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Ultimate List of Children’s Books With Animal Characters

Looking for the best children’s books with animal characters to read with your kids? Here are some great animal picture books and chapter books for classroom read alouds or for students to read. Children’s books with animals characters, mice characters, and more. Ideas for elementary school teachers looking for children’s books about animals including lesson plans and activities! Great for Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade.

If you’re a member of the Picture Book Brain Trust Community, you already have access to EVERY lesson plan and activity for these books! Just click on the Lesson Plans button in the menu!

Children’s Books With Animal Characters:

Here are children’s books with animal characters broken down into a few categories including: general animal picture books, children’s books with mice characters, and chapter books with animal characters. Scroll on to discover the books you need!

Animal Character Picture Books:

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend. This is a great book for back to school time in bilingual classrooms.

I’m Sad by Michael Ian Black

Everyone feels sad sometimes—even flamingos. Sigh. When Flamingo announces he’s feeling down, the little girl and Potato try to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work. Not even dirt! (Which usually works for Potato.)

Flamingo learns that he will not always feel this way. And his friends learn that sometimes being a friend means you don’t have to cheer someone up. You just have to stick by your pal no matter how they feel. Even if they’re a potato. One of the great lesser-known social emotional learning books!

Looking for the best children's books with animal characters to read with your kids? Here are some great animal picture books and chapter books for classroom read alouds or for students to read. Children's books with animals characters, mice characters, and more. Ideas for elementary school teachers looking for children's books about animals including lesson plans and activities! Great for Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade.
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The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

When Aloo-ki glances up from fishing and sees her sled dogs floating off on an ice floe, she races after them. She comes upon an igloo with no one home and goes inside. Turns out the polar bear family who lives there is out walking while their breakfast cools off. Aloo-ki eats some soup, tries on their boots, and finally crawls into the smallest bed for a nap. Meanwhile, Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear see her dogs adrift, swim out to rescue them and return home to find Aloo-ki fast asleep in Baby Bear’s bed.

With the focus in second grade on fairy tales, in addition to being one of my favorite read aloud books for 2nd grade, it’s also an excellent fractured fairy tale!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

What happens when you are tired of controlling yourself? Are you bored with being so proper? Do you want to have more fun? Mr. Tiger knows exactly how you feel. So he decides to go wild. But does he go too far?

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

When Lucy, a young bear, discovers a boy in the woods, she’s absolutely delighted. She brings him home and begs her mom to let her keep him, even though her mom warns, “Children make terrible pets.” But mom relents, and Lucy gets to name her new pet Squeaker.

Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne

Four people enter a park, and through their eyes we see four different visions. There’s the bossy woman, the sad man, the lonely boy, and the young girl whose warmth touches those she meets. As the story moves from one voice to another, their perspectives are reflected in the shifting landscape and seasons. This is an intriguing, multi-layered, enormously entertaining book that demands to be read again and again.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Knocked from her mother’s safe embrace by an attacking owl, Stellaluna lands headfirst in a bird’s nest. This adorable baby fruit bat’s world is literally turned upside down when she is adopted by the occupants of the nest and adapts to their peculiar bird habits. Two pages of notes at the end of the story provide factual information about bats. 

Click Clack Moo by Doreen Cronin

Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears click, clack, MOO. Click, clack, MOO. Clickety, clack, MOO. But Farmer Brown’s problems REALLY begin when his cows start leaving him notes….

Duck For President by Doreen Cronin

My fellow Americans:

It is our pleasure, our honor, our duty as citizens to present to you Duck for President. Here is a duck who began in a humble pond. Who worked his way to farmer. To governor. And now, perhaps, to the highest office in the land. But the Oval Office isn’t all it’s quacked up to be. This is an excellent book to read around Presidents Day or for important elections!

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio

This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters. But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?

Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio

Antoinette’s three burly brothers each have a special talent. Rocky is clever. Ricky is fast! And Bruno is STRONG. Mrs. Bulldog reassures Antoinette that there is something extra special about her—but Antoinette is not so sure. Then one day, while Antoinette plays in the park with her friend Gaston, Gaston’s sister Ooh-La-La goes missing. Antoinette feels a tug in her heart and a twitch in her nose. She must find Ooh-La-La. She will not give up! Can Antoinette rescue the puppy in peril—and discover what makes her extra special along the way?

A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo

Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the Mercy Watson series, a tiny piglet brings love (and chaos) to Deckawoo Drive — and the Watsons’ lives will never be the same.

Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman

The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a… SHARRRK! Poor Shark, he wasn’t trying to scare them, he’s just misunderstood! Then he’s accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn’t going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he? Explosively funny, extraordinarily clever, and even full of fun shark facts, this surprisingly endearing story gets to the heart of what it feels like to be misunderstood by the people around you. With a surprise twist ending, our Misunderstood Shark will have kids rolling with laughter! A hilarious book about the ocean!

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman

The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can–and might–eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. A new brother takes getting used to, and when (in a twist of fate) it’s Wolfie who’s threatened, can Dot save the day?

Olivia by Ian Falconer

It’s everyone’s favorite pig…it’s OLIVIA! Join Olivia as she…dresses up,sings songs, builds sand castles, naps (maybe), dances, paints on walls, and—wears out her mom—

…finally goes to sleep at last.

Lost in the Library by Josh Funk

Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude is the first picture book about Patience and Fortitude, the two lion statues that faithfully guard the New York Public Library. When Patience goes missing, Fortitude realizes the secret to Patience’s disappearance may be within the Library itself.

Somewhere Else by Gus Gordon

George has absolutely no interest in exploring the world. None at all. He’s far too busy enjoying his home life and baking delicious pastries. Or so he tells all his friends when they invite him along on their wonderful adventures. But when George’s friend Pascal digs a little deeper, the real reason George refuses to travel away from home is finally revealed.

Friends Stick Together by Hannah Harrison

Rupert is a rhinoceros of refined sensibilities. Levi, the new tickbird in class, is not. He burps the alphabet, tells corny jokes, and does really embarrassing air guitar solos. Worse, he lands right on Rupert and is determined to be Rupert’s symbiotic best pal! Rupert wants him gone. But when Levi finally does bug off, Rupert finds the peace and quiet a little boring. It turns out, Rupert could really use a friend like Levi.

This book has a really great message of acceptance for all of the Levis and Ruperts in your class. Certainly one of my favorite children’s books about friendship!

Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he’s their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can’t seem to rid himself of his new companions. What’s a bear to do?

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . .This book is one of my favorite children’s books for back to school!

The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

The animals’ homes are disappearing. Tree by tree, the forest is being cut down. Clues! There must be clues. For instance, look–there is a mysterious bear carrying an ax! But what would a bear want with so many trees? Perhaps the discarded paper airplanes littering the forest floor have a story to tell? A really great book for studying the mystery genre!

Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

What is a boy to do when a lost penguin shows up at his door? Find out where it comes from, of course, and return it. But the journey to the South Pole is long and difficult in the boy’s rowboat. There are storms to brave and deep, dark nights.To pass the time, the boy tells the penguin stories. Finally, they arrive. Yet instead of being happy, both are sad. That’s when the boy realizes: The penguin hadn’t been lost, it had merely been lonely.

This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers

Wilfred is a boy with rules. He lives a very orderly life. It’s fortunate, then, that he has a pet who abides by rules, such as not making noise while Wilfred educates him on his record collection. There is, however, one rule that Wilfred’s pet has difficulty following: Going whichever way Wilfred wants to go. Perhaps this is because Wilfred’s pet doesn’t quite realize that he belongs to anyone.

A moose can be obstinate in such ways. Fortunately, the two manage to work out a compromise. Let’s just say it involves apples. A book that shows kids that we can’t always (or ever) control our friends and what they do.

Giraffe Problems by Jory John

Can you guess what’s making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be . . . HIS ENORMOUS NECK?? Yes, it’s exactly that–how on earth did you figure it out?

