There are countless picture books about children and animals, and we love that they offer the opportunity to teach valuable lessons in a sometimes earnest, sometimes hilarious way. They often show how similar the emotions of kids and animals are, and highlight the importance of kindness, responsibility, compassion and acceptance. We compiled a list of our favorites below. Some are on the serious side, and some have a much lighter tone, so there’s something for everyone. But let’s be honest, there are too many awesome kids picture books about animals for us to list, and this list barely scratches the surface! What are some of your favorites?
A Ball for Daisy
From famed author/illustrator Chris Raschka (who won a Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in the book), A Ball for Daisy tells the story of Daisy’s devastation when another dog destroys her beloved toy. This story, despite having no words, beautifully conveys friendship, loss and forgiveness.
Before You Were Mine
In this story, a young boy imagines what his shelter dog’s life was like before they met. This poignant book is a wonderful guide for teaching empathy and responsibility.
Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals
This book tells the stories of real animals living happy lives with prosthetics, braces and wheelchairs, and introduces readers to the vets, therapists and families who care for them.
How to Heal a Broken Wing
Will finds an injured bird on the ground and takes it home to care for it. This sweet tale tells how a little bit of kindness can make a big difference.
Strictly No Elephants
This smart-with-heart book subtly captures themes of acceptance, friendship and celebrating differences.
Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom
A heartwarming collection of the surprising bonds that can form between animals who seem to have almost nothing in common, Unlikely Friendships shows how kindness and love are universal.
Love Me Gently
When Henry is faced with challenges caring for his new adopted dog, Cooper, the two learn solutions that work for them both. We love this book about patience and unconditional love.
Say Hello to Zorro
In this hysterical picture book, two dogs learn they have more in common than they thought. Author Carter Goodrich also wrote two hilarious sequels, Zorro Gets an Outfit and Mister Bud Wears the Cone.
A Boy and a Jaguar
This beautiful book is based on the true story of author Alan Rabinowitz, who as a child had an uncontrollable stutter. His father brought him to the Bronx Zoo, and Alan found his voice speaking to the animals, specifically the zoo’s jaguar. Rabinowitz later became a wildlife conservationist, giving a voice to animals.
Tails Are Not For Pulling
For younger kids, this board book teaches basic—yet very important—lessons for interacting with pets.
The Little Blue Dog
This humane education picture book (the first in a series of three) tells the story of Louie, a shelter dog who gets a second chance.
If You Plant a Seed
With stunning illustrations, author Kadir Nelson weaves a story of compassion and kindness, and how powerful and rewarding those sentiments can be.
May I Pet Your Dog?
In this how-to book, kids learn the important basics of developing successful, fun, and productive connections with animals.