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The Best Animal Chapter Books

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INSIDE: The Best Animal Chapter Books

There is something about an animal character in early reader books that makes for a smooth transition from picture books like A Visitor for Bear and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble to slightly more complex stories.

The list below of stories with delightful animal characters is a great starting place when you’re wanting to begin reading aloud longer books, whether or not your child is animal-obsessed.

The options are all sweet, a little silly, and fairly easy to follow. Your kids will want to read them over and over and over.

The best early chapter books for kids transitioning to chapter books from easy readers.

How We Decide on the Best

  • It’s great story-telling.
  • It should demonstrate healthy interactions with other animal characters.
  • The animal characters should learn from their mistakes and make better choices in the future.
  • Even though the characters are animals, they demonstrate human frailty and honor those who fight their own weaknesses to do better.
  • The animal characters take on necessary challenges and find solutions.
  • At least one animal character aspires to a larger sense of improving the world around them.
  • A great animal chapter book should teach an important life lesson by establishing a moral or ethical boundary.
  • The story uses good language and has strong vocabulary.

The Best Books to Begin Reading Aloud to Kids

Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh

If you haven't read this one as an adult, you're in for a treat. It's hilarious. Much of the subtle humor will go over a child's head, but they'll still love the funny antics and sweet characters.

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The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

A charming, classic adventure story with Mole, Rat, Badger, and Mr. Toad. We recommend investing in a beautifully illustrated copy for your bookshelf. Don't even think about an abridged version.

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James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small

Technically, there are no talking animal protagonists in this collection of stories from country veterinarian James Herriot, but these short stories are a delight to read aloud. They might even make you want to move to Yorkshire, England.

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A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington

Paddington Bear gets into all kinds of ridiculous situations but has a heart of gold. Be prepared to answer questions about London landmarks and the taste of marmalade.

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Stuart Little

Stuart Little

Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he's shy and thoughtful, he's also a true lover of adventure. You'll be rooting for him as he sets out to help a friend.

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Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web

It's hard to choose a favorite character from Charlotte's Web. If you somehow managed to get through childhood without reading it, be sure to have a tissue nearby for the ending.

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Abel’s Island

Abel’s Island

Abel is a refined mouse who lives a comfortable life. An unfortunate turn of events leaves him stranded on an island fighting to survive and make it home to his lovely wife.

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The Cricket in Times Square

The Cricket in Times Square

Chester Cricket accidentally leaves his quiet country life (in a picnic basket) and ends up in busy New York City where he makes unexpected friends and delights others with his unusual musical talent. The charming Garth Williams illustrations make this book even more delightful.

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Recommending your favorite books

Do you have any recommendations of early chapter books? We’d love to hear from you. Leave your best recommendations below in the Comments.

Check Out These Other Posts

Read more here about How to Choose Good Books for Children.

Check out our list of 50 Great Books for Kids That Every Home Should Have

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