Animal stories for children – our reading suggestions

Animal stories for children

Animal stories for children – our recommendations

Children of all ages love animal stories. From classics such as Peter Rabbit to modern epics such as The Legend of Podkin One-Ear, they can present an opportunity for the reader to empathise and relate to characters unencumbered by preconceptions, misconceptions, social pressures or prejudices associated with human society. In a sense, animal stories can reflect any reality, and present a diverse range of beliefs, opinions, ways of living, backgrounds and experiences without the policies or taboos of human life. Through carefully selected animal stories, children can be exposed to funny and life-affirming narratives, educational moral tales, different viewpoints, friendships, loyalties, and virtuous causes – all through voices that can be questioned and challenged without fear or favour.

Animal themed stories – here’s our list of recommended titles for EYFS, KS1, KS2 and KS3. This list includes middle-grade fiction, teen novels, nonfiction and picture books by writers including Iona Rangely, Joe Wicks, Satoshi Kitamura, Moira Butterfield, Toon Tellegen and Nina Bawden.

For book prices and ordering, click on the cover image. International orders click here
As an Amazon Associate schoolreadinglist.co.uk earns from qualifying purchases.

Animal stories for children and teens – our recommended titles

Einstein The Penguin by Iona Rangeley

During a family trip to London Zoo, Mrs Stewart jokingly tells a rather clever penguin that he “must come and stay whenever he likes”. Later that day, Einstein the Penguin turns up on the Stewart’s doorstep for tea, and he’s having lasagne. An animal story like no other, the short chapters, clever dialogue and hilarious portrayal of family life will make this an accessible and memorable story that we highly recommend for independent readers aged 8+ or for teachers to read aloud to classes in lower KS2.

Einstein The Penguin by Iona Rangeley

Sasha and the Wolf by Ann Jungman

This charming pair of Russian folk tales follow Sasha, a young boy who bonds with a wolf cub when both of them lose their way in the wintry landscape. But the villagers think he is stupid to trust a wolf. Can Sasha convince them that Ferdy is not a danger? Easy to read and with lots of characterful dialogue, these stories are perfect to read at the end of the day with lower KS2 classes.

Sasha and the Wolf by Ann Jungman

The Burpee Bears by Joe Wicks

This light-hearted hardback follows a family of bears and how they start and end each day with healthy exercises. Featuring stretches, warm-ups, cooldowns, and energetic exercises – with a sprinkle of onomatopoeia and powerful verbs – this book will appeal to children in KS1. Schools that run KS2 sport leadership awards and mixed age group paired reading may find The Burpee Bears useful as a fun source of material and ideas.

The Burpee Bears by Joe Wicks

Me and My Cat? by Satoshi Kitamura

When a strange woman appears in Nicholas’ bedroom and says and does strange things, Nicholas doesn’t know what to make of it. But, there’s a twist, and all is not as it would first appear. This is a brilliant picture book to read and share with EYFS classes, and to use as a text to explore character viewpoints with older primary aged children.

Me and My Cat? by Satoshi Kitamura

Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

This clever picture book shows younger readers the charming friendship between Cyril, a squirrel and Pat, who isn’t. Their friendship is powerful and shows children that it’s worth sticking up for those you care about. With vivid illustrations of life, foliage and flowers, an unexpected world is brought to life, and it’s one which younger readers will delight in exploring every time they visit a park.

Cyril and Pat by Emily Gravett

Sing Like A Whale by Moira Butterfield and Gwen Millward

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, twelve animals show younger readers what they sound like and how they talk to each other. With catchy onomatopoeic words, each creature asks the reader: “Can you do the same? Let’s hear! Ideal for reading with a group as a call or response, expect to hear whole classrooms squeaking, roaring, a-wooing and singing. Great fun for EYFS storytime.

Sing Like A Whale by Moira Butterfield and Gwen Millward

No One Is Angry Today by Toon Tellegen

Following a series of forest animal friends through their everyday lives, these stories examine why we do the things we do and how we feel about our actions. This unique and brightly illustrated hardback collection of ten philosophical tales will make a great addition to any upper key stage two class library. Each of these modern fables is ideal to discuss with year five and six classes in PSHE lessons. The brevity, clarity and high quality of these short stories also lends them to be useful text to study in literacy lessons, particularly in terms of viewpoint and writing style.

No One Is Angry Today by Toon Tellegen

The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden

Polly, the youngest in her family, finds it difficult to adjust to a sudden change at home until she acquires a special pet pig. An ideal class reader book for year four children.
Read more about Nina Bawden.

The Peppermint Pig by Nina Bawden

Woof! by Allan Ahlberg

Eric is a normal boy. Until the nighttime that is, when, in fifteen seconds he can turn into a dog. Funny, great to read aloud and brief, this is a good easy reading option for children in year 5.

Woof! by Allan Ahlberg

Picasso Perkins by Adele Geras

Perkins is a wise old tabby cat who is annoyed when his 8-year-old owner creates a picture of him for a “Paint Your Pet” competition. Perkins thinks he can do better. This would make an ideal group reading story book for year 3 children, and a good text for children interested in art.

Picasso Perkins by Adele Geras. A great animal story for 7 year olds

The Railway Cat by Phyllis Arkle

Alfie the railway cat faces danger and suspense as he tries to escape from his kidnappers in a series of incredible adventures. A good introduction to short chapter novels, this is a useful text for lower ability readers and for reading around the class with mixed ability groups.

The Railway Cat by Phyllis Arkle

Dog in the Dungeon by Lucy Daniels

Skelton Castle has a deerhound to protect it. But Aminta, the last deerhound, died recently. But when Mandy and James explore a creepy castle, they find a deerhound, one that looks just like Aminta. A captivating mystery.

Dog in the Dungeon by Lucy Daniels. A charming book for children who love animals

A Lion In The Meadow by Margaret Mahy

When a young boy claims to have seen a dangerous lion outside, his mother gives him a matchbox charm with a miniature dragon to keep him safe. Later on, both the dragon and the lion become very real. With wonderful illustrations, this is an ideal book for year 1 children to read and share.

A Lion In The Meadow by Margaret Mahy - year 1 book

Animal themed stories for teens

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Victorian London is vividly portrayed through the eyes of a horse – Black Beauty – in this timeless classic of children’s literature.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Flambards by K.M. Peyton

Christina is sent away to live with her nasty uncle in his dilapidated house. While there she discovers a passion for horses and begins to understand the peculiar world around her.

Flambards by K.M. Peyton

Blitzcat by Robert Westall

The horrors of the blitz are told through the eyes of a cat who is searching for her lost owner. Very atmospheric. The follow-up to Machine Gunners. An ideal class reading option for year 7 children.

Blitzcat by Robert Westall


If you liked this list of animal stories for children and teens, you might also enjoy our list of dinosaur books for children, our list of environment and climate change books for children, our recommended exploration topic books and our recommended magazine subscriptions for children, and our review of The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth.



About Tom Tolkien

Photo of author
Tom Tolkien is an experienced teacher and educational consultant who taught for 20 years in primary and secondary schools, including Woodleigh School in North Yorkshire, where he was Head of English and ran a 4000 book prep school library for pupils aged 3-13. He now reviews books for children and teens. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin