Children's Books That Teach Kids To Love Animals

These books foster compassion for animals in kids.

Parents rightly pay attention to their kids’ relationships with peers, teachers, siblings and other important figures in their lives. But another meaningful bond is children’s connection with animals.

Fostering compassion for animals can teach children empathy, emotional management, social responsibility and more. Even if you don’t have any pets in your home, you can promote this connection through media, especially books.

We’ve rounded up 27 children’s books that instill compassion for animals.

"Our Very Own Dog"
"A family lovingly adopts a dog with much preparation in this cheerful tale that’s full of helpful hints for aspiring dog owners." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"Ginger Finds a Home"
"Voake's watercolor-and-ink drawings change moods as the sullen orange tabby, scrounging for food in a trash can or sleeping in a patch of weeds, gives in to a cautious optimism when he meets the gentle girl. His body language expresses a tenuous hope as he leans toward her, follows her home and at last allows her to pick him up" -- Publishers Weekly(Available here)
"Don't Let Them Disappear"
"An appeal to share concern for 12 familiar but threatened, endangered, or critically endangered animal species. The subjects of Marino’s intimate, close-up portraits -- fairly naturalistically rendered, though most are also smiling, glancing up at viewers through human eyes, and posed at rest with a cute youngling on lap or flank—steal the show." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"The Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig"
"The delightful, digitally-painted illustrations are comical, colorful, and add just the right amount of detail to the well-written storyline. Young animal lovers will enjoy this book... a good example of narrative nonfiction for the youngest students and... a lovely story about love." -- School Library Connection (Available here)
"Before You Were Mine"
"Boelts’s restrained text and Walker’s affecting illustrations combine to pack a small wallop directly to the hearts of dog-loving children who will almost certainly give their pets an extra hug afterwards. A note on adopting a shelter pet follows this unabashedly emotional offering." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"At the outset, a mother tells her daughter, “You can have any pet you want as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.” Within these parameters, the girl acquires a sloth, dubbed Sparky .... By book’s end, both girl and sloth are just about as lonely and miserable as ever, but at least they’re lonely together." -- Publishers Weekly (Available here)
"Goyangi Means Cat"
"Here, Soo Min, a young Korean girl, is adopted by an American couple. Everything seems strange and new: She doesn't speak any English; her adoptive parents know little Korean. She finds comfort with Goyangi ('cat'), who doesn't need language to communicate, whose fur she strokes when afraid and who 'licked her hand with his towelly tongue' when she is homesick for Korea." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"Hush, Little Bunny"
"When a bunny is sad that winter is over and spring has arrived, his father promises him wonderful adventures. Read or sung to the tune of 'Hush, Little Baby,' the rhyme scans perfectly and becomes a fresh, new song of spring." -- School Library Journal (Available here)
"Gwen the Rescue Hen"
"When a tornado rips the roof off the building where a hen and her fellow chickens have been housed in the pitch black, in overcrowded cages, the feathered friends are suddenly free. Where she used to only dream of flying, she can now spread her wings and lift (slightly) into the air. She soon meets a young boy, Mateo, who gently gains her trust, sets up a lovely coop for her and her friends in his backyard, and names her Gwen." -- School Library Journal(Available here)
"Buddy Unchained"
"Buddy’s former owner did not feed him enough or provide clean water, and frequently left him chained outside. But things changed for the better when the animal was rescued and taken to a shelter, where he was subsequently adopted by a caring family." -- Prince William Public Library System(Available here)
"The Way I Love You"
"A bright-eyed, pigtailed preschooler ... muses on all the ways she and her equally spirited, pointy-eared puppy are soul mates." -- Publishers Weekly (Available here)
"Not Afraid of Dogs"
"The boy's connection to Bandit rings absolutely true, as does his insistence on his lack of fear. Day's hilarious illustrations, done in pen and ink with watercolor and gouache, show the truth behind his bluster, starting with the comical cover picture of Daniel climbing a lamppost to avoid a group of passing canines." -- Carroll County Public Library, MD(Available here)
"Yasmin the Zookeeper"
"Yasmin is a spunky second-grader who tries out all kinds of occupations — superhero, writer, chef, zookeeper — whether or not she actually knows what's involved. But she always has fun, thanks to her quick thinking and support from her big Pakistani American family." -- NPR(Available here)
"Harmony on the Farm"
"Harmony on the Farm is a great book for vegetarian and vegan families, as well as for anyone wanting to help children learn about having compassion for animals. It's a nice story and sets a good example." -- Jacqueline Bodnar(Available here)
"The Forgotten Rabbit"
"The children play with Bella at first, but then they lose interest in her, and her cage is left outside without adequate food or water. Another girl, Rosalita, rescues Bella and takes her to a much better life in her house. Rosalita quickly wins Bella’s affection and then teaches her how to use play equipment in a rabbit-sized obstacle course."-- Kirkus (Available here)
"Hobbes Goes Home"
"While there are many shelter-related books in the kid lit world, what sets Hobbes apart is its anti-bullying and forgiveness messaging, coupled with more common themes of hope, compassion, adoption, and family." -- Carolyn M. Mullin(Available here)
"Zoe And The Fawn"
"Little Zoe is helping her father care for their horses when she spots a fawn sheltering in an aspen grove. With the mother nowhere in sight, father and daughter embark on a search for her." -- Publishers Weekly(Available here)
"This touching tale of a dog’s devotion to his master is a well-known story in Japan, told here in first person through the eyes of a fictional boy named Kentaro. The boy and many others care for the dog, who becomes a celebrity due to his faithful nature, with a statue of the dog erected in the station even before the dog’s death from old age." -- Kirkus (Available here)
"How to Heal a Broken Wing"
"[N]o one notices the wounded pigeon that falls to the sidewalk -- until Will comes along. In this sparsely worded story, Will and his parents nurse the pigeon to health and then release him back into the sky." -- Publishers Weekly(Available here)
"The Story of Ferdinand"
"The story in text and pictures of a bull that was so mild that he preferred to smell the flowers and of how he came to the bull ring and sniffed the ladies' perfume instead of providing sport for the audience." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"I Found a Kitty!"
"With humor and charm, this book wonderfully illustrates the importance -- and joy! -- of finding just the right home for an animal in need. A helpful guide in the back on how to help animals in need has great advice for youngsters who may finish this book inspired to do good." -- Brittany Baker, Trident Booksellers & Café, Boston, MA(Available here)
"A Boy and a Jaguar"
"It's a picture book about [Alan Rabinowitz's] own childhood. Rabinowitz grew up with a severe stutter, something he had to overcome before he could pursue the career that has made him a voice for endangered animals." -- NPR (Available here)
"Talking Tails"
"Amusing ink-and-watercolor illustrations from Slavin are integrated into the text of this entertaining look at the history of pet keeping. With information about keeping fish, birds, rodents, horses and ferrets, most of the space is dedicated to cats and dogs." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"Ugly Cat & Pablo"
"In a banter-filled odd-couple story, a mouse named Pablo and his feline friend Ugly Cat roam their neighborhood making trouble and eating street cart food (paletas are a particular favorite)." -- Publishers Weekly(Available here)
"Tails Are Not for Pulling"
"The book covers specifics that children tend to do, like pulling tails, chasing, grabbing and teasing. It also contains tips for parents and other caregivers." -- This Dog Life(Available here)
"Who Wants a Tortoise?"
"A nameless, pigtailed, sassy child in a pink gossamer skirt wants only one birthday present: a puppy; in the box, however, is not a puppy but a tortoise." -- Kirkus(Available here)
"'Let's Get a Pup' Said Kate"
"Following the death of her cat, young Kate has grown lonesome for a new pet. Mom and Dad quickly catch Kate's enthusiasm when she suggests, "Let's get a pup!" and the family heads to the local animal Rescue Center." -- Publishers Weekly(Available here)

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