The best behavior books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about behavior and why they recommend each book.

Soon, you will be able to filter by genre, age group, and more. Sign up here to follow our story as we build a better way to explore books.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission (learn more).

No!

By Tracey Corderoy, Tim Warnes (illustrator),

Book cover of No!

I found this set of books (No!, Why?, Now!, and More!) at a book sale, and I can’t count the times my son asked me to read them with him when he was a toddler. These were so relatable when my son was 3 years old, because he was talking so much and asserting his independence! “No!” was his favorite word, so we could relate to the adorable scenes in the book. The pencil and watercolor cartoon sketches feel very British and add charm to the story.

No!

By Tracey Corderoy, Tim Warnes (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Archie was adorable. Everybody said so. Until one day he learned a new word... "No!"

Archie says "No!" at mealtimes, bath times, and every single bedtime... A hilarious tale that's perfect for parents whose toddler may be over-using the word "No!" and finding themselves suddenly tackling tantrums. The cheeky, charming Archie will win the hearts of children and parents alike. From the award-winning author Tracey Corderoy (The Grunt and The Grouch, Monty and Milli) and illustrated by the best-selling Tim Warnes (I Love You as Big as the World, I Don't Want to Go to Bed!), No! is set to…

Who am I?

I’m just a normal parent who has gone through the ups and downs of helping her little boy with his exceptionally big feelings. Anger is the main emotion we continue to struggle with, but we’ve come such a long way! The smallest things used to set him off, and he could go from annoyance to rage in minutes. Sometimes it would take us up to an hour to completely calm down. I tried my best to stay patient, help him work through his feelings, and redirect his anger towards non-harmful modes of expression. When he was calm, then we would talk about what happened, and think of ways we can both do better next time.


I wrote...

Feeling All My Feelings Book

By Kim T.S.,

Book cover of Feeling All My Feelings Book

What is my book about?

Little kids can have the biggest feelings. When things get out of control, it can be hard for both kids and grown-ups! Feeling All My Feelings Book helps children understand that all feelings are okay. It also teaches them what they can do to understand, accept, and overcome their emotions. Written in rhyme and featuring hand drawn illustrations, the book is a charming way to empower kids to take early steps towards emotional regulation.

A Primate's Memoir

By Robert M. Sapolsky,

Book cover of A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

Funny and wise in equal measure, A Primate’s Memoir is a window on baboon social dynamics with plenty of forays into the world of safari tourism that he observes from askance. Sapolsky has since gone on to become one of the science world’s keenest observers of human behaviour, and his portrayals of baboon and human interactions are priceless.

A Primate's Memoir

By Robert M. Sapolsky,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked A Primate's Memoir as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey, Robert Sapolsky, a foremost science writer and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant, tells the mesmerizing story of his twenty-one years in remote Kenya with a troop of Savannah baboons.

“I had never planned to become a savanna baboon when I grew up; instead, I had always assumed I would become a mountain gorilla,” writes Robert Sapolsky in this witty and riveting chronicle of a scientist’s coming-of-age in remote Africa.

An exhilarating account of Sapolsky’s twenty-one-year study of a troop of rambunctious baboons in Kenya, A Primate’s Memoir interweaves serious scientific…

Who am I?

For more than two decades, I have been travelling to the wild places of this planet looking for stories. Africa in all its diversity has always been my first love. Whether I’m off the grid in the Kalahari, or scanning the far horizon of the Serengeti looking for lions, Africa feels like home to me, and I’m passionate about finding, and then telling the stories of the people I meet, and the wildlife I encounter, along the way. And driving me every step of the way is my great belief in the power of the written word and that of a good story to transform the way we think about, and interact with, the natural world. 


I wrote...

The Last Lions of Africa: Stories from the Frontline in the Battle to Save a Species

By Anthony Ham,

Book cover of The Last Lions of Africa: Stories from the Frontline in the Battle to Save a Species

What is my book about?

