The best reptile books

4 authors have picked their favorite books about reptiles and why they recommend each book.

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Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor

By Patricia Valdez, Felicita Sala (illustrator),

Book cover of Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor: The Woman Who Loved Reptiles

There is so much to love about this biography on scientist Joan Procter—from a girl having a tea party with lizards... to her journey of becoming a scientist and curator... to her alliance with real-life dragons! And every spread of this book slithers with stunning reptiles thanks to illustrator Felicita Sala. In the back matter, readers learn that the zoologist died at the young age of 34 due to complications from a chronic illness. But because of this inspirational biography, Procter’s story—and love of reptiles—will live on and on in the minds of young readers. 

Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor

By Patricia Valdez, Felicita Sala (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Back in the days of long skirts and afternoon teas, young Joan Procter entertained the most unusual party guests: slithery and scaly ones, who turned over teacups and crawled past the crumpets... While other girls played with dolls, Joan preferred the company of reptiles. She carried her favorite lizard with her everywhere - she even brought a crocodile to school!

When Joan grew older, she became the Curator of Reptiles at the Natural History Museum. She went on to design the Reptile House at the London Zoo, including a home for the rumored-to-be-vicious komodo dragons. There, just like when she…

Who am I?

I write picture-book biographies and my latest book focuses on the first giraffologist, Dr. Anne Innis Dagg. While researching this book, I learned about so many people who have dedicated their lives to studying and protecting animals. Almost always, their love of wildlife began in childhood. So why not inspire young animal lovers today with true stories about people who share their passion for wildlife?


I wrote...

Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes

By Karlin Gray,

Book cover of Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes

What is my book about?

At four years old, Anne saw her first giraffe and never stopped thinking about it. Her desire to study the world's tallest animal followed her from preschool to graduate school, from Canada to South Africa. And often, people laughed at her quest. But by following her love of giraffes, Dr. Anne Innis Dagg became a pioneer—the first scientist to study animal behavior in Africa.

Illustrated by Aparna Varma, Anne and Her Tower of Giraffes is a picture-book biography that celebrates the adventures of Dr. Dagg, the beauty of giraffes, and the power of persistence. 

Reptiles

By Catriona Clarke, Connie McLennan (illustrator),

Book cover of Reptiles

You really can’t go wrong with a book from Usborne publishers. Reptiles is a gem. It has all the features of a traditional non-fiction book--chapter titles, table of contents, glossary, and a list of related websites--and it bestows information in kid-friendly language. When a procedure is outlined, such as temperature regulation for a desert lizard through a long hot day, the process is distilled into 4 numbered steps. The small size of the book (6” x 8”), the beautiful integration of photographs and illustrations, and the high interest level of the topics covered makes this book a surefire winner with kids.

Reptiles

By Catriona Clarke, Connie McLennan (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is a fantastic brand new addition to the "Beginners" series, designed to provide an informative introduction to trees and plant-life for young readers. Children can learn about some of the most fascinating cold-blooded creatures in the world from reptiles that can fly, walk on water, and climb on ceilings. This book offers terrific reading practice for children who prefer fact to fiction. It is developed with a reading expert from Roehampton University to help young readers grow in confidence. It is great value for money.

Who am I?

When I was a child, I saw a grasshopper doing the sidestroke in the ocean and it sparked my interest in animal behavior. Though I still don’t know if all grasshoppers do the sidestroke, I’ve learned a lot about animal adaptations since then. And I’ve learned a lot about what motivates young readers from my years as a reading specialist and a classroom teacher. I’ve put that knowledge to work in my two popular books: Who Has These Feet? and Who Has This Tail?


I wrote...

Who Has These Feet?

By Laura Hulbert, Erik Brooks (illustrator),

Book cover of Who Has These Feet?

What is my book about?

Who Has These Feet uses a lively guessing game format to introduce children to animal adaptations. Young readers enjoy following the predictable format of the text to explore the link between shape and function in the feet of nine animals from different habitats. The brightly detailed paintings by Erik Brooks are scientifically accurate and very appealing.

Art & Max

By David Wiesner,

Book cover of Art & Max

Art and Max is one of my favorite picture books because it contains humor, knowledge, great characters, and imagination. David Weisner is a master at capturing expression and pushing the limits of the imagination to amuse and surprise the reader. Art is a serious artist reptile, Max is an overexcited literal lizard that wants to learn to paint. He is a serious annoyance to Art. When Art finally agrees to let him paint, confusion on what to paint explodes into a mess. Each art mishap resembles famous artist styles and techniques. It’s a funny, clever, and imaginative book that both children and adults enjoy.

