Here are some favorites, and we’re always happy to add suggestions! There are so many wonderful books out there on a variety of humane themes.
If you would like a PDF version to print, please click Children’s Books with Humane Themes
Empathy, Compassion and All that Good Stuff
Nico & Lola: Kindness Shared Between a Boy and a Dog
by Meggan Hill (Author), Susan M. Graunke (Illustrator)
2009 – Harper Collins
“How will I be so kind?” Nico must search his heart to find ways to be so kind while taking care of an adorable dog named Lola. Tender messages and captivating photographs are woven together in this heartwarming tale that reminds each of us we can be just a little bit kinder in everything we do.
Don’t Need Friends
by Carolyn Crimi (Author), Lynn Munsinger (Illustrator)
1999 – Dragonfly Books
There’s a new dog in the junkyard, and boy, is he ever grouchy! He seems the perfect friend for surly, grumbling Rat. But the two animals are only interested in shouting at each other. “Don’t you come near me!” barks Dog, and Rat mutters back, “Fine with me. Don’t need friends, don’t need ’em at all!” But as this crusty duo soon discovers, everybody needs a friend. Especially during a bitter winter in a junkyard where warmth is hard to find—and a foot-long salami sandwich is a near-miracle. Endearing and sassy, this uplifting story of the importance of companionship will put a smile on even the grumpiest of faces. This is also a great segue to what life must be like as a stray.
by Dan Yaccarino
2001 – Scholastic Press
Poor Alfred is unlovable. Everybody tells him so and he believes them. His housemates, the cat, parrot and even the goldfish tease him mercilessly. “You’ve got the ugliest mug I’ve ever seen. No one could love you!” The neighborhood dogs constantly belittle him. So Alfred spends most of his time alone in his fenced backyard. One day he hears a snuffling sound on the other side of the fence. A new dog, Rex, has moved in. Neither dog is tall enough to see over the fence, so in a hasty moment of wishful thinking, Alfred tells his new buddy a little fib. “My name is Alfred. I’m a golden retriever.” Their friendship blossoms. Then one morning, Rex has a brilliant idea. He decides to dig under the fence and come over, so that the two can finally meet. Youngsters will love watching this sad and lonely little dog bloom as he becomes more confident, and feels the joy of true friendship. With its happily-ever-after, surprise ending, Unlovable is a sweet and delightful picture book and speaks gently to the issues of acceptance and liking others for who they are.
by Babette Cole
2001 – Dial
Truelove is a puppy who adores his family. But when a new baby arrives, Truelove begins to feel left out. He loses his spot on the bed, gets yelled at for sharing his mouse, and when he tries to tell his family how much he loves them, they put him outside for singing too loud. How can Truelove show his family what real love is all about?
With her trademark humor and irresistible illustrations, Babette Cole has created a book that is both tongue-in-cheek and touching. Even though love isn’t easy, Truelove reminds us there’s always enough to go around.
Tails Are Not for Pulling
by Elizabeth Verdick (Author), Marieka Heinlen (Illustrator)
2005 – Free Spirit Publishing
A simple way to learn how companion animals communicate and show children how to interact with them. Includes ideas for teaching kindness to animals, activities, and discussion starters. Also available in a baby board book style.
The Way I Love You
by David Bedford (Author), Ann James (Illustrator)
2004 – Simon & Schuster
Drawn in charcoal with a light color palette, a small girl celebrates the bond she has with her dog in this short poetic work. The toddler simply outlines the different ways and reasons why she adores her canine companion.
by Clare Turlay Newberry
2008 – Harper Collins
This wonderfully sweet story is a timeless standby – and for good reason! It is the sweet story of a young rabbit learning to fit in, and an older cat finding a new friend. This is a favorite of ours around Easter time, as it playfully and accurately depicts life with a rabbit and encourages discussion of proper rabbit care. However, Marshmallow is also a great story of friendship and love, allowing it to fit in any time of year. This is a constant in our programs, and it would be a great addition to any library or collection!
by Lisa McCue
2009 – Sterling
This book has some excellent potential in the classroom! The bright illustrations and playful text make it a good solo-read, but the premise and layout really lend it to being a wonderful interactive read! The many characters involved in the Night Song are fun personas for students to take on, and children love the chance to take part in the story. Quiet Bunny also lends itself wonderfully to discussions on ecology, evolution and music as well as discussions on rabbits themselves – starting with the fact that they can and do make noise! A great book!
