The most recommended giraffe books

Who picked these books? Meet our 14 experts.

14 authors created a book list connected to giraffes, and here are their favorite giraffe books.
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What type of giraffe book?


Dear Wandering Wildebeest

By Irene Latham, Anna Wadham (illustrator),

Book cover of Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole

Matt Forrest Esenwine Author Of Flashlight Night

From the list on children’s poetry collections about nature.

Who am I?

Ever since my parents gave me a copy of Dorothy Aldis’ The Secret Place and Other Poems, I have enjoyed a lifelong love of poetry. Now, as a traditionally-published children’s author, I have had numerous books and poems published over the years, including books that began as poems, like Flashlight Night (Astra Young Readers, 2017) and Once Upon Another Time (Beaming Books, 2021). My poems can be found in various anthologies including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children's Books, 2015).

Matt's book list on children’s poetry collections about nature

Why did Matt love this book?

Where to begin? This book covers a wide range of animals found on the African grasslands – impalas, giraffes, oxpeckers, and more – but also includes unlikely (and unseemly) subjects like poop-rolling dung beetles and carcass-cleaning vultures. An especially nice poem, “Tree for All,” written from the tree’s perspective, extolls its virtues by sharing how rhinos, baboons, skinks, safari ants, and other creatures all make use of its resources.

By Irene Latham, Anna Wadham (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Welcome wildebeest / and beetle, / Oxpecker and lion. / This water hole is yours. / It offers you oasis / beside its shrinking shores.

Spend a day at a water hole on the African grasslands. From dawn to nightfall, animals come and go. Giraffes gulp, wildebeest graze, impalas leap, vultures squabble, and elephants wallow. Fact sidebars support the poems about the animals and their environment. Imaginative illustrations from Anna Wadham complete this delightful collection.

West with Giraffes

By Lynda Rutledge,

Book cover of West with Giraffes

Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon Author Of A Place in the World

From Cinda's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Would-be linguist Environmental scientist Wildflower afficionado Expat

Cinda's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Cinda love this book?

When 17-year-old Woody is orphaned during the Dust Bowl, he rides the rails to New York City, where he happens upon two giraffes rescued from a hurricane.

He persuades the older man transporting the animals to take him on as a driver – even though he barely knows how to drive. He learns on the job, and off they go across the country to a zoo in San Diego.

West With Giraffes is poignant and funny, but most of all, the four main characters (including the two giraffes!) are so endearing. All of them form life-long bonds despite a bumpy start. I loved this novel, which is based on a true story.

By Lynda Rutledge,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked West with Giraffes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

"Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes..."

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.

It's 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day…

Will Giraffe Laugh?

By Hilary Leung,

Book cover of Will Giraffe Laugh?

Brian Russo Author Of A Friend for Yoga Bunny

From the list on children's stories about the value of friendship.

Who am I?

I feel passionate about the topic of friendship because I haven’t been a great friend to all the people that have mattered to me. I’ve learned the value of friendship by making a lot of mistakes. I’m very lucky to be in my 40’s, have an amazing family, and still have a few individuals that I’ve known my entire adult life, who I still talk to on a regular basis. These people are really good friends, because, to be honest, they’ve seen me at my worst, and still love me. I consider myself a wealthy man, in no small part because of my friends. 

Brian's book list on children's stories about the value of friendship

Why did Brian love this book?

The fact that I’ve read this book to my son nearly every night for the past year and am not sick of it yet is a testament to how charming it is. This book is about a group of friends and one of them, Giraffe, is very grumpy. The friends take turns in trying, then failing, to cheer him up, until finally they all become sad and it’s up to Giraffe to cheer up his friends. The story is a great reminder that our emotions are not just ours. They’re contagious and affect those we love most. Also, if I had to pick a book to represent my son, who usually has a grumpy look on his face, this would be the one! 

By Hilary Leung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Will Giraffe Laugh? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You loved Will Bear Share?, Will Sheep Sleep?, and Will Ladybug Hug?. Now only one question remains: Will Giraffe Laugh?

One giraffe.One bad mood.One timeless question: Will Giraffe Laugh?Meet Giraffe. Giraffe loves to laugh, but today is different. Giraffe is cranky! All of Giraffe's friends want to cheer him up . . . but is laughter the best medicine for such a grumpy guy? Find out in this surprising and memorable storybook all about friendship, feelings, grumpiness, and of course, laughter!A fresh and funny new book in creative talent Hilary Leung's memorable series of animal question stories all about preschool…

Book cover of The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature

James Gurney Author Of Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist

From the list on anatomy and drawing.

