The best books about lions

9 authors have picked their favorite books about lions and why they recommend each book.

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Library Lion

By Michelle Knudsen, Kevin Hawkes (illustrator),

Book cover of Library Lion

My grandchildren love this story about a loveable lion who shows up one day at Miss Merriweather’s library. Though he’s careful to follow the strict library rules, the day comes when he must help everyone understand that sometimes rules are meant to be broken. Featuring captivating illustrations by Kevin Hawkes, Library Lion is a joyous marriage of image and text. 


Who am I?

As I wrote in my author's note for Library on Wheels: "Growing up as a book-loving child in rural Utah in the 1960s and '70s, I developed a strong emotional connection to the bookmobile. My father died in a mining accident when I was five, leaving my mother with seven children to raise on her own. We didn't have much money or many opportunities, but every two weeks the bookmobile brought the universe to me." As a writer of children's books, I was immediately intrigued when I ran across an obscure reference to Mary Lemist Titcomb, credited with being the inventor of the bookmobile in America--and I knew at once that I had to write about her. 


I wrote...

Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile

By Sharlee Glenn,

Book cover of Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America's First Bookmobile

What is my book about?

Mary Lemist Titcomb (1852-1932) was one of the most innovative librarians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the head librarian of the Washington County Free Library--one of the nation’s first county libraries—located near the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains in Maryland, Mary wanted to make sure that all the residents of the county had access to books—not just the adults, not just the rich or educated, not just those who lived in town.

She was absolutely unwavering in her dedication to this vision. And so she came up with the idea of a horse-drawn “book wagon” which could carry books to the outlying villages and farms. And thus, the bookmobile was born!

A Lion in Paris

By Beatrice Alemagna,

Book cover of A Lion in Paris

A Lion in Paris is the story about a Lion who moves to Paris to find a job, love, and a future. The book is a beautiful portrayal of what it’s like to be a stranger in a new city, especially one as big and busy as Paris.  You may feel a bit lonely at first, but with time you’ll be able to find your own special place. 


Who am I?

When I was a young girl, I was lucky to have friends from all over the world, so learning about a new country or a new city always fascinated me, and it still does. I’m always trying to learn new things, meet new people and whenever I can I like to travel the world. As a writer and illustrator, it’s always nice to experience new things, it helps to expand my imagination. I hope this list inspires you not only to read but to learn a few things here and there.  


I wrote...

A New Home

By Tania de Regil,

Book cover of A New Home

What is my book about?

Moving to a new city can be exciting. But what if your new home isn’t anything like your old home? Will you make friends? What will you eat? Where will you play?

In a cleverly combined voice — accompanied by wonderfully detailed illustrations depicting parallel urban scenes — a young boy conveys his fears about moving from New York City to Mexico City while, at the same time, a young girl expresses trepidation about leaving Mexico City to move to New York City. Tania de Regil offers a heartwarming story that reminds us that home may be found wherever life leads. Fascinating details about each city are featured at the end.

Caring for Your Lion

By Tammi Sauer, Troy Cummings (illustrator),

Book cover of Caring for Your Lion

I knew I’d love this book as soon as I read the first few lines. “Congratulations on your new lion! We know you ordered a kitten, but we ran out of those.” This hilarious how-to book provides the main character with all the instructions they need to care for their purrrrfect pet. The straightforward text pairs perfectly with the comical illustrations to show the chaotic reality of caring for an oversized feline friend. As someone whose own pets have brought both enormous destruction and enormous love, I found myself rooting for this fierce friendship. There are also tons of hilarious details in the illustrations. The pizza flavors alone will leave kids laughing and begging for more. This picture book is a roaring good time! 


Who am I?

Three of my favorite things are reading, writing, and laughing. So, of course, my favorite books are usually the ones that make me giggle. I also have a slightly dark sense of humor which means I have a soft spot for books where one of the characters may get eaten. But I think the very best books are ones where unexpected friendships occur instead. So often our perceptions about others are wrong, and if we just take the time to get to know the animal (or person) behind those extra sharp teeth, we may find we have more in common than we realized. 


I wrote...

My School Stinks!

