The most recommended books about Walt Disney

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to Walt Disney, and here are their favorite Walt Disney books.
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Book cover of Disney War

David A. Bossert Author Of Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

From my list on Disney from a Disney historian.

Who am I?

I'm a student of animation and Disney history. As a Disney historian, I find much joy in writing the stories that intrigue and peak my curiosity. Stories that haven't been told or explored in-depth are exciting to bring to life because readers are hungry for new information on the Disney universe. And so am I. In choosing my writing projects it's important that no one else has written more than a cursory amount or nothing at all on the subject matter. I equally like to read books that shed new light on topics that I’m interested in and doing so in an authoritative voice. I hope you will enjoy the selection of books listed here.    

David's book list on Disney from a Disney historian

David A. Bossert Why did David love this book?

This insightful book gives a glimpse into CEO Michael Eisner’s reign at The Walt Disney Company. As one reviewer put it, “Stewart assembles a withering portrait of Eisner as a grasping, self-centered, manipulative, and ultimately self-destructive executive.” Having worked at Disney during this time period, Disney War is the closest account next to actually being there during those turbulent years. A must-read for students of Disney.

By James B. Stewart,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Den of Thieves draws on extensive research and hundreds of interviews to document the fierce executive battle for control of the foremost entertainment company, in an account that discusses how Michael Eisner lost his chairmanship and how the conflict reflects modern-day American capitalism and popular culture. 250,000 first printing.


Book cover of The Little House

Barbara Lehman Author Of Red Again

From my list on celebrating city life.

Who am I?

I especially love books for children that capture city life in a way that feels both unique and child scaled. I have set most of my books in cities because I love the story possibilities that exist in what are almost entirely human-made environments. Paradoxically, city settings make any kind of connection to the natural world or animals even more important. On this list are all books I feel show a particularly special aspect of city life for children.

Barbara's book list on celebrating city life

Barbara Lehman Why did Barbara love this book?

I cannot stop loving this book, which graphically depicts a city growing up around a small farm country cottage. While the storyline concerns the fate of the tiny house, the thrill is watching the steady mushrooming growth of vehicles, electric lines, street cars, street lamps, apartment buildings, elevated and subway trains, and finally skyscrapers as they surround the home before it is able to make its satisfying escape back to the country. The art is warm and cozy, befitting a book that has a gutsy cottage as the main character.

By Virginia Lee Burton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Seventy-five years ago, Virginia Lee Burton created the Little House, and since then generations of readers have been enchanted by the story of this happy home and her journey from the pleasures of nature to the bustling city, and back again. In celebration of this beloved classic's seventy-fifth anniversary, this special edition features a beautiful set of window cling stickers - perfect for decorating your own "Little House" - and free downloadable audio (access code printed inside the book). AGES: 4 to 7 AUTHOR: Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) was the talented author and illustrator of some of the most enduring…


Book cover of Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation

Eric Reinders Author Of The Moral Narratives of Hayao Miyazaki

From my list on Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki.

Who am I?

Princess Mononoke blew my mind. And as I read about Miyazaki himself I thought: here is a kindred spirit. I thought I’d try teaching a course on Miyazaki, not sure if I could sustain a whole semester just about his work—and then I found, there’s way more than a semester’s worth to talk about. After teaching about Miyazaki for a few years, I had to write it all down. Some reviews of my book say my essays are personal, and it’s true, for better or worse—it isn’t about Studio Ghibli or the production process or even about Japan—it’s my reflections on these great films. 

Eric's book list on Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki

Eric Reinders Why did Eric love this book?

This is an excellent general review of the films from Castle of Cagliostro to Princess Mononoke, including plot outline, character studies, technical notes, and appreciations of the films. She is very insightful about the artistic technique. And there’s an interesting chapter at the end about Miyazaki merchandise. This would be a good starting point for a fan. 

By Helen McCarthy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Anime is a huge market, and this is the exclusive, definitive book on the leading master of Japanese animation today, Hayao Miyazaki. Disney has licensed the Miyazaki line (e.g., Kiki's Delivery Service ) and plans another major release this summer. This book supplies informed discussions of style and narrative for each of Miyazaki's major films, with all the data and detail fans want.


Book cover of The Art and Flair of Mary Blair: An Appreciation

David A. Bossert Author Of Claude Coats: Walt Disney's Imagineer: The Making of Disneyland from Toad Hall to the Haunted Mansion and Beyond

From my list on Disney from a Disney historian.

Who am I?

I'm a student of animation and Disney history. As a Disney historian, I find much joy in writing the stories that intrigue and peak my curiosity. Stories that haven't been told or explored in-depth are exciting to bring to life because readers are hungry for new information on the Disney universe. And so am I. In choosing my writing projects it's important that no one else has written more than a cursory amount or nothing at all on the subject matter. I equally like to read books that shed new light on topics that I’m interested in and doing so in an authoritative voice. I hope you will enjoy the selection of books listed here.    

