What are your favorite animal-friendly, beautifully-illustrated kid’s books?

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Tumford the Terrible
My kids, nearly two and four, love to be read to and I love to read to them as long as the books are lyrically written and creatively illustrated — and they don’t encourage harming animals (original Curious George, anyone?), or feature name-calling or cranky parents (too many to list).

Extra points go to books with female main characters, especially those that break gender stereotypes (no Skippy Jon Jones, please), because the overwhelming majority of children’s book characters are male.

Some of our current favorites are City Dog, Country Frog, Tumford the Terrible, Bear Snores on, and Love is You & Me. These are all delightful enough for me and my kids both that I don’t mind reading them again and again, but I want more.

Offbeat Families readers, what are your favorites? — Aly

Comments on What are your favorite animal-friendly, beautifully-illustrated kid’s books?

  1. I remember Tight Times from my childhood, and its themes are apt for our current world. The boy gets a cat and calls it dog because they can’t afford a dog, but comes to love the cat all the more…

  2. Some our favorites are the Olivia books by Ian Falconer (which are a bit gendered, with the mommy and daddy in fairly typical roles) and Frederick by Leo Lionni. (Frederick does have a male lead, but I find the pro-art message quite unusual and beautiful, kind of the opposite of the typical ant vs. grasshopper story.)

  3. And Then It’s Spring – beautiful illustrations, simple, lovely story, animal friends on every page

    The Three Ninja Pigs – the girl pig saves the day! And does karate!

    Boot & Shoe – story of friendship, funny, sweet

    Just Ducks! – pretty watercolor, whimsical nonfiction all about ducks

    Also, anything by Steve Jenkins. He does incredible nonfiction about animals and insects. And uses handmade paper collage to create lifelike pictures!

  4. Mine and my sister’s favorite was Lester & Clyde, by James H. Reece. It has an eco-friendly message, and is clever and lyrical with great illustrations. I can probably still quote it today, at 27 🙂

  5. I totally recommend any of the “Mog the Forgetful Cat” series by Judith Kerr, and “The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark” by Jill Tomlinson. Both classics!

  6. A Fairy Went A-Marketing by Rose Fylemen is beautiful. It has lots of hidden things for kids to find on each page. Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger is also gorgeous. Both are on Amazon.

  7. This was one of my favourite books growing up. I wish I knew where it was. I might buy another copy, just so I can giggle my way through it again. It’s all about archeologists from the year 4200 who find the lost continent of Usa. They discover a motel. It’s great fun, and really makes you think about how completely wrong we could be in our interpretation of ancient cultures.

  8. I have found that books I enjoy reading are often not the ones my kids want to hear! I second the Mo Willems love (fun to read and adored by my kids) and a couple of others that fit the bill:

    Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

    If I Built a Car by Chris van Dusen

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