Picture Books for Animal Lovers

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Share compassion with a creature near you!

The plight of animals, from homeless cats and dogs to wild animals losing their wilderness, inspires profound empathy in people of all ages. These stories will inspire the animal lover in your life to extend their compassion and kindness to the animal kingdom.

You may also enjoy titles from our related collection: Chapter Books for Animal Lovers.

Conversation Starters

  • What do you like about being around animals?

  • Why is it fun to spend time with animals?

  • Why is it important to help out living things other than people?

  • What are some ways animals help people?

  • What are some ways we can show animals we love them?

  • Discuss the many wordless ways animals show their feelings -- pain, hunger, excitement, loneliness. Ask your children how those emotions and responses are similar to their own.

Make time to discuss the books you read and the service projects you do together. By talking intentionally and openly about complicated ideas, you are giving your child the opportunity to strengthen their compassion, problem-solving, and empathy muscles.
— Sarah Aadland, Doing Good Together
Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer to  help animals.  Also,  click here  for our complete list of reflection guides.

Print DGT’s reflection guide when you volunteer to help animals. Also, click here for our complete list of reflection guides.

Featured Title

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes
Explore the big ideas of resilience, friendship, hope, and love in this amazing new book. Based on the true tale of Jessica and her husband Patrick, survivors of the Boston-Marathon bombing, this story explores the healing love they shared with their real-life furry friend, Rescue. 

Additional DGT Favorites

Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts
A young boy thinks about the life of his dog before he adopted him from an animal shelter.

Birds by Kevin Henkes
A girl hears singing through an open window and sees birds, opening exploration into abstract, organic concepts about the natural environment and “what if” conversations.

A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Robinowitz
Meet Alan, a boy who loves animals. In fact, he struggles with a stutter unless he's speaking to animals. Alan has to overcome his stutter and find his voice when he encounters a zoo whose animals are in a sad state. Can one young voice make a difference?

Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix
The story of a dog that was abused before finding himself in a loving home.

Dave Loves Chickens by Carlos Patinos
This bright, funny story features a monster who doesn't understand why humans eat animals.  Discover quirky animal facts and discuss what it means to treat animals with compassion.

The Dog Who Belonged to No One by Amy Hest
A lonely little girl and a lonely pup find a best friend in one another.

A Garden of Whales by Maggie Davis
A little boy in his bathtub imagines he lives in the ocean and dreams up a way to save all of the world’s whale families. Beautiful illustrations accompany lyrical text in this picture book that will have your child loving whales—and believing that someday he or she, too, might be able to make a difference.

Gamba - An Optimistic Mountain Gorilla Tale by DJ Burk
Gamba is busy learning everything a gorilla needs to know to thrive with her family in the wild until tragedy strikes. Although people were responsible for Gamba's hardship, the kindness of humans also helps him in the end. This book will start a thoughtful conversation about how humans can make things better for animals.

Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell
Life isn't easy for Soo Min, when she comes from Korea to live with her new American family. Everything is new and unfamiliar. English is difficult. The first great comfort she finds is in her bond with the family cat.

How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
In this modern fable, everyone passes by the injured pigeon lying on the ground—except Will. He takes the bird home so that he and his mom can nurse him back to health and get him back in the sky. This book will help kids understand the importance of "noticing" the needs around them. 

Hobbes Goes Home by Tami Crupi Zeman and Bruce Zeman Jr.
This story of a dog who is taken to the shelter to escape an abusive situation. Luckily, after a harrowing ordeal, he does find contentment and happiness.

The Little Blue Dog by Karen Roberts
Your family will love this sweet story of life from the perspective of a shelter dog is sure to spark big conversations about love, home, and belonging, necessary comforts for people and pets alike.

Maggie’s Second Chance by Nancy Furstinger
Jeff and his 4th grade classmates save Maggie, a rescue dog, by petitioning the town council to establish an animal shelter. Based on a true story.

One Day at Wood Green Animal Shelter by Patricia Casey
Learn about the workings of a humane society from this informative and lively book. Perfect for young animal lovers.

The Shelter Dog by Christine Davis
Hero, an angel dog, decides he wants to go back to earth to be a shelter dog so a loving family can choose him as their pet. Slowly he realizes that living in a shelter isn’t as nice as it appears.

Tea with Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
Birds, nature and the relationship between a grandma and her grandchildren, a gentle reminder that the simplest pleasures can often be found just outside our window.

Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat by Sara Swan Miller
Three silly stories about the adventures of being a cat.

Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service Dog by Luis Carlos Montalvan
Hardworking Tuesday has a very important job to do. As readers follow this remarkable service dog through his daily routines, they discover the love between Luis and Tuesday and gain a glimpse into the challenges faced by wounded veterans.  

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom by Jennifer Holland
While they may not be the same species, animals can still be friends with one another. Learn about the incredible bonds between a cat and a dog, a lion and a calf, and other animals in this heartwarming book.

The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life With Chimps by Jeanette Winter
Told through illustrations, Jane Goodall’s life is traced from her life in London to her time in Africa, studying chimps.

When Anju Loved Being an Elephant by Wendy Henrichs
This beautiful and at times heartbreaking book follows Anjus from her lovely life in the wild to the cruel, hard world of the circus. The happy ending, along with the tender recognition that animals have emotional experiences too, make this a book well worth reading and re-reading.


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The recommendations we offer are based solely on our mission to empower parents to raise children who care and contribute.