Edward the giraffe can’t understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He’s tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes–honestly, anything you can think of, he’s tried. Just when Edward has exhausted his neck-hiding options and is about to throw in the towel, a turtle swoops in (well, ambles in, very slowly) and helps him understand that his neck has a purpose, and looks excellent in a bow tie.

Flight School by Lita Judge

A persevering penguin is determined to fly in this adorably inspiring picture book from the creator of Red Hat and Red Sled.

Although little Penguin has the soul of an eagle, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the wind.

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller

Mr. Rabbit’s new neighbors are Otters.
OTTERS!
But he doesn’t know anything about otters. Will they get along? Will they be friends?
Just treat otters the same way you’d like them to treat you, advises Mr. Owl.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Students will argue about the ending and it provides a great opportunity to discuss inferring!

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened…

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen

Miss Merriweather, the head librarian, is very particular about rules in the library. No running allowed. And you must be quiet. But when a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library. And, as it turns out, this lion seems very well suited to library visiting. His big feet are quiet on the library floor. He makes a comfy backrest for the children at story hour. And he never roars in the library, at least not anymore. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how. Michelle Knudsen’s disarming story, illustrated by the matchless Kevin Hawkes in an expressive timeless style, will win over even the most ardent of rule keepers.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus

Leo isn’t reading, or writing, or drawing, or even speaking, and his father is concerned. But Leo’s mother isn’t. She knows her son will do all those things, and more, when he’s ready.

The Three Little Javelinas

Everyone knows the story of the three little pigs, but now you’re going to meet the three little javelinas (pronounced ha-ve-LEE-nas)-loveable, wild, southwestern cousins of pigs. Living in homes built out of tumbleweeds and saguaro ribs (from the fallen giant cacti), the first two javelinas are soon running from the hungry coyote, who had hoped to eat them with red chile sauce. And where do they go for shelter? Why, to their wise sister’s house, made strong with adobe bricks.

A great version of the Three Little Pigs fairytale told in the southwest United States that is great for illustrating the impact of setting on a story. Also available in Spanish as Los tres pequenos jabalies.

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

Llewellyn, a little rabbit, is a collector. He gathers things in jars–ordinary things like buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones. Then he meets another rabbit, Evelyn, and together they begin to collect extraordinary things–like rainbows, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. And, best of all, when they hold the jars and peer inside, they remember all the wonderful things they’ve seen and done. But one day, Evelyn has sad news: Her family is moving away. How can the two friends continue their magical collection–and their special friendship–from afar?

Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack

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A wily fox, notorious for stealing eggs, meets his match when he encounters a bold little girl in the woods who insists upon proof that he is a fox before she will be frightened.

Bear Came Along by Richard Morris

Once there was a river flowing through a forest. The river didn’t know it was capable of adventures until a big bear came along. But adventures aren’t any fun by yourself, and so enters Froggy, Turtles, Beaver, Racoons, and Duck. These very different animals take off downstream, but they didn’t know they needed one another until thankfully, the river came along.

Neck and Neck by Elise Parsley

Everybody loves Leopold the giraffe. He inspires awe and wonder. His adoring fans gaze and cheer. Best of all, they feed him lots of deeeelicious snacks! But, one day, a shiny, bobble-headed new rival comes in and ruins everything…a giraffe-shaped balloon! Just how far will Leopold go to prove that he’s the hero of the zoo?

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Officer Buckle knows more about safety than anyone in the town of Napville. But whenever he tries to share his safety tips, nobody listens – until the day the Napville Police Department buys a police dog named Gloria, who has her own way of demonstrating safety tips. A book so beautifully illustrated that it won a Caldecott Medal!

