There are thousands of picture books about animals so this was a very hard category to pare down to only the best.
The following titles are worthy of that distinction.
Below are our top picks for books that feature animals in all their beauty and diversity (listed in alphabetical order).
written by Crescent Dragonwagon; illustrated by David McPhail
A mother tucks in her "not sleepy" son with a sweet and soothing lullaby. She describes a different animal for each letter and explains how they cuddle, doze, float, lounge, and wade into sleep.
written by Sarah Powell
This beautiful board book features sturdy pages with a different animal for each letter of the alphabet. What makes the book exceptional is that the images are made from thumb prints and embellished with a variety of interesting almost-3D components. The thumbprints are raised so that little learners can feel the circular patterns.
written and photographed by Andrew Zuckerman
In this stunning coffeetable book masterpiece, Andrew Zuckerman captivates audiences of all ages with his crisp and gorgeous photographs of a different animal for each letter. The details and poses are enthralling, even sometimes terrifying (have you ever seen a scorpion magnified?).
Written and Illustrated by Eric Carle
Alligators wiggle, elephants stomp, gorillas thump, and giraffes bend. But...can you? That is the pressing question in this adorable, interactive book. Children are invited to move along with the characters as they learn animal names and body parts. Super smart gift pick for 1, 2, and 3-year-olds...but sure to be beloved by their slightly older siblings as well.
Written and Illustrated by Edward Gibbs
This beautiful "guessing" book features full-color watercolor pictures of farm animals and invites young children to spy which one will be on the next page. Vibrant colors and contextual clues make this a book that toddlers will want to pick up again and again.
Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
A boat of circus animals gets stuck in "fog as thick as stew" and subsequently shipwrecked on a small isle in Maine. At first, the people who live there are frightened and suspicious. Soon, however, they all live together quite contentedly...until the animals' greedy and nefarious owner comes back to claim them. Your kids will love seeing how the animals "hide" in plain sight and outwit the red-faced scalawag. Van Dusen's larger-than-life cartoon-style illustrations are colorful and captivating.
What are your favorite picture books about animals? We’ll update our list as other treasures are discovered, always keeping our list to the very BEST children’s books.