The best bear books

36 authors have picked their favorite books about bears and why they recommend each book.

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Zen Shorts

By Jon J. Muth,

Book cover of Zen Shorts

I adore this picture book and return to it often, to read to myself or to share with children. The story of three children meeting Stillwater, a peaceful panda, is fresh and fun. Stillwater teaches each child through an ancient story. The tone of the book and Muth’s illustrations perfectly reflect the concepts of stillness, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and non-judgment.

Jon Muth says it best when he writes in his author’s note: “’Zen Shorts’ are short meditations—ideas to puzzle over—tools which hone our ability to act with intuition. They have no goal, but they often challenge us to reexamine our habits, desires, concepts, and fears.”


Who am I?

Whitney Stewart will travel far for a story—trekking in a Himalayan snowstorm with Sir Edmund Hillary, climbing to remote Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, interviewing the Dalai Lama in India, and Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. She is an award-winning author of nonfiction for children, and a longtime meditation practitioner. When she is not writing or traveling, she teaches mindfulness and self-care to children.


I wrote...

Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride

By Whitney Stewart, Rocio Alejandro (illustrator),

Book cover of Mindful Tots: Tummy Ride

What is my book about?

I adapted my mindfulness exercises from Mindful Kids Activity Deck into a board book series to help toddlers manage their emotions and engage more easily in life. Each of the four board books, beautifully illustrated by Rocio Alejandro, offers toddlers one simple mindfulness technique—to calm down, to share kindness with others, to relax into sleep time, or to transition from activity to activity. Barefoot Books published the series in English and in bilingual, Spanish-English editions.

East

By Edith Pattou,

Book cover of East

A retelling of the Norwegian fairytale “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, East—also called North Child—is the book that introduced me to this fairytale, and is still one of my absolute favorites. It follows the story of Rose, whose superstitious mother insists she’s an “East” child, not a wild and unpredictable “North” child. When Rose agrees to go and live with a talking white bear to save her family from poverty, she finds herself in a magical house, and is strangely drawn to the white bear. Told in alternating POVs—including one from the Bear, which reads like sparse, free verse poetry—this book is glittering, bright, and beautiful.


Who am I?

I have been a passionate devourer of fairytale retellings ever since I happened upon Robin McKinley’s Beauty at the library when I was eleven years old. Fairytales have such a timelessness to them that allow them to be retold over and over, reinterpreted, and reimagined in seemingly countless ways, and I’m honored to have now written a few of my own. Fairytales have shaped my own writing from the beginning.

I wrote...

Echo North

By Joanna Ruth Meyer,

Book cover of Echo North

What is my book about?

Echo is an outcast in her village because of the scars on her face. Her only solace is her books and the warmth of her father’s love. So when her father goes missing and she finds him half-frozen at the feet of a mysterious white wolf, she’ll do anything to save him—even promise to live with the wolf for one year.

The wolf’s house is magical and ever-changing. If its many wondrous and perilous rooms aren’t routinely cared for, they unravel and are lost forever. The wolf teaches Echo how to tend the house, and when she discovers an enchanted library filled with book mirrors—and the dashing reader Hal inside of them—she determines to help however she can. But time is running out, and if Echo doesn’t unravel the mystery of the wolf’s enchantment before the year is up, she’ll lose the wolf—and Hal—forever. A retelling of “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, set in a Russian-inspired world.

Finding Winnie

By Lindsay Mattick, Sophie Blackall (illustrator),

Book cover of Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear

This story is based upon a man, Harry Colebourn, who lived in my hometown of Winnipeg, Canada who rescued a baby bear and named her Winnie after Winnipeg. Funny story, I was actually researching Harry Colebourn and the real bear that inspired the character Winnie-the-Pooh when Colebourn’s great-granddaughter Lindsey Mattick came out with her book Finding Winnie. After reading Lindsay’s story, I knew that it was remarkable and anything I wrote would pale in comparison. So if you like friendship stories, like me, and want to understand the history of how the fictional character Winnie-the-Pooh was inspired by the real bear Winnie—then this book is for you! It’s an inspirational journey from the prairies of Canada to the London Zoo in England.


Who am I?

I once spotted a mama black bear and her cubs on a camping trip in Manitoba, Canada. I kept a safe distance watching in awe as the cubs climbed trees. I’ve been fascinated with bears ever since. Most of the books I publish center around strong themes of family, friendship, making a difference in the world, and many have a bear as a secondary character. I think there’s always room for more bear stories in the world, don’t you?


I wrote...

Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

By Carmen Oliver, Jean Claude (illustrator),

Book cover of Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

What is my book about?

I wanted to write a book that showcased the fun and freedom of writing stories only you can tell. There’s nothing you can’t say when it comes from your heart. Because your voice is your voice—no two are the same. In this book, Adelaide and Bear love writing but Theo does not. Thankfully Adelaide and Bear are ready to team up and convince the entire class, including Mrs. Fitz-Pea, why bears make the best writing buddies? After all, who better to teach you how to fish and forage for new ideas than a bear? If you like this book check out the other books in the Bears Make the Best…series.

