The best children’s books that celebrate what animals can teach us

Who am I?

Animals have always been some of my very best friends. I believe in guardian angels, and I believe animals come to us when we need them most. As children, animals help us to believe in ourselves, they soothe the hurts that come from being misunderstood. When we forget, animals carry a knowing beyond words, with every purr, and chirp, and bark, and nuzzle, they remind us that we are loved. I hope you enjoy these books that celebrate the love of animals and the many ways they help us heal.


I wrote...

Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

By Lisa Papp,

Book cover of Madeline Finn and the Library Dog

What is my book about?

Madeline Finn is a struggling reader who just can’t find her voice. But everything changes when she meets Bonnie, the Library Dog. Reading to Bonnie is different. “Bonnie doesn’t laugh when I mess up on a word. Instead, she puts her big paws in my lap and lets me pet her until I figure it out.” But soon, Madeline Finn has to read in school – without Bonnie. Inspired by the therapy dogs at Lisa’s local library, this tale of struggle, persistence, and the power of unconditional love will resonate with readers young and old.

The first in the Madeline Finn series, Madeline Finn and the Library Dog was awarded the Children’s Choice ‘Book of the Year’ and has been translated into 23 languages.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Who Wants Broccoli?

By Val Jones,

Book cover of Who Wants Broccoli?

Why this book?

I adore this book about a rambunctious, but lovable, dog named Broccolli who lives at an animal shelter, awaiting his perfect home. Beautifully illustrated, and written with a good dose of humor, readers will love following Broccolli’s antics as he shows off his many clever (but loud) skills. How will he ever find a home? Broccolli shows us there is a perfect match for every one of us. And that we don’t need to be perfect to be perfectly loved.


Because of Winn-Dixie

By Kate DiCamillo,

Book cover of Because of Winn-Dixie

Why this book?

I love this beautifully written story of friendship and loss. No life is without struggle. But when it comes, animals have an uncanny ability to reach into our hearts and to soothe the ache. Readers will fall in love with ten-year-old Opal who finds hope and friendship where she least expects it – in a grocery store! The spirited stray dog, which she names Winn Dixie, turns out to be more than a furry face in need of a home. He reminds Opal that hurts can heal, and that forgiveness has a power all its own.


The House at Pooh Corner

By A.A. Milne, E.H. Shepard (illustrator),

Book cover of The House at Pooh Corner

Why this book?

Every so often there is a perfect pairing of word and image. This is one of them. And even though this book is not about real animals, the characters A. A. Milne has dreamt up, and E.H. Shepard has given a face to, have the very real attributes of our beloved animal companions. Readers young and old will appreciate the charming, and often wise words of Winnie the Pooh and his companion, Piglet, as they bestow the value of true friendship. And for Christopher Robin, their guardian, the very real bond of unconditional love.  


The Raft

By Jim LaMarche,

Book cover of The Raft

Why this book?

A perfect book to celebrate summer and the magic of nature. Nicky is not eager to vacation at his grandmother’s country home. But nature and the animals have a different plan. And when the two find each other among the banks of a peaceful river, a delightful friendship unfolds. I love this book for its beauty, sense of peace, and quiet adventure. Surrounded by the splendor of nature is a call to come home, to quiet our minds and to see the world as animals do. With the animals to inspire him, Nicky not only discovers a talent for art but a reverence for the world around him.    


The Wind in the Willows

By Kenneth Grahame,

Book cover of The Wind in the Willows

Why this book?

Please here me when I say you haven’t read The Wind in the Willows until you’ve read the version illustrated by Inga Moore. Her depictions of animals are charming, witty, and imagined with great skill. In this beloved tale, a humble mole – eager for adventure - sets out across the English countryside. With newfound friends, the plucky River Rat, wise Badger, and the spirited Toad, Moley discovers beauty he had never seen, danger he could not imagine, and most of all, a profound understanding. Like our own animal companions, our dear Mole reminds us that the simple things – honest friendship, a meal to share, and a place to call home are the recipe for ‘happily ever after.’


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in dogs, toys, and animal shelters?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about dogs, toys, and animal shelters.

Dogs Explore 252 books about dogs
Toys Explore 21 books about toys
Animal Shelters Explore 9 books about animal shelters

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Lord of the Rings, Stargirl, and The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse if you like this list.