Recommended Children’s Books

We are happy to provide our “best of the best” animal based children’s book recommendations. Each of our award winning books are rich is both story and illustration and have been selected based on their educational and entertainment value.


Written and illustrated by Graeme Base Ages:4-7
Alphabet books teach very specific vocabulary. A student might have to read an 800-page book to encounter the same number of words as they will in Animalia. —Phyllis C. Hunter

Frog and Toad Are Friends

Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel Ages:8-10
A landmark series that helped put early chapter books on the map. Simple language, expressive pictures—a story and humor that is as engaging today as it was 50 years ago. —Adrienne Betz

The Lion & the Mouse

Written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney Ages:4-7
Illustrations speak louder than words in this beautiful and harmonious book that engages the youngest readers. —Shawna Hamilton Doster

Ferdinand Frog’s Flight

Written by Marvin Mayer and illustrated by Stephen Macquignon Ages:6-12
The flowing rhythm, catchy rhymes and expressive illustrations are added attractions to this delightful tale that soars with anticipation and suspense. Children can relate to Ferdinand with his dream and learn along with him on his adventure. —Eyvonna Rains

Farfallina & Marcel

Written and illustrated by Holly Keller Ages:4-8
Once there was a caterpillar named Farfallina, whose best friend was a gosling named Marcel. They did everything together — until one day, everything started to change. This beautiful and touching story shows that even as life takes different turns, friendship endures. —Holly Keller

The Circus Ship

Written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen Ages:4-8
This book is entertaining and delightful with a wonderful message about acceptance and caring. If your children love animals they will especially enjoy this book. The illustrations and writing style of Chris Van Dusen are beautiful and creative. This book does not disappoint, nor do any of Mr. Van Dusen’s books. All of his books are fantastic but this is one is our favorite. —VTNC

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Written by Devin Scillian and illustrated by TimBowers Ages:4 & Up
Memoirs of a Goldfish is a beautiful story written about a goldfish who learns the simple lesson in life, it is better to be surrounded by the love of your friends and family then to swim through life on your own. It is beautifully written for a child to enjoy along with teaching a wonderful life lesson. The illustration of the story is just great!! —L Shishler

Diary of a Wombat

Written by Jackie French and illustrated by Bruce Whatley Ages:3-8
A great story about the world of cause and effect as seen through the eyes of an enterprising young wombat. It is a glorious children’s book that parents will enjoy reading as well. The text is hilarious and the illustrations are absolutely wonderful. —VTNC


Written and illustrated by Janell Cannon Ages:4 & up
Stellaluna is a wonderful story about a baby bat, separated from her mother, and brought up by a bird family. When she finds her mother, she discovers her natural talents. Acceptance of differences is the important lesson presented and the narrative and the illustrations are wonderful. This book is an absolute family favorite. —VTNC

Skippyjon Jones

Written and illustrated by Judy Schachner Ages:3-5
This an absolutely outstanding read aloud book. Skippyjon is a Siamese cat who thinks he is a sword-fighting Chihuahua named El Skippito. The book contains a little diddy that includes clapping, lots of rhyming, and fun use of language including a nice selection of Spanish words. My kids LOVED this book and laughed and laughed throughout the entire story. —VTNC

Bats at the Beach

Written and illustrated by Brian Lies Ages:5-8
I’ll start with the artwork: one word – STUNNING! Brian makes those beach-bound bats so appealing! Young children will want to look at the pictures over and over – there’s so much to see. The moonglow on the ocean, the fireglow on the faces of the bats, the humorous activities of the bat children….. And what kid won’t LOVE those icky bugmallows roasting over the fire! This is also such a fresh story. Kids will love hearing what those playful bats do at the beach while the rest of the world is fast asleep. This one is a pure joy from start to finish – and one that your kids will ask for again and again. —Barbara O’Connor

I Wanna Iguana

Written by Karen Orloff and illustrated by David Catrow Ages:5 & Up
This funny story is told through an amusing exchange of notes, as Alex tries to convince his seemingly unshakable mother that he should be allowed to adopt a friend’s baby iguana. The tale is perfect for reader’s-theater presentations and could also be used effectively as a writing prompt for older children. It will make even the most serious youngsters giggle. —Lee Bock

Vulture Verses: Love Poems for the Unloved

Written by Diane Lang and illustrated by Lauren Gallegos Ages:4 & Up
When it comes to animals, the fluffy, the handsome, and the strong get all the attention. But there is every reason to love the critters that slither, hop, scuttle and sting. Vulture Verses is written as a series of very clever poems for each animal that the book features. Each poem is dedicated to a specific animal that human beings often cast as villains. The book is very educational and talks about how each “unloved” animal has a specific role to play in the circle of life. This is one of our favorites and is often given as a gift by Valentine’s Traveling Nature Class. —VTNC


Written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell Ages:1 & Up
It’s the story of Jane Goodall as a young girl and her stuffed animal monkey. McDonnell draws her monkey as if he is alive. It reminded me of Calvin and Hobbs in that way. But all kids see their animals as real. I know I did. The illustrations are so lovely. I teared up at the end. I recommend it to all animal lovers. -Laura Robles

Elephants can Paint Too

Written and Photographed by Katya Arnold Ages:3-7
This book has quickly become my 5 1/2 year-old daughter’s favorite. She delights in looking at the paintings made by elephants, and I appreciate the way facts about elephants are “sneaked” into the story so seamlessly. Switching back and forth between human students and animal ones makes for an engaging structure. There is humor as well as beauty. Best of all, the book has made us look at elephants–and by extension animals–in a new way (and has also broadened my daughter’s concepts of what grown-ups can do as careers). We both really love this book. -K.D

One Tiny Turtle

Written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Jane Chapman Ages:5-9
This wonderful book explains to children the basic life cycle of the loggerhead sea turtle. The illustrations are beautiful, accurate and interesting. The text is simple and very well done. It is a great science book for young children and is very factual in presenting what we know of the life of a sea turtle. We highly recommend this book, especially for anyone who likes turtles. -VTNC

Care for Our World

Written by Karen Robbins and illustrated by Alexandra Ball Ages:4-8
If there was a theme book for The Traveling Nature Class this is it. The book introduces your child to some truly wonderful wild animals from around the world. As children turn the pages of this book, they’ll encounter dozens of playful creatures in their natural habitats and will learn about the importance of caring for all the plants, animals, and people that call planet Earth their home. It is also and important and timely reminder of the responsibility that each generation shares to nurture and respect life on earth in all its many forms. -VTNC