A Visitor for Bear

By Bonny Becker, Kady MacDonald Denton (illustrator),

Book cover of A Visitor for Bear

Before I was a published author, I had a critique with author Bonny Becker on one of my works-in-progress. She’s a generous writer who knows a lot about creating characters readers truly care about. I love her comedic writing style and this is one of my favorite books. I love the persistence of Mouse in winning over curmudgeonly Bear in this unlikely tale of friendship. If you like this book, check out the other adventures in the series.


Who am I?

I once spotted a mama black bear and her cubs on a camping trip in Manitoba, Canada. I kept a safe distance watching in awe as the cubs climbed trees. I’ve been fascinated with bears ever since. Most of the books I publish center around strong themes of family, friendship, making a difference in the world, and many have a bear as a secondary character. I think there’s always room for more bear stories in the world, don’t you?


I wrote...

Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

By Carmen Oliver, Jean Claude (illustrator),

Book cover of Bears Make the Best Writing Buddies

What is my book about?

I wanted to write a book that showcased the fun and freedom of writing stories only you can tell. There’s nothing you can’t say when it comes from your heart. Because your voice is your voice—no two are the same. In this book, Adelaide and Bear love writing but Theo does not. Thankfully Adelaide and Bear are ready to team up and convince the entire class, including Mrs. Fitz-Pea, why bears make the best writing buddies? After all, who better to teach you how to fish and forage for new ideas than a bear? If you like this book check out the other books in the Bears Make the Best…series.

Polar Bear's Underwear

By Tupera Tupera,

Book cover of Polar Bear's Underwear

This funny picture book with underwear-shaped holes follows Polar Bear and his friend Mouse as they look for Polar Bear’s underwear. Readers see a peek of the underwear on the next page and have to guess whose underwear they could be. The guessing game aspect of the book plus the topic of underwear make this a really fun read for toddlers. I also love the surprise ending which will have you examining the illustrations throughout the book again. You can also use this book to encourage potty training because it celebrates all kinds of fun underwear.   


Who am I?

I am the author-illustrator of funny picture books for kids, including the interactive book, Animals Go Vroom!. As an illustrator, I revel in creating jokes and storylines in the pictures that kids can follow along with by themselves. And as a mother of two small children myself, I know first-hand the magical experience of reading books with toddlers that keep them guessing and giggling along the way.


I wrote...

Animals Go Vroom!

By Abi Cushman,

Book cover of Animals Go Vroom!

What is my book about?

With a nod to Richard Scarry, this interactive picture book surprises readers with every turn of the page!

Hiss! Screech! Roar! It’s a noisy day in Bumperville! But are the sounds what you think they are? That Honk! must surely be a goose. But turn the page and it’s the taxi that a goose is driving! Using cleverly placed die-cuts, this inventive book hints at what is making the sound, but with each turn of the page, it’s an eye-opening surprise and part of an unfolding story that is part guessing game and part giggle-inducing caper.

Find Fergus

By Mike Boldt,

Book cover of Find Fergus

Poor Fergus is no good at hiding. In this funny seek-and-find book, Fergus, a big brown bear with glasses, gets tips from the narrator on how to get better at hiding. As the story goes on, Fergus starts to blend in better with the crowds, and it gets trickier and trickier to spot him. It’s a great read-aloud, and kids will find it hilarious how bad he is at hiding at first. But they’ll need to use their eagle eyes when all the fun characters from the book come together in a big crowd at the end.


Who am I?

I am the author-illustrator of funny picture books for kids, including the interactive book, Animals Go Vroom!. As an illustrator, I revel in creating jokes and storylines in the pictures that kids can follow along with by themselves. And as a mother of two small children myself, I know first-hand the magical experience of reading books with toddlers that keep them guessing and giggling along the way.


I wrote...

Animals Go Vroom!

By Abi Cushman,

Book cover of Animals Go Vroom!

What is my book about?

With a nod to Richard Scarry, this interactive picture book surprises readers with every turn of the page!

Hiss! Screech! Roar! It’s a noisy day in Bumperville! But are the sounds what you think they are? That Honk! must surely be a goose. But turn the page and it’s the taxi that a goose is driving! Using cleverly placed die-cuts, this inventive book hints at what is making the sound, but with each turn of the page, it’s an eye-opening surprise and part of an unfolding story that is part guessing game and part giggle-inducing caper.

Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear

By Kazue Takahashi,

Book cover of Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear

These small, sparsely illustrated books are so charming and quirky! At the surface, there seems to be very little going on, but there is a soothing quality to the simple text that allows you to contemplate the little wonders of life. The naïve artwork works so well with the quiet, short musings by Kuma-Kuma chan and the narrator.


Who am I?

My parents were both born and raised in Japan but met in New York and eventually settled in Los Angeles, where I grew up. My first language was Japanese and as a nisei (second generation), I am deeply steeped in my Asian heritage. I am continually inspired by the art and storytelling that originates from Japanese culture and love to incorporate them into my own work.


I wrote...

Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl

By Sanae Ishida,

Book cover of Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl

What is my book about?

