I LOVED books as a kid. Any time the Bookmobile or Scholastic magazine arrived at school, I was first in line. I normally spent more time in the library than at recess. Then high school and college came, and sadly, I didn’t read nearly as much as I used to. In addition to being a bookworm, I was also obsessed with animals, and books really helped me grow to love and appreciate them even more.
By: Eric Carle & Bill Martin Jr.
This award-winning classic was first released in 1967 and was aimed to help toddlers associate colors with objects. Each page asks the animal, starting with the brown bear, what they see and continues onto another animal of a different color. Interestingly enough, in the British version, released in 1986, the monkey was replaced with a teacher. Hmm.
By: Dyan Sheldon & Gary Blythe
This calming tale follows a young girl who’s grandmother tells her stories about the beautiful whales that swim the oceans near their homes. She tells her granddaughter if she leaves gifts for the creatures, such as shells or pearls, the whales will in turn give her something. Believing her grandmother, she leaves gifts for the whales and they give their voice and other magical whale secrets to her in return. It’s brilliantly illustrated with detail – if your kid loves art and whales, this will be their book.
By: Beatrix Potter
This is probably the oldest story on this list, being published in 1909. Potter wrote a series of books following the lives of rabbits. They learned lessons, went on adventures, and solved problems. This particular story was Potter’s first attempt in writing short, illustrated stories instead of full-length novels. The story is about Benjamin and The Flopsy Bunnies, as they get into trouble and are captured by a man who puts them in a sack. As a kid, this book scared me, but I never stopped reading it because it was still so beautiful and fun.
By: Petr Horacek
Animal Opposites was written to help children learn the differences between animals by associating adjectives with gorgeous pop-up illustrations. Animal Opposites was published in August of 2013, so I was far too old to read this one, but I know I would have loved it.
By: Mwenye Hadithi & Adrienne Kennaway
Hadithi and Kennaway bring to life an African tale of a lion came to find his home in the African plains. The Lion decides he needs a place to live and because he is “king of the jungle,” he orders all of the other animals to build him a house. Of course, all the animals inevitably make homes suited for them and not a lion, so the lion is doomed to roam the plains until he makes his own. Published in 1991, it quickly rose to being one of the most widely celebrated African books of all time.
By: Eric Carle
This was a hugely coveted book in my elementary school, but thankfully I had my own. It was first published in 1969 by Penguin Putnam and has sold over 30 million copies worldwide. In 2014, The Guardian did a special story on it celebrating its 35th anniversary. Why has this book, at just 224 words, become known as one of “the greatest children’s books of all time”? Well, there’s a reason the author Eric Carle starts and ends this list. His storytelling is simply magical and his illustrations pop out from the stark white backgrounds they are so often featured on.