Who am I?

My name is James Gurney and I've been a professional illustrator for National Geographic and Scientific American for over 40 years. Although I went to art school, everything I know about drawing and painting comes from studying art instruction books, and from sketching directly from nature. I'm best known for writing and illustrating the New York Times bestselling Dinotopia book series, published in 32 countries and 18 languages. I designed 15 dinosaur stamps for USPS and a set of five dinosaur stamps for Australia Post. My originals have been shown in over 35 solo museum exhibitions. My book Color and Light has sold over 200k copies and was Amazon's #1 bestselling book on painting for over a year.

James' book list on anatomy and drawing

Why did James love this book?

Disney animator Ken Hultgren shares an approach to drawing animals that emphasizes the unique characteristics of all the major types of mammals. His style features action poses ranging from straight to cartoony. His pen-and-ink drawings are usually accompanied by a skeletal analysis to help students see the hidden structure. He never loses sight of the lines of action flowing through a pose, something that both realist painters and cartoonists can benefit from.

By Ken Hultgren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"You'll learn everything there is to learn about drawing animals." — Collectors' Corner
This thoughtful and incisive guidebook, written by a former animator for Walt Disney Studios, will help artists at many skill levels improve their ability to draw a wide variety of animal forms both realistically and as caricatures.
You'll learn why the author considers construction, action analysis, and caricature all-important for a clear understanding of animal anatomy and movement. You'll also benefit from Mr. Hultgren's expert
advice and tips on catching the essential movement and character of animals and avoiding the stiff, wooden poses that are the frequent…

Celeste the Giraffe Loves to Laugh

By Celeste Barber, Matt Cosgrove (illustrator),

Book cover of Celeste the Giraffe Loves to Laugh

Adam Wallace Author Of How to Catch a Leprechaun

From the list on kids living a great life.

Who am I?

I am obsessed with personal development, having attended seminars to walk across hot coals and jump from crazy heights to test my limits, and I have read hundreds of books and watched hundreds of videos on self-improvement. But sometimes the best lessons come in fiction, and kid’s books do this so wonderfully. And they are a lot quicker to read and absorb! They also teach with humour, rhythm, and joy, and can change a child’s life simply by letting them escape into a world of laughter and joy, expanding their imaginations, and letting them absorb the lessons, sometimes without even realising it.

Adam's book list on kids living a great life

Why did Adam love this book?

The great thing about picture books is they can give these incredible, and sometimes incredibly simple, messages about life. Celeste the Giraffe Loves to Laugh is a story about Celeste, who doesn’t know where she fits in, she feels like all the other animals are cooler than her. So she sets out to be like them in order to be “better”. But that leads to one disaster after another, with Matt Cosgrove’s hilarious illustrations adding to the action as Celeste uses all sorts of random items for her costumes.

In the end, Celeste finds her own special gift, the thing that makes her at least as cool as all the other animals!

By Celeste Barber, Matt Cosgrove (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Celeste the Giraffe Loves to Laugh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Celeste was a friendly, happy little giraffe. She had a kind heart and she made others laugh. But Celeste sometimes worried that she wasn't enough. It seemed like other animals did much cooler stuff. Join Celeste the Giraffe on her hilarious journey as she finds out what it is that makes her unique.

Girl Who Loved Giraffes

By Kathy Stinson, Francois Thisdale (illustrator),

Book cover of Girl Who Loved Giraffes: And Became the World's First Giraffologist

Jill Heinerth Author Of The Aquanaut

From the list on young explorers.

Who am I?

I'm a world-class underwater explorer, writer, photographer, speaker, and filmmaker. A pioneer of technical rebreather diving, I have led expeditions into icebergs in Antarctica, volcanic lava tubes, and submerged caves worldwide. As a child, these fanciful places were just a part of my wildest dreams. The Aquanaut tells the story of how I turned my imaginative journeys into reality and became a celebrated underwater explorer.

Jill's book list on young explorers

Why did Jill love this book?

When Anne Innis Dagg was a little girl, she longed to study giraffes in Africa. Many obstacles including gender discrimination stood in her way, so she hide her female identity to get a job and then traveled to Africa on her own. Anne fulfilled her dream and became the world's leading scientific expert on giraffes, inspiring the next generation of women scientists to pursue their dreams.

