Children’s Books about Relationships with Animals/Nature

I love children’s literature. I buy and borrow and read children’s books even though I don’t have kids (yet) and even when I’m not teaching other people’s kids. I enjoy the books myself, but I also love sharing my favorites and using the stories as opportunities to discuss what I am most passionate about: the human-animal connection. How do we think about nature? What can animals teach us? How can we interact with them in a way that is fulfilling for everyone? What are we doing to threaten animal lives and habitats, and what can we do to change that? These topics are not too advanced for children. In fact, I believe it is important to address these issues early and often to raise compassionate citizens of our planet…

Here is a list of children’s books about human relationships with animals and/or nature that I have read and enjoyed. The books are in no particular order, and the list is definitely biased toward books about primates…sorry, not sorry! I will add to the list as I continue to read. Feel free to suggest books in the comments- I am especially interested in reading, supporting, and promoting authors and illustrators of color! Happy reading, fellow primates and bookworms!

Picture Books

Tenzin’s Deer by Barbara Soros

The Birdwatchers by Simon James

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales retold by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Anne Wilson (fiction)

Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet & Elspeth Graham, illustrated by Juan Wijngaard (fiction)

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photographs by Nic Bishop

The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White (nonfiction)

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Amigo by Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Garth Williams

No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart & Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by Catia Chien

Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears by Jill Robinson &  Marc Bekoff, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen

Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: The Boy Whose Dream Was Everest by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Ed Young

Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated by Abigail Halpin

The Legend of the Lady Slipper by Lise Lunge-Larsen & Margi Preus, illustrated by Andrea Arroyo

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps by Jeanette Winter

Aani and the Tree Huggers by Jeannine Atkins, illustrated by Venantius J. Pinto

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter

Aquarium by Cynthia Alonso

Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, illustrated by Steve Johnson

Monkey Business: Stories from Around the World by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Erik Brooks

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event by Rebecca Bond

Slow Loris by Alexis Deacon

The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Leo Dillon & Diane Dillon

Dorje’s Stripes by Anshumani Ruddia, illustrated by Gwangio Park & Jung Park

Komodo! by Peter Sis

Tigress by Helen Cowcher

Heartbeat by Evan Turk

Shark Lady: The True Story of How Eugenie Clark Became the Ocean’s Most Fearless Scientist by Jess Keating, illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

When the Monkeys Came Back by Kristine L. Franklin, illustrated by Robert Roth

Crane Boy by Diana Cohn, illustrated by Youme

Middle Grade/YA

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Year of the Panda by Miriam Schlein

What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Tua and the Elephant by R. P. Harris

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis

Moon Bear by Gill Lewis

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer

Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan

Read a similar list for adults here!


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