Meet Little Kunoichi, a young ninja in training! On a "super-secret island" in a "super super secret village," Little Kunoichi, is struggling at school. Inspired by tiny Chibi Samurai’s practice and skills, she works harder than ever and makes a friend. Together, they show the power of perseverance, hard work, and cooperation, and they wow the crowd at the Island Festival. Through beautiful watercolor illustrations and a funny and endearing story, Little Kunoichi will capture the imagination of young ninjas-in-training.

The endnotes contain additional information about sumo wrestling, ninja training, and other aspects of Japanese language and culture. More adventures can be found in the Little Kunoichi series with Chibi Samuari Wants a Pet and Ba-chan The Ninja Grandma. And don’t miss the companion baby board books about Little Sumos!

Something's Wrong!

By Jory John, Erin Kraan (illustrator),

Book cover of Something's Wrong!: A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear

Jory John is a hilarious writer and this book is no exception. A bear forgets something but he can’t figure out what (it’s his pants). We see him in his white cotton underwear, but it’s never actually stated so while he mulls over the problem to other animals in the forest, the reader laughs waiting to see what will happen. No one tells him what the problem is. But his good friend, Anders puts on underwear too. He proclaims to the other animals in the forest that it’s cool and the new style. A dose of kindness goes a long way in this funny and surprising tale.


Who am I?

Of all the lessons that we should be teaching kids, I think kindness should be at the top of everyone’s list. If people treated every human and sentient being with kindness and compassion the world would be a better place, which is something we all want. The more we can illustrate this for children the better so that they can understand that we are all in this together and that everyone deserves respect.

I wrote...

Elevator Bird

By Sarah Williamson,

Book cover of Elevator Bird

What is my book about?

It takes a strong team to keep the hotel running smoothly, and Elevator Bird is at the center of it all. He helps guests get to their rooms and gives great advice about all the best sights in town. He helps the staff get where they need to go, and always has an encouraging word. Elevator Bird makes everyone's day brighter. So when he confesses to his friend Mousey that he's always longed for a room with a view, Mouseu springs into action. All his friends at the Hotel hatch a marvelous plan to make sure Elevator Bird has the nest he deserves.

Elevator Bird is a charming tale of friends working together to make a dream come true.

A Bear Called Paddington

By Michael Bond, Peggy Fortnum (illustrator),

Book cover of A Bear Called Paddington

A little lost bear, all alone in a major transport hub, 6,000 miles from Peru, with only his name pinned to his tiny little duffle coat and the crumbs of his last marmalade sandwich rattling round his case. If that doesn’t melt your heart, then there’s no hope for you. Rumored to have been inspired by children sent away from cities during the Blitz. Has been making children think of others ever since.


Who am I?

Reading allows us to climb inside other people’s heads, to think their thoughts and feel their feelings. For children, in particular, books can be a way to understand new emotions. To name them and start to think about where they come from. As my son started to grow up, I wanted to write a story that helped him think about other people’s feelings. And that’s what The Hug and its follow-ups are all about.


I wrote...

The Hug

By Eoin McLaughlin, Polly Dunbar (illustrator),

Book cover of The Hug

What is my book about?

This book has two covers. From one side, it’s the story of a hedgehog and from the other it’s the story of a tortoise. They’re both looking for a hug. They ask all the other animals they come across but for some reason, no one will hug them. Until a wise owl explains: Hedgehog is too spiky; Tortoise is too hard. But don’t worry (SPOILER ALERT) they meet each other in the middle.


Eoin and Polly’s Hug books have twice been named ‘Books of the Year’ by The Guardian, called “an important historical record of the time” by The Times, and been nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

The Bear's Song

By Benjamin Chaud,

Book cover of The Bear's Song

Just as Papa Bear dozes off into hibernation, Little Bear’s mind buzzes with thoughts about honey. A bee guides Little Bear out of his cave in the forest, and into a city. When Papa Bear realizes Little Bear is missing, he immediately searches for his son. Find Papa Bear, Little Bear, beautiful architectural spaces, and quirky characters on each detail-packed spread. The first in a series, also check out: The Bear’s Sea Escape, The Bear’s Surprise, and Little Bear’s Big House.


Who am I?

From the ages of 1-4, my son Finn deeply rooted himself into the detailed world of Richard Scarry. These books could be such slow reads that we only needed two of them for long airplane rides. Through Finn’s love of Scarry books, I began searching for more books that delighted with detail. And when I did not see my family’s bicycle-rich lifestyle reflected in books, I created Cycle City.


I wrote...

Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

By Alison Farrell,

Book cover of Cycle City: (City Books for Kids, Find and Seek Books)

What is my book about?

When little Etta the Elephant goes to her Aunt Ellen's house, she takes a journey through bicycle-filled Cycle City, a town filled with bikes of all kinds! At the end of the day, a special surprise awaits Etta—the most amazing bicycle parade imaginable.

Detail-rich illustrations in this fun seek-and-find book paint the colors of this unusual town where everyone rides some kind of bike—whether a penny-farthing, a two-wheeled unicycle, or a conference bike, everyone is on wheels! Packed with prompts and lots to see on every page, this is a sweet story for the sharpest of eyes.

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