Animal books for kids are classroom library staples. Whether for animal-loving kiddos to browse or to support your science or informational text standards, you’ve got to have a great stack on hand. We pulled together a list of recent nonfiction animal books for kids that each have a little something extra—a unique format, a new perspective, or ultra-interesting content for kids who already know it all.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
1. See How They Grow series by DK
Amazing photos show animals as newborns and as they grow up. The text describes how animals learn new skills as they get bigger. We love how these books give kids a sequential glimpse at animal development. They are also perfect for teaching science standards about how animal babies resemble their parents.
Buy it: See How They Grow: Forest on Amazon
2. Supermoms! Animal Heroes by Heather Lang and Jamie Harper
Funny and fascinating comic-style panels tell about the myriad ways that animal moms have their kids’ backs. Fun to share around Mother’s Day or to introduce a compare-and-contrast follow-up activity.
Buy it: Supermoms! Animal Heroes on Amazon
3. What if …? series by Sandra Markle
These titles are must-have animal books for kids for talking about animal adaptations. Sandra Markle knows how to make animal abilities relevant to kids, from explaining echolocation as animal “spying,” to comparing armadillo armor to skateboard pads. We know some teachers who use this series during opinion writing to inspire kids to write about which animal ability they’d most like to have and why!
Buy it: What if You Could Spy Like a Narwhal!? on Amazon
4. If Bees Disappeared by Lily Williams
Encourage kids’ passion for protecting the environment with this book that focuses on the critical role bees play in our ecosystem. The kid-friendly introductions to powerful vocabulary words like “keystone species,” “pollinators,” and “superorganism” are a highlight too.
Buy it: If Bees Disappeared on Amazon
5. The Beak Book by Robin Page
Did you know a toucan’s huge beak is designed to deflect heat to keep the bird cool? Other birds’ beaks are designed especially for sniffing, crushing, straining, prying, stabbing, and more. If you study animal adaptations, or birds, this book is for you. Great to read aloud!
Buy it: The Beak Book on Amazon
6. Packs: Strength in Numbers by Hannah Salyer
This is one of the most perfect animal books for kids to read to a classroom! It focuses on ways animal species work together to survive, from cooperative building to traveling, working, and even singing together.
Buy it: Packs: Strength in Numbers on Amazon
7. Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill by Matt Lilley
Chances are your students (and you) don’t know much about krill. This book will change that. Funny and engaging, this title will build readers’ appreciation for these small but mighty ocean swimmers. This is an ideal title for a KWL lesson or a comprehension task about main idea and supporting details.
Buy it: Good Eating: The Short Life of Krill on Amazon
8. Summertime Sleepers: Animals That Estivate by Melissa Stewart
There are so many books about what animals do in winter, but we love how this one encourages kids to think outside the box (err—bear cave?). Pair this title with having kids write what they do in summer, or a study of habitats or weather.
Buy it: Summertime Sleepers: Animals That Estivate on Amazon
9. How Birds Sleep by Sarah Pedry and David Obuchowski
What do birds do when they need a rest? So many different things! This title explains how different birds sleep—in trees, on water, in the air, snuggled together, and more. We love how the authors’ note explains that the idea for this book came from their family’s own wondering. Encourage kids to pose their own animal questions and search for answers.
Buy it: How Birds Sleep on Amazon
10. Ultimate Predators series by Sandra Markle
Sandra Markle is a seasoned creator of many animal books for kids, and she knows just what will draw kids in. This series hones in on the adaptations and habits that allow certain animals to be nature’s top hunters. These well-organized books are ideal for teaching main idea and supporting details in nonfiction text.
Buy it: On the Hunt With Lions (Ultimate Predators) on Amazon
11. The Whale Who Swam Through Time: A 200-Year Journey in the Arctic by Alex Boersma and Nick Pyenson
Did you know that bowhead whales can live up to 200 years? This title maps the lifetime of one whale onto human history in its Arctic home. From explorers’ and whaling ships to oil spills, submarines, and warming ocean temperatures, 200 years bring many changes for a whale—and can give kids ideas for how to protect them in the future.
Buy it: The Whale Who Swam Through Time on Amazon
12. Butterfly for a King by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore
Kids love this story of the Kamehameha butterfly, named for a great Hawaiian king. It tells how a group of fifth graders convinced state leaders to make this butterfly Hawaii’s state insect and helped launch a citizen science effort to study and protect them.
Buy it: Butterfly for a King on Amazon
13. Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife by Meeg Pincus
This inspiring story tells how wildlife advocates in Los Angeles led a successful effort to build a wildlife crossing for animals like P-22, a cougar who found himself stuck in LA’s Griffith Park. Spark kids’ interest in learning more about urban wildlife and animal crossings. This title makes a great read-aloud and informational writing mentor text.
Buy it: Cougar Crossing on Amazon
14. Narwhal: The Arctic Unicorn by Justin Anderson
This text reads like a mesmerizing nature documentary. Invite kids to join the narwhal’s journey from its winter home to its summer resting grounds in the Arctic.
Buy it: Narwhal: The Arctic Unicorn on Amazon
15. Made for Each Other: Why Dogs and People Are Perfect Partners by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
You’re guaranteed to have a dog lover in your class every year. We love how this book blends history and science to teach readers about man’s best friend from one specific angle.
Buy it: Made for Each Other on Amazon
16. Scientists in the Field series by various authors
Give older kids a glimpse into the work of field scientists who study animals with this captivating range of titles that feature animals and locations from around the world. The narrative format really pulls kids into the story of each scientist’s work, and the photos are breathtaking.
Buy it: The Snowy Owl Scientist on Amazon
17. Tracking Tortoises: The Mission To Save a Galápagos Giant by Kate Messner
This title explores the Galápagos Islands’ formation and how giant tortoises have evolved to fit into the ecosystem there. Plus, it talks about all the interesting methods scientists are using to protect them. Kids will love learning about this unique habitat and species.
Buy it: Tracking Tortoises: The Mission to Save a Galápagos Giant on Amazon
Which animal books do your students love? Let us know in the comments!
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