4 Fantastic Chapter Books for Animal Lovers
You would be hard pressed to find a kid who doesn’t like animals. Take your kiddo to the zoo, a farm, or even a pet store, and you’ll likely have a very excited little person on your hands.
There are some kids though, who really love animals. They’re the ones who live for the smallest details and facts about every single species in the animal kingdom, practice their veterinarian skills on the family dog, and spend countless hours doodling and coloring pictures of their favorite type of creature. They dream about growing up to have an exotic or glamorous career focused on animals, such as taming wild horses, or training dolphins and whales to perform.
We’ve rounded up a handful of exceptional chapter books that center around particular birds and beasts. While most children will enjoy these engaging stories, your animal lover will especially appreciate these gripping titles:
by Kate DiCamillo
Rob Horton is 12 years old and lives at the Kentucky Star Motel in Florida with his dad following the recent death of his mother. What seemed to be a normal day – normal for the past six months anyway – turns out to be anything but for Rob.
Not only does Rob – who is lonely, bullied, and suspended from school because of an embarrassing rash on his legs – meet girl, Sistine Bailey, who is a newcomer just like him; he also discovers a real, live tiger locked up in a cage in the woods behind the motel.
Much like the tiger confined to its cage, Rob keeps his emotions and concerns stashed away in an imaginary suitcase, which he invented after his dad told him that there was no point in crying because it wouldn’t bring his mother back.
As Rob and Sistine begin to build a friendship, she helps him realize that keeping things hidden away is not good. Together they devise a plan to free the tiger as well, although when tigers and feelings have been locked up for too long, the consequences can be alarming.
You may wish to read this book on your own before sharing with your child, as it does include some tragic subject matter, which may be overwhelming for an especially sensitive child. At the very least, you can discuss the story together and help your child work out any thoughts or questions that arise.
by Jean Craighead George
In a story that spans two centuries and encompasses both the past and the future, this engrossing book is written from several characters’ perspectives. Toozak, a young Yupik Eskimo boy, witnesses the birth of a bowhead whale in 1848. The whale, which he names Siku, has a distinctive mark that enables Toozak to recognize the whale throughout his life.
Years later, Toozak inadvertently leads a group of American hunters to the whales, resulting in the slaughter of many. Believing he has brought on a curse, Toozak vows to protect Siku. This promise takes him from his home on the Russian island of St. Lawrence to Alaska, where he marries and has children.
The story continues through the eyes of Toozak’s offspring, along with an American family named Boyd, and Siku the whale, who lives to be 200 years old when the curse is broken. Kids will learn about nature conservation and interactions between people of different cultures.
by Jack London
Rounding out our collection, this book is one you or even your parents (or grandparents!) may have read as a child. First published way back in 1903, the novel is considered a classic by many.
Buck, a young Saint Bernard and Scottish Shepherd mix, is stolen by one of his master’s servants, who sells the large dog to a ring of thieves. He ends up pulling a sled with a team of other dogs in the cold north; hungry, tired, and in pain much of the time.
After excessive hardship and brutality at the hands of several different masters, Buck finally finds a human he can trust again. However, tragedy strikes once more and the dog suffers yet another great loss. In the end, Buck heeds the call of the wild and joins a pack of wild wolves.
This is another book that you may wish to read first so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. It teaches many lessons and life skills they can apply to their own lives, from creative problem solving, to the importance of kindness, to overcoming adversity.
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Animal lovers who are also book lovers will be happy to discover that this title is part of the Vet Volunteers series by the author.
Brenna is so excited to join Dr. Mac, the veterinarian for whom she volunteers, on a trip to Florida. Dr. Mac’s friend Gretchen runs a manatee rescue that is in dire need of funding. Brenna has been fascinated by the gentle sea giants ever since she did a school project on them, and she desperately wants to find a way to help Gretchen save the rescue. With a little creativity and a lot of hard work, she just might be able to help.
Ideal for wannabe marine biologists, this story may inspire kids to find volunteer opportunities. It will also show them that even kids can make a difference when they use their imaginations and make a concentrated effort.
Encourage your child’s affection for the animal kingdom by presenting a new favorite book. Reading together is a great way to bond, even (perhaps especially) if your little one’s not so little anymore.
What are some of your favorite chapter books about animals to read with the kids? Share with us!
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