Rags: Hero Dog Of World War I by Margot Theis Raven

During World War I, while stationed overseas in France with the United States Army, Private James Donovan literally stumbles upon a small dog cowering on the streets of Paris. Named Rags for his disheveled appearance, the little stray quickly finds a home with Donovan and a place in his heart. Although the Army did not have an official canine division, Rags accompanies Donovan to the battlefield, making himself a useful companion delivering messages and providing a much-appreciated morale boost to the soldiers. News about Rags spreads and soon the little dog’s battlefield exploits become the stuff of legend. But during a fierce battle near the end of the war, both Rags and Donovan are wounded. Severely injured, Donovan is sent back to the United States. And the little dog with the big heart refuses to leave his best friend’s side.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots—especially Crackenhopper Field carrots. He eats them on the way to school. He eats them going to Little League, and he eats them walking home. Until the day the carrots start following him…or are they?

Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds

Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!

Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds

Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd. One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle. When he’s at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky.

Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin

How does Racoon love pizza? Oh, let him count the ways. He loves the gooey cheesy-ness, salty pepperoni-ness, sweet sweet tomato-ness, and of course the crispity crunchity crust. But someone is always chasing poor Raccoon away from his favorite food with a broom! What’s a hungry raccoon to do? Plan an elaborate secret pizza party, of course!
But shhh! It’s a secret! A hilarious picture book ideal for Kindergartners.

Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

Growing up in the ocean, Kelp has always assumed that he was a narwhal like the rest of his family. Sure, he’s always been a little bit different—his tusk isn’t as long, he’s not as good of a swimmer, and he really doesn’t enjoy the cuisine. Then one night, an extra strong current sweeps Kelp to the surface, where he spots a mysterious creature that looks just like him! Kelp discovers that he and the creature are actually unicorns. The revelation leaves him torn: is he a land narwhal or a sea unicorn? But perhaps, if Kelp is clever, he may find a way to have the best of both worlds.

Escargot by Dashka Slater

Bonjour! Escargot is a beautiful French snail who wants only two things:

1. To be your favorite animal.
2. To get to the delicious salad at the end of the book.

But when he gets to the salad, he discovers that there’s a carrot in it. And Escargot hates carrots. But when he finally tries one―with a little help from you!―he discovers that it’s not so bad after all

The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater

An inquisitive fox sets off on a seafaring voyage with a crew of deer and pigeons in this enchanting tale of curiosity, friendship and adventure.

Marco the fox has a lot of questions, like: how deep does the sun go when it sinks into the sea? And why do birds have such lizardy feet? But none of the other foxes share his curiosity. So when a magnificent ship adorned with antlers and with a deer for a captain arrives at the dock looking for a crew, Marco volunteers, hoping to find foxes who are as inquisitive as he is that can answer his questions. The crew finds adventure and intrigue on their journey. And, at last, Marco finds the answer to his most important question of all: What’s the best way to find a friend you can talk to?

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein

It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid” — or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well.

Dasher by Matt Tavares

Another new Christmas story that takes a closer look at reindeer and where they live and how Santa Claus helped change Christmas. Dasher is an adventurous young reindeer with a wish in her heart. She spends her days with her family under the hot sun in a traveling circus, but she longs for a different life — one where there is snow beneath her hooves and the North Star above her head.

One day, when the opportunity arises, Dasher seizes her destiny and takes off in pursuit of the life she wants to live. It’s not long before she meets a nice man in a red suit with a horse-drawn sleigh — a man named Santa. And soon, with the help of a powerful Christmas wish, nothing will be the same.

Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles. . . . From Matt Tavares comes a heart-tugging story combining the cheer of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: how important it is to be surrounded by love.

Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

Olive is merrily preparing for Christmas when suddenly she realizes “Olive… the other Reindeer… I thought I was a dog. Hmmm, I must be a Reindeer!” So she quickly hops aboard the polar express and heads to the North Pole. And while Santa and the other reindeer are a bit surprised that a dog wants to join the their team, in the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need. Colorful graphic illustrations accompany this zany dog story from the well-known author and artist team, Vivian and J.otto Seibold. Adorable Olive and her hilarious adventures are sure to make anyone’s Christmas merry.

