In honor of National Zoo Keepers’ Week last week, here are picture books about zoos my children enjoy!
: In addition to being a cute tale about animals, this is a lovely story about drawing on your own creativity to beat the boredom blues. When the zoo is empty of visitors, the animals put together a ZooZical–a series of punny acts that draw upon their unique talents. My kids enjoy the lively and humorous text.
: A Dr. Seuss book that gives full reign to Theodor Geisel’s creature-filled imaginings. This book will no doubt inspire kids to create an imaginary bestiary to fill their own “new zoo.” I love this book but I do need to mention that some of the illustrations carry the ethnic and racial stereotypes of the past–generally these are fantastical animals and it is unlikely to be something young children would notice…just something to keep in mind.
: By the same author as ZooZical, this story centers around a young visitor who introduces the zoo animals to reading. She finds each beast its own appropriate book.
: A classic that my son once picked up at the library. The repetitive structure, simple words, and clear images make this a perfect book for young emerging readers, as well as toddlers with growing descriptive vocabularies.
: This funny story centers around a leopard who can change, and even juggle, his spots. He shows off his tricks to two young children to prove he deserves a spot in the zoo.
: A zoo keeper says good night to each animal without realizing that the gorilla is unlocking all the cages. The animals follow the zoo keeper home and crawl into bed. The zoo keeper’s wife, startled awake by the extra “good nights,” leads everyone back to the zoo. The gorilla and his mouse friend, however, sneak back in the end. For several months, this was my youngest’s favorite book. I’m not a big fan of books with so little text but it is hard to resist a toddler’s love of any story. There are plenty of fun details in the illustrations, including a Babar plush for the elephant and a pacifier for the armadillo.
: In this sweet tale, an elderly zoo keeper conscientiously cares for his animal charges. When he falls ill, his animal friends come to his house to return the favor.
What favorites would you add to the list?