Oh, Rats! The Story of Rats and People
by Albert Marrin (Author), C. B. Mordan (Illustrator)
2006 – Dutton Children’s Books
Oh, Rats! Is an excellent story for the slightly older reader. Albert Marrin takes the idea that we fear what we don’t know and sets out to help people get to really know, and therefore not fear, rats. This book carries a great message of tolerance and understanding – and is just plain pretty cool! It has amazing and fun facts about rats, and some excellent illustrations that are engaging and fun for an older reader. A great book, whether you are working on science or character education!
by Jerry Spinelli
2009 – Harper Collins
Nine-year-old Palmer dreads his upcoming 10th birthday. In his town, when boys are 10 years old they become “wringers,” the boys who wring the necks of wounded pigeons at the annual Pigeon Day shoot. Palmer is sickened by the whole event. To make matters worse, his new buddies–Beans, Mutto, and Henry–have just discovered that Palmer has been hiding a pet pigeon in his room. What will Palmer do? Will he become a wringer to save face, or will he follow his heart?
The Human- Animal Bond
Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle
by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery
2009 – Hachette Book Group
The story, illustrated with photographs, of the bond that develops between a soldier and a stray, injured dog, and the incredible efforts both make in order to stay together.
by Lesléa Newman (Author), Machiyo Kodaira (Illustrator)
2008 – Square Fish
1930’s Japan. Professor Ueno discovers Hachiko as a puppy at the train station. “What a good dog you are. What a fine dog you are. Hachi, you are the best dog in all of Japan.”Professor Ueno speaks these words to his faithful dog before boarding the train to work every morning. And every afternoon, just before three o’clock, Hachi is at the train station to greet his beloved master. One day, the train arrives at the station without the professor. Hachi waits. For ten years, Hachi waits for his master to return. Not even Yasuo, the young boy who takes care of Hachi, can persuade him to leave his post. Hachiko Waits, a novel inspired by a true story, brings to life the legendary Akita who became a national symbol for loyalty and devotion. This is a must-read for dog lovers of all ages.
Fred Stays with Me!
by Nancy Coffelt (Author), Tricia Tusa (Illustrator)
2007 – Little, Brown and Co.
Alternating between homes and routines after her parents’ divorce, a young girl tells of her life and friendship with Fred, her dog. Mom and dad don’t appreciate Fred’s barking and sock-munching, but find solutions with their daughter so that Fred can stay with her.
Shelter Pets, Strays
The Nine Lives of Travis Keating Paperback
by Jill Maclean (Author)
2009 – Fitzhenry and Whiteside
In Fiddler’s Cove, a tiny coastal community in Newfoundland, Travis is bullied by, if not the world’s meanest bully, then at least the meanest bully in all of Canada. The cats, a feral colony, become Travis’ project in his need for solace. He feels personally responsible for them. Travis is determined to save them from starvation, disease and Hud, the bully. There is no sugar coated story here — our hero does not save them all and we are told just how horrible life is for the abandoned lot of cats. If you loved Because of Winn Dixie or Shiloh, you must read The Nine Lives of Travis Keating.
Before You Were Mine
by Maribeth Boelts (Author), David Walker (Illustrator)
2007 – Putnam Juvenile
A little boy imagines what life was like for his new dog before he adopted him from a shelter. Maybe he had a boy who loved him, but the family had to move and couldn’t keep him. Maybe he belonged to someone who didn’t appreciate how mischievous puppies can be. Maybe he was treated badly, and now he can be shown all the love he’s been missing. This boy wonders about all of these things, but maybe they don’t matter. Because now, his dog is home. Winner of the Humane Society KIND Children’s Picture Book Award and the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award, this touching story celebrates all who support, care for, and adopt shelter dogs
The Stray Dog
by Marc Simont
2001 – Harper Collins
When a little dog appears at a family picnic, the girl and boy play with him all afternoon, and they name him Willy. At day’s end they say good-bye. But the dog has won their hearts and stays on their minds. The following Saturday the family returns to the picnic grounds to look for Willy, but they are not alone — the dogcatcher is looking for him, too…Caldecott Medalist Marc Simont’s heartwarming tale of a stray dog who finds a home is told with appealing simplicity and grace.