This book tells five true stories about three enduring African characters—lions, the traditional peoples they live among, and the wild lands that together they inhabit. It’s the story of what happens when a Maasai warrior in Kenya kills a lion, only to become a saviour of lions. It’s what really happened to Cecil in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

One story chronicles the life of Lady Liuwa, the last lioness of western Zambia who became a goddess to the local people. Another traces my solo crossing of the Kalahari in Botswana, through a land emptied of people and of lions. In Tanzania, I follow Africa’s most prolific man-eating lions. And I tell of my own near-death experience with a lion in the African dawn.

Mama's Last Hug

By Frans de Waal,

Book cover of Mama's Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us about Ourselves

The renowned primatologist sums up his views, which I share, about how similar to us are the great apes. The book begins with a story that nobody who reads it will ever forget. I will not spoil it for you, but read the first few pages and see if you come away with dry eyes.

Frans de Waal is rightly considered the world expert on primates. And reading this book will show you why and what he has learned. Actually, it’s not that hard to summarize: they are very similar to us. But if that is so, what are the implications? Here I think the author could have gone further. Because one thing I believe is undeniable: if they really are like us, what gives us the right to put them in zoos, or really in any kind of confinement, no matter how much we learn from doing so? I…

Mama's Last Hug

By Frans de Waal,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mama's Last Hug as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mama's Last Hug is a fascinating exploration of the rich emotional lives of animals, beginning with Mama, a chimpanzee matriarch who formed a deep bond with biologist Jan van Hooff. Her story and others like it-from dogs "adopting" the injuries of their companions, to rats helping fellow rats in distress, to elephants revisiting the bones of their loved ones-show that humans are not the only species with the capacity for love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy, disgust, and empathy. Frans de Waal opens our hearts and minds to the many ways in which humans and other animals are connected.


Who am I?

I was once a psychoanalyst, but I found that it was almost impossible to understand another human being. Animals were easier: they could not be hypocritical, they could not lie, they could not deceive. Whoever heard of an animal with an unconscious anger problem? If they were angry they showed it, if they loved they showed it. After I got fired from the Freud Archives (that’s a whole other story) I decided I wanted to read ten good books about animal emotions. This was in 1981. But it turns out there were no books on this topic I could read, except Darwin, 1872! So I decided to write my own. 


I wrote...

The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals

By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson,

Book cover of The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals

What is my book about?

Possibly the first book written about the emotional lives of animals on farms: pigs, cows, chickens, sheep, goats, ducks, and others. Convinced these animals feel much the same emotions we do, the author realized he could no longer eat eggs or any dairy product, let alone meat. He felt he had no choice but to become vegan.   

Don't Lick the Dog

By Wendy Wahman,

Book cover of Don't Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

This is a slightly different take on my list with a more practical teaching lesson. I have had so many children come up to Chaco and pull his hair or stick their hands in his mouth without permission. Luckily there haven’t been any injuries, but what if it was another dog that wasn’t so well behaved? It's important to train your children how to behave around dogs from an early age.

Don't Lick the Dog

By Wendy Wahman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Lick the Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meeting a new dog is exciting, but it can also be scary. This humorous how-to manual shows kids the best ways to interact with unfamiliar dogs, providing helpful tips about all sorts of dog behavior. Children often don't understand what dogs' actions mean and can misinterpret a threatening signal for a friendly one and vice versa. Kids and parents will return to Wendy Wahman's playful illustrations again and again for useful reminders: Slow Down. Stay very still. And remember, don't lick the dog!


Who am I?

Chaco’s First Day at Work is based on my real life furry best friend, Chaco. Chaco is a Miniature Australian Shepherd and has been an amazing companion over the last 13 years. I work in Human Resources and am always focused on developing leaders in the company and am surprised by some of the things that people do. There are not many children’s books about leadership so I thought it would be great to pass along some new leadership lessons early to children through Chaco’s First Day at Work


I wrote...

Chaco's First Day at Work

By Mike Peterson, Barry Davian (illustrator),

Book cover of Chaco's First Day at Work

What is my book about?

