Skip to content
FREE Three Little Pigs with infinibook preorder! →
FREE Three Little Pigs with infinibook preorder! →
A dog is sitting next to a sound book laying on the grass. Musical books for kids, toddler musical activities, kids learning, toddler education.

Roar! A Collection of Fun Animal Books for Toddlers

From the zoo to the barn, through the jungle and the ocean, we’re embarking on an adventure to find the best animal books for toddlers ages 0-3. Did you know stories about furry friends can be incredible tools to help children build language skills, empathy, and a love for reading? Join us as we explore the educational and developmental benefits of animal-themed books, and determine some fiercely fun titles your little animal lover will adore!  

Why Do Kids Love Animal Books?

Toddlers have always responded positively to silly, adorable animals (as do we!). Animals are fascinating to look at, make funny noises, and explore the world around them the same way young children do. But what is it about animals in storybooks that is so intriguing to kids? 

Well, there are many reasons! But besides being cute and cuddly, animals are easy for little ones to identify with—regardless of age, hair color, or skin color, kids can identify with a rabbit, a bear, or a caterpillar. All of their emotions can be easily personified in the physical traits of animals, too. Think of a timid mouse, a cheeky monkey, or an angry lion. These characters embody very real human traits, and are still lovable and charming despite their “flaws.” In a way, animals in stories are just human stories in disguise

The Benefits of Animal Books for Toddlers

Top view of 2 toddlers reading an illustrated sound book. Musical books for kids, toddler musical activities, kids learning, toddler education.

The captivating illustrations and beloved characters of animal books make them entertaining and enjoyable on their own, but there are several more surprising benefits to reading animal books with your toddler. From tackling difficult topics to learning about the world around them, these stories can educate toddlers and help them process their emotions during an important developmental stage. Here are a few benefits of animal books for toddlers:

Inspires an appreciation for animals and wildlife

Animal books are often the first introduction children have to wildlife, and they can teach kids that animals have needs, feelings, and emotions just like they do. Children’s books about nature help kids notice the plants and animals around them in the same way that nature writing for adults can. This can help them develop an early appreciation for the earth and all the creatures who live in it.

Helps in the development of key skills

By learning about animals, kids develop various cognitive skills, such as observational skills, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking. Listening to animal stories also enriches children’s vocabulary, creating a connection between sounds and the meaning of the words. When listening to a parent’s voice, toddlers can identify how each word should be pronounced and what each word means. 

Teaches valuable lessons

Many stories about talking animals involve life lessons and important values. By watching their favorite animal characters display kindness, bravery, or empathy, kids are inspired to emulate these virtues themselves. Animal books are also more likely to inspire children to think critically and develop a sense of responsibility and integrity in their decision-making.

While children’s books are often seen as simple fun, they can have a much more powerful impact on children than we realize. The lessons that animal books teach kids last a lifetime, and the morals they learn stick with them. Children are playing and having fun, while simultaneously growing and learning with every word they read. 

Covers difficult topics in a safe way

Broaching tough topics like death or religion can be difficult to navigate. Animal books make these subjects more appropriate and accessible for children. The death of a human character can be traumatic for a child. Books that use animals as people can add emotional distance for the reader, offering a safe way for children to explore these topics. 

The Science Behind Early Introduction to the Animal World

A sound book is on the grass and a toddler is playing in a kiddie pool with a dog. Musical books for kids, toddler musical activities, kids learning, toddler education.

In 1804, biologist E.O. Wilson coined the term “biophilia,” or the love humans have for other living things. Research shows that humans’ innate interest in animals is biological: we are drawn to species other than our own, and have an instinct to care for or nurture creatures that are small and vulnerable. 

Introducing toddlers to the animal world can help them develop an early love for animals and the environment, but studies also show that this exposure can translate to caring for other people as well. Their love for animals helps nurture feelings of connection and stewardship among all species. 

Supporting toddlers’ curiosity for animals can lead to more positive classroom relationships and support their social-emotional development. As children have more experiences with animals, they learn about similarities and differences, and their compassion can grow with these discoveries. 

How to Choose the Right Animal Books for Your Toddler

A dog is sitting next to a sound book laying on the grass. Musical books for kids, toddler musical activities, kids learning, toddler education.

There are so many incredible animal books to choose from, so where should you start? Here are some general guidelines you can follow and elements to focus on when choosing an animal book for your toddler. 