By Becky Scharnhorst, Julia Patton (illustrator),

Book cover of My School Stinks!

What is my book about?

Dear Diary, Today is the first day at my new school and I think there’s been a mistake. My deskmate stinks, my locker buddy bites, and my teacher is unbearable! I told Mom my classmates are WILD ANIMALS, but she said all little kids are wild animals. I think I’m going to be sick tomorrow.

This hilarious back-to-school story is about a young boy who accidentally ends up at a school for real animals. When Stuart first arrives at Wildwood Elementary, not even deep breaths and happy thoughts can calm his nervous jitters. Stuart does his best to avoid his wild classmates, but soon learns friends come in all shapes, sizes, and species. 

The Lion Who Stole My Arm (Heroes of the Wild)

By Nicola Davies,

Book cover of The Lion Who Stole My Arm (Heroes of the Wild)

I know, the title sounds like a downer, especially for kids, but the book is full of new learning, acceptance, and even dealing with revenge. I loved it. And since the title already gives away the scary moment, your young reader doesn’t have to feel nervous.

The story, which takes place in Africa, is simple and powerful and even though the moment of loss is alarming and sad, the story doesn’t slide into sentimentality. In the end, Pedru, the main character, is able to put away his need for revenge and ultimately embrace lion conservation. The book transported me to Africa and lion country. It made me think, too, about hard forgiveness. The best kids’ books are ones that intrigue us as adults. Nailed.


Who am I?

My dad was an adventure traveler, so I floated down the Amazon, rode chicken busses in rural Guatemala, and stepped on the Russian Steppes before I ever saw Big Ben. All that adventure as a kid engendered an insatiable curiosity about the amazing diversity of people and cultures in this world. Sadly, when I was growing up, most children’s books didn’t reflect this diversity. Not only should all children be able to see themselves on the pages of the books they read, it’s equally important that kids see children who aren’t just like they are. Consequently, adding cultural and ethnic diversity into kids' lit has become a passion for me. 


I wrote...

Mystery of the Thief in the Night: Mexico 1

By Janelle Diller, Adam Turner (illustrator),

Book cover of Mystery of the Thief in the Night: Mexico 1

What is my book about?

Izzy’s family sails into a quiet lagoon in Mexico and drops anchor. Izzy can’t wait to explore the pretty little village, eat yummy tacos, and practice her Spanish. When she meets nine-year-old Patti, Izzy’s thrilled. Now she can do all that and have a new friend to play with too. Life is perfect. At least it’s perfect until they realize there’s a midnight thief on the loose!

This award-winning early chapter book series takes young readers around the world. They tour haunted castles in Austria, catch thieves in Mexico, save dolphins and turtles in Brazil, search for lost golden temples in Thailand, and chase aliens in Australia. Ultimately, the series inspires readers to embrace adventure and triggers curiosity about the larger world.

The Pride of Baghdad

By Brian K. Vaughan, Niko Henrichon (illustrator), Todd Klein (illustrator)

Book cover of The Pride of Baghdad

This powerful graphic novel illustrates—literally and figuratively—the many casualties of religious conflict. Set in Baghdad in 2003 and told from the perspective of a pride of lions, this book captures the struggle for survival, the loss of innocence, and the collateral damage inflicted by war. A clear allegory, this book has proven an excellent teaching tool. The Pride of Baghdad raises important questions about clashing viewpoints, loyalty, sectarian violence, the true price of war, and who, ultimately, pays it. Although narrated by four lions, the story offers a heartbreakingly realistic glimpse into Iraq during the US-led invasion, the consequences of which reverberate still. As I watch the terrible events playing out daily in Ukraine, my mind drifts back to this book, and I am reminded that past is prologue. We are witnesses right now. And may we all be on the right side of history.

Who am I?

Frequent visits to my parents’ Maltese homeland from the time I was very young piqued my interest in the island’s opulent history. Life under the rule of the Knights of St John fascinated me most. The Maltese Islands lend themselves very well to literary descriptions—gifted with four compass points of natural beauty, the smell of the sea constant no matter how far inland one might venture, ancient temples that predate the pyramids of Egypt. It was during a pre-college trip to Malta in July 2000 that the idea to write a novel based on the Siege of 1565 took root, thanks to a visit to the Malta Experience in Valletta.


