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!
"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.
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, amazon.com, $12.73
"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, amazon.com, $10.70
"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, amazon.com, $13.59
"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 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, amazon.com, $13.35
"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, amazon.com, $6.29
"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
A Bunny in the Ballet, by Robert Beck, ages 4-8, amazon.com, $14.54
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.
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, amazon.com, $11.37
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, berenstainbears.com, $3-$4 each
"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, barnesandnoble.com, $11.93
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.
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.
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.
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, amazon.com, $4.33
"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, barnesandnoble.com, $11.24