Children have such a fascination with animals. One of the reasons can be that animals are living creatures just like us, and there is so much about animals to learn about; their physical attributes, their special abilities and their habitats. Animals inspire so much wonder and curiosity in children who are discovering so much about the world around them!
Below are some of my personal favourites when it comes to introducing young children to zoo animals!
1. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do you hear? (Eric Carle)
Eric Carle needs no introduction. He is one of the greatest children’s book writers in our time. He illustrates colourful, captivating characters that makes it so easy for children fall in love with. He is renowned for turning a simple plot into a magical experience for children. In this book, he takes children in this exploration about the sounds that zoo animals make. In terms of language, the repetitive lines in the book makes it easy for children to pick up chunk language or phrases, that can be used in their daily speech. It is also a great book to pick up new vocabulary such as zoo animals, and the sounds they make. You can use this anytime as a read-aloud book, and mimic the sounds that the animals make to make the book come alive!
2. From Head to Toe (Eric Carle)
This is another great Eric Carle classic! From head to toe is a simple story about how a boy imitates the movement of the different zoo animals such as turning his head like a penguin,bending his neck like a giraffe, and stomping his feet like an elephant! Rae loved it when I first introduced this book to her at 14 months old. I will follow the pages and model the animal actions for her, and she loved imitating it back to me (which was hilarious!). This is one reading activity that is irresistible to any child!
3. Edward the Emu (Sheena Knowles, illustrated by Rod Clement)
I used this book a lot when I was teaching the 4 to 6 six year olds! It is a heartwarming story about how an emu didn’t like being an emu, and thought he would be happy if he could be like the other animals in the zoo. He pretended to be a seal, a lion, and a snake, and later realised that others loved him just as he was. The story teaches self-esteem, and children loved it for the humor presented in how the emu ended up looking silly when he tried to be like the other zoo animals. The text is made up of rhymes, which is great for children to enjoy!
5. Possum Magic (by Mem fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas)
Mem Fox is a very popular Australian children’s books writer (one of my all-time favourites for sure!). Possum Magic is such a whimsical story that tells of the adventures of a possum who became invisible under the magic spell of her grandmother, and wanted so badly to be visible again that they embarked on a journey through the different Australian cities in search of the ‘food’ that could break the spell. Children reading this book will encounter Australian zoo animals such as the Koala bears, the kangaroos, as well as the boa constrictors.
6. ZZZZZ…. A Book Of Sleep (By Ill Sung Na)
I stumbled upon this book in a book sale when I was travelling in Perth with my then toddler. She was immediately drawn to this book because of the cute cover of the owl. Upon reading just a few pages with Rae at the store, I knew this will become one of our family favourites! It is an interesting book about how different zoo animals sleep! The koala bears sleep in peace and quiet, while the elephants make a lot of noise! The horses sleep standing up, the whales sleep on the move, the giraffes sleep alone while the penguins like to huddle close together! Rae learnt so much about the sleeping habits of these animals in a simple, yet amazingly interesting book! Part of enjoying the illustrations in the book is spotting the owl hidden in every page, like playing hide and seek!
Hope you will pick some of these books in the library or bookstores, and enjoy learning more about zoo animals with your child!
I will be putting up a post for an activity about zoo animals! Stay tuned!