As the season begins to change and days become shorter, you may be looking for ways to entertain your kids while providing an opportunity for learning. Sharing a wonderful story about our favorite animals, or a unique wildlife character, is a wonderful way to teach children about animals and encourage a lifelong love of reading.

Some of us may still have a copy of our favorite childhood books, such as a well-worn edition of Charlotte’s Web or Old Yeller. We may even get a bit teary-eyed with nostalgia as we read these classics to our own children.

But, classics are only a starting point. Sophisticated, well-written and illustrated children’s literature is a trend that continues to gain momentum and credibility. For animal lovers, these compelling stories offer a chance to engage young audiences in the importance of wildlife and animal protection, as well as how animals, like humans, experience a range of feelings, behaviors, and basic needs.

Classic Animal Tails Tales

When we begin our quest for the perfect animal-centric story for the kids, we often look to those tales we grew up with and have fond memories of. While some parents may avoid titles that contain references to hunting or deal with issues that may not be suitable for their youngsters, the life lessons distilled in many of these titles keep them on our reading list for generations to come.

  1. Old Yeller  by Fred Gipson
  2. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  3. The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  4. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  5. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  6. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  7. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  8. Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat
  9. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
  10. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  11. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses by Paul Goble

Modern Animal-Genre Young Adult Reading

Animal-themed stories have become a standard tool in schools and other learning environments as  we have seen a strong correlation between empathy and a reduction in bullying. These stories also help kids gain a greater understanding of the role animals can play as allies in teaching compassion and kindness. With the trend in animal-based literature continuing to take hold, the quality of both the writing and the illustrations has been exceptional, earning awards for excellence in young adult literature. Even adults are drawn to these beautiful stories, treating them as collectable coffee table books.

Here are some of the many incredible contemporary animal stories you and your family will love.

  1. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  2. The Girl Who Remembered Horses by Linda Benson
  3. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
  4. The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse
  5. Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix
  6. Do Animals Have Feelings Too? By David Rice
  7. Amos & Boris by William Steig
  8. Sleep Like a Tiger by  Mary Logue
  9. The Cat at Night by Dahlov Ipcar
  10. Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levine
  11. Wildwood Chronicles by Colin Meloy

Of course, the list of wonderful books could go on and on!

Today’s young adult literature often has a strong focus on the role of domestic and wild animals in our lives, in our homes, and on their own. It’s exciting to see so many great titles that teach children about the importance of kindness toward animals. We hope you enjoy these recommendations, and we encourage you to share your own favorites with those your love. Happy reading!