David's book list on Disney from a Disney historian

David A. Bossert Why did David love this book?

This book celebrates the artistry and legacy of Walt Disney’s key talents not only in animation but in the theme park attraction design. Mary Blair’s influence can be seen in animated classics like Disney’s Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), and Peter Pan (1953) to Disneyland’s It’s a Small World and the mural at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World, just to name a few. In a studio dominated by men, Blair rose to the top based on her talent for design and color styling. A wonderfully written book that showcases an artistic genius who brought magic to every project she worked on at Disney.   

By John Canemaker, Mary Blair (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For more than a dozen years, a soft spoken, unassuming woman dominated design at The Walt Disney Studios with a joyful creativity and exuberant color palette that stamped the look of many classic Disney animated features, including Cinderella and PeterPan.
Favorite theme park attractions, most notably the It's A Small World boat ride, originally created for the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair, were also among her designs. Now the story behind one of Walt's favorite artists is celebrated in this delightful volume of whimsical art and insightful commentary. In her prime, Mary Blair was an amazingly prolific American artist who…


Book cover of Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation

J.B. Kaufman Author Of Pinocchio: The Making of the Disney Epic

From my list on American animation history.

Who am I?

Like so many others, I discovered Disney in childhood. When I was five years old my parents took me to see a Disney movie in a theater, and the experience was so overwhelming that I still recall it vividly. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion for classic films, a passion that has led me to a career as a film historian. For me, writing a book about a film is mainly an excuse to do the research, to get inside a film and explore it, and find out what makes it tick. It’s invariably a fascinating journey, and if I can share that fascination with readers, I’m happy.

J.B.'s book list on American animation history

J.B. Kaufman Why did J.B. love this book?

An Academy Award®-winning animator in his own right, John Canemaker has combined his firsthand knowledge of the craft with superior writing skills to produce a series of outstanding books on animation history. You can pretty much close your eyes, pick any one of Canemaker’s books at random, and come up with a winner. But I’m highlighting this one as the definitive study of the “Nine Old Men,” the Disney artists widely recognized as the leading masters of animation. For each of the nine, Canemaker provides a detailed biography and a cogent analysis of the artist’s work, heavily illustrated. It’s a fitting testament to a royal legacy of talent.

By John Canemaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walt Disney's Nine Old Men and the Art of Animation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Noted film historian John Canemaker brings to life the team whose combined individual genius defined the art of character animation. Think of your favorite moments and characters in Disney films from the thirties to the seventies and chances are most were animated by one of Walt Disney's "Nine Old Men." Through the span of their careers, these nine highly skilled animators exhibited an unparalleled loyalty to their employer. This book explores their artisitic breakthroughs, failures, and rivalries, and their individual relationships with each other and with Walt.


Book cover of The Illusion of Life

Ron Husband Author Of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

From my list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist.

Who am I?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Ron's book list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist

Ron Husband Why did Ron love this book?

I was privileged to see firsthand these two Disney Legends and their passions for the craft of storytelling through animation. I worked with Frank and Ollie as a young animation trainee. I learned the basics of animation by ‘in-betweening’ scenes primarily for Frank. In addition to ‘in-betweening’ for Frank, he would give me scenes to animate under his supervision. The principles and philosophy of the ‘Disney way’ are explained within the pages of this book and I was fortunate to have absorbed them firsthand.

Applying the principles of animation that Frank and Ollie presented has had a tremendous effect on all aspects of my art. My book, my personal award-winning illustrations, and a 38-year career with the Disney Studio bear witness of putting these principles into practice.

By Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Illusion of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most complete book on the subject ever written, this is the fascinating inside story by two long-term Disney animators of the gradual perfecting of a relatively young and particularly American art from, which no other move studio has ever been able to equal.

The authors, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, worked with Walt Disney himself as well as other leading figures in a half-century of Disney films. They personally animated leading characters in most of the famous films and have decades of close association with the others who helped perfect this extremely difficult and time-consuming art form. Not to…


Book cover of The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg

Adam Wallace Author Of How to Catch a Leprechaun

From my 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

Adam Wallace Why did Adam love this book?

This was my favourite book as a kid, and I still love it now. Bill Peet is an incredible author and artist, who also did amazing work for Walt Disney. Many of his books are about finding the gift in your uniqueness, where the thing that makes the main character an outcast, the butt of jokes, ends up being the thing that makes them special in the end. 

The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg does this wonderfully as Zeke, a griffin hatched by a pigeon, finds his heart, courage, and uniqueness to save the very birds who had wanted to exile him.

By Bill Peet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pinkish, Purplish, Bluish Egg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

Everyone in the forest is afraid of Zeke the griffin until he does them all a very big favor.


Book cover of Walt Disney's Bambi: The Sketchbook Series

Ron Husband Author Of Quick Sketching with Ron Husband

From my list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist.

Who am I?

