Topic | Zoo Animals Living Books

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  • Kelli



    Do you know of any great books that involve zoo animals that I could use as a spine, for nature lore, or as a read aloud for a 1st and 2nd grader? All of the living resources that I have found are about commonly found birds, mammals, etc. I’d really like to make use of our zoo membership and learn about the more exotic animals through living books. Thanks in advance!!!


    The One and Only Ivan comes to mind. You can do a search on Google Images for “living books zoo animals” and you will see a lot of book covers to get you started on finding picture books.


    I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but “Eye to Eye” and “Bones”, both by Steve Jenkins, are pretty interesting!

    The Thornton Burgess Seashore and Animal books might have chapters about the animals at your zoo.  Maybe peruse the table of contents of those books and look at your zoo’s website to see if there are any animals to read about.


    You might also check out Clara Dillingham Pierson’s Among the… books. We have Among the Forest and The Pond people and looking at the table of contents I see owls, bats, rattlesnakes, turtles, minks and more. My zoo has all those animals and more. I just looked at the Burgess Animal book and it has lots of zoo animals, panther, coyote, wolf, fox, bear, deer, buffalo. I dont see anything like elephant, giraffe, zebra. You might need more of an Africa/Safari animal book for those. A really nice animal encyclopedia with beautiful pictures might round out your study. Masterbooks publishes a nice one.


    Oh! I just thought of one! Now some might consider it twaddle but it’s a fun book with a leopard, a monkey, an elephant, hippo, rhino, lion, and a turtle. “You Look Ridiculous Said the Rhinoceros to the Hippopotamus “. It’s out of print but you can probably find a used copy online or at the library. My kids roar with laughter every time they read it.

    Can You Hear It? By William Lach has classic paintings matched with music. There are a few animal paintings in there, including one of an elephant. Carnival of the Animals is similar. It’s by Jack Prelutsky and Mary GrandPré. There are lions, elephants, swans, turtles, and kangaroos.

    Edit– one more and I’ll hush. The Christian Liberty Nature Reader Book K has more zoo animals than the others in the series. It’s more factual but maybe pair it with poetry or one of the music books I mentioned?


    Jean Craighead George books, including One Day in the Tropical Rainforest.  These are short chapter books.

    Jan Brett The Umbrella

    Karen Smith

    I don’t know of any particular book that could be used as a spine for zoo animals. I do know of a few books that are specific to one type of animal that may be found in a zoo. There are also series of books and good nature authors that could work if you can find them.

    The Smithsonian has several series: Smithsonian Backyard, Smithsonian Oceanic, Smithsonian Wild Heritage. Your library may have these.

    Check your library for these specific books:

    Emu by Claire Saxby

    Nic Bishop Snakes by Nic Bishop

    Crocodile Safari by Jim Arnosky

    Little Sibu: An Orangutan Tale by Sally Grindley

    Check your library for books by these nature authors:

    Jim Arnosky

    Cathryn Sill

    Nic Bishop

    Robert McClung

    Sandra Markle

    John Himmelman


    You might find something from this long list of nature lore books:

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