Friday, May 11, 2012

Zoo Books for Preschoolers

Where are your adventures taking you this summer? We are looking forward to trips to park, the pool, various museums and the zoo. I have created a page on Ready. Set. Read called Book Adventures which suggests books to take along on any journey. This summer I am updating my lists and linking them to posts with more in-depth reviews. By the end of summer, we hope to have many book adventures and many great books to share with you.
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.

zoo activities for preschool, zoo books

Inside a zoo in the city, Alyssa Satin Capucilli, preschool zoo unit 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?, Bill martin Jr., Eric Carle, preschool zoo theme 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?,  Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle, Preschool Zoo theme 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, Karma Wilson 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  Zoo, Michael Hall, preschool zoo theme 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, stephen savage, zoo preschool theme 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, Steve Metzger 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?


  1. "Me Baby, You Baby" is such a sweet book about a visit to the zoo. It's told in rhyme, and the illustrations are lovely and have lots to look at.

  2. Lovely list!
    We read A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C.Stead recently, it's about a zookeeper who got sick and animals that came to keep him company. It was lovely.

  3. I need to look for a copy of that first book - I think my kids would love it! We already love several of the others you mentioned :)

    Thanks for linking up to Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles!

  4. What a great list! We also love ZooZical! about a Zoo musical! We also have a zoo bingo post if you're interested! It was a fun way to discuss different sorts of animals!

  5. Who knew there were so many great zoo books. These would be a great jumping off point after a trip to the zoo. Vicky from

  6. We like to read, "Polar bear, polar bear, what do you hear." My kids like the ending of the children pretending to be like animals!

  7. Great list - some I was familiar with and some that I wasn't. Thanks!

  8. I just read Never Shout in the Zoo to my grandkids, my favourite has to be Brown Bear, Brown Bear, though.

  9. This is great! Many that I haven't seen before. I love Goodnight Gorilla, Dear Zoo, and Daddy's Taking Us To The Zoo Tomorrow too!

  10. Great suggestions - we'll have to add them to our list. We also like 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo by Eric Carle. It's a counting book with no words - fun to read.

  11. Great list! We love most of the books, and will definitely check the others out :)

  12. Great selection of books!!! Thanks for compiling a list. We like the Brown Bear book :)

  13. The Escape of Marvin the Ape is a book children enjoy. I will be checking this list as there are so many good ideas here. Thank you, Carolyn

  14. Great list! We haven't read some of these...we'll have to check them out! thanks for putting this together!

  15. Great list, we have a few of those but you also showed me a few I did not know about!

  16. We love the zoo, so these books are great for us! Wild About Books is one of our favorite zoo books.

  17. What a great selection of zoo books. Goblin has one zoo picture book and he has been insisting we read it every night - which is difficult as the only words are the names of the animals. You have lots of books I haven't even come across before, I will have to go and check them out.

  18. Great list.I just realised we haven,t read any zoo books! Thanks for linking up to Book sHAring Monday.