Art & Max

By David Wiesner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Max and Arthur are best friends who both want to make art. Arthur is an accomplished painter; Max is a beginner. Max's first attempt at using a paintbrush sends the two friends on a whirlwind adventure with paints, pastels and pencils, which turn out to have unexpected pitfalls.

Heavily influenced by surrealist Salvador Dali, Wiesner has crafted a fascinating story about friendship, creativity and the mysterious place where these two forces meet.

Who am I?

I was born into a large, unique family. Our house was nestled in the Colorado foothill mountains. Our small tv with the rabbit ear antenna had one fuzzy station, so we depended upon our imaginations for entertainment. We read fairy tales, performed puppet shows, fed fairies on the full moon, painted, drew, wrote stories, explored the canyon. I once observed a small pebbled cylinder inch its way across a puddle. I thought it was magic! It was a caddis fly larvae. That spark of excitement from nature, imagination, and whimsy are what inspire me today when I create. I hope these books will inspire you–or at least make you laugh.


I wrote...

I Am Goose!

By Dorothia Rohner, Vanya Nastanlieva (illustrator),

Book cover of I Am Goose!

What is my book about?

I am Goose! was inspired by the children at Head-Start. They loved playing Duck, Duck Goose, but not all of the children cared about the rules. The story starts out with a simple, friendly game of Duck, Duck, Goose. It goes off the rails in giggle-inducing confusion when a silly goose tries to make it all about him. “Are you kidding me? I am Goose!”

A literal-minded goose derails a favorite childhood game—Duck, Duck, Goose—by objecting when Pig, Fox, Dodo, and other players are tapped as “Goose”. Distraction, squabbling, and asking for snacks threaten to end the game completely. Bossy Rabbit restores calm, but Goose doesn’t understand what the problem is until he gets a taste of his own medicine.

Book cover of Why Elephants Have Big Ears : Understanding Patterns of Life on Earth

If you’re gonna draw any creatures, humans included, it’s important to understand all the factors that influence their size and their shape. The temperature of their environment, the altitude, the precipitation— even the gravity of the planet itself. The book gives gives an in-depth understanding as to why animals look they way they do, and why some weird structures are not only practical, but crucial for a species to survive.

Why Elephants Have Big Ears

By Chris Lavers,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Elephants Have Big Ears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why are all the big land animals on Earth mammals? Why are reptiles so small today when they were so huge in the Age of Dinosaurs? Why are rivers, lakes and swamps dominated by large cold-blooded reptiles and not by mammals? Why are there so many birds on Earth and why are they all so small? In this beautifully written and utterly compelling book Lavers scours the fields of biology, physiology, ecology and palaeontology to find answers to these global-scale questions. In the process he reveals a fundamentally new view of life on Earth, one that offers no room for…

Who am I?

I believe stories to be our species’ instinctual tool for discovering our best selves. Sometimes those stories are about real people in the past, sometimes they’re completely imagined people in the future — sometimes we even swap out the humans for animals or aliens, or sassy anthropomorphized objects. Whatever the case, for a story to work its wonders, its details must be believable, or we reject its premise. These books help make a story believable, and, if you get the alchemy just right, those details can even help tell the story themselves.


I wrote...

New in Town

By Kevin Cornell,

Book cover of New in Town

What is my book about?

One fine morning, the people of Puddletrunk wake up to find their bridge has collapsed. They are not surprised. After all, termites have destroyed the last 200 or so bridges. Luckily, the people of Puddletrunk have a bridge-building expert in their town: the fabulous Mortimer Gulch, who will gladly rebuild their bridge for a pretty penny. But when a newcomer to Puddletrunk does not want to pay for the repairs, Mortimer is displeased. To make matters worse, this unusual foreigner has some innovative ideas that threaten to upend Mortimer Gulch's entire business.

Here is a whimsical yet timely picture book allegory about what new people with new ideas can bring to communities.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

By Steve Jenkins, Robin Page,

Book cover of What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

This science book inspired my own series of comparative anatomy books. The interactive element works beautifully. On each page, the reader sees groups of the same body part from different animals, for example, a group of noses, along with the question, “What do you do with a nose like this?” After the page-turn, the whole animals appear, along with explanations of how the individual noses uniquely function. Kids love to guess what animal the individual body parts belong to before the page turn. The collage illustrations are also stunningly beautiful.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

By Steve Jenkins, Robin Page,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author of picture books for kids. I’m also a veterinarian and science educator, and many of my books have a STEM focus. I write books that are interactive, engaging, and playful. I do this by using humor and by writing in a question-and-answer format that encourages children to think and call out answers before the page-turn. During this time when so many of us have not been able to be in the same room with the kids we read with and to, I’ve found interactive books to be the best at holding attention and connecting. I hope they work well for you, too.


