Picture books about animals — like all books about animals — appeal to kids who love all things animals. Many of these stories center on animals learning to be kind, preparing for bed, or being hilarious. You’ll also find a few non-fiction titles spotlighting the life of animals. If you’re a nature enthusiast or can’t get enough of animals, this list is for you.
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Picture Books About Animals
Here are some of the best picture books about animals:
Not That Pet!
Published: February 1, 2022
Some are too scary, some are too smelly, some are too wiggly, and some are too giggly. Can Mabel find the perfect pet for her family?
Not noisy or scary or covered in spikes.
She’d choose something friendly that EVERYONE likes.
Mabel’s family is letting her pick what kind of pet to get, and she is determined to find the very BEST one. “Any pet you like delivered to your door,” promises the sign. But what if the ants are too tiny, the hyenas too giggly, the owl too loud? What if the snake almost strangles Granddad and the skunk wants to spray the baby? None of the pets she tries out seems like the right fit. Readers will love following through several comical reveals until Mabel meets her furry match (not what you might guess!). Best-selling author Smriti Prasadam-Halls’s hilarious rhyming read-aloud and Rosalind Beardshaw’s charming illustrations will have kids laughing—and dreaming of their own quirky pets.
Out of a Jar
Published: February 8, 2022
Llewellyn does not like to feel afraid or sad, angry, lonely, or embarrassed. And so he comes up with a brilliant plan: he tucks each of his feelings into jars and hides them away where they won’t bother him anymore. But when he gets in trouble in class, Llewellyn finds he needs to put away excitement too. And when joy is quickly followed by disappointment, he decides to get rid of joy as well. After a while, Llewellyn walks around not feeling much of anything at all. And what happens when his emotions refuse to be bottled up any longer?
Not Quite Narwhal
Published: February 14, 2017
Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer, and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns. The revelation leaves him torn: is he a land narwhal or a sea unicorn? But perhaps, if Kelp is clever, he may find a way to have the best of both worlds.
Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides
Published: May 1, 2021
Hudson and Tallulah may be neighbors, but the fence between their yards isn’t the only thing that divides them. They can’t see eye to eye on anything. One day they venture out, and after nonstop disagreement, they realize something surprising: they don’t always have to agree to be on each other’s side.
Tabitha and Fritz Trade Places
Published: June 1, 2021
Tabitha the cat is tired of her easy, coddled life. An adventure across the world might spice things up! Fritz the elephant dreams of celebrating his birthday with an exciting voyage to a faraway place. So after the two connect online via Lair-bnb, they pack their bags and head across the globe to trade places. Will Fritz love the city life? Will the rain forest be all that Tabitha has hoped for? Join this adventurous pair as they find out whether the grass really is greener…on the other side of the world!
Published: February 1, 2020
Bernard isn’t like other birds. His wings are impossibly long, and try as he might, he just can’t seem to fly. He’s left wondering what his wings are good for…if they’re even good for anything at all. But a chance encounter with a dejected orangutan leads Bernard to a surprising discovery: that maybe what makes him different is actually something to be embraced.
Solitary Animals: Introverts of the Wild
Published: March 8, 2022
That silvery cloud swimming in the sea is actually a school of fish.
That splash and crash is a pod of whales, sounding.
Behold, a fever of stingrays gliding by.
But what do you call a group of octopuses?
A tangle of octopuses? A chandelier of octopuses? A multipus of octopuses?
No, octopuses prefer to be alone.
The octopus is a solitary animal.
A Tiger Like Me
Published: September 1, 2019
Life is more fun when you’re a tiger like me!
A little boy―um, no, a tiger!―tells us all about what he gets up to on an ordinary day: how he wakes up in his tiger den, what he eats for breakfast at his feeding spot, and how little tigers feel when they are wide awake, hungry, thirsty, or in the mood for adventures. But at night, even the wildest of tigers is happy to curl up in bed with Tiger-Mom and Tiger-Dad and become a cuddly little tiger cub.
