Best children's books for animal lovers

It's a universal truth that children love and respond to animals, so we've collated a list of the best books guaranteed to delight the little animal lovers in your life.

From soft-flap books for toddlers, to upbeat rhyming stories, to versions of the classic Jungle Book, and even a Vietnamese conservation story, this selection of titles will thrill children who love animals. Which, after all, is pretty much all children. . . 

These books offer fun and thrills alongside a good dose of education about our animal friends, and how best to respect, interact with, and look after them.

The best children's animal books for babies and toddlers

Dear Zoo

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for Dear Zoo

With its bright, bold illustrations and simple rhyming story, little ones will love lifting the flaps and finding the animals in Rod Campbell’s classic interactive children’s book, Dear Zoo. With bright, bold artwork, and a repeating text, Dear Zoo is a must for every child's bookshelf – and the thick card pages, chunky cased cover, and sturdy flaps make it perfect for small hands. Look out for Rod Campbell's Look After Us, a lift-the-flap animal book for toddlers with a positive message about conservation.

Animal Rhymes

by Rod Campbell

Book cover for Animal Rhymes

Full of both classic nursery rhymes such as 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and originals from Rod Campbell, this colourful chunky board book is full of fun rhymes to sing, flaps to lift and games to play with your little one.

Busy Farm

by Louise Forshaw

Book cover for Busy Farm

Small kids can enjoy pushing, pulling and turning tabs while learning about life on the farm, helping bale the hay and rounding up the sheep. This cheerful bright book features gentle rhyming text and wonderful illustrations. 

All About Cats 

by Axel Scheffler

Book cover for All About Cats 

Cats are sleek, and cats are slick. They read, and do arithmetic!

Cats playing piano? Cats wallowing in bubble baths with their rubber ducks? Find out what cats like to do when there are no people around. Witty and curious poems by Frantz Wittkamp translated from German, with amusing illustrations by Gruffalo artist Axel Scheffler.

Who's Hiding on the Farm

by Axel Scheffler

Book cover for Who's Hiding on the Farm

Lift the felt flaps to find out which animals are hiding on the farm, and help Little Chick discover where Mummy Hen is. Babies can lift the soft flaps of this lovely story created by star illustrator Axel Scheffler.

The best children's animal books for 3–5s

Counting Creatures

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Counting Creatures

Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai

This stunning picture book is a fun, interactive counting book with peep-through pages, fold-out flaps and bright, beautiful artwork. Little ones will love comparing the creatures, exploring their habitats and learning the proper names for all the baby animals.

Mole's Spectacles

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Mole's Spectacles

Lift the flaps and join in the fun with Mole's Spectacles, a brilliant story by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Mole has lost his spectacles. He searches all around his house, in the garden and even in Weasel's sweetshop, but he can't find them anywhere! Where could they be? Lift the flaps to help him find them. With sturdy flaps on every spread and rhyming stories that are a joy to read aloud, Mole's Spectacles joins the bestselling Tales from Acorn Wood which have been delighting parents and children for over twenty years.


by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for Animalphabet

Illustrated by Sharon King-Chai

With Sharon King-Chai’s beautiful bold illustrations, peep-through pages and Julia Donaldson’s trademark rhythmic writing, this award-winning collaboration is a non-fiction children’s book to be treasured forever. Packed with facts about a huge array of animals, you’ll read Animalphabet together for years to come.

The Hospital Dog

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for The Hospital Dog

Here is a dog, a Dalmatian called Dot,

Is she quite ordinary? NO, SHE’S NOT!

The Hospital Dog is a heartwarming tale by Julia Donaldson about a very special brave dog. After they have had breakfast and a sea swim, Dot and her owner Rose take the bus to the hospital. Dot cheers up the patients, and when one of them is in trouble she's ready to go to the rescue.

I am Dog

by Peter Bently

Book cover for I am Dog

What do dogs really think? Find out for yourself with this witty rhyming tale!

I am Dog. Dog is me. I like walkies. I like tree.

I like rolls in foxy pong. Foxy pong is nice and strong!

Follow a day in the life of a cheeky dog, as it sniffs and tumbles and looks for fun. There are plenty of sticks to be fetched, ducks to chase, and cuddles to be had . . .

Captain Cat and the Treasure Map

by Sue Mongredien

Book cover for Captain Cat and the Treasure Map

Great for children who are beginning to read independently but still a story you can share together, this laugh-out-loud adventure follows ship’s cat Patch and his pirate friends as they go in search of treasure, marked on their map with a mysterious X.

The best children's animal books for 6–8s

Into the Jungle

Book cover for Into the Jungle

This stunning book with a foiled cover and vibrant coloured illustrations is a must for little fans of The Jungle Book. Katherine Rundell has created charming and compelling origin stories for all of the best-loved characters from this classic story, from Baloo and Shere Khan to Kaa and Bagheera. Children will love hearing stories about the early years of all their favourites.

InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S.

Book cover for InvestiGators: Ants in Our P.A.N.T.S.

Down in the sewers, the alligator investigators have a brand new mission. Agent Brash is in a coma and the technicians have replaced him with RoboBrash! Mango and the robot set out to stop giant ants which are rampaging through the city. But the ants aren't the only bugs causing trouble – there are a few bugs in RoboBrash's system, and they are adding to the hilarity and chaos.

The Complete Jungle Book

Book cover for The Complete Jungle Book

The ultimate edition of Rudyard Kipling's jungle book contains all the author's favourite animal tales:  join Mowgli, Bagheera and Baloo as they adventure in the jungle. This beautifully produced volume contains an animaltastic bonus story: The Cat That Walked by Himself.

Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear

by Nguyen Thi Thu Trang

Book cover for Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear

An inspiring graphic novel thriller, written by scientist and environmental activist Trang Nguyen. When Chang finds there is a bear farm near where she lives in Vietnam, she decides to save all the animals she can, by learning to be a conservationist. She becomes a volunteer at a rescue centre, then decides to release Sorya – a sun bear who is also her best friend – back into the wild . . . 

The best children's animal books for 9–12s 

The Umbrella Mouse

by Anna Fargher

Book cover for The Umbrella Mouse

In 1944, young mouse Pip Hanway’s world is turned on its head when her home, James Smith & Sons umbrella shop, is hit by a bomb. Having lost her parents, Pip finds herself suddenly alone and the only way to find a new home is to join Noah’s Ark, a secret organisation of animals fighting with the resistance in France, and soon she must risk everything to save her new friends . . . 

A touching story of bravery, resistance and friendship, The Umbrella Mouse is an award-winning, heart-stopping adventure.

Wild Child

by Dara McAnulty

Book cover for Wild Child

Join brilliant young naturalist Dara McAnulty on a nature walk and experience the joy of connecting with the natural world on your multi sensory journey.

This beautiful gift book is divided into five sections: looking out of the window, venturing out into the garden, walking in the woods, investigating heathland and wandering on the river bank. Each introduces young readers to the habitat and fantastic facts about the native wildlife there, and also contains a discovery section which takes a closer look natural phenomenon such as metamorphoses and migration.