This story is about a puppy named Chaco who takes over his father's family business of herding sheep. Follow Chaco as he struggles through his first day on the job. When he runs into some challenges he gets some help from a new friend and learns some new leadership lessons that help him find the inspiration needed to bring the sheep home safely.

Harriet the Spy

By Louise Fitzhugh,

Book cover of Harriet the Spy

Louise Fitzhugh’s book Harriet the Spy was published in 1964, a little later than the others on my list. It has a younger protagonist but she is a model of proto-feminist girlhood for me. Harriet is an urban kid from an upper-class milieu with sophisticated taste. She has an imperious nanny who takes her on the subway to an art museum. Her parents are checked-out intellectuals so that Harriet is neglected in the best way, free to roam city streets. She is a tomboy and would-be writer who observes city life and people’s habits, not only in public spaces but by peeping into windows and even sneaking into homes. The narrative punishes her by having her friends discover all the terrible things she writes about them and shaming her.  But she remains a likely writer. 

Harriet the Spy

By Louise Fitzhugh,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Harriet the Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1974, a title in which Harriet M. Welsch, aspiring author, keeps a secret journal in which she records her thoughts about strangers and friends alike, but when her friends find the notebook with all its revelations, Harriet becomes the victim of a hate campaign.

Who am I?

As a feminist and cultural historian, I'm interested in recovering aspects of the past that we have forgotten, especially when the past turns out to challenge our taken-for-granted views. We often have a nostalgic vision of the fifties that portrays our mothers and grandmothers as innocent and naïve. In contrast, we attribute notions of freedom and authenticity to masculine figures like the Beats. When doing research on the film Gidget, and the novel that inspired it, I found myself re-reading these books, all of which suggest in different ways that, long before the sexual revolution, girls were curious, sexually aware, and desiring freedom. These books make me remember how hip those girls could be.   


I wrote...

Gidget: Origins of a Teen Girl Transmedia Franchise

By Pamela Robertson Wojcik,

Book cover of Gidget: Origins of a Teen Girl Transmedia Franchise

What is my book about?

Gidget: Origins of a Teen Girl Media Franchise examines multiple books, films, TV shows, and merchandise that make up the Gidget-verse from the 1950s to the 1980s, arguing that Gidget is an important early transmedia franchise for girls. The book examines how the real-life experience of surfer Kathy Kohner gets turned into first a novel, then a series of feature films, TV series, and made-for-TV movies. The book considers Gidget in various historical contexts, including the rise of surf culture; the rise of California as symbol of middle-class white teen culture; the annexation of Hawaii; the invention of Barbie; and Hollywood’s reluctant shift to making movies for teens. Each Gidget text is also considered in relation to other books, films, and TV shows to show how Gidget shapes the cultural landscape.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Book cover of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I personally recommend this story because it is a fun read that teaches the reader personal values and inner strength that leaves the reader feeling positive about themselves.

This is my favorite young adult book and it inspired me to write my book because I find the characters in the story quirky and they have flaws. The protagonist is able to defy all odds and win in the end. I found the story pretty inspirational that leaves me feeling positive.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A splendiferous new hardback of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, part of a collection of truly delumptious classic Roald Dahl titles with stylish jackets over surprise printed colour cases, and exquisite endpaper designs.

Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world.
And do you know who Charlie is? Charlie Bucket is the hero. The other children in this book are nasty little beasts, called: Augustus Gloop - a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt - a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde - a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee - a boy who only watches television.
Clutching their…


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by fantasy as a young adult reading Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Never Ending Story. I find fantasy interesting because it explores the imagination and lets us escape. I also enjoy fantasy movies such as Avatar. It's full of adventure and the film is full of special effects. I studied science when I left school but my heart was into writing.


I wrote...

Witch's Apprentice and Argon's Labyrinth

By Kathryn Leo,

Book cover of Witch's Apprentice and Argon's Labyrinth

What is my book about?