By Kathy Stinson, Francois Thisdale (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Girl Who Loved Giraffes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Anne Innis Dagg saw her first giraffe in a zoo she was entranced. So much so that a love for giraffes shaped her whole life. She decided at a young age that she would one day travel from her home in Canada to study giraffes in their natural environment in Africa.

After overcoming obstacles based on her gender, Anne succeeded in fulfilling her dream in 1956 and became the world's leading scientific expert on giraffes.

In The Girl Who Loved Giraffes, Kathy Stinson and Francois Thisdale have created a beautiful picture book that captures the dramatic story of Anne's…


By Michael Allin,

Book cover of Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story, from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris

Hilary Bradt Author Of A Connemara Journey: A Thousand Miles on Horseback Through Western Ireland

From the list on travel with animals.

Who am I?

Until I did my own animal-accompanied journey with Mollie and Peggy in 1984, my only association with animals on the trail was inadvertently with a collection of cockroaches in my backpack. It was when Bradt decided to add to their anthologies with a collection of stories about travelling with animals in 2018, Beastly Journeys, that I was able to read a wide variety of books on the topic. A delightful exercise!

Hilary's book list on travel with animals

Why did Hilary love this book?

I discovered this fascinating and extraordinary story when I was researching tales about travelling with animals for Beastly Journeys. Unlike the other four books in my list, this one has the animal as the central character. And what an animal! Zarafa was captured as a calf in what is now Ethiopia in a plan to cement relationships between the Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt and Charles V of France. The year was 1826 and a giraffe had never before been seen in France. Zarafa did the first part of her journey strapped to the back on a camel, and then – surely more comfortably – down the Nile and across the Mediterranean on a brigantine.

A hole was cut in the deck which allowed Zarafa to travel with her body in the hold, while her head and neck enjoyed the human company on deck. From Marseille she was walked, with…

By Michael Allin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In October 1826, a ship arrived at Marseille carrying the first giraffe ever seen in France. A royal offering from Muhammad Ali, Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, to King Charles X, she had already traveled 2,000 miles down the Nile to Alexandria, from where she had sailed across the Mediterranean standing in the hold, her long neck and head protruding through a hole cut in the deck. In the spring of 1827, after wintering in Marseille, she was carefully walked 550 miles to Paris to the delight of thousands of onlookers.

The viceroy's tribute was politically motivated: He commanded the Turkish…

Amazing Evolution

By Anna Claybourne, Wesley Robins (illustrator),

Book cover of Amazing Evolution: The Journey of Life

Jordan Bell Author Of Aunt Jodie's Guide to Evolution

From the list on evolution for children.

Who am I?

As a kid, I never stopped asking “But why?” Learning the answers always led me to new questions, and I’ve been on a life-long journey to understand the world, and how everything works. I wanted to give the joy of discovery, and the empowerment of understanding, to a new generation of readers. The amazing story of evolution seemed to be a great starting point. I wrote the book I wanted to read to my own daughter, full of adventures and grown-up science, told in a way kids can understand. 

Jordan's book list on evolution for children

Why did Jordan love this book?

I wish I’d had this richly illustrated book as a curious 10-year-old who wanted to learn about evolution in a very fact-based way. Packed with explanations, illustrations, lists, and definitions, Amazing Evolution helps kids self-educate around how and why evolution happened – from the origin of life in the sea to the first creatures to survive on land, through to dinosaurs and convergent evolution in mammals. A great book for an older primary kid who wants to understand how all life is related, but wants to find it out themselves. And the “Fact File” at the end of the book is jam-packed with the kind of amazing information that will make readers want to say “Did you know…?” to everyone they see!

By Anna Claybourne, Wesley Robins (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Evolution can be a difficult idea to wrap our brains around: it deals with random, unlikely events, combined with vast lengths of time too enormous to comprehend. But the evidence is all around us–in the fossils of long-dead creatures, and in our genes and the relationships between all living beings.

Amazing Evolution shines a light on this incredible process, from the beginnings of life around 3.8 billion years ago, to the millions of different species alive today, including the moon-walking, talking apes with super-powerful brains–human beings!

