The best books on animal adaptations for young readers

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was a child, I saw a grasshopper doing the sidestroke in the ocean and it sparked my interest in animal behavior. Though I still don’t know if all grasshoppers do the sidestroke, I’ve learned a lot about animal adaptations since then. And I’ve learned a lot about what motivates young readers from my years as a reading specialist and a classroom teacher. I’ve put that knowledge to work in my two popular books: Who Has These Feet? and Who Has This Tail?


I wrote...

Book cover of Who Has These Feet?

What is my book about?

Who Has These Feet uses a lively guessing game format to introduce children to animal adaptations. Young readers enjoy following the predictable format of the text to explore the link between shape and function in the feet of nine animals from different habitats. The brightly detailed paintings by Erik Brooks are scientifically accurate and very appealing.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Why Do Cats Meow?

Laura Hulbert Why did I love this book?

Like my book, this one draws young readers into the topic of animal adaptations with a question. Although the book doesn’t have a table of contents for easy perusing, it does provide a model for picking and choosing the chapters of interest. It’s likely to be a young reader’s first experience with the scanning procedure we use in nonfiction materials--as opposed to the page after page reading necessary in fiction stories. The book consists of 20 chapters each addressing a question about cat behavior. The explanatory paragraph is from 3-10 sentences long, pitched at a late 1st-grade reader. The visuals are a combination of photographs and drawings.

By Joan Holub,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Do Cats Meow? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Many children love cats, and there is so much to know about America's most popular pet. Why do they meow, hiss, and purr? Why do they have whiskers, tails, and claws? Beginning readers can find out the answers to those questions and many more in this fun, fact-packed book filled with colorful feline photos and drawings.


Book cover of Scholastic True or False: Mammals

Laura Hulbert Why did I love this book?

The “test your knowledge” format of this book is appealing to a wide age range of youngsters. A simple question like “All mammals eat meat. TRUE or FALSE?” is followed by a one word answer (FALSE) and then a one sentence answer in large font: Cows and many other mammals usually eat plants. The subsequent paragraph goes into more detail about the topic. In this case, it explains how the shape of an animal’s teeth provides a clue to its diet. Full disclosure: Many kids who peruse the book on their own skip over the paragraphs. Captivating photos of animals in nature abound.

By Melvin Berger, Gilda Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Scholastic True or False as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, 9, and 10.

What is this book about?

Fun, photographic nonfiction at its best! True or False? You decide!

Let’s face it, kids love to ask and answer questions, which is why the Scholastic True or False series is packed full of fun questions like "Do all mammals live on land?" and "Is the mouse the smallest mammal?" Kids will read the question on the right-hand page and then flip it over to find out the answer. It’s the truth--the Scholastic True or False series is a hit!


Book cover of Building Beavers

Laura Hulbert Why did I love this book?

What I love about the books in the Lerner’s Pull Ahead series is the natural language that’s used and the depth of information that’s provided. In an effort to be readable, many non-fiction books aimed at young elementary students are so concise as to wind up being superficial. But this series explores concepts in depth. In Building Beavers, 12 sentences are devoted to the construction of a beaver lodge. The books include 27 pages of text (two to three sentences per page.) At the end of the book, there is a map showing where in the world the animal is found and a diagram of the animal’s body parts as well as a glossary and an index. There are no headings or chapter titles, however. The detailed photographs provide an excellent complement to the text.

By Kathleen Martin-James,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Building Beavers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Who built the first dam in North America? A beaver! Learn how beavers--much like humans--change the landscape to suit their needs. Stunning photos and engaging text show beavers eating, swimming, escaping from predators, and growing from playful kits into industrious adults.


Book cover of Reptiles

Laura Hulbert Why did I love this book?

You really can’t go wrong with a book from Usborne publishers. Reptiles is a gem. It has all the features of a traditional non-fiction book--chapter titles, table of contents, glossary, and a list of related websites--and it bestows information in kid-friendly language. When a procedure is outlined, such as temperature regulation for a desert lizard through a long hot day, the process is distilled into 4 numbered steps. The small size of the book (6” x 8”), the beautiful integration of photographs and illustrations, and the high interest level of the topics covered makes this book a surefire winner with kids.

By Catriona Clarke, Connie McLennan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Reptiles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a fantastic brand new addition to the "Beginners" series, designed to provide an informative introduction to trees and plant-life for young readers. Children can learn about some of the most fascinating cold-blooded creatures in the world from reptiles that can fly, walk on water, and climb on ceilings. This book offers terrific reading practice for children who prefer fact to fiction. It is developed with a reading expert from Roehampton University to help young readers grow in confidence. It is great value for money.


Book cover of Animals and Where They Live

Laura Hulbert Why did I love this book?

There are lots of animal encyclopedias out there, but none compares to this Dorling Kindersly book. Each double-page spread focuses on a particular biome. The illustration takes up most of the page and depicts the inhabitants assembled in naturalistic poses. Along the borders of the page are labels and short paragraphs about each of the animals. Topics related to a particular biome are included: Surviving the Cold, The Burrowers, etc. The Life in the Mountains and The Ocean Depths sections show the different levels in which animals live. This is a book to be gazed at long and luxuriously, preferably on a lap.

By John Feltwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animals and Where They Live as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

so cool HB children's book


You might also like...

Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

To prove she’s sane, Frankie investigates her forgotten past and conducts clandestine experiments. But just when she uncovers the truth, she has to make an impossible choice: betray the animals she’s fallen in love with—or give up her last chance at success and everything she thought she knew.

By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Animal Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in adaptation, cats, and animals?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about adaptation, cats, and animals.

Adaptation Explore 17 books about adaptation
Cats Explore 186 books about cats
Animals Explore 210 books about animals