Animals: Books for Young Children

These beautiful books celebrate one of young children's favorite topics — animals!  From the upper reaches of the Artic to the depths of the Amazon rainforest, these books are sure to become new favorites for storytime, educating and inspiring along the way.

Related books

To see related books available in English and Spanish, see our Animals: Bilingual Books for Kids booklist.

More related resources: Reading Rockets

For more resources and books on animals, see the following from Reading Rockets:

A South African Night

Age Level: 3-6

When the people of Johannesburg go to bed, the animals of Kruger National Park begin to stir. Simple text and evocative watercolors bring the city and the national reserve to life and will inspire young children to think about what is happening in the natural world while they are sleeping. This edition is out of print but may be available in libraries.

Animal Poems of the Iguazú

Inspired by a visit to the Iguazú National Park in South America, Francisco X. Alarcón celebrates its animals, skies, waterfalls, and more in these short and vibrant bilingual poems. Each page holds pulsating paintings that swirl and move, further vivifying each poem.

Babies Nurse / Así se alimentan los bebés

Illustrated by: Jim Fox
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Babies―whether pandas, puppies, or people―nurse. This bond is precious; this process, a natural art. Luminous illustrations and lyrical text will inspire conversations about caretaking in the natural world, while the bilingual format makes this charming book accessible to speakers of both Spanish and English.

Black Bear, Red Fox: Colours in Cree

Age Level: 0-3
Language: Cree

Julie Flett is a Vancouver-base Cree/Metis author, visual artist, and illustrator. Julie creates stories for children that subtly explore the connections among language, culture, and nature. This book celebrates colors found in the natural world in an innovative design for young children.

Cats vs. Dogs (National Geographic Readers)

Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

Chocolate or vanilla? Creamy peanut butter or crunchy? Cats or dogs? On some matters in life, every kid must take a stance. Ever since the first youngster in history had a pet, cats vs. dogs has been a hotly debated issue at recesses and lunch tables worldwide. Which one's better? Smarter? This reader presents the facts in fun and informative fashion. Kids will love the stimulating Level 3 text as they decide the answer to this question for themselves.

Cuddled and Carried / Consentido y cargado

Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Babies, whether in snowy dens, warm lagoons, cozy nests, or living rooms, are carried and cuddled, nurtured and nuzzled. This bilingual book is a celebration of the bond between parent and child across the animal kingdom. Stunning images and elegant verse will capture the curiosity of even the youngest readers, while the bilingual text makes this sweet storybook accessible to speakers of both English and Spanish.

Dolphins (National Geographic Kids)

Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

Everyone loves the smile on a dolphin’s face. Though smart enough to become theme park tricksters, dolphins are first and foremost wild mammals. Melissa Stewart’s lively text outlines our responsibility to conserve their natural environment. This high-interest book also offers an interactive experience to boost awareness of these adorable creatures.

Jump, Pup! (National Geographic Readers)

Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

Come along as little puppy goes out exploring in the world. Along the way he meets new friends, big and small, and sees amazing sites, but can't wait to get back home to mom. Told in simple yet lively text built with sight words and using picture icons to aid reading, National Geographic Pre-readers will enchant kids just beginning their journey with books.

Listen to the Desert/Oye al desierto

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Francisco Mora
Age Level: 0-3

Meet desert animals and hear the sounds they make, presented both in English and Spanish. Repetition is used to highlight the similarity and subtle differences of sounds and to play with alliteration. Stylized, brightly colored illustrations complement this breezy, lively book.

Little Kids First Big Book of Animals (National Geographic Kids)

Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish

The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals is an adorable animal reference sure to be welcomed by parents and librarians alike. Filled with fluffy and scaly creatures big and small, this appealing book introduces the youngest explorers to the world of wildlife, using a child-friendly format inspired by the blockbuster National Geographic Little Kids magazine. This exciting new reference for the very young mirrors the magazine’s square shape, readable fonts, and fun content, to keep little ones thrilled with every colorful page.

Marta! Big & Small

By: Jen Arena
Illustrated by: Angela Dominguez
Age Level: 3-6

Marta is una niña, an ordinary girl . . . with some extraordinary animal friends! As Marta explores the jungle, she knows she's bigger than a bug, smaller than an elephant, and faster than a turtle. But then she meets the snake, who thinks Marta is sabrosa―tasty, very tasty! But Marta is ingeniosa, a very clever girl, and she outsmarts the snake with hilarious results. With simple Spanish and a glossary at the end, this fun read-aloud picture book, Marta! Big and Small, teaches little ones to identify opposites and animals and learn new words.

Pandas (National Geographic Kids)

Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

The whole world loves panda bears. Everyone loves to watch them play, climb, cuddle, and chew. But careful, they can scratch too—just look at that tree! Pandas live in wild places very far away, and they are the STAR ATTRACTIONS of every zoo that keeps them safe and well, all over the world.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico

Age Level: 6-9

Puerto Rican parrots, once abundant, came perilously close to extinction in the 1960s due to centuries of foreign exploration and occupation, development, and habitat destruction. In this compelling book, Roth and Trumbore use collage illustrations and a unique format to recount the efforts of the scientists of the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Program to save the parrots and ensure their future.

Ponies (National Geographic Readers)

Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

Ponies is replete with brilliant photographs and catchy content that will both teach and entertain. Children will be captivated as they watch a brand new baby foal walk within minutes of being born then quickly turn into one of the most graceful animals on Earth. Like all of our level 1 readers written by skilled children’s books authors, this title invites kids to learn more about their favorite topics in a familiar format that instills success.

Sweetest Kulu

Illustrated by: Alexandria Neonakis
Age Level: 0-3

Product Description: This bedtime poem, written by internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts bestowed upon a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic. Lyrically and lovingly written, this visually stunning book is infused with the Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.

The Buffalo and the Boat / Thathanka na Wata

Illustrated by: Frantisek Valer
Age Level: 3-6

This picture book published by the Lakota Language Consortium is designed for early elementary and preschool children. It tells the entertaining story of a buffalo in his bull boat traveling down the river and meeting friends. Each different animal joins buffalo and they continue down the river until the surprise ending. Bilingual Lakota/English.

The Lion & the Mouse

Age Level: 3-6

The well-known fable about how the smallest creature — a mouse — saves the majestic lion is a tale of kindness returned. Here it is effectively recast as a wordless story in a new setting. Stunning illustrations are expressive and emotive, evoking Africa's Serengeti while retaining the tale's power.

We're Sailing to Galapagos: A Week in the Pacific

Illustrated by: Grazia Restelli
Age Level: 3-6

"A colorfully garbed couple take readers on a jaunty journey to the Galapagos Islands. For each day of the week, the rhymed text introduces one of the islands' unique animals. The repetition of the chorus "We're sailing to Galapagos. I wonder who we'll see" encourages audience participation. The bright collages create striking vistas that will also enhance group sharing. The youngest listeners will enjoy the visit to giant tortoises, black iguanas, and blue-footed boobies before they sail home." — School Library Journal

Wild Berries

Illustrated by: Earl N. Cook
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Cree

In a quietly perceptive story that includes a handful of key words translated into a Cree dialect, a child accompanies his grandmother into an airy, late summer forest to pick wild blueberries. Throughout their excursion, Clarence and his grandmother observe woodland animals, including a spider ("kokom-minakesis") spinning its web, a fox ("makesis"), and birds ("pinesisak").

¡Marimba!: Animales from A to Z

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Doug Cushman
Age Level: 3-6

Find out what the animals in the zoo do once it's closed for the night in this lively, rhyming alphabet book. Jaunty illustrations add humor and meaning to words presented in two languages.