10 Best Books about the Zoo
Wild animals are often fascinating to children. They love reading about them, making animal noises, and watching them at the zoo. I am a huge believer in learning through adventures like trips to the zoo. A trip to the zoo brings to life animals that children see in books and snuggle with at night. Despite my mixed feelings about zoos, they do allow children real life experiences watching real live animals. They can watch how they move, what they eat, how they interact and more.
The right children's books can also support learning. Books about the zoo can introduce toddlers to new animal names. Books can build excitement for a trip to the zoo. Books can also allow children to delve deeper into their favorite animals observed at the zoo. So, what are the best books for reading before and after a trip to the zoo?
We're Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton
I have read, or sung, this book countless times to our toddlers. It is a animated song set to humorous, detailed illustrations. This book captures the excitement of a zoo trip perfectly for young children.
Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann
This is one of our favorite books, period. This classic is a textbook example of the value of illustrations in a children's book. The simple, limited text leaves space for the illustrations to tell the humorous story. If you haven't read it, find it and read it!
1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle
A beautiful counting book that happily integrates a train into the tale of transporting a building number of animals to the zoo. Eric Carle's trademark colorful illustrations invite the reader into their tale to count and build vocabulary as you read.
The Zoo by Suzy Lee
This is a stunning, imaginative book. It tells two stories. The fantastical tale of a child's trip to the zoo bursting with color and whimsy. Alongside, it captures a realistic tale told in black and white of parents frantically attempting to keep up with their child.
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
Actual Size is no ordinary non-fiction book. Here the animals are captured in as-large-as-life amazing size and detail by a master. This is a captivating and unique book about zoo animals.
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
Michael Hall's unique illustrations utilize hearts to create illustrations of zoo animals. We found this book at the San Diego Zoo before our children were born and are so thrilled our children love it as much as we do. The diverse group of animals pictured branches out from the typical representations offering vocabulary expansions.
Down by the Station by Will Hillenbrand
Our toddlers love this book more than almost any other. If your child loves trains and animals they will love this book. There is excitement. There are baby animals. There are trains. It is the perfect zoo book for young children. There are a lot of versions of this song/story, but none is illustrated with the imagination or humor of Hillenbrand.
Bruno Munari's Zoo by Bruno Munari
Bruno Munari is a graphic designer and artist and his version of a zoo is highly creative. Each page is graphically original and bold. I was unsure whether our children would understand or appreciate the wry humor or inventive approach to zoo illustration, but they immediately latched onto to something in this book and we have re-read it many times.
Zoo by Gail Gibbons
Gail Gibbons has created countless non-fiction books devoted to clear, concise details perfect for young children. This account of a zoo trip follows two children as they weave their way through the animals with intriguing facts about zoos, animals, and zoo keepers woven in.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear? By Bill Martin Jr.
This is a classic book and companion to the Brown Bear, Brown Bear book by the same team. Our children love this book and enjoy imitating the sounds of the different animals. They look forward to hearing any sounds from the animals at the zoo and this book captures many of their favorites.
Books listed below.
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