Books for Teaching About Animals
From Unit Plan: Animals Are Everywhere!
Most children have a limited conceptual understanding of animals. While they may know the names of some of their favorites, they know little about what distinguishes one group of animals from another. These books help children to see similarities and differences between animals and introduce their habits and habitats.
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
This book shows animals or parts of animals in their true size.
Classroom Tip: Children can compare their eye to the eye of a squid or their hand to the hand of a gorilla.
Animal Tracks by Arthur Dorros
Children explore the animals that live in the forest through a guessing game of animal tracks.
Classroom Tip: I copied many sets of animal tracks and each day taped a different one on the wall for students to identify.
Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins
Fourteen amazing animals are depicted in this colorful assortment of world records from the animal kingdom.
Classroom Tip: While exploring the amazing feats of these animals, I ask students to categorize them into groups: birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, or insects and invertebrates.
From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
These pictures invite children to wiggle, stomp, bend, and thump in the same way animals do.
Classroom Tip: I make cards with animal pictures for the dramatic play center and encourage students to move the way each animal does.
The Things Birds Eat
Simple text shows the variety of things that birds eat.
Classroom Tip: These science readers are a great way to expose children to nonfiction and let them practice reading skills. This particular title has an accompanying Teaching Card.
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
Sea-life fathers and their roles as caregivers are depicted in this story.
Classroom Tip: A great book that encourages children to talk, write, and draw about how their father cares for them.
A Salamander's Life by John Himmelman
One of many books in the Nature Upclose series, this tells the journey a salamander takes through its life cycle through simple text and beautiful watercolor illustrations.
Classroom Tip: I have the children draw pictures of the life cycle and compare it to another amphibian, the frog.
Once There Was a Bull... (frog) by Rick Walton; illustrated by Greg Nally
A frog follows another frog as he searches for his hop.
Classroom Tip: Children listen to and practice compound words.
Shellfish Aren't Fish by Allan Fowler
Beautiful photographs show animals that live in shells: oysters, clams, scallops, and mussels.
Classroom Tip: When classifying animals, students often ask if shellfish are fish. This book from the Rookie Read About Science series helps children learn about invertebrates and classify animals without a skeleton.
Watch Them Grow
With an organized table of contents, this book shows the ways that various animals and plants grow.
Classroom Tip: I like to read one section at a time to stimulate discussion and sharing.
What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
This book compares and contrasts the different body parts animals have and tells how they use them.
Classroom Tip: Children can guess the animals that have the illustrated body part and compare how they use their own.