My book is an easy to read fantasy with adventure and many twist and turns through out the story. It features Bethany Hardings who is the protagonist human who has to train as a witch to save her villiage from the evil warlock. She goes through many dangrous obticals in order to achieve her goal and falls in love in the process.

The Nature of Horses

By Stephen Budiansky,

Book cover of The Nature of Horses: Exploring Equine Evolution, Intelligence, and Behavior by Stephen Budiansky

Horses are central to human history, but they have a history of their own. Budiansky explores equine history using biological science, animal behavior, and evolutionary history. How did horses evolve? How did horses and humans come together to co-evolve? Why do horses and humans get along so well? What are horses like? How do horses do what they do? After setting horses in historical context Budiansky takes up issues of communication, social behaviors, intelligence, the senses, the mechanics of movement, and the production of power and speed. This book shows that horses are not magical or mystical creatures, but serious fellow beings who have co-evolved with us through biology and history.

The Nature of Horses

By Stephen Budiansky,

Why should I read it?

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


Who am I?

Growing up in rural Wisconsin, I was crazy about both horses and books, so it’s not surprising that in grad school I became a horse historian. I found that writing about work horses linked my love of horses with my interests in technology and nature. The books I’ve chosen show how humans and horses shaped each other, society, the environment, and built the modern world. I hope readers browse (graze?) these books at their leisure and pleasure.


I wrote...

Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America

By Ann Greene,

Book cover of Horses at Work: Harnessing Power in Industrial America

What is my book about?

My book explores the rise of horse power between 1800 and 1920. A bird’s-eye view of nineteenth-century American society would show millions of horses supplying the energy for transportation, delivery, construction, maintenance, manufacturing, and agriculture, especially in the Northeast, Middle Atlantic, and Upper Midwest. Mechanization and steam power made it possible to use horses in unprecedented numbers. The Civil War also used thousands of equines to haul wagons and artillery. Animal power drove national development and expansion. The use of horse power declined when Americans began to make different social, cultural, and environmental choices about consuming energy.

Olivia

By Ian Falconer,

Book cover of Olivia

Olivia has style and flair, just like all the great pigs. (Porky, Peppa, Piglet, Wilbur, and Babe, to name a few.) Whether inspired by the music of Maria Callas, the paintings of Degas or Pollack, or even just the sand at the beach, Olivia’s mischievous creativity manifests itself in art of her own, singular making. Her parents love her anyway. Fortunately, she loves her parents anyway too. 

Olivia

By Ian Falconer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Whether at home getting ready for the day, enjoying the beach, or at bedtime, Olivia is a feisty pig who has too much energy for her own good. A Caldecott Honor Book. 20,000 first printing.

Who am I?

As the father of a (currently) 11-year-old boy, and having been a boy once myself, I understand that mischief-makers can be a pain in the neck and drive adults crazy. But today’s little mischief-makers are tomorrow’s independent thinkers. And we cannot expect children to channel their rambunctious energies into positive outcomes without first giving them the tools to do so. That’s why I wrote Stop and Smell the Cookies, so that readers can actually take control before their emotions get the better of them. It’s also why I compiled this list. Perhaps, if the main characters in these stories had stopped and smelled the cookies, some of them might have avoided their literary fates. Enjoy!

I wrote...

Stop and Smell the Cookies

By Gibson Frazier, Micah Player (illustrator),

Book cover of Stop and Smell the Cookies

What is my book about?

A picture book about a rambunctious boy who learns to manage his big feelings.

Sometimes Dash gets so excited that his chest feels warm and fuzzy, his toes dance, and his fingertips tickle the air. When that starts, he can’t seem to control what he does next, and often, trouble follows. Luckily, with a little help, Dash finds a way to slow himself down when big feelings threaten to take over. This joyous book engages the imagination and relaxes the mind, perfect for those who are impulsive like Dash, those who hold in their feelings, and everyone in between.

