Have you heard of these? by Larissa Juliano
At this time, there was a great roaring and trumpeting and screeching as the animals ran from the table to find hiding places.
“Halt in the name of the law” shouted the policeman.
~Arnold Lobel from A Zoo for Mister Muster
Children (but really all of us) love animal stories. Animals can elicit this sympathy and fondness within children that they may not even realize they have. The sweet helplessness and innocence of all types of animals…pets, farm and zoo, are topics that kids are familiar with, can relate to, and also have a sense of control over…something I am realizing more and more as a mom is an incredibly powerful feeling for kids to experience (and us to relinquish to them…occasionally of course). For me, animals make a lot of stories approachable and funny. Whether the animals have personification (a favorite literary term I love to teach even my littlest readers) or they are in their real habitat – animal adventures, escapades and chronicles will always be favorites for all ages.
(I have mentioned I love Corduroy, right? And Goodnight Gorilla…and A Zoo for Mister Muster…and well a trillion more that aren’t on the list, but these ones really seem to have some awesome similarities that are so fun to discuss with readers).
These are my top ten (or eleven, or twelve, whatever…:)) animal stories that I love to compare and contrast with my kiddos! I’ve put some themes and ideas (favorite topic to teach ever) that intertwine the pairings together.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and Corduroy by Don Freeman
*Friendship, acceptance, being overlooked to being cherished…
The Cats of Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse and 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy and Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah
*True stories, sacrifice, history, overcoming fear
Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael D. Kaplan and Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
**Strong personalities, Growing up, self-awareness, sharing
A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and A Zoo for Mister Muster by Arnold Lobel
**Purpose of Zoos, Compassion, Friendship, Sacrifice
Little Whistle by Cynthia Rylant and Corduroy by Don Freeman
**Imagination, Toys, Friendship, Adventures
Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake by Michael D. Kaplan and Olivia by Ian Falconer
**Growing up, Family life, favorite hobbies, siblings
Jubela by Cristina Kessler and A Boy and a Jaguar by Alan Rabinowitz (more true stories)
**Wildlife preservation, family in all shapes and forms, overcoming challenges, perseverance
Pete the Cat by James Dean & Eric Litwin and Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
**Cats, Overcoming challenges, humor, personality types
Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson and Angelina Ballerina by Katherine Holabird
**Dancing, Pursuing dreams, Finding your ‘niche’, Hobbies, Family life, Compromise
Giggle, Giggle Quack by Doreen Cronin and Duck at the Door by Jackie Urbanovic
**Ducks, humor, friendship, compromising, teamwork
True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh by Sally M. Walker and Ivan the Remarkable True Story of a Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate
(I just love true stories)
**True stories, overcoming challenges, animals vs. humans, compassion, sacrifice
Officer Buckle and Gloria and Goodnight Gorilla – both by Peggy Rathmann (love her)
**Family, humor, surprises, author style
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig and Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
**Family, compassion, acceptance, loss, needs versus wants
(Can we please re-visit the classics?)
What are your favorite animal stories? Or favorite pairings to read together?
Larissa Juliano is an elementary and library teacher in upstate New York. She lives in her hometown with her husband and three young children. Besides teaching, her passion in life is writing books in hopes of inspiring children to use their imagination, especially through literature. Larissa has just published her first book, Gracie Lou, with Archway Publishing at Simon and Schuster. Larissa has two more books for release in 2017. You can check out and contact Larissa on her website at www.larissajuliano.com or follow her on Twitter @larissaSjuliano.