Yoko by Rosemary Wells

Mmm, Yoko’s mom has packed her favorite for lunch today–sushi! But her classmates don’t think it looks quite so yummy. “Ick!” says one of the Franks. “It’s seaweed!” They’re not even impressed by her red bean ice cream dessert. Of course, Mrs. Jenkins has a plan that might solve Yoko’s problem. But will it work with the other children in class?

Lon Po Po by Ed Young

With characteristic flair and energy, award-winning artist Ed Young illustrates the ancient Chinese version of the favorite fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood. Young’s vibrant, yet delicate, pastels and watercolors add drama to the deftly translated story.

The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen

There is a spot.
It is a good spot.
It is the perfect spot to stand.
There is no reason to ever leave.
But somewhere above there is also a rock.
A rock from the sky.

Here comes The Rock from the Sky, a hilarious meditation on the workings of friendship, fate, shared futuristic visions, and that funny feeling you get that there’s something off somewhere, but you just can’t put your finger on it. Merging broad visual suspense with wry wit, celebrated picture book creator Jon Klassen gives us a wholly original comedy for the ages. If you’re looking for funny picture books, this needs to be near the top of your list!

Yeh-Shen by Ai-Ling Louie

Half-starved and overworked by her stepmother, Yeh-Shen’s only friend is a fish with golden eyes. When the stepmother kills the fish for dinner, poor Yeh-Shen is left with only the bones. But the bones are filled with a powerful spirit. When Ye-Shen is forbidden to attend the annual spring Festival, the spirit grants her a gown of azure blue and delicate golden slippers. That night, everyone marvels at the beautiful, mysterious young woman at the ball.

The Turkey Girl

This is a truly Native American fairytale as told by Indigenous author Penny Pollock based on a Zuni Cinderella story. The lesson in the story even follows Native American story structure. This book would also be excellent for November’s Native American Heritage Month!

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies. Heartbroken and trying to cope with the loss, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. The ground becomes overgrown with prickly weeds and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.

But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his isolation and back to the county fair, where friendships—old and new—await.

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Mel Fell is a hilarious book that kids are sure to love. A baby bird decides one day that she is going to fly! Despite her siblings’ misgivings and her neighbors’ attempts to stop her, Mel falls…straight down. She falls and falls until she hits the water and catches her first fish. Then, she flies! Mel, it turns out, is a kingfisher. She’s supposed to fall… into the water! Corey R. Tabor’s story is a joy, and his illustrations add a layer of comedy that Caldecott committees eat up. An excellent story about bravery and confidence and discovering your true purpose in life!

Children’s Books With Mice Characters:

There are so many children’s books with mice characters that I needed to make it its own section. Mice are popular characters in children’s books. Check out some of the best ones below!

Frederick by Leo Lionni

Frederick’s brothers and sisters are busy preparing for winter gathering things they will need, but it appears that Frederick is doing nothing. His family tells him as much, but he replies that he is gathering for winter. When the winter is cold and food is running short, Frederick’s poem about the memories he gathered turns out to be just what everyone needed. This is also one of my favorite children’s books of poetry for Kindergarteners.

Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes

There is only one way for Chester to do things—his own way. “You definitely have a mind of your own,” said Chester’s mother. “That’s one way to put it,” said Chester’s father.

Luckily Chester’s best friend, Wilson, likes doing things just the same way as Chester. When they cut their sandwiches, it’s always diagonally. When they ride their bikes, they always use hand signals. If Chester is hungry, Wilson is too. They’re two of a kind—until indomitable Lilly, who has her own way of doing things, moves into the neighborhood. Because Lilly has her own way of doing things!

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again? How could this classic NOT be one of my favorite September read alouds?

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

“I am the queen!”

Lilly loves all sorts of things. She loves school, she loves dressing up, she even grows to love her stinky baby brother, Julius. In fact, Lilly loves everything! But when Lilly brings her purple plastic purse to school and can’t wait until sharing time to show off the purse and her movie star sunglasses, her teacher, Mr. Slinger, has to take away her prized possessions.

