5 Books to Read Before a Zoo Trip

Like many small children, my daughter is REALLY into animals. Which means that a trip to the zoo (or any place with more than one live or stuffed animal) is pretty much the highlight of her month.

Recently, I took her to a natural history museum, and I was amazed how many of the animals she could identify. And after nearly all of them she said, “In my book!” So I guess the forty million animal books we’ve read have paid off.

Here are five books I’d recommend reading before a zoo trip:

  • Life-Size Zoo by Toyofumi Fukuda

    Life-Size Zoo by Toyofumi Fukuda

    This book is just FUN to look at. It includes a whole host of common zoo animals, including a panda, an elephant, a rhino, and a giraffe, all at their actual size (which means the book itself is huge and many of the pages fold out to accommodate an entire animal face or head).

    More Life-Size Zoo by the same authors is also fantastic.

  • Hippo! No, Rhino by Jeff Newman

    Hippo! No, Rhino by Jeff Newman

    This nearly-wordless picture book about a zookeeper who puts the “hippo” sign in front of the rhino’s cage quickly became a favorite of my 18-month-old daughter. My husband and I loved it just as much as she did.

  • Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

    Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

    We love all the Matthew Van Fleet books in our house, and this is a favorite. The wide variety of animals is a great introduction to well-known and lesser-known species.

  • Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

    Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

    This book (available as both a board book and a traditional picture book) is a long-time favorite, with the gorilla sneaking the keys away from the zookeeper, letting each animal out after the zookeeper bids it goodnight, and then leading the whole group back to bunk down at the zookeeper’s private home.

  • Out of Sight by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais

    Out of Sight by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais

    This amazing book features more than 50 animals, all hidden behind flaps with just a part of them showing (eyes on one page, tails on another) and when you lift the flap to reveal the animal, it has a little trivia fact about that animal on the underside of the flap. Did you know cows can climb up stairs but not down?

What are your family’s favorite animal books?

You can read more of Janssen’s writing about her favorite books for both children and adults at Everyday Reading and on Twitter.

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