Horses are a very niche theme in kid lit, with tween horse books having a devoted audience. If your kids love horses but aren’t quite old enough to read middle grade literature, these picture books about horses will tide them over in the meantime. Many of these picks are just so beautifully illustrated, I’m sure your young readers simply won’t be able to get enough of them!
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20 Great Picture Books About Horse
Here are 20 phenomenal picture books about horses:
This Way, Charlie
Published: April 21, 2020
All the animals at the Open Bud Ranch can see that Jack likes keeping his space to himself. But when Charlie arrives, he doesn’t see Jack at all. He’s still getting used to seeing out of only one of his eyes.
The two get off to a bumpy start. At first, Jack is anxious and distrustful. But one day, he summons his courage and guides Charlie to his favorite sunlit field: this way, Charlie. And so begins a powerful friendship that will be tested by life’s storms—but will ultimately change each life for the better.
If I Had a Horse
Published: January 30, 2018
If I Had a Horse is an inspiring picture book with simple text and gorgeous, impressionistic artwork from acclaimed author-illustrator Gianna Marino about a girl imagining what life would be like with a horse.
A Horse Named Steve
Published: April 4, 2017
“Steve is a fine horse,” begins Kelly Collier’s picture book. “But he thinks he could be finer. He wants to be EXCEPTIONAL.” When Steve finds a beautiful gold horn lying on the ground in the forest, he realizes he has found his path to the exceptional! He immediately ties the horn to the top of his head and prances off to show his friends. Not everyone is impressed, but most of his friends agree — Steve and his horn are indeed exceptional. In fact, many of his friends are so inspired, they decide to tie items to the tops of their heads as well. So when Steve discovers his horn has suddenly gone missing, he’s devastated and frantically searches everywhere to find it. He won’t be exceptional without his horn! Or will he?
Published: February 7, 2017
Tony was all white,
with wide gentle eyes
and a ton of love . . .
Snow Horses: A First Night Story
Published: November 8, 2022
On the very last evening before the new year, when the snow is falling soft and thick, two black horses wait for the jingle of their sled. As they ride about town, they will spread light to their beloved neighbors, bidding farewell to the last night—and saying hello to the first morning.
The Princess and the Pony
Published: June 30, 2015
Princess Pinecone knows exactly what she wants for her birthday this year. A BIG horse. A STRONG horse. A horse fit for a WARRIOR PRINCESS! But when the day arrives, she doesn’t quite get the horse of her dreams…
Are You A Horse?
Published: March 1, 2009
For young cowboys and little scientists, an ARE YOU MY MOTHER? for the 21st century!
For his birthday, Roy’s freinds give him a saddle and some very specific instructions:
1. Find a horse.
2. Enjoy the ride!
Horse Meets Dog
Published; October 30, 2018
Horse is just an oversize dog with funny paws…according to Dog. And Dog? Just a tiny baby horse with a weird tail. That’s what Horse thinks, anyway.
Published: September 18, 2018
I have a friend named Catherine, and she has a horse named Shannon. “Come and meet her,” Catherine says.
A little boy isn’t sure if he likes horses, but his friend Catherine assures him that her horse will like him. Shannon is very big, but she’s beautiful, throwing her head up and looking at him with her dark eyes as if she knows everything there is to know. Catherine patiently teaches the boy how to talk to a horse quietly, how to feed her carrots, how to lead her across a field, even how to blow at her softly to show that he likes her. But is he really ready to climb up on Shannon’s back and take a ride? Facts about horses are sprinkled throughout to satisfy inquisitive readers.
Published: September 12, 2017
When a group of US Marines fighting in the Korean War found a bedraggled mare, they wondered if she could be trained to as a packhorse. They had no idea that the skinny, underfed horse had one of the biggest and bravest hearts they’d ever known. And one of the biggest appetites!
Soon Reckless showed herself more than willing to carry ammunition too heavy for the soldiers to haul. As cannons thundered and shells flew through the air, she marched into battle—again and again—becoming the only animal ever to officially hold military rank—becoming Sgt. Reckless—and receive two Purple Hearts.
Published: April 28, 2006
Every child adores getting twirled and tossed by Mommy and Daddy. Again! Again, they squeal. That’s the rapturous joy Nicola Smee captures, in simple rhythmic text and charming pictures. One after the other, a group of barnyard friends climb aboard Mr. Horse for a ride. Faster, they beg…faster! But will “faster” lead to disaster? No…just a satisfying ending that toddlers will love.
If a Horse Had Words
Published: June 5, 2018
The foal is born on a spring morning of sunshine and snow melt. If she had words, she would say willow, crocus, puddle and sky . . .