Lilly’s fury leads her to draw a mean picture of her favorite teacher. It isn’t until Mr. Slinger gives her belongings back to her with a kind note and snacks that Lilly realizes she owes Mr. Slinger an apology. A great book for back to school!

Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes

Lilly’s favorite teacher, Mr. Slinger, is getting married, and Lilly is going to be his flower girl! Well, Lilly, thinks she is going to be his flower girl. It turns out that Mr. Slinger’s niece Ginger is the official flower girl. But Lilly rises to the occasion as only Lilly can, turning heartbreak into wedding cake (a delicious three-tiered frosted Swiss cheese, no less), and disappointment into friendship! A #1 New York Times bestseller by Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes.

Owen by Kevin Henkes

“Fuzzy goes where I go.”

Owen’s fuzzy yellow blanket is his favorite possession. Everywhere Owen goes, his blanket goes with him. Upstairs, downstairs, in-between. Inside, outside, upside down. Everywhere! Owen’s parents are in despair—soon Owen will begin school, and he can’t take Fuzzy with him then. Whatever can be done? Everyone who’s ever had a favorite blanket will know exactly how Owen feels!

Weekend With Wendell by Kevin Henkes

Wendell was spending the weekend at Sophie’s house. Playing house, Wendell was the father, the mother, and the children; Sophie was the dog. Playing bakery, Wendell was the baker; Sophie got to be the sweet roll. But when Wendell gave her a new hairdo with shaving cream, it was the last straw, and Sophie made up a game that left Wendell speechless for a time—and won the day for friendship.

The Wolf, The Duck and The Mouse by Mac Barnett

When a woeful mouse is swallowed by a wolf, he quickly learns he is not alone: a duck has already set up digs, and, boy, has that duck got it figured out! Turns out it’s pretty nice in there, with delicious food and elegant table settings, courtesy of the wolf’s unchecked gluttony. And there’s something even better: no more fear of being eaten by a wolf! In fact, life is pretty good, until a hunter shows up. . . . 

Chapter Books With Animal Characters:

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. But one day, the unimaginable happens: Peter’s dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. At his grandfather’s house, three hundred miles away from home, Peter knows he isn’t where he should be—with Pax. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox.

Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own. . . .Pax is a wonderful choice for independent reading, sharing in the classroom, homeschooling, and book groups.

Pax Journey Home by Sara Pennypacker

It’s been a year since Peter and his pet fox, Pax, have seen each other. Once inseparable, they now lead very different lives. Pax and his mate, Bristle, have welcomed a litter of kits they must protect in a dangerous world. Meanwhile Peter—newly orphaned after the war, racked with guilt and loneliness—leaves his adopted home with Vola to join the Water Warriors, a group of people determined to heal the land from the scars of the war.

When one of Pax’s kits falls desperately ill, he turns to the one human he knows he can trust. And no matter how hard Peter tries to harden his broken heart, love keeps finding a way in. Now both boy and fox find themselves on journeys toward home, healing—and each other, once again.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Can a robot survive in the wilderness? When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is all alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.

As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home–until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown

Shipwrecked on a remote, wild island, Robot Roz learned from the unwelcoming animal inhabitants and adapted to her surroundings–but can she survive the challenges of the civilized world and find her way home to Brightbill and the island?

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

Redwall by Brian Jacques

A series of books about the adventures of woodland animals living in a world where the animals talk, fight, and have adventures. A great early fantasy series. In this novel, the peaceful inhabitants of Redwall Abbey are under siege by the ruthless rat Cluny whose horde is determined to conquer the abbey. One mouse, Matthias, will discover a hero inside himself to save the abbey.

Conclusion: Best Children’s Books With Animal Characters

What are some of your favorite children’s books with animal characters? Are there any must read n’s books with animal characters or children’s books with mice characters that I left out? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!

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Looking for the best children's books with animal characters to read with your kids? Here are some great animal picture books and chapter books for classroom read alouds or for students to read. Children's books with animals characters, mice characters, and more. Ideas for elementary school teachers looking for children's books about animals including lesson plans and activities! Great for Kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth or fifth grade.
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Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

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