by Stephen Michael King
2005 – Scholastic
A touching story about a homeless dog who finally finds a place he belongs when he is adopted by a young woman who works at a homeless shelter. Pen and ink with watercolor drawings evoke the French illustrator Sempe’s cartoon-like style. The author shows us the hardships of being a stray dog without focusing too much on details that might be frightening to young children, as we see how the dog survives day-to-day in the big city. The story also shows the difficult existence of homeless people, as we see people sleeping in cardboard boxes, on park benches, and under stairways. The author skillfully uses cool and warm colors in his illustrations to contrast the golden warmth and inviting look of inside spaces with the cold, windy, blue and grey-tinged colors of the city streets. This story is more than just another cute dog book, since it can open up a discussion of the problem of homelessness for people as well as animals. An excellent addition for a dog storytime.
“Let’s Get a Pup!” Said Kate
by Bob Graham
2003 – Candlewick
There are lots of dogs of all shapes and sizes at the animal shelter. But Kate and her mom and dad know they want Dave the moment they see him. He’s small and cute and a perfect fit for the end of Kate’s bed. But then they see Rosy, who is old and gray and broad as a table. How can they take home just one dog when there are so many wonderful animals who need a home? Bob Graham creates an original, endearing family in a touching story that will appeal to animal lovers everywhere.
A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray
by Ann Martin
2013 – Scholastic
Squirrel and her brother Bone begin their lives in a tool shed behind someone’s summer-house. Their mother nurtures them and teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when their mother is taken from them suddenly and too soon, the puppies are forced to make their own way in the world, facing humans both gentle and brutal, busy highways, other animals, and the changing seasons. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself, and in the process makes two friends who in very different ways define her fate.
Overpopulation and Spay/Neuter Issues
It’s Raining Cats–and Cats!
by Jeanne Prevost (Author), Amelia Hansen (Illustrator)
2008 – The Gryphon Press
This storybook focuses on spaying and neutering and the results of not altering your cat. The story skillfully incorporates a great deal of information about the cat overpopulation problem in a manner that children can relate to. The book also includes factual information at the end of the story, to reinforce the physical as well as practical reasons why spay/neuter is essential for your pets and for society as a whole.
Safe and Gentle Pet Interaction
Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs
by Wendy Wahman
2009 – Henry Holt and Company, LLC
This wonderful book covers all the basics of safe interaction between children and dogs: meeting owned dogs, meeting loose dogs, how to respond to shy, aggressive and overly friendly dogs and even the best way to pet a dog. It uses simple, rhyming text and wildly colorful illustrations. With the majority of dog bites involving children under 12 years of age, the message in Don’t Lick the Dog couldn’t be more important – or well executed! This book is a must have for any home, library or pet safety program!
How to Talk to Your Dog
by Jean Craighead George (Author), Sue Truesdell (Illustrator)
2000 – Harper Collins – Ages 6-9
An easy-to-read, conversational, humorous, and informative guide that will help young dog owners communicate with their pets. (However, the author warns, “it is not very rewarding to bark at your dog. He doesn’t understand your bad accent, and may twist his head and look at you in confusion.”) The illustrations depict George interacting with various cartoon canines whose expressive and varied postures, faces, and actions are irresistible in a Jules Feifferesque way. They begin with a demonstration of how to get the dog’s attention and show who the boss is. (George is shown on all fours, “tail” in air, nose-to-nose with a yellow mixed-breed in the same posture.) The book then explains tail talk, facial expressions, sniffing behaviors, eye language, and sounds. The author’s affectionate understanding of dogs is very apparent, and makes this book one that can be read just for pleasure by any dog lover, as well as for information by any child curious as to what certain actions may mean-or how to stop a dog from doing them.
How to be a Good Dog
by Gail Page
2006 – Bloomsbury Publishing
This is a delightful story about Bobo the dog, who can do nothing right but wants more than anything to be a good dog for Mrs. Birdhead. However, thanks to an unlikely partnership with Cat and a lot of work, Bobo shows that anything is possible! This silly, fun story has great real-world parallels with dog ownership; with great use of characters, How to be a Good Dog illustrates the importance of training, hard work and communication in having a good relationship with your dog. Bobo shows that you definitely CAN teach an old dog new tricks!