I've been drawing for over 68 years and carrying a sketchbook for over 60 of those years. I've seen success as an author, I'm an award-winning illustrator of books and magazines and animated many classic Disney features. Am I an expert on sketching humans and animals? ...No. I'm constantly learning in my effort to capture humans and animals in action by following the basic principles of drawing as they apply to quick sketching. My learning is aided by these books as I prepare lesson plans or the encouragement and inspiration found within their pages. I'm married to LaVonne, my high school sweetheart of 50 years, and have three grown children and six grandchildren.

Ron's book list on sketching, anatomy and animation for the artist

Ron Husband Why did Ron love this book?

Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan are also part of this series. This compilation of drawings by master animators Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Milt Kahl, Mark Davis, John Lounsbery, storyman Joe Grant and more are truly encouraging and inspiring. Before the drawings are passed along to the clean-up stage, we see the unique and beautiful drawings of the animators with the circles for heads and construction lines visible used to convey balance, proportion, perspective, silhouette, and attitude, all while drawing the character on model. We will all have a greater appreciation for the level of drawing mastery shared inside the pages of these books. 

By Disney Book Group,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walt Disney's Bambi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Spring 1997 is the fifty-fifth anniversary of the theatrical release of Bambi. This celebratory volume is filled with original sketches and color studies from the Animation Research Library and the personal collections of Bambi animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, many of which have never before been seen by the public. Walt Disney's Bambi reveals how animators Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Marc Davis, Ty Wong and others transformed the Felix Salten story; how each of the beloved characters evolved; how the palette of the seasons was refined; and how the life of the forest was breathed into the animation.


Book cover of Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man

Stephen Silver Author Of The Silver Way: Techniques, Tips, and Tutorials for Effective Character Design

From my list on to inspire you to sketch.

Who am I?

Stephen Silver has been a professional working artist, character designer, and teacher in the industry for over 30 years. He developed intellectual properties for some of the largest media companies in the world; such as Disney, Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, Sony, MAD Magazine, Reel FX, Bento box, Hasbro, Universal, DreamWorks, and more. Stephen is responsible for the visual character development and design of some of animation’s most iconic shows; including Disney’s Kim Possible, Nickelodeon’s Danny Phantom, and Disney’s Clerks: The Animated Series, to name a few.

Stephen's book list on to inspire you to sketch

Stephen Silver Why did Stephen love this book?

This book is filled with artwork and sketches that are filled with energy. I love that Mark Davis offers a variety of different styles and development roughs that are so inspiring and make you want to sketch. The value I received from acquiring this book was giving me a greater sense of appreciation for playing with different mediums.

By Disney Book Group, Marc Davis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Walt Disney once said of Marc Davis, “Marc can do story, he can do character, he can animate, he can design shows for me. All I have to do is tell him what I want and it’s there! He’s my Renaissance man.” As such, Davis touched nearly every aspect of The Walt Disney Company during his tenure. He began as an animator, whose supporting work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi inspired Walt to promote him to full animator.

In the ensuing years, Davis breathed life into a bevy of iconic Disney characters, including Cinderella, Alice (in…


Book cover of Ink & Paint: The Women of Walt Disney's Animation

Jake S. Friedman Author Of The Disney Revolt: The Great Labor War of Animation's Golden Age

From my list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching.

Who am I?

I'm an expert in animation history, having written three books on it, dozens of articles, and appeared on TV documentaries about it. I've also been a college professor for about 13 years, so I know what a story needs to maintain interest. These books have that. They're about different chunks of American history, some political, some artistic, all cultural. But they're also focused on the people who made the history, and showing how they got to where they were, and why they matter. These books let me walk in the shoes of subjects, and whisk me back to their time and place. If a book passes the empathy/time-machine test, it has won me over.

Jake's book list on American history that read like you’re binge-watching

Jake S. Friedman Why did Jake love this book?

A treasure trove of artwork, photos, and most of all, a record of the women of Disney history. Expertly and lovingly researched.

This book chronicles Disney animation behind-the-scenes throughout its entire run, decade by decade. Sometimes arduous, sometimes creative, but generally positive. Who would have thought that among the women of the Ink & Paint department were actual chemists mixing colors?! These women have been widely unsung, making them the true underdogs of Disney animation. And I’m always a sucker for an underdog.

Not to mention the few women early on who rose through the ranks to become designers and even animators, lest they be forgotten. This book breathed vibrant life into a wing of Disney animation that I personally had never explored before.  

By Mindy Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the earliest origins of animated imagery, the colorful link between paper and screen was created by legions of female artists working on the slick surface of celluloid sheets.

With calligraphic precision and Rembrandtesque mastery, these women painstakingly brought pencil drawings to vibrant, dimensional life. Yet perhaps as a reflection of the transparent canvas they created on, the contributions and history of these animation artists have remained virtually invisible and largely undocumented, until now.

Walt Disney's pioneering efforts in animation transformed novelty cartoons into visual masterpieces, establishing many "firsts" for women within the entertainment industry along the way. Focusing on…