16 Animal Books for Kids That Even Adults Will Enjoy Reading!

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Reading books. Fun! Learning animal sounds, so much fun! Right? These animal books for kids will really broaden their (and yours!) love of animals and books.

At any given time, we have at least 40 books checked out of the library. Somehow we haven’t managed to also owe 40 million dollars in late fees.

If you want to build a reader in your child, a child who loves books and loves reading, you don’t need to spend hours planning and implementing literacy activities and games.

The most important thing you can do is read to them whenever possible!

(Keep reading for the list of animal books for kids, for both toddlers and preschoolers!)

animal books for kids

Even after they can read on their own, keep reading to them, or with them. It will be family time you will not regret.

You won’t regret it, at least, if you have the right books that interest your kids. I don’t care how snuggly the couch is; that still won’t make some kids books tolerable.

In my opinion, this should not be! Kids deserve great books as much as adults do. Just because they are young doesn’t mean they should have lame, watered down plots and language.

animal books that adults even enjoy

After all, as C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

So, say goodbye to dull plots and mediocre illustrations; say hello to this list of absolutely fabulous picture books featuring something near and dear to kids’ hearts: animals!

Have some fun with this animal tape rescue game!

Reading books. Fun! Learning animal sounds, so much fun! Right? These animal books for kids will really broaden their (and yours!) love of animals and books.

16 Animal Books for Kids That Even YOU Will Enjoy Reading!

I really believe that you will enjoy reading these animal books over and over with your children.

(Of course, even things you find thrilling can get old after a while, so please don’t come after me if you do tire of it after the 768th time through.)

As with any book list, though, you won’t know if it works for you until you try it, and everyone’s tastes are different. Jump in and see what is a hit with you and your kids!

Check out this massive selection of arctic animal crafts for kids!

best animal books for kids and adults

Animal Books for Toddlers

This first herd, gaggle, swarm, pack…. list of animals books for kids is specifically geared to the youngest in the crowd, the 1-3 year olds and contains affiliate links that makes it easy for you to find each of the books on Amazon as well as support Hands On As We Grow.

Toddlers will love these books about animals for their introduction to animals in a fun way!

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

We’ve all heard of the Hungry Caterpillar but I wasn’t familiar with this one until we got it out of the prize box at the pediatrician, of all places.

This book is another great one for the bedtime basket. It’s short, the illustrations are fun, and kids will love doing the motions along with the animals in the book.

Eric Carle is a home library staple and you simply can’t go wrong!

(Psst! Any Eric Carle fan would love our Eric Carle art challenge.)

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle - Do the motions along with the animals in this book!

Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton

I laughed out loud the first time I read several of Sandra Boynton’s books. Let me tell you, this just does not happen with most books written for the youngest crowd.

A few of the many others featuring her spunky crew of animals that we had to add to our personal library: Blue Hat, Green Hat (The Oops Book), Happy Hippo, Angry Duck, and Hey! Wake Up!

(Don’t miss the dedications in her books. They are also witty. She clearly has fun with every word she writes and I just love that about her books.)

Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton - an animal board book you won't want to miss perfect for the toddler age.
A great list of animal books for toddlers and preschoolers.

Animal Books for Preschoolers (and Yes, Also for Everyone Else!)

Now, we move on to quite a few animal books for kids that are for the next group, the preschoolers. I’d rather not classify these as JUST for preschoolers though, because these are some of my absolute favorites even as an adult. Your grade school kids will love these animal books as well.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

We read this animal book many, many times before sending it back to the library. Now it is on my “books we’d like to own” list to keep in mind when browsing yard sales and thrift stores.

The rhyming and storyline are clever and fun, just like everything else we’ve read by this author!

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson -- can't pass up this book for preschoolers if they love animals!

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein

This is the second in the funny Interrupting Chicken trilogy. The third recently released: Interrupting Chicken Cookies for Breakfast.

Basically you have my permission to eat cookies while you read it.

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise, preschoolers love this story!


This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

My three year-old asks for this animal book over and over. It is short and funny, and you’ll love the twist at the end!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also add that this book won the Caldecott Medal for its outstanding illustrations.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen - 1 of our animal books for preschoolers

Play an active game to learn about where animals live!

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp

This is the second in the Madeline Finn trilogy and all three of the books are just the absolute sweetest with soft, beautiful illustrations.

