One of our first outings this summer is the zoo. In St.Louis we have a wonderful (and free) zoo. I am sure we will go at least once a month this summer. I love to provide the books with books by theme that we are studying. We're going to need a lot of books for our trips.I am breaking this list down into three groups: zoo books for toddlers, zoo books for preschoolers, and zoo books for early readers. Since my boys fall into the "preschoolers" category, I am sharing some of our favorite preschool zoo books first. The zoo is a wonderful preschool theme and these books allow many opportunites for zoo activities for preschool.
Inside a Zoo in the City by Alyssa Satin Capucilli Illustrated by Tedd Arnold
To me, nothing says "preschool book" more than a rebus picture book. Inside a Zoo in the City piggybacks on the familar text of "A House that Jack Built". In this story of animals wake up in their home, get on a bus, and go to their day job at the zoo. The story ends with the animals "working" inside a zoo in the city.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? by Bill Martin Illustrated by Eric Carle
How do you mention zoo animal books and not mention Bill Martin's classic books? With rhyming and repetative text, this book introduces a variety of animals to young children. The bold pictures with one animal per page make this text a great choice for younger readers as well. The repetative text would make it a great first reader for early readers as well.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear What do you Hear?, also by Bill Martin, is the perfect version of this story for a zoo unit. The animals in the story are all zoo animals. The story ends with a zookeeper listening for the noises that children are making in the zoo.
Curious George Feeds The Animals by Margaret and H.A. Reys
Curious George is always a helpful monkey when preparing children for an adventure. In many of his books, he visits a location, causes a little mishap, and learns a lesson about visiting that particular place. In Curious George Feeds the Animals, George visits the zoo and shares his snack with the animals. He finds out from an angry zookeeper that the snack could make the animals sick. George feels awful. His luck and his mood changes when his snack is used to locate a missing animal. This is a great book to use when talking about the rules in visiting a zoo. It could also be great for starting a lesson on what types of foods each animal might eat.
Never, EVER Shout in a Zoo by Karma Wilson would also be a good book to read before visiting a zoo. In the story, a little girl shouts in a zoo and sets off a chain reaction of animals escaping and chasing after her. Sounds a little scary? Don't worry. The tone of the book and the illustrations make it funny and not scary. This book is perfect for my four year old who often says, "Rules are rules, right mom?" He loves the line in the story, "Don't say I didn't warn you!" If you still aren't convinced this book is nothing but scary, it has a happy ending!!
My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
I like My Heart is like a Zoo because it brings an almost poetic feel into the zoo themed books. It is also a great way to weave art into a zoo unit. In this story, a young boy "zookeeper" explores his feelings by comparing them to attributes of animals. The illustrations feature one animal per page. The animals are constructed out of heart shapes.
Where's Walrus? by Stephen Savage
Where's Walrus? is a wordless picture book that portrays the plight of a walrus escaped from the zoo. Walrus escapes his small pool at in the city zoo. He leaves the zoo and travels around the city. A variety of hats help Walrus blend in with his surroundings as he tries out life as a fashion model, bricklayer, firefighter and more. But when the hats come off, Walrus is "discovered"-- not only by the zookeeper, but he is also discovered to be a very special Walrus. This book is fun and funny. It's different than a lot of books that are available for this age range. It will entertain kids and parents alike.
The Dancing Clock by Steve Metzger
The dancing clock is another great story about an animal who makes his escape from the zoo. Milo, a snow monkey at the zoo, wants to join the dancing animals on the clock, but he is locked behind his gate with the other zoo monkeys. He is so enraptured with the clock, he refuses to even play with the other monkeys. Finally, he makes an escape. He happily dances with each of the animals until the music ends and he is left all alone on his clock. He realizes the bronzed animals aren't warm or friendly like his monkey friends. Milo learns an important lesson about true friends.
Do you have a favorite book that you read before visiting the zoo? What books do you take along on your zoo outings?