Rosie the Dragon and Charlie Make Waves
Published: June 1, 2019
It’s summertime, and you’re invited for a rollicking day at the pool with Charlie and his pet dragon (and best friend!), Rosie. But be careful―swimming with a dragon can be, um, challenging. As Rosie and Charlie blow bubbles (don’t forget your umbrella!), practice flutter kicks (watch out for tidal waves!), and offer shoulder rides (hang on tight!), Rosie proves that dragons make the most fun pets ever. Now if only Charlie can keep Rosie’s attention focused on the rules at the pool and NOT on her gummy snacks (you know, the ones that cause stinky dragon breath!)…Grab your towels and sunscreen and join Rosie and Charlie for a fun-filled summer adventure!
Super Rooster Saves the Day
Published: October 6, 2020
Ralph the rooster has big dreams of becoming a superhero. But the other farm animals aren’t so sure―except for Rosie the pig, that is. She’s Ralph’s best friend, and she believes in him. As Ralph and Rosie hang around the farm, there are just no opportunities to be a superhero and save the day…until the farmer turns on the radio, and the “Chicken Dance” song starts playing. POW-WOW! Suddenly it seems that Ralph may have some super powers after all…or does he? Join Ralph and Rosie as they prove that believing in yourself and being a good friend is what makes a true superhero.
The Serious Goose
Published: December 3, 2019
Meet a very Serious Goose in late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s first fun and funny picture book! There is nothing silly about this goose. You CANNOT make her laugh, so DON’T EVEN TRY!
Written, illustrated, and lettered by Jimmy Kimmel, this picture book challenges young readers to bring the silly out of a very Serious Goose. Inspired by Jimmy’s nickname for his kids, The Serious Goose reminds us to be silly in a serious way. Put your little comedians in front of a mylar mirror and challenge them to make this no-nonsense goose smile. This delightful read-aloud is guaranteed to create gaggles of giggles time and time again!
The Duck Who Didn’t Like Water
Published: March 30, 2021
Duck is not like other ducks. Duck doesn’t like water and is perfectly fine alone, thank you very much. But then, one dark and stormy night, an outgoing, water-loving, and very lost Frog turns up at Duck’s door. Can this odd couple find Frog’s home? And will they find friendship along the way?
Mac and Cheese
Published: November 15, 2011
Mac loves to run and play, but Cheese likes lazy lounging. When Mac’s hat blows away, will Cheese sit there like a lump or spring into action to save it?
Mac and Cheese is a Level One I Can Read book, which means it’s perfect for children learning to sound out words and sentences. Whether shared at home or in a classroom, the short sentences, familiar words, and simple concepts of Level One books support success for children eager to start reading on their own.
Published: July 1, 2021
The unforgettable story of a man and his alligator.
When Faoro the clockmaker adopts a baby alligator, he has no idea that someday their story will travel far and wide. But the town of San Fernando de Apure would never forget this kind young man and his adoring alligator, who played with the neighborhood children, took part in Faoro’s wedding, and, eventually, mourned his loss. Now their story is being shared with the world.
Published: July 1, 2019
When Spiky loses his spikes, he must learn to share his softer side.
Spiky lives in the dark of the forest, where he spends his days being very, very bad, bullying the other forest creatures and sharpening the spikes on his body. Those spikes are handy for keeping everybody at a distance, and that’s just how Spiky likes it! But then one day the unthinkable happens: Spiky starts losing his spikes! Soon he is left looking as soft and as pink as a soft, pink marshmallow. What will Spiky do, now that he can no longer scare away the other forest creatures? Will he have to (gulp!) make friends? It’s a good thing Bernardo the bunny comes along to show him how it’s done.
Published: June 25, 2019
Powerful and visually spectacular, Moth is the remarkable evolution story that captures the struggle of animal survival against the background of an evolving human world in a unique and atmospheric introduction to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection.
“This is a story of light and dark…”
Against a lush backdrop of lichen-covered trees, the peppered moth lies hidden. Until the world begins to change…
Along come people with their magnificent machines which stain the land with soot. In a beautiful landscape changed by humans how will one little moth survive?