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
by Mo Willems
2008 – Hyperion Books for Children
This goofy edition of the Pigeon books is a favorite here and is perfectly designed (even if unintentionally) for break away discussions on proper care of a dog. Pigeon, as usual, does everything wrong – it’s up to the kids to tell Pigeon what having a dog really means! An excellent accompaniment is having the children create their own colorful dog owner guide for Pigeon detailing the right way to care for a dog. A great read!
Oh, Theodore! Guinea Pig Poems
by Susan Katz (Author), Stacey Schuett (Illustrator)
2007 – Clarion Books
In a delightful and fun series of short poems, Susan Katz takes the reader through the process of selecting, caring for and bonding with a small pet. While guinea pig themed, the message here can be applied to almost any type of pet. Each short poem is accompanied by some wonderful, adorable illustrations that really catch the eye. The poems are easy for students to read together, making this a great group book.
I Wanna Iguana
by Karen Kaufman Orloff (Author), David Catrow (Illustrator)
2004 – G.P. Putnam’s Sons
A funny book with great illustrations depicting the negotiations in note form between a boy who wants an iguana and his mother who wants him to understand the care involved. The visuals of what the boy is imagining are hilarious.
Children Make Terrible Pets
by Peter Brown
2010 – Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
A humorous look at the needs of companion animals and the responsibility involved in guardianship.
Animal Welfare, Puppy Mills
by Daisy Bix (Author), Joe Hyatt (Illustrator)
2006 – The Gryphon Press
This is a touching story of a dog’s journey from neglect in a yard to life with a loving family. Buddy Unchained shows, from the dog’s perspective, how the animal shelter system works to help animals involved in cruelty cases. This is an excellent story to encourage empathy and understanding of animal welfare and proper care of dogs. Buddy Unchained is moving, and may be a bit of a tear-jerker for sensitive types, but has a happy ending and carries a strong message about love, adoption and our responsibilities to the animals in our care and in our community.
A Home for Dakota (Sit! Stay! Read!)
by Jan Zita Grover (Author), Nancy Lane (Illustrator)
Dog No. 241 lives in a crate in a cold, dark barn that is stacked with hundreds of other caged dogs in a puppy mill breeding operation. She has never known human companionship, exercise, or decent care. This is a very appropriate book for young children, but realistically portrays the dangers involved with puppy mills; without being over graphic, it explains why these operations hurt dogs and why it is important not to support them, and what you can do to help. It is a heartwarming story of a little keeshond who finds her forever home after some tough times.
Go Home!: The True Story of James the Cat
by Libby Phillips Meggs
2000 – Albert Whitman & Company
A simple, heartwarming story. James can’t remember when he lived with the people who put the now-too-tight collar on him so many years ago. He is too busy trying to survive on his own. When a kind family gives him a little attention, he thinks that maybe he has found a new home. However, the family members believe that the cat must belong to someone and shoo him away. James doesn’t forget them, and returns the next summer tired, hungry, and badly injured. This time the family realizes that James is truly a stray and adopts him. Many of the pictures are realistic, close-up drawings of the animals, including a ferocious neighborhood dog that attacks the lonely cat. Humans are barely depicted at all, which keeps children’s attention focused on the feline’s tale. Young audiences will surely have a more sympathetic attitude toward stray cats after reading this compassionate story.
Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library!
by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter (Authors), Steve James (Illustrator)
2009 – Little, Brown & Co.
This is a delightful story about a real-life library cat. Dewey is a fun character, and he encourages reading – a great book for reading week! The colorful illustrations and easy text have made this a favorite for student reading in our programs. There is also a non-fiction novel about Dewey for the more advanced reader (including teachers!). This is a great little book!
General Silliness, with an Underlying Message of Tolerance
The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business
by Werner Holzwarth (Author), Wolf Erlbruch (Illustrator)
2007 – Pavilion Children’s Books
This hilarious story deals with one of kids’ favorite topics – poop! This story is silly and light-hearted, and is a great gateway to discussion of the … ickier parts of pet care. A must-read!
