the right path again. There is also an underlying theme of education, how important it is in a child's life and the many obstacles someone in a situation like Ayobami must overcome in order to secure their right to learn.
The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater
Suitable For: Ages 4+
This imaginative book and its absolutely encapsulating illustrations will delight parents and children alike. Join Marco the curious fox as he travels the world with a crew of seafaring animals, hoping to find the answers to the big questions about life on Earth. A must-have adventure book that will keep you and your child entertained time and time again.
Educational Adventures for Environmental Learning
These animal books not only have heart but are also filled with important lessons about the precious environment we live in.
Migration: Incredible Animal Journeys by Mike Unwin
Suitable For: Ages 5+
From dragonflies to wildebeests, follow the trails of twenty different species as they migrate across the globe. Factual yet poetic language combined with beautiful art from Jenni Desmond makes for an incredibly engaging read that will not only teach your child about nature but will also inspire a love for these animals and an appreciation for the intense lengths they travel annually in order to survive.
Bee and Me by Alison Jay
Suitable For: Ages 2-6
This picture book takes you on a journey you'll be buzzing about for days! With no words at all, this completely visual exploration allows your child to really engage and discuss what's happening in the story. They will definitely notice all the small details in the art and earn a greater appreciation for bees and how vital they are to our environment.
Dear Greenpeace by Simon James
Suitable For: Ages 5-11
Young Emily wakes up one day to find a whale swimming in her back garden pond. Concerned for his health, she writes to Greenpeace asking for advice. This is the most whimsical book in this category, comprised completely of letters between the characters, however, the heart and soul of the story will touch the reader while also teaching an underlying lesson about caring for nature.
Naturama by Micheal Fewer
Suitable For: Ages 3+
From the woodland to the swamp, this book is chock-full of fascinating details about different ecosystems and the animals that live in them. Accompanied with charming illustrations from Irish artist Melissa Doran, this is a perfect book to pick off the shelf for some light yet informative reading to get your child interested in nature.
The Incredible Ecosystems of Planet Earth by Rachel Ignotofsky
Suitable For: Ages 6+
From the author of "Women in Science", this book takes you on a worldwide adventure through seas and deserts, exploring the many kinds of creatures that inhabit this planet we call home. It is more of a decorated atlas than a bedtime read, being slightly heavy on the text and information for younger children. However, the detailed pictures and quirky fun facts are sure to keep their interest.
At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents.
We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it’s important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.
Kidadl provides inspiration to entertain and educate your children. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.
Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong.
Sponsorship & Advertising Policy
Kidadl is independent and to make our service free to you the reader we are supported by advertising.
We hope you love our recommendations for products and services! What we suggest is selected independently by the Kidadl team. If you purchase using the buy now button we may earn a small commission. This does not influence our choices. Please note: prices are correct and items are available at the time the article was published.
Kidadl has a number of affiliate partners that we work with including Amazon. Please note that Kidadl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.