The Leaf Thief
Published: August 3, 2021
Squirrel loves counting the leaves on his tree—red leaves, gold leaves, orange, and more. But hold on! One of his leaves is missing! On a quest to find the missing leaf, Squirrel teams up with his good friend Bird to discover who the leaf thief could be among their forest friends.
With vibrant art and captivating characters, the magic of autumn is captured beautifully on each page as readers tag along Squirrel’s forest adventure. Is there truly a leaf thief afoot, or is something else going on in Squirrel’s forest? A perfect exploration of change—both seasonal, and the anxiety that change sometimes causes. Bonus material explaining about the changing of the seasons. Poised to be a new fall classic.
Don’t Let Them Disappear
Published: April 2, 2019
Did you know that blue whales are the largest animals in the world? Or that sea otters wash their paws after every meal? The world is filled with millions of animal species, and all of them are unique and special. Many are on the path to extinction.
Bear Came Along
Published: June 4, 2019
Once there was a river flowing through a forest. The river didn’t know it was capable of adventures until a big bear came along. But adventures aren’t any fun by yourself, and so enters Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck.
These very different animals take off downstream, but they didn’t know they needed one another until thankfully, the river came along.
Don’t Forget Dexter!
Published: January 1, 2018
When his best friend, Jack, leaves him behind at the doctor’s office, Dexter T. Rexter panics. First he tries to find Jack. Then he sings their special song. Then he sings their special song even louder. But when Jack still doesn’t appear, Dexter starts to wonder. What if he’s being replaced by another toy? It can’t be―after all, he can STOMP, RAWR, and CHOMP! Right? Right?!
Published: March 1, 2009
“Tilly is not an ordinary goose. She takes her baths in apple juice. She wears a pancake as a hat. She tries to ride the farmer’s cat.”
But the barnyard animals complain that she’s too silly. When she stops entertaining her friends with her antics, the farm becomes a quiet and unhappy place. David Slonim’s acrylic, pencil, and ballpoint pen illustrations add to the hilarity in this story about a one-of-a-kind silly goose.
Max the Brave
Published: July 29, 2014
Meet Max – the mighty kitten and New York Times bestseller. Max is Brave, Max is Fearless, Max is a Mouse-catcher… But, in order to be a Mouse-catcher, Max needs to know what a mouse is, so off he goes to find out. This hilarious new picture book from the phenomenally-talented Ed Vere introduces a new and lovable character, with Ed’s trademark bold illustrations and clever story.
Dragons Love Tacos
Published: June 14, 2012
Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.
Wolf in the Snow
Published: January 3, 2017
A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?
Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Wolf in the Snow is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts, from Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother.
Published: January 5, 2012
“There was a hippopotamus who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus. And every time he got’emus…he’d fall upon his bottomus!” Calamity ensues when an elephant, a centipede, and a rhinoceros try finding a cure for Hippo’s colossal case of hiccups. Author-illustrator Aaron Zenz’s creativity shines through in his colored-pencil artwork in this off-the-wall read-aloud. HIC! HIC! HIC!
Big Cat, Little Cat
Published: March 14, 2017
There was a cat
who lived alone.
Until the day
a new cat came . . .
And so a story of friendship begins, following the two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.
A Unicorn Named Sparkle
Published: July 5, 2016
When Lucy sees an ad in the newspaper for a unicorn, she sends in her twenty-five cents and waits four to six long weeks for her very own unicorn to arrive. She imagines the flowers that she’ll braid into his beautiful pink mane, and she even picks the perfect name for him: Sparkle. But when Sparkle arrives, his ears are too long, his horn is too short, he smells funny–and oh, he has fleas. Lucy isn’t pleased, but in the end she warms up to Sparkle and realizes that even though he wasn’t exactly the unicorn she wanted, he might be just the one she needs.
The Rough Patch
Published: August 14, 2018
Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies. Heartbroken, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. The ground becomes overgrown with prickly weeds and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.