I wrote...

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons

By Sara Levine, T.S. Spookytooth (illustrator),

Book cover of Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons

What is my book about?

What would you be if your finger bones grew so long that they reached your feet? You'd be a bat! What if you had no leg bones but kept your arm bones? You'd be a whale, a dolphin, or a porpoise! This entertaining picture book will keep readers guessing as they learn about how our skeletons are like―and unlike―those of other animals.

“I've been longing for another kind of picture book: one that appeals to young children's wildest imagination in service of real evolutionary thinking...Bone by Bone, by veterinarian and professor Sara Levine, fills the niche to near perfection." - Slate

A Place to Start a Family

By David L. Harrison, Giles Laroche (illustrator),

Book cover of A Place to Start a Family: Poems About Creatures That Build

Given poet David L. Harrison’s background and interests (he holds science degrees from both Drury and Emory Universities), it should not be surprising to see his books show up on two of my lists. While he has published numerous poetry collections about animals, A Place to Start a Family stands out because of its tight focus – poems about animals that build nests, hives, and other types of homes – and the writer’s incredible talent for wordplay.

From ingenious internal rhyme to intriguing back matter to Giles Laroche’s masterful cut-paper illustrations, this work of creative nonfiction is equally at home in libraries and classrooms as it is on children’s bookshelves.

A Place to Start a Family

By David L. Harrison, Giles Laroche (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Place to Start a Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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 (N.G. Children’s Books, 2015) and Construction People (Wordsong, 2020) as well as Highlights for Children magazine.


I wrote...

Once Upon Another Time

By Charles Ghigna, Matt Forrest Esenwine, Andrés F. Landazábal (illustrator)

Book cover of Once Upon Another Time

What is my book about?

"Once upon another time, the world was young and new. If you want to know this world, there's something you can do..." With sweeping landscapes and up-close details of the natural world, “Once Upon Another Time” takes readers through a lyrical exploration of the world as it was before humans made their mark. Contrasting the past with the present, this expansive picture book serves as an invitation for children – and all people – to appreciate, explore, and protect this planet we call home.

Written by award-winning authors Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine, and illustrated by Andres F. Landazabal, Once Upon Another Time is a stunning portrait of a world that used to exist, and can still be found – if you just know where to look.

The Extinction Trials

By Susan Wilson,

Book cover of The Extinction Trials

Why am I recommending this book? First of all – Dinosaurs. I don’t know where they came from in the book series and frankly I don’t care. I’ll read anything with dinosaurs. I think this book series is set in a modern UK but it’s never explicitly stated. It’s set in a futuristic world where nature has failed us – because of us – and humans need to find a new way of living. They must learn to live with dinosaurs. Maybe the new Jurassic World film could learn from the characters? Who knows. 

The Extinction Trials

By Susan Wilson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in the heart-stopping The Extinction Trials trilogy, for fans of The Hunger Games and Jurassic Park.

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival. Welcome to The Extinction Trials...

In Stormchaser and Lincoln's ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.

But in a land full of monsters - human and reptilian - they can't afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other...

Shortlisted for the 2019 Scottish Teenage Book Prize

Who am I?

I’m an English writer based in Sheffield. I started reading dystopia when I was around 19 and in a very bad place mentally, it became an escape for me and I would read everything in the genre. It got to the point where I was writing in the notes on my phone (not very well, I might add). Somehow dystopia ignited my passion for writing and so I went to university to study it. Almost everything I wrote for both my undergrad degree and my master's was set in a future dystopian UK. It is where my passion still lies and I hope to create more futuristic worlds like those I have listed.


I wrote...

Trials of the Realm

By Lauren Stabler,

Book cover of Trials of the Realm

What is my book about?

Adelaide Taylor’s life is anything but ideal. After losing her parents to the new, tyrannical government, she’s forced to live in an orphanage for women under twenty-five. While she toils away six days a week at a thankless job, the government systematically destroys the country. Elections are abolished. Borders are closed. The death penalty is reinstated for anyone who dares defy the new world order. All anyone can do is hope they survive. But Adelaide needs a way out.

When new trials are introduced, she jumps at the chance to win a second chance at life. Should she win, she will regain some semblance of a life. But success won’t come easily, and failure will mean death. Will she escape this brutal life or has her fate already been sealed?

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