The best children's books about animals, wildlife conservation, and kindness and why human adults are destructive idiots

Who am I?

I’ve travelled to the Pantanal and along the Amazon both ways from Brazil and Colombia while I was teaching English in Brazil and will never forget the destruction of the Amazon. A visit to the gaping hole of Serra Pelada, a gold mine, had a lasting effect on me as did the forest fires and scorched earth, devoid of any bird or animal apart from the skinny cattle grazing amongst the blackened trees, stretching for miles. A run-in with a hyacinth macaw egg thief, who was smuggling the beautiful birds into Europe, spurred my interest in writing a children’s series which touches on conservation, endangered species, and illegal wildlife trafficking.


I wrote...

The Mystery of The Missing Fur

By Michele Sheldon,

Book cover of The Mystery of The Missing Fur

What is my book about?

The Mystery of the Missing Fur is the first book in The Missing Fur series and follows Bernard's adventures after he saves three rare Amazonian monkeys and a zoo full of animals from a vain celebrity, a short-sighted trophy hunter, and an endangered species trafficker. Along the way, he makes friends with a giant anteater called Armando, an over-furred cat named Loki, and a human child with an unfortunate name. Together, they solve the not-so-mysterious mystery of the missing fur and, most importantly, what happened to Bernard's parents, famous conservationists.

The heart-warming comedy mystery is set in England with flashbacks to the Amazon and touches on friendship, love, and loss. The Macaw of Doom is the second book in the series. Both can be read as standalone books.

The books I picked & why

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Born Free

By Joy Adamson,

Book cover of Born Free

Why this book?

Born Free was my favourite book growing up. Not only did it make me fall in love with reading and wildlife but made me realise human adults and society are full of contradictions. Elsa the lioness is hand raised by Joy, the wife of George, a game warden who shoots Elsa’s mother when she charges at him because she’s protecting her cubs. Though I understand there may be detractors on how the Adamsons viewed other animals, which are endangered today, it’s widely agreed that the book helped the public become aware of wildlife conservation. Elsa’s release back into the wild pioneered ‘rewilding’, reintroducing captive animals back into their own environments. At its heart, there is a beautifully observed relationship between Joy and Elsa as she grows up and is released.

Born Free

By Joy Adamson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Fifty years ago Joy Adamson first introduced to the world the story of her life alongside Elsa the lioness, whom she had rescued as an orphaned cub, and raised at her home in Kenya. But as Elsa had been born free, Joy made the heartbreaking decision that she must be returned to the wild when she was old enough to fend for herself.

Since the first publication of Born Free and its sequels Living Free and Forever Free, generations of readers have been enchanted, inspired and moved by these books' uplifting charm and the remarkable interaction between Joy and Elsa.…


War Horse

By Michael Morpurgo, Tom Clohosy Cole,

Book cover of War Horse

Why this book?

The story is narrated by Joey, a beautiful bay horse brought up on a farm, who is ‘called up’ during World War I to carry supplies, guns, and pull ambulances among the trenches of the Western Front. Joey witnesses the horror and futility of war with great compassion and a simplicity that still affects me today when I think of the 20 million people who died and the eight million horses, mules, and donkeys killed by their injuries, disease, and exhaustion. The book further resonates because I live in the town where Joey and 10 million soldiers and nurses, including my grandfather, left for France. The officers’ stables still stand at Shorncliffe Barracks and charity, the Shorncliffe Trust, is trying to get listed status to stop them being knocked down.

War Horse

By Michael Morpurgo, Tom Clohosy Cole,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked War Horse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Morpurgo's global bestselling children's book War Horse has been adapted into a picture book for the first time. Illustrated throughout, it brings the beloved children's classic to life for children aged 5 and up.

Master storyteller Michael Morpurgo has adapted his much-loved novel, War Horse, for a picture book audience. This powerful book for younger readers tells the enduring story of a friendship between a boy and his horse and is a gateway to help children understand the history and chaos of the First World War. As we move beyond centenary commemorations and continue to strive for peace across…


This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate: 50 Ways to Cut Pollution, Speak Up and Protect Our Planet!

By Isabel Thomas, Alex Paterson (illustrator),

Book cover of This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate: 50 Ways to Cut Pollution, Speak Up and Protect Our Planet!

Why this book?

This book does exactly what it says, although the chapter entitled "Eat Your Neighbours" did make me wonder if I was reading a different genre. Without being preachy, it gives kids 50 great ideas to help them make a difference to the environment including coming up against climate deniers, rewilding your garden (obviously without the bison, wolves, and wildcats), and buying less stuff including gadgets, clothes, and fast fashion (though I still have some way to go with a certain teenager). If you feel frustrated about how huge a problem climate change is and don’t know where to start, then the book will help you understand what fuels it and gives children some agency over how they choose to live their lives and make a difference.

This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate: 50 Ways to Cut Pollution, Speak Up and Protect Our Planet!

By Isabel Thomas, Alex Paterson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Book Will (Help) Cool the Climate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Our planet is heating up, and it needs your help! If you want to learn to reduce your carbon footprint and cool the Earth, here are practical tips and projects that make a difference!

Are you concerned about climate change? The bad news is, global warming is a real problem that won't go away on its own. But the good news is, there are lots of easy ways you can get involved and make a difference! From swapping your stuff to assigning your school some eco-homework, helping to save the planet is within your reach. Arm yourself with info about…

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Book cover of Black Beauty

Why this book?

Sorry, but it’s another story narrated by a horse! Black Beauty has happy foal days on a farm before his life takes one dark turn after another at the hands of cruel and ignorant owners. As a child, the book had a profound effect on me in terms of the cruelty humans visit upon animals and how important it is to be kind to all animals. Written over 150 years ago, the novel gives the reader a glimpse into life in the 19th century. But has anything really changed in the way we view and treat animals today? 

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell, Kristen Guest (editor),

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Black Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Continuously in print and translated into multiple languages since it was first published, Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is a classic work of children's literature and an important text in the fields of Victorian studies and animal studies. Writing to ""induce kindness, sympathy and an understanding treatment"", Sewell realistically documents the working conditions of Black Beauty, who moves down the social scale from a rural carriage horse to a delivery horse in London. Sewell makes visible and tangible the experience of animals who were often treated as if they were machines. Though she died shortly after it was published, Sewell's book…

Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World

By Catherine Barr, Anne Wilson (illustrator),

Book cover of Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World

Why this book?

This beautifully illustrated picture book is dedicated to 15 endangered animals out of the 41,000 species on the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List and explains why they’re in danger and what we can do. It features the most hunted and trafficked creature on the planet, the pangolin whose scales are made of keratin – the same as our nails – but are boiled to make pointless ‘medicines’ with zero effectiveness. Other creatures are the long-nosed crocodile, the peacock tarantula, and the snow leopard. With 60 percent of species being wiped out since the 1970s, perhaps it’s time for radical thinking. Should animals like tigers and cheetahs start charging companies for their images, spots, and stripes to raise money to protect what remains of their environments?

Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World

By Catherine Barr, Anne Wilson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Alert! Endangered Animals Around the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in wildlife conservation, threatened species, and World War 1?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wildlife conservation, threatened species, and World War 1.

Wildlife Conservation Explore 16 books about wildlife conservation
Threatened Species Explore 16 books about threatened species
World War 1 Explore 572 books about World War 1

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Eighty-Dollar Champion, Distant Skies, and The Scorpio Races if you like this list.