Red Badger is a newborn foal learning to stand when she slips and gets stuck in a muddy badger hole. It is a young boy who frees her, and his kindness and gentleness mark the beginning of their friendship — though she will always be wary of the ground that briefly trapped her. As the seasons pass on the ranch, Red Badger learns more about her world: Fall is leaf rustle and fence posts. Winter is white hills and long nights. The boy is hay, a gentle touch, playing in the snow and the sweet smell of peppermints. If a horse had words, the word would be . . . friend.
Published: June 4, 2013
“Yankee Doodle went to town / a-riding on a pony / stuck a feather in his hat / and called it macaroni.” Many know the song “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” but few understand it. This unapologetically silly picture book reveals that the legendary ride to town (and the whole macaroni thing) was all suggested by Mr. Doodle’s overeager pony. This just makes Mr. Doodle cranky: “I do not want macaroni. I do not want a feather. I do not want any other clothing, any other pasta, or any other parts of a bird. I do not want anything that they have in town!” A historical note ends this colorful, comical take on a nonsensical old song.
Midnight and Moon
Published: February 8, 2022
Moon cannot see but he hears sounds that other horses ignore: the eggshell crack of a meadow lark hatching. The glide of a salamander into the pond. Clara does not speak but she hears sounds that other children ignore: the hum of the oven when her mother bakes muffins. The sound of the cat’s paws on the kitchen floor.
Both the foal and the little girl live with challenges. Both also have special qualities, which are recognized by friends who are open to seeing them. Midnight and Moon is about the rare and wonderful friendship that can form between opposites, a friendship that enriches both. This story shows us that our differences are positives, that the world needs both Claras and Jacks, Midnights and Moons.
Noni The Pony
Published: October 30, 2012
Noni the Pony lives on a farm by the bay. She’s friendly and funny and her best friends are Jac Dog and Coco the Cat. In the day time she gallops and canters and entertains the other farm animals, but sometimes at night, when the leaves sigh in the breeze, Noni gets spooked and that’s when her friends help Noni go to sleep.
Bunny the Brave War Horse
Published: August 1, 2014
Award-winning nonfiction author Elizabeth MacLeod brings a slice of World War I history to life in this poignant picture book. It is based on the true story of a police horse named Bunny and his riders, brothers Bud and Thomas Dundas, sent to the European front as part of the 9th Battery Canadian Field Artillery. This quietly but powerfully told tale explores many of the actual on-the-ground hardships WWI soldiers endured, including a gas attack, wounded and killed comrades, exploding bombs and episodes of severe hunger. By focusing on the tender relationship between Bunny and the brothers and showing how he was able to provide comfort to the soldiers, the author makes the grim details easier for young readers to absorb. The somber palette employed by illustrator Marie Lafrance in her rich, distinctive and detailed artwork — all on two-page spreads — provides the appropriate level of seriousness.
As a bonus, the author has provided a brief historical recap at the end that provides more background information about the real-life Bunny, Tom and Bud, with dates and specifics about WWI, which would be useful for creating a global studies teaching plan. The geography of the region is enhanced with a color map. This powerful book would make an excellent resource for any social studies unit about WWI, while it also works as a personalized reminder of the toll that war takes on humanity. Early readers interested in history or horses would enjoy it on their own.
Pig and Horse and the Something Scary
Published: January 18, 2022
“I have something in my head and it is scaring me,” Pig said.
“What is it?” asked Horse.
“I can’t say. I’m trying to ignore it.”
Pig can’t stop thinking about something that is bothering her. Try as Horse might to get her mind off of it—with bike rides, swims, and silly hats—it’s no use. But maybe if Pig shares the something with her friend, they can talk about it and figure out how to face the something together.
Randy, the Badly Drawn Horse
Published: August 4, 2020
Randy knows he’s a beautiful horse―everyone says so. From his silky coat to his perfect smile to his very name, reserved only for the most special of creatures, Randy is beyond compare.
Dance, Dance, Dance!
Published: February 20, 2018
Horse and Buggy are best friends, but they don’t always see eye to eye. When Buggy sees Horse dancing, he asks, “What are you doing?” “I am dancing,” Horse replies. “I am the best dancer. I have the best dances!” “You are not dancing. You are just moving around.” Can Horse convince the reluctant Buggy to lighten up and join in? YES!
The Horse’s Haiku
Published: March 13, 2018
From field to stable, from rest to riding, poet Michael J. Rosen captures the nature of horses with spare and graceful haiku. Filled with Stan Fellows’s evocative artwork, this collection celebrates the beauty of horses while peacefully grazing or in all their powerful and dynamic action. Lovers of horses or haiku or those who simply appreciate the natural world will enjoy this contemplation of one of earth’s most beautiful creatures.
There they are: 20 of the best picture books about horses. Which of these have you read and loved? What did I miss?
What do you think? Leave a comment