I wrote...

Eight Pointed Cross: A Novel of the Knights of Malta

By Marthese Fenech,

Book cover of Eight Pointed Cross: A Novel of the Knights of Malta

What is my book about?

The violent clash between the Ottoman Empire and the Knights of St John on the island fortress Malta serves as the backdrop to Eight Pointed Cross. Siblings Domenicus and Katrina Montesa live under threat of raids by corsairs loyal to the Ottoman Sultan. Hundreds of leagues away in Istanbul, Demir’s dream of becoming a horseman in the Sultan’s cavalry is his only salvation against torment by his cruel brother.

The 1551 Turkish invasion of Malta and the island’s bloody defence will change the lives of the three protagonists, whose fates are intertwined not only with each other, but with nobles and peasants, knights and corsairs, on both sides of the conflict as the novel sweeps across the Mediterranean. Surviving this battle-soaked world of swords and scimitars will test the limits of every character’s courage, loyalty, and love.

How to Be a Lion

By Ed Vere,

Book cover of How to Be a Lion

Leonard, the lion, knows he’s expected to be fierce and loud. But he’s just not feeling it. Rather than live up to everyone else expectations, he befriends a duck and pursues his love of poetry.

Vere presents boys with a gentle role model and celebrates those who choose to stick up for themselves and their friends. In this way, Leonard’s as brave as any other lion.

This story will affirm those who feel like outsiders and encourages kids to be themselves – and follow their own interests. I love the warmth of this book – from the quirky writing style (which reminded me of Winnie-the-Pooh) to Vere’s palette of hot reds and oranges that depict the savannah so well.


Who am I?

I’m a writer, illustrator, and champion of children’s books, with approximately 90 titles published over the last 25 years. I use this experience to guide parents to quality picture books via my blog, Stories Worth Sharing, which aims to help parents nurture and connect with their kids through stories. I can trace this passion back to my childhood. Snuggled in my father’s arms, we’d explore fantastic places together – like One Hundred Acre Wood, Busy Town, and Zuckerman’s barn. Picture books are foundational in developing young minds. These selected titles put your child in someone else’s shoes and teach them to empathise with others.


I wrote...

Dangerous!

By Tim Warnes,

Book cover of Dangerous!

What is my book about?

Mole loves labelling things. All sorts of things, Anything really. Then one day, he finds a strange something on the path. Unable to name it, Mole starts describing it instead. It’s a lumpy-bumpy thing. With snippy-snappy teeth! Eeek! Look out, Mole!

Funny and tender, Dangerous! explores the theme, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. It shows how labels can be helpful – but they can also offend and hurt. Kids will feel for the small, helpless Mole and relate to the misunderstood Lumpy-Bumpy Thing. It gently teaches that we are all different – and if we make an effort, that stranger in our midst might just become our new best friend!

The Marsh Lions

By Brian Jackman, Jonathan Scott, Angie Scott

Book cover of The Marsh Lions: The Story of an African Pride

Written and photographed by three of Britain’s leading wildlife personalities, The Marsh Lions remains a seminal text when it comes to lions. Scott’s and Jackman’s unrivalled knowledge of what is perhaps Africa’s most famous lion pride (which was immortalised in Big Cat Diary, hosted by Jonathan Scott) shines through in the writing, which is patient wildlife storytelling at its best. 


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.

The Lion & the Mouse

By Jerry Pinkney,

Book cover of The Lion & the Mouse

Jerry Pinkney beautifully tackles Aesop’s fable, The Lion & the Mouse. His version is wordless except for a few, potent calls from the animals in the savanna. Pinkney’s luminous watercolor illustrations depict alive and intricate landscapes and animals. Life is shown to be rich, beautiful, and dangerous as a mouse narrowly escapes the talons of an owl, only to stumble upon a magnificent lion. The lion kindly sets the mouse free, and later in the story when the lion is captured by hunters, the mouse hears his mighty roar and comes to his aid, nibbling away the ropes. Once released the lion and the mouse return to their families. I love how this story reflects the inter-dependency of all of us, and how we all matter for the well-being of the other, no matter the size or status of any one individual.