Filled with clear explanations, beautiful illustrations and fascinating facts about the planet’s strangest and…

One Word from Sophia

By Jim Averbeck, Yasmeen Ismail (illustrator),

Book cover of One Word from Sophia

Judy Lea Author Of Please Don't Go in the Dryer!

From the list on laugh out loud children’s books about pets.

Who am I?

I’m a semi-retired music teacher and grandmother of two. When my kids were little, we would devour books like they were delicious candy, reading our favourites over and over again. I still love reading out loud, using various inflections, accents, and voices for the different characters. I’ve read hundreds of children’s books and the ones I enjoy most have a great message, are fun to read out loud, and also make me laugh. And they must have beautiful, colourful illustrations! My first book is a spoken word piece from my WCMA-nominated CD, Too Much Work To Do. It’s been asking me to dream it into a book for years! 

Judy's book list on laugh out loud children’s books about pets

Why did Judy love this book?

I loved this sweet, funny, feel-good book with its unusual, intelligent characters. Sophia is a very determined girl (with a wonderful Afro ponytail) who won’t stop pursuing her One True Desire—to have a giraffe! Her father (businessman), her mother (lawyer), her uncle (politician), and her grandmother (who is very strict), all have excellent reasons for saying no to all of her arguments, including the fact that she uses too many words. (Teaching her 3 new words along the way.) Despite compelling slideshows, graphs, pie charts, and foot rubs, she has no success, until…

The illustrations are delightful, colourful, and comical, bringing the characters to life, including the hard-won Giraffe. If you are a word lover like me, you will also love this book!

By Jim Averbeck, Yasmeen Ismail (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Word from Sophia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sophia tries varied techniques to get the giraffe she wants more than anything in this playfully illustrated story about the nuances of negotiation.

Sophia has one true desire for her birthday. But she has Four Big Problems in the way: Mom, Dad, Uncle Conrad...and Grand-mama.

Will her presentations, proposals, and pie charts convince them otherwise?

Turns out, all it takes is one word.


By Lola M. Schaefer, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Book cover of Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives

Jeannine Atkins Author Of Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math

From the list on starring math, bugs and strong girls.

Who am I?

I was a girl who looked under rocks. Besides caring about crawling things and forests, I liked to read and write about history, which became the passion I followed into college and a career. No regrets, but I sometimes wonder what might have become of me if an interest in science was more encouraged and I was nudged past my fear of math. 

Jeannine's book list on starring math, bugs and strong girls

Why did Jeannine love this book?

There’s plenty to count on the pages, but this book soars by stressing the repetition of events in the lifetimes of spiders, snakes, kangaroos, and other animals. The word “amazing” in the title sets a bar that’s met as we learn that a woodpecker will drill thirty holes in trees. A giraffe will sport 200 spots. And there’s much more for eager readers to count.

By Lola M. Schaefer, Christopher Silas Neal (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In one lifetime, a caribou will shed 10 sets of antlers, a woodpecker will drill 30 roosting holes, a giraffe will wear 200 spots, a seahorse will birth 1,000 babies. Count each one and many more while learning about the wondrous things that can happen in just one lifetime. This extraordinary book collects animal information not available anywhere else-and shows all 30 roosting holes, all 200 spots, and, yes!, all 1,000 baby seahorses in eye-catching illustrations.
A book about picturing numbers and considering the endlessly fascinating lives all around us, Lifetime is sure to delight young nature lovers.

When Elephants Weep

By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Susan McCarthy,

Book cover of When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals

Ginjer L. Clarke Author Of Animal Allies: Creatures Working Together

From the list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior.

Who am I?

I’m secretly eight years old inside. I love fascinating animal and science stuff, especially cool, weird, and gross facts. Readers of my children’s books see this passion in action. My best-selling and award-winning nonfiction animal books have sold more than 3 million copies worldwide since 2000. I focus particularly on reaching reluctant, struggling, and English-language-learning readers by packing my books with lots of action and high-interest topics to keep them turning pages. I’m recommending these top-five narrative nonfiction animal books for adults because these authors have influenced my research and thinking—and because they’re terrific stories!

Ginjer's book list on nonfiction about fascinating animal behavior

Why did Ginjer love this book?

Elephants are my favorite animals—for their size and beauty, innate intelligence, and matriarchal structure.

Do you love them too? If so, or even if you just want to know more about these utterly unique creatures and many more, you’ll want to read this insightful book. Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason was a forerunner in writing about socioemotional studies of animal behavior for lay readers.