Citizens of the Sea

By Nancy Knowlton,

Book cover of Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From the Census of Marine Life

Unlike the books I’ve recommended above, Citizens of the Sea is packed with gorgeous four-color photographs by some of the world’s top underwater photographers. The close-ups are downright amazing. National Geographic made a brilliant call in having Nancy Knowlton write the text. Not only is she a renowned coral reef biologist and the former Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian National Museum for Natural History, she also writes so lucidly and engagingly that even her articles for peer-reviewed journals make engrossing reading. 

Citizens of the Sea

By Nancy Knowlton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The astonishing diversity of ocean life will wow you in this riveting book, perfect for all ages, by marine scientist Nancy Knowlton. Citizens of the Sea reveals the most intriguing organisms in the ocean, captured in action by skilled underwater photographers from National Geographic and the Census of Marine Life. As you read lively vignettes about sea creatures' names, defenses, migration, mating habits, and more, you'll be amazed at wonders like; The almost inconceivable number of creatures in the marine world. From the bounty of microbes in one drop of seawater, we can calculate that there are more individuals in…

Who am I?

For more than four decades, Sandy Sheehy has been diving tropical coral reefs from the Caribbean to Australia. Starting when she was around five sitting in her pediatric dentist’s office where she noticed an aquarium stocked with colorful fish, her fascination with the underwater world has grown. Becoming a freelance journalist allowed her to call on experts and activists around the world to help her satisfy her curiosity and share what she learned.   


I wrote...

Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder

By Sandy Sheehy,

Book cover of Imperiled Reef: The Fascinating, Fragile Life of a Caribbean Wonder

What is my book about?

This book brings alive the richly diverse world of an underwater paradise: the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. Stretching 625 miles through the Caribbean Sea along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, this reef is the earth’s second-largest coral structure. Imperiled Reef searches out the breathtaking intricacies of this endangered ecological treasure and describes the restorative efforts of international organizations, individual philanthropists, and local communities in a highly readable form. 

Fathoms

By Rebecca Giggs,

Book cover of Fathoms: The World in the Whale

Giggs is first and foremost a great writer. Her powers of description and analysis pop off the page. The first 100 pages of Fathoms are particularly strong as she zeroes in on disturbing and fascinating topics such as all our garbage showing up in the bellies of stranded whales or scavenger ecosystems created by whale carcasses once they fall to the ocean floor.

Fathoms

By Rebecca Giggs,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fathoms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN NONFICTION
WINNER OF THE NIB LITERARY AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE KIRKUS PRIZE FOR NONFICTION
HIGHLY COMMENDED IN THE WAINWRIGHT PRIZE FOR WRITING ON GLOBAL CONSERVATION

A SUNDAY INDEPENDENT BOOK OF THE YEAR

'There is a kind of hauntedness in wild animals today: a spectre related to environmental change ... Our fear is that the unseen spirits that move in them are ours. Once more, animals are a moral force.'

When Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beach in Australia, she began to wonder how the lives of…


Who am I?

I began as a journalist and turned into a novelist who uses extensive research to build my imagined stories. So, I tend to end up writing novels about whatever is fascinating enough to send me down research rabbit holes. I’m finishing a novel now about the wonders and mysteries of whales and the researchers who commit their lives to try to understand them. During the last three years, I have interviewed whale researchers, gone on expeditions with them, and have read countless scientific papers and quite a few books on whales. These books I’m recommending here were some of my favorites.


I wrote...

The Highest Tide

By Jim Lynch,

Book cover of The Highest Tide

What is my book about?

One moonlit night, thirteen-year-old Miles O'Malley, a speed-reading, Rachel Carson-obsessed insomniac out looking for tidal specimens in Puget Sound, discovers a giant squid stranded on the beach. As the first person to see a giant squid alive, he finds himself hailed as a prophet. But Miles is really just a kid on the verge of growing up, infatuated with the girl next door, worried that his bickering parents will divorce, and fearful that everything, even the bay he loves, is shifting away from him. As the sea continues to offer up discoveries from its mysterious depths, Miles struggles to deal with the difficulties that attend the equally mysterious process of growing up.

Or, view all 23 books about behavior

New book lists related to behavior

All book lists related to behavior

Bookshelves related to behavior