Who are we?

The subject of friendship can be explored endlessly, as every friendship is unique. I am especially drawn to stories of unlikely friendships that look at the surprising and interesting ways that we show up for one another. One of the things that I see in all of the stories that Giselle and I have chosen, is that these unusual friendships make a difficult, awkward, or downright scary world a better place to be. 


We wrote and illustrated...

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

By Jacky Davis, Giselle Potter (illustrator),

Book cover of Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks

What is our book about?

Olive & Pekoe: In Four Short Walks is the story of two dogs taking daily walks together and is told in four vignettes. Olive is very old and wise, and Pekoe is rambunctious and inexperienced, and even though they are significantly different, they are still the best of friends. Together they explore the woods, enjoy sticks, get caught in bad weather, and confront a mean bully in a dog park.

A starred Kirkus review, calls the book, “A delight.” And says, “Illustrator Potter’s impressively expressive naïve-style watercolor, ink and colored-pencil illustrations perfectly nuance author Davis’ witty text.”

Oi! Get Off Our Train

By John Burningham,

Book cover of Oi! Get Off Our Train

Most books about train journeys follow the same pattern – off goes the writer, describing destinations, meeting characters, learning about or interpreting the world. But here comes John Burningham from an entirely different angle, with a charming children’s book that uses the train to weave together a story about species survival. The characters are all endangered animals, attempting to board a little boy’s fantasy dream train as he chugs through different landscapes, playing with his pyjama-case dog. And what do you do when an elephant or a sea lion tries to get on? Well, no idea what Paul Theroux would do, but any right-thinking child joins in with bellowing “Oi, get off our train!” until we learn the reasons why we have to let them climb aboard.


Who am I?

Jules Brown wrote travel guides for Rough Guides for over thirty years – if there’s a railway timetable somewhere he hasn’t studied, he’d like to know about it. He took his first InterRail trip around Europe when he was seventeen and, as a travel writer, he’s been on trains around the world, from Norway to New Zealand. Jules is the author of two travel memoirs, Don’t Eat the Puffin and Never Pack an Ice-Axe, which – after a lifetime of travel – are still the best bits of advice he has for anyone heading off on a journey.


I wrote...

Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave

By Jules Brown,

Book cover of Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave

What is my book about?

Jules found his old InterRail pass one day in a box in a cupboard. Inspired by the train trips of his youth, he came up with a new plan to visit nine cities in nine countries in nine days. He should have known better. And he should have checked the weather forecast.

It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich, and Milan. A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

By C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (illustrator),

Book cover of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I’ve hardly met a fantasy writer who didn’t grow up on the Narnia books. I read them over and over as a child and a young adult, loving them more deeply each time…and yearning for the delicious, deadly, magical Turkish Delight that the White Queen gives Edmund. I would totally have fallen for that trick as a child. I probably still would.


Who am I?

I love food and drink! I am an avid cook and kitchen creator. Since moving to an island five years ago, far from mainland stores, I’ve learned to craft much more myself. I make limoncello, fresh ice creams, shrub (sipping vinegar); I roast and saute and barbecue and preserve; and I belong to a “bean club” which sends me a box of interesting dried beans every quarter. (No, really.) Combine this with my love of imaginative literature, and you end up with Arouf’s “spicy sweetprawn stew” in Our Lady of the Islands…a recipe I’ll have to actually invent someday.


I wrote...

Our Lady of the Islands

By Shannon Page, Jay Lake,

Book cover of Our Lady of the Islands

What is my book about?

Sian Katte is a successful middle-aged businesswoman in the tropical island nation of Alizar. Her life seems comfortable and well-arranged…until a violent encounter one evening leaves her with an unwanted magical power.

Arian des Chances is the wife of Alizar’s ruler, with vast wealth and political influence. Yet for all her resources, she can only watch helplessly as her son draws nearer to death. When crisis thrusts these two women together, they learn some surprising truths: about themselves, their loved ones, and Alizar itself. Because beneath a seemingly calm facade, Alizar’s people—and a dead god—are stirring…

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