This was the first nonfiction book I read years ago on this topic, and it remains the one that changed my worldview and approach to animal research, appreciation, and understanding.

By Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Susan McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For more than 100 years, scientists have denied that animals experience emotions, yet this remarkable and groundbreaking book proves what animal-lovers have known to be true: wolves, tigers, giraffes, elephants and many other creatures exhibit all kinds of feelings - hope, fear, shame, love, compassion. From Ola, the irritable whale, to Toto, the chimpanzee who nursed his owner back to health, this book collects together for the first time a vast range of case histories which show the extraordinary complexity of the animal world, and the tumult of emotions that govern it.

Giraffes Can't Dance

By Giles Andreae, Guy Parker-Rees (illustrator),

Book cover of Giraffes Can't Dance

Simon Mills Author Of The Secret of Scrufflewood Wood

From the list on children’s stories written in rhyme.

Who am I?

I have written poetry since I was a little boy. Rhyme came naturally to me, and I found it to be a world to escape to. This led me to songwriting and touring in bands, and it grew into my vocation as a jingle writer in Australia. Eventually, I wrote the jingle that won the World’s Best Jingle award in Hollywood, and this, in part, inspired me to move to New York City from Australia. The other driving force was getting my first book, How To Steal From Banks—an autobiography—published in America. Writing and rhyming are deeply embedded in my soul and cells. 

Simon's book list on children’s stories written in rhyme

Why did Simon love this book?

I found this wonderful book later in life. Actually, I literally found it lying on the street—probably dropped from a stroller.

The rhyming is so beautifully supported by the illustrations of dancing animals that it overwhelmingly makes it a compelling page-turner. Giraffes Can’t Dance immediately connects me to my inner child, and he can dance like a monkey.

By Giles Andreae, Guy Parker-Rees (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Giraffes Can't Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gerald was a tall giraffe whose neck was long and slim,
But his knees were awfully bandy and his legs were rather thin . . .

Gerald the giraffe longs to go to the great Jungle Dance, but how can he join in when he doesn't know how to tango or two-step? Everyone knows that giraffes can't dance . . . or can they?

A funny, touching and triumphant story about being yourself and finding your own tune, with joyful illustrations from Guy Parker Rees. This chunky board book edition is perfect for little hands.

"All toddlers should grow up…

Giraffes? Giraffes!

By Doris Haggis-On-Whey, Benny Haggis-on-Whey,

Book cover of Giraffes? Giraffes!

Chris Harris Author Of My Head Has a Bellyache: And More Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups

From the list on kids and grown-ups will laugh, gasp, and grin at.

Who am I?

Reading with your kid can be a delight, but it’s tough to find a book that both grown-up and child think is hysterical. I mean, I tried reading Catch-22 to my three-year-old, but for some reason the incisive social commentary just didn’t resonate with her. My kids and I both let out genuine chuckles and guffaws while reading all of these books—an experience that I treasured. These books are all giggly, snickery proof that you don’t have to dumb things down to appeal to a wide age range—a goal that I aim for myself in the children’s books and TV shows that I write. 

Chris' book list on kids and grown-ups will laugh, gasp, and grin at

Why did Chris love this book?

This book (along with the entire Haggis-on-Whey series) is one of the most remarkably twisted works of literature I know of.

On first glance, it seems to be a dry, conventional grade-school picture book about, yes, giraffes. And yet, as one reads through its content, at some point one will be struck by the realization: none of this is true!

Did giraffes really first come to Earth on a conveyor belt from Neptune? Are the legs of giraffes actually “filled with various types of fruit juice”? No! As far as I’m aware!

I waited until my kids could read on their own before giving them this book. In each case they spent a while reading through it with confused expressions, unable to reconcile the seemingly authoritative text with plain common sense…until they realized that the entire book is one giant prank and burst out laughing.

After that, we read together,…

By Doris Haggis-On-Whey, Benny Haggis-on-Whey,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For many years the scientific and educational communities have wondered and worried about the possibility that semi-sane scholar-pretenders would find the means to publish a series of reference books aimed at children but filled with ludicrous misinformation. These books would be distributed through respectable channels and would inevitably find their ways into the hands and households of well-meaning families, who would go to them for facts but instead find bizarre untruths. The books would look normal enough, but would read as if written by people who have eaten too many lead-based paint chips. Giraffes? Giraffes! is the first in a…