Children's Books for Animal Lovers: Vetstreet Editors' Favorites

Book reports, library visits, story hour — back-to-school season is the perfect time to get back to reading. We've prepared for the first day of class by sharing some of our favorite children's books featuring animals. Check these out on your next visit to the library or bookstore — and share your favorites in the comments section!

Children's Books for Animal Lovers

children's book

Courtesy of North-South Books

"The Rainbow Fish," by Marcus Pfister

Rainbow Fish has plenty of glittering scales — but no other fish friends in the sea. As he learns to share his scales with the other fish, he gains something more important than beauty: friendship. Young children will love to follow Rainbow Fish's scales as they spread out through the illustrations and appear on the other fish.

The Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister, ages 3-5,, $15.42

children's book

Courtesy of Orchard Books

"Naughty Kitty!," by Adam Stower

This funny follow-up to the book Silly Doggy tells the tale of a little girl who is finally allowed to have her own kitten — and learns that raising a pet is harder than she thought. But is it really her new kitty who is causing all of the cat-tastrophies or someone — or something — else?

Naughty Kitty!, by Adam Stower, ages 3-5,, $12.73

children's book

Courtesy of Orchard Books

"The Very Cranky Bear," by Nick Bland

A moose, a lion, a sheep and a zebra find shelter from a storm in a dark cave, only to discover there is a bear in there! And not just any bear, a very cranky bear. The four friends can't understand what he is so upset about, so they set out to cheer him up. Will the intruders win the bear over, or will they have to find a new cave?

The Very Cranky Bear, by Nick Bland, ages 3-5,, $10.70

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Courtesy of Scholastic Press

"Hiding Phil," by Eric Barclay

Three siblings come across an elephant named Phil and decide to take him home and keep him. They don't think their parents will be too happy about their new pet, though — so they do everything they can think of to hide him. Hijinks ensue, and your kids will laugh all the way to the story's end.

Hiding Phil, by Eric Barclay, ages 3-5,, $13.59

children's book

Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade

"A Ball for Daisy," by Chris Raschka

This Randolph Caldecott Medal winner doesn't have any words, but the illustrations show a sweet pup’s emotions about her favorite toy. Daisy's ball is destroyed by a bigger dog she meets at the park, and she is devastated. The pictures clearly show Daisy's sadness — as well as her joy when she meets the bigger dog again and is given a new ball to love. Perfect for early readers, who can tell the story in their own words.

A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka, ages 3-7,, $13.71

children's book

Courtesy of Little Simon

"Bear Snores On," by Karma Wilson

A hibernating bear's den is invaded by woodland creatures who have a party while he sleeps — and snores. But what will happen when the bear wakes up? Adorable drawings and rhyming text make this a read-aloud favorite.

Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson, ages 3-7,, $13.35

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Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers

"Tacky the Penguin," by Helen Lester

This is the first in a series of books about Tacky the penguin, who stands out in his group of refined friends with his Hawaiian shirts and, well, tacky ways. But when a scheming group of hunters threatens Tacky's home, his ability to think outside the box saves the day — and shows young readers that being different can be an asset.

Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester, ages 4-7,, $6.29

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Courtesy of Orchard Books

"A Bunny in the Ballet," by Robert Beck

Désirée, a bunny in Paris, wants nothing more than to be a ballerina. But she is told over and over again that "There are no bunnies in the ballet!" With Parisian-inspired pen-and-ink illustrations to help tell the story, the book follows Désirée as she works to make her dreams come true.

A Bunny in the Ballet, by Robert Beck, ages 4-8,, $14.54

children's book

Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers

Curious George Series, by Margret and H.A. Rey

This curious monkey is always getting into trouble, but with some clever and fast thinking and a little help from his friends he gets out of every scrape. This series, which has entertained young readers since 1941, now includes a television show, a movie and a website, as well as a range of games and smartphone apps to keep kids entertained for hours.

Curious George series, by Margret and H.A. Rey, ages 4-8,, $2-$15

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Courtesy of Scholastic Press

"Hi, Koo!," by Jon J Muth

Whimsical and charming, this book asks readers to stretch their imaginations as they follow Koo the panda and two children who befriend him on a journey through the four seasons — haiku style.

Hi, Koo!, by Jon J Muth, ages 4-8,, $11.37

children's book

Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

The Berenstain Bears Series, by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Berenstain Bears are celebrating their 50th anniversary with no lag in popularity — and it's clear why: Each book in the vast series focuses on issues relevant to kids of all ages. We've all been guilty of getting the "gimmies" at the grocery store, breaking things and lying about it, or forgetting our manners. And Mama and Papa Bear always have the right answers to their children’s problems.

The Berenstain Bears series, by Stan and Jan Berenstain, ages 4-8,, $3-$4 each 

children's book

Courtesy of HarperCollins

"Diary of a Worm," by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss

This tale from New York Times best-selling author Doreen Cronin and cartoonist Harry Bliss gives children an up-close look at the life of an earthworm. Diary entries take readers along with the young worm as he plays with his friends and spends time with his family. The story is designed to appeal to the younger set — the worm doesn't have to take a bath or worry about tracking mud into the house, but he also can't have a pet dog or chew gum.

Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss, ages 4-8,, $11.93

children's book

Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion

Elephant & Piggie Books, by Mo Willems

Gerald is a thoughtful elephant. Piggie is a rambunctious pig. Together, they navigate various kid-appropriate challenges, like what to wear to a party and how to share. This series, which has grown to more than 20 titles (including a few New York Times best-sellers), is sure to make your kids laugh out loud.

Elephant & Piggie books, by Mo Willems, ages 4-8,, $8.99

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Courtesy of Harper & Brothers

"Charlotte's Web," by E.B. White

No list of favorite children's books would be complete without Charlotte's Web. The story of a smart and sassy spider who befriends a naive and lonely piglet is a timeless tale of two unexpected heroes coming together to do great things.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White, ages 6-11,, $8.99

book cover

Courtesy of Harper Collins

"The One and Only Ivan," by Katherine Applegate

This Newbery Medal winner, inspired by a true story, is told from the perspective of Ivan, a captive gorilla living in terrible conditions in a glass case in a shopping mall. For 27 years, Ivan's days are occupied with painting, television and his friends, Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But when Ruby, a baby elephant captured in the wild, joins them in the mall enclosure, Ivan rethinks their captivity.

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate, ages 8-12,, $9.58

children's book

Courtesy of HarperCollins

"The Mouse and the Motorcycle," by Beverly Cleary

From Newbury Medal-winning author Beverly Cleary comes the tale of a curious mouse named Ralph who lives in the Mountain View Inn. One day a boy comes to stay at the hotel and brings a red toy motorcycle. Ralph vows he will ride it! But his newly found freedom and speed comes with challenges — like escaping an enthusiastic terrier.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary, ages 8-12,, $4.33

children's book

Courtesy of Candlewick Press

"Flora & Ulysses," by Kate DiCamillo

This Newbery Award winner from the author of The Tale of Despereaux tells the story of Ulysses the squirrel who, after a near-death incident with a vacuum cleaner, develops the ability to fly and write poetry. He is befriended by 10-year-old Flora, who is obsessed with superheroes and overlooked by her family. DiCamillo's illustrated story is perfect for comic book lovers of all ages.

Flora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo, ages 8-12,, $11.24

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