Interactive elements

Look for books that keep them engaged and require their interaction. Keep an eye open for things like flaps, mirrors, buttons, and textures that toddlers can feel and play with. These elements make their experience more enjoyable, encouraging them to visit them again in the future.

Age-appropriate themes

Choose books that cover age-appropriate topics and themes that introduce animals in simple ways. For younger toddlers, focus on books with straightforward narratives and bold, colorful illustrations. 

Educational content

Try seeking out animal books with educational content in addition to a story. Books that teach basic concepts like animal names, colors, shapes, and numbers are ideal because kids will learn during playtime. 

Engaging illustrations

Bright, eye-catching illustrations are so important when it comes to toddlers’ animal books. Vibrant artwork grabs their attention and stimulates their imagination. 

Popular Animal Books for Toddlers

A dog is looking up and sound books are laying around on the grass. Musical books for kids, toddler musical activities, kids learning, toddler education.

There are endless animal books to choose from, and we’ve compiled a list of our favorites that teach children valuable lessons, inspire a love for nature, and keep them engaged. 

  • Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin: This lively story showcases rebellious farm animals communicating via typewriter to negotiate better living conditions.
  • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr.: Kids explore the sounds of exotic animals in this vibrant sequel to a beloved classic, illustrated by Eric Carle.
  • T Is for Tiger by Laura Watkins: An engaging alphabet book that introduces toddlers to a variety of animals alongside fascinating facts.
  • Look & Learn: Pets and Little Kids First Big Book of Animals by National Geographic: These books combine stunning photographs and educational content to captivate and inform young minds.
  • Sparky! by Jenny Offill: This charming tale highlights the unique bond between a girl and her pet sloth, emphasizing the value of individuality.
  • Wild Animals by Little Hippo Books: A touch-and-feel adventure that allows toddlers to experience different textures, connecting them to wildlife.
  • Animal ABC by Various Authors: Perfect for introducing letters and animals together, this book blends learning the alphabet with charming animal illustrations.
  • Animal Counting Books by Various Authors: These books merge early numeracy skills with animal themes, making counting fun for young children.
  • First 100 Board Book Box Set by Roger Priddy: This set includes foundational concepts like colors, shapes, and numbers, designed for small hands.
  • Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown: This soothing story invites toddlers into the world of a farm with gentle rhythms and a warm atmosphere.
  • Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell: Featuring flaps to lift, this book makes uncovering various farm animals an interactive delight.
  • Time for Bed by Mem Fox: A classic bedtime story that introduces little ones to different animals and their babies, ideal for nighttime reading.
  • Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone: Follow a mystical seahorse through beautifully illustrated pages—perfect for calming down at bedtime.
  • Hello, World! Arctic Animals by Jill McDonald: This book educates toddlers about Arctic creatures through engaging, colorful illustrations.
  • The Sun Shines on the Sea by Michael Slack: Explore the ocean’s food chain with this interactive lift-the-flap book, great for curious minds.
  • Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin: A magical bedtime book that encourages children to imagine fantastical animals guiding their dreams.
  • Best Selling Sound Books That Feature Animals

    Sound books are multi-sensory books designed for toddlers ages 0-3. They teach kids new concepts with the help of sounds, music, buttons, and illustrations. This helps them learn faster and retain information better. Here are our favorite sound books featuring animals that they’ll fall in love with!

  • Old MacDonald: Revisit a beloved classic with this interactive sound book that brings the farmyard to life, encouraging children to sing along with every "moo," "neigh," and "oink."
  • Five Little Ducks Nursery Rhymes: Engage young minds with this sound book featuring six timeless animal-themed nursery rhymes. It's an ideal mix of fun and learning, perfect for family sing-alongs.
  • Baby Shark Nursery Rhymes: Dive into fun with this vibrant sound book, featuring six catchy animal songs including the popular "Baby Shark." It's a wonderful musical journey for the car or nursery, keeping your little one delighted and entertained.

  • Want to browse more educational sound books from Cali’s Books? Explore our collection for more fun titles your little one will love getting lost in!

    Previous article From Sounds to Sentences: How Babies Learn to Speak
    Next article Sing to Celebrate Mom: Teaching Toddlers the Joy of Music
    Cali's Books, founder, about us, why I love books, children's books

    Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books

    “I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”

    I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!

    Check out Cali's Books

    Read more from Cali's Blog