But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his isolation and back to the county fair, where friendships—old and new—await.
Published: September 1, 2015
Five friends sit happily on a windowsill, waiting for something amazing to happen. The owl is waiting for the moon. The pig is waiting for the rain. The bear is waiting for the wind. The puppy is waiting for the snow. And the rabbit is just looking out the window because he likes to wait! What will happen? Will patience win in the end? Or someday will the friends stop waiting and do something unexpected?
Waiting is a big part of childhood—waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen—but in this book, a child sets the stage and pulls the strings. Timeless, beautiful, and deeply heartfelt, this picture book about imaginative play, the seasons, friendship, and surprises is a Caldecott Honor and Geisel Honor Book.
The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep
Published: October 2, 2015
Do you struggle with getting your child to fall asleep?
Join parents all over the world who have embraced The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep as their new nightly routine.
When Roger can’t fall asleep, Mommy Rabbit takes him to see Uncle Yawn, who knows just what to do. Children will join Roger on his journey and be lulled to sleep alongside their new friend.
Flora and the Flamingo
Published: February 5, 2013
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more of this fun flamingo story!
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Published: May 25, 2010
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.
The Pout-Pout Fish
Published: March 18, 2008
Deep in the water,
Mr. Fish swims about
With his fish face stuck
In a permanent pout.
Can his pals cheer him up?
Will his pout ever end?
Is there something he can learn
From an unexpected friend?
Swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that being glum and spreading “dreary wearies” isn’t really his destiny. Bright ocean colors and playful rhyme come together in this fun fish story that’s sure to turn even the poutiest of frowns upside down.
Sleep Like a Tiger
Published: October 23, 2012
In this magical bedtime story, the lyrical narrative echoes a Runaway Bunny – like cadence: “Does everything in the world go to sleep?” the little girl asks. In sincere and imaginative dialogue between a not-at-all sleepy child and understanding parents, the little girl decides “in a cocoon of sheets, a nest of blankets,” she is ready to sleep, warm and strong, just like a tiger. The Caldecott Honor artist Pamela Zagarenski’s rich, luminous mixed-media paintings effervesce with odd, charming details that nonsleepy children could examine for hours. A rare gem.
This Is Not My Hat
Published: October 9, 2012
When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale.
Published: August 21, 2012
Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots.
He eats them on the way to school.
He eats them going to Little League.
He eats them walking home.
Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?
Published: October 1, 2013
In a near wordless masterpiece that could only have been devised by David Wiesner, a cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble.
When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, “cave” paintings, and gestures of friendship.
I Love to the Moon and Back
Published: December 1, 2020
If you wish upon a great big star,I’ll wish too, and be thankful for who you are.Wherever life may take you, whichever path or track,Just remember…I’ll love you to the moon and back!In the tradition of books like Guess How Much I Love You and On the Night You Were Born comes an expression of infinite love from “love guru” Sandra Magsamen. A perfect gift for new parents, baby birthdays, showers, graduations, holidays, and more, this sweet board book with rhyming text, pastel illustrations, and a built-in gift tag is the perfect way to remind little ones just how loved they are!
The Very Cranky Bear
Published: January 1, 2008
This is a great picture book for children. It is the story of four friends trying to get out from the rain and the cold. Unfortunately they take refuge in a Bear’s cave. Bear is not happy that they have invaded his home. Lion, Zebra and Moose try to make bear happy by making him like them; Sheep on the other hand gives of himself.
If Animals Kissed Good Night
Published: June 3, 2014
What if animals did what YOU do? This bestselling story imagines how animals would kiss their loved ones good night!
If animals kissed good night like we do…how would they do it? Giraffe and his calf would stretch their necks high, Wolf and his pup would kiss and then HOWL, and Sloth and her baby would move sooooo sloooowwwww. And across the animal kingdom, every creature would share love in a unique way.
There they are: 40 of the best picture books about animals. Which of these books have you read? What did I miss?