If you have a fur baby, get this animal book immediately for your kids (and you)!

I’ll wait while you go reserve it at the library.

This book would be shower gift perfection for a mama-to-be with a rescue fur baby at home.

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp, great animal book for those getting a rescue pet!

A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo

If we had a pet pig, we would name it Mercy Watson after this delightful series.

This picture book explains how Mr. & Mrs. Watson (of the Mercy Watson beginner chapter book series) end up having a pet pig living in their house. Chris Van Dusen’s illustrations in this children’s animal book do not disappoint. Fun for everyone!

And definitely check out the chapter book series for older kids, or read them aloud to everyone. Trust me, if the phrase “beginner chapter books” makes you feel all twitchy and cringey, this series is for you. It is anything BUT beginner chapter-booky. (Yes, that’s a thing. If you know, you know.)

A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo

On the Other Side of the Forest by Nadine Robert

This one was new to me recently but we all really enjoyed it. The ending is perfection.

What IS on the other side of the forest?

No, I won’t tell you what happens…you’ll have to go read it to find out for yourself!

On the Other Side of the Forest by Nadine Robert

The Hat by Jan Brett

Pick up anything written and illustrated by Jan Brett and I promise you will be blown away by the detail of her gorgeous illustrations.

The Hat is a story about a little hedgehog and one of our favorite animal books for kids.

Linger on each page looking at the illustrations of this book — she packs all kinds of fun surprises in there!

The Hat by Jan Brett - one of our favorite animal books for kids

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman

What would happen if everything went wrong and the chickens had to save the day? This book tells you.

As you might imagine, the chickens don’t help as much as they think they do.

Also check out Pigs to the Rescue by the same author.

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman - 1 of 16 animal books for kids

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

I memorized and performed this book for a storytelling contest when I was in elementary school. It is still just as good 25 (wait, really, it has been that long?) years later.

I didn’t know, as a child, that it is a Caldecott Honor book. Wonderful story AND wonderful illustrations tell this story of a trickster hare and a lazy bear!

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens - one of the animal books for kids in our favorites list

Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin

We first discovered the Click Clack series with the book Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type.

If I wasn’t sold on the fun storyline, I would have been sold on the use of the word “ultimatum” in a kids picture book. Word choice matters, does it not?

Like the original, Giggle Giggle Quack will have everyone giggling!

Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin - Ducks, Cows and Pigs!

Let’s Go For a Drive! by Mo Willems

If you don’t have any Elephant and Piggie books in your life, are you even living? There are 25 (!) animal books in this series.

Let’s Go for a Drive is one my all-time favorites in the series.

I also adore Are You Ready to Play Outside?, I Really Like Slop!, and I Am Invited to a Party! Mo Willems is a master.

Let's go for a Drive by Mo Willems - 1 of the many animal books in this series.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems

Uhhh….yeah. Mo Willems gets a second spot on this list. His books are just that fun for kids AND adults.

His sassy pigeon will find his way into your heart (and the bath) whether he wants to or not.

The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems - great animal book!

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

Ahh! Chris Van Dusen! One of our new favorite authors. His books are magic and the rhyming is spot-on.

The Circus Ship was the first that we bought for our own home library and a fantastic animal book for kids to start with.

Also try the Mr. Magee books by the same author–and look for Mr. Magee and his little dog Dee in The Circus Ship! Too clever.

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen - 15/16 Animal Books for Kids

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry

We use this one during our homeschool morning time or whenever we’ve read, seen, or learned about a specific animal and want to add some poetry to the learning mix.

Full page color photography from exceptionally talented Nat Geo photographers make this one a keeper for any animal-loving household.

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry - 16/16 of Animal Books for Kids

Don’t miss these interactive books for little ones!

A quick list of the best animal books for kids!

That’s it…for now!

I have no doubt that as I am making dinner tomorrow or trying to fall asleep next week that I will think of several more titles I should have included here, as well.

Reading books and learning animal sounds is childhood fun! These animal books for kids will broaden their love of animals and books.

Hungry for more books to read with your kids? We have quite a few lists, here are a few you may like to browse through.

Got a beginning reader? Try out our week of letter learning activities.

A quick list of the best animal books for kids!

What animal books are you and your kids loving lately?


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