SheetzuCacaPoopoo: My Kind of Dog
by Joy Behar (Author), Gene Barretta (Illustrator)
2006 – Dutton Children’s Books
What a mouthful! This story is a whimsical look at the modern culture of dog breeds – purebred, mutt and hybrid – that carries a deeper message of tolerance, empathy, friendship and understanding. The illustrations, particularly the large variety of dogs, are fun and eye-catching and can lead to great discussions of the evolution of different breeds of dogs. SheetzuCacaPoopoo is a fun, lighthearted story that has a lot of possibility in the classroom!
by Meghan McCarthy
2004 – Viking
Show Dog is a great tale of two dogs, two families and their very different approaches to dog ownership. The Hubbles love their dog Ed despite his quirks and flaws – he may not fit everyone else’s image of a show dog, but to them he’s just perfect! It’s hard not to find Ed and the Hubbles to be endearing, and the message of loving someone for who they are comes through loud and clear. One reading note: Due to our message of spay/neuter, we skip the last page (it doesn’t hurt the story at all!).
by Clare Druce
2004 – Nightingale Books (Pegasus)
The 129-page chapter book chronicles a young girl’s exciting move from the city to the country, where she unexpectedly finds herself neighboring a battery hen operation and befriending a chicken named Minny who dreams of a natural life filled with dust bathing, tree roosting, etc.
by Nicholas Read
2001 – Prometheus Books
Emily is a beef cow, a Hereford heifer growing up on the range in rural USA. Unlike the animals on Old McDonald’s farm or the grinning anthropomorphized hamburgers portrayed by McDonald’s, Emily lives it like it is. She’s tagged, beaten, branded, hauled in cramped, filthy cattle trucks, sold at auction like a steak on the hoof, and sent to a feedlot for fattening. Author Nicholas Read doesn’t pull any punches where the truth is concerned. But nor does he belabor them. That’s the gift of the book; it’s not dogmatic. Yes, it contains a clear vegetarian message, but it’s delivered with subtlety, not a sledgehammer. No one, regardless of his or her opinion on the ethics of eating meat, could ever question its validity as a straightforward children’s story, filled with interesting characters – both human and animal – and situations. That’s due not just to Emily’s story, but also to Chris’s, the book’s human hero. Saving Emily is a gripping adventure story, a sympathetic tale about peer pressure versus individuality, and a heart-tugging plea for compassion for every kind of living creature, whether they have four legs or two. In doing that, it creates a niche in vegetarian literature, and fills it brilliantly.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
by Doreen Cronin (Author), Betsy Lewin (Illustrator)
2000 – Simon & Schuster
The cold farm cows are on strike until they receive electric blankets. Farmer is obstinate and agitated by the typewriter-using, racket-making cows. Readers will appreciate the themes of solidarity, justice and compromise.
Granny Gomez and Jigsaw
by Deborah Underwood (Author), Scott Magoon (Illustrator)
2010 – Disney Hyperion
When Jigsaw the pig outgrows Granny Gomez’s house, she builds him a barn. But then she has another problem: she misses him like crazy! A funny and sweet tale about pigs as companions.
That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals
By Ruby Roth
2009 – North Atlantic Books
Introduces vegetarianism and veganism to early readers. The book features an endearing animal cast of pigs, turkeys, cows, quail, turtles, and dolphins. These creatures are shown in both their natural state and in the terrible conditions of the factory farm.
Animal Protection History
Earth Heroes Series (Champions of Wild Animals, Ocean, Wilderness)
2009 – Dawn Publications
A sound series on the colorful characters who have fashioned the movement to explore, understand, and protect the earth’s wilderness and oceans and their inhabitants.
She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!
by Kathryn Lasky (Author), David Catrow (Illustrator)
1995 – Disney Hiperion
Chronicles the story of two spirited women who founded the Audubon Society in Massachusetts and their Bird Hat Campaign, in response to the millinery fashion of the time.
The Boy Who Loved All Living Things:
The Imaginary Childhood Journal of Albert Schweitzer
by Sheila Hamanaka
2006 – Animal Welfare Institute
Presented in the form of a family album, readers discover the compassionate, animal-filled childhood of the man who’s “Reverence for Life” philosophy would make him a household name, establish him as a pioneer in the movement for animal protection, and win him a Nobel Peace Prize.
Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World’s Smartest Horse
by Emily Arnold McCully
2010 – Henry Holt and Company
Self-taught veterinarian, medicine salesman, and former slave, Dr. William Key, becomes caretaker for Beautiful Jim Key. Through kindness, William teaches Jim how to read, write, and carry out arithmetic. The pair became ambassadors for the Band of Mercy, a network of humane youth organizations.
Animals in the House: A History of Pets and People
by Sheila Keenan
2007 – Scholastic
Puns, jokes, and lively fonts make this an enjoyable read on our long, evolving relationship with those furred, feathered and scaly.
Dog of Discovery: A Newfoundland’s Adventures with Lewis and Clark
by Laurence Pringle (Author), Meryl Henderson (Illustrator)
2002 – Calkins Creek
Seaman, canine member of the Corps of Discovery, is integral to the journey to and from the Pacific as a hunter, retriever, guard dog, and friend. Formatted as a nonfiction journal based on the explorers’ writings.
Owney: The Mail-Pouch Pooch
by Mona Kerby (Author), Lynne Barasch (Illustrator)
2008 – Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A look at the United States Postal Service’s official canine employee whose zest for travel captured hearts around the world.
by Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery (Authors), Jean Cassels (Illustrator)
2008 – Walker Books
A Cat and dog survive Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, relying on each other’s friendship until their rescue.
Working Like a Dog: The Story of Working Dogs Through History
by Gena K. Gorrell
2003 – Tundra Books
From the Stone Age to modern day, Gorrell traces the fascinating, inspiring and at times depressing history of animals in service in this well-researched and comprehensive text. Areas of “employment” include: hunting, companionship, guide/service dogs, war, entertainment, sport, security, rescue, etc.
Wildlife Stories, including Animals in Entertainment, The International Pet Trade
Always Blue for Chicu
by Karen Dugan
2010 – The Gryphon Press
This beautiful story follows the life path of Chicu, an Amazon parrot, through the international pet trade from his hatching in his home country to eventually finding a loving home. This is an excellent book that uses gorgeous illustrations to raise awareness of the impact of the pet trade on the animals and wild places that are involved. It includes lots of wonderful information on different bird species as well as some notable bird rescue groups in the US. This book would fit in wonderfully with many curriculums, particularly ones dealing with ecology, habitats and environmental preservation and responsibility.
The One and Only Ivan
2012 – HarperCollins
This book is narrated by Ivan, a gorilla who was captured as a baby in Africa and has lived much of his life in a mall, a living exhibit for humans to gape at through glass walls. Ivan pretty much accepts his lot in life, until he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family (as he was taken from his). The book is fiction, but is inspired by a real-life gorilla who spent nearly 30 years without seeing another of his kind. And although the book was written for middle-grade students, it has gotten rave reviews by older kids and adults as well. The One and Only Ivan addresses a variety of issues, from animals in captivity, to compassion, to what makes us human, to the inconsistent relationships we have with other animals.
Tarra and Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
After retiring from the circus, Tarra became the first resident of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. When other elephants moved in and developed close friendships, only Tarra remained independent until the day she met a stray mixed-breed dog named Bella. It was love at first sight as this unlikely duo became inseparable. They ate together, slept together, and even understood each other’s language. And when Bella suffered a severe spinal injury, Tarra stayed by her side and was there for her until Bella regained her health. Brilliant color photographs of Tarra and Bella at home in the Elephant Sanctuary deftly illustrate this inspiring story of companionship, and an informative note about the Sanctuary provides a great resource for parents and teachers.
The Last Wild Place
by Rosa Jordan
2008 – Peachtree
Chip tries to understand the problems of a group of kids at the community center, refugees left homeless in the aftermath of a recent hurricane along the Florida Panhandle. Feeling friendless and alone himself, Chip explores the marshy woods behind an abandoned farm, where he discovers something unbelievable – a family of Florida panthers that has been driven out of their home in the Everglades and is now dangerously close to human settlement. Chip is alarmed when he hears that the last few acres of the woods are to be cleared to make way for a meat-packing plant. When he tries to protect the panthers, he learns that he has more friends than he thought, and they all want the same thing to find a safe home for the wild animals. And if they’re lucky, a safe place for themselves, too.
Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears
By Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff (Authors),Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen (Illustrator)
2013 – Sleeping Bear Press
For years Jasper, a moon bear, lived a miserable existence, held captive in a cage by bear farmers in rural China. The farmers extracted the bile from Jasper’s body and sold it to be used in traditional medicines. It’s a horrific practice and conducted on thousands of moon bears each year. But now Jasper has the chance to be free and live a life away from pain and torture. In 2000, Animals Asia, an animal welfare organization, rescued Jasper and other captive moon bears, taking them to its Moon Bear Rescue Centre. Here veterinarians attended to the bears’ wounds, hoping to give them some chance of a peaceful existence in the animal sanctuary. But after so many years of abuse Jasper’s wounds, both physical and mental, are extensive. Can Jasper mend his body and mind and finally enjoy the life he was meant to live?
The Deliverance of Dancing Bears
by Elizabeth Stanley
2003 – Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Based on the author’s travels through Greece and Turkey, this contemporary fable spotlights an elderly man who bears witness to needless cruelty inflicted upon a dancing bear as well as to her deliverance.
Dogs Have the Strangest Friends & Other True Stories of Animal Feelings
by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (Author), Shirley Felts (Illustrator)
2000 – Dutton Juvenile
A compilation of unique bonds animals (elephants, rhinos, falcon) have had amongst themselves and people.
Hey, Little Ant
by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
1998 – Tricycle Press
To squish or not to squish an ant? – that is the question posed in this sing-song tale. A rhyming story in which boy about to step on an ant listens as the ant pleads his case for why he (and all creatures) should be allowed to live.
How to Heal a Broken Wing
by Bob Graham
2008 – Candlewick Press
In the midst of a bustling city, only one boy notices an injured bird. With the help of his family, the boy successfully rehabilitates the bird. Minimal text, but rich with detailed illustrations. This would be a nice segue into learning about wildlife rehabilitation and the often complex needs of different species, encouraging children to learn more.
Hurt Go Happy
by Ginny Rorby
2007 – Starscape
Deaf heroine Joey Willis befriends Sukari, a sign language-literate chimpanzee. A very moving work of fiction addressing friendship, family, communication, disability, and chimpanzee welfare.
by Cristina Kessler , JoEllen McAllister Stammen (Illustrator)
2011 – Simon & Schuster
From Swaziland comes this story of an infant rhino who loses his mother to poachers, ventures into scenic South Africa and eventually finds refuge at the Mkhaya Game Reserve.
On Parade: The Hidden World of Animals in Entertainment
by Rob Laidlaw
2010 – Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Biologist and activist Rob Laidlaw focuses on the living conditions and treatment of animals that are captured, bred, trained, and kept for the purposes of human entertainment.
by Peg Kehret
2002 – Aladdin
Two sixth grade friends learn about the plight of a circus elephant in need and attempt to rescue and find sanctuary for her.
Saving the Baghdad Zoo: A True Story of Hope and Heroes
by Kelly Milner Halls and Major William Sumner
2010 – HarperCollins Children’s Books
Photo-essay of the U.S. Army rescue of captive wildlife in war-torn Iraq and the ethical issues involved in their rehabilitation and housing. Touches upon the human and animal healing that takes place at the zoo.
Standing Up to Mr. O.
by Claudia Mills
1998 – Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Seventh-grader Maggie McIntosh’s attachment to her biology teacher, Mr. O’Neil, is put in jeopardy when dissection comes up in the syllabus.
Wild Animals in Captivity
by Rob Laidlaw
2008 – Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Biologist Rob Laidlaw describes the damage done when animals are unnaturally confined and moved to inhospitable climates, and compares the wild and captive lives of polar bears, orcas, elephants, and great apes.
by Mary Casanova
1997 – Hyperion
Seth Jacobson’s father is a game warden in northern Minnesota, where some local farmers and hunters hate the few wolves that still roam free. Although frightened by them, Seth admires the animals, and his best friend, Matt, taunts him with the epithet “wolf lover.” Their conflict comes to a head when Matt shoots a wolf and Seth disgustedly deserts his friend in the woods, endangering his life. In the aftermath of Matt’s rescue, both boys start to sort out their thinking. A sequel to Casanova’s Moose Tracks (Hyperion, 1995), this novel carries the message that demonization of wolves is wrong. It also conveys the general notion that either love or hate can cloud judgment.