Animal Story Books for Children

My Three Favorite Animal Storybooks

My three all-time favorite animal storybooks are featured here with fond memories of sitting snuggled with my mother as she read to me.

My love of animals began in my very early childhood. We had a dog when I was about kindergarten age; through the years we had a few other dogs. I'm not sure if my love of animal stories began with the books my mother read to me, or with my father's many tales of the dogs he'd owned and encountered in his lifetime.

I'd say, probably the latter--dad told and re-told the stories at my urging so often that I can to this day repeat them nearly verbatim in his words, inflection and all.

Dad refused to own a TV--we were readers. My mother read to me often, and I read to myself from the first day I was able. By far, my favorite books as a child centered around animals.

Classic Starts™: Black Beauty (Classic StartsTM Series)
Classic Starts™: Black Beauty (Classic StartsTM Series)

The story of Black Beauty, a horse who went from hard times to a life of ease

 

Black Beauty: A Bittersweet Story

The first of my all-time favorites has to be the classic Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. It is the tale of a beautiful black stallion who is owned by a series of people, some kind and gentle, and some who mistreat the horse terribly.

In the end, the horse is purchased by a "country gentleman" for his daughters, thus ending Beauty's rough use as a taxi horse on the city streets. It is a 'happily ever after' ending, but each time I read the book, I cried at the sad parts. It broke my heart.

I wrote in the book, inside the front cover, making a tally mark each time I read and re-read it. By the time I was ready to pass the book along to a younger cousin, I had 18 tally marks! Yes, indeed, I read it eighteen times over!

Perhaps this is why I love and admire horses, even though owning a horse has never been a consideration on my income.

Black Beauty is a suitable read for read-to from about age 7, and for self-reading about age 9 and up (depending on the child's reading skills, of course). Several versions are available, some of which have lovely illustrations much like the original.

Orlando the Marmalade Cat Books

Some of these titles include:

  • Orlando the Marmalade Cat Buys a Farm
  • Orlando the Marmalade Cat A Camping Holiday
  • Orlando the Marmalade Cat A Trip Abroad
  • Orlando's Evening Out
  • Orlando the Marmalade Cat A Seaside Holiday

A Fun Set of Tales About Cats

My next pick is a fun and whimsical set of tales about cats. I love cats. I currently have 4 of the delightful critters. I have always adored cats, and wanted a cat all my life, but dad was a 'dog person,' and I never had a cat growing up. I got my first cat after I was married for the first time.

So, it stands to reason that my next favorite books are about cats--an entire family of cats, in fact. Where Black Beauty was a fictional story, that could have been true, and very likely had some basis in fact from the days when horses were the main means of travel, the cat stories are total fantasy.

My favorite cats are involved in an entire series of books, and I loved them all. Written by Kathleen Hale, each book's title begins with, "Orlando the Marmalade Cat"... and has a sub-head with the topic of that book. (See sidebar above right.)

They are all charming, anthropomorphic stories, written as if cats are actually able to do things such as drive cars, milk cows, and perform other human tasks. Orlando, his wife Grace, and their three kittens, Pansy, Blanche and little Tinkle, who seems accident and trouble-prone, are the main characters.

The illustrations are delightful, and funny, as one can imagine the kittens getting into the kinds of trouble any kid might when encountering a new adventure.

A Storybook About Animals on a Mail Route

My final offering is a story that was such a favorite that my mother could probably have recited it from memory. It was one of the earlier books that was read to me. Of course, I read and re-read it for myself many times thereafter.

This one is The Little Mailman of Bayberry Lane by Ian Munn. It is another anthropomorphic tale, this one is of a mail carrier who happens to be a chipmunk, and on his route the residents are a duck, a goose, a pig, and a turtle.

Poor Mrs. Pig was always sad because she never got any mail. The little mailman finds a solution, but no spoilers here. ;-) You'll have to look it up. I was actually surprised to find it still available.

In Summary

That rounds out my top three favorite storybooks from my distant past. I hope you find them, and enjoy sharing them with the children in your lives.

I suppose both Black Beauty and The Little Mailman could in a sense be classified as "morality plays," as there are definitely subtle messages of how to behave.

The Orlando the Marmalade Cat series is just plain fun.

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Comments 26 comments

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

I did not read the other too, but Black Beauty was one of my favorites. I was CRAZY over horses. :)


Fay Paxton 5 years ago

Thanks DizzyMsLizzy for this excellent hub. I am always looking for new books for my two rambunctious grandsons. If they have a moral theme, that's a bonus.

up/useful


Christine B. profile image

Christine B. 5 years ago from Medina, Ohio

Loved this article, Lizzy. Check out the first last story, first line. Missing the first letter. Hub Page error, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing.

Christine


Matt in Jax profile image

Matt in Jax 5 years ago from Jacksonville, FL

Nice little collection. I always liked "Bernstein Bears" and "Puss in Boots."


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@Denise: Thanks for stopping by. I'm always pleased to meet a fellow horse-lover: they are such magnificent animals.

@Fay: I'm sure your grandsons will enjoy the "Orlando" stories, and relate to the young kittens! Thanks for your comment and votes!

@Christine: Thanks--I'm glad you liked the Hub. and....Ooops...thanks for pointing that out..fixed, and found another boo-boo as well. I was guilty of a writer's sin: writing in a hurry, plus dealing with interruptions! Very embarassing when a proofreader fails to properly proof her own work!! :-O ;-)

@Matt: Thanks much for stopping by and leaving some other suggestions. "Berenstein Bears" was a cute series, too, but not within my childhood experience. They came out when my own kids were young. "Puss in Boots" is one I somehow missed along the way. Maybe I wasn't into the 'swashbuckling' aspect that the illustration seemed to portray. Maybe I should back up and read it now! ;-)


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

Great selection of all time children's animal books Lizzy. Black Beauty would have to be my favourite though I don't think I came even close to reading it half a dozen times, never mind eighteen!


shygirl2 5 years ago

I have to admit, I love animal stories. They do help children understand how to behave at times. With morality included. Great hub! Marked it up and useful! : )


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

@Karanda--Thanks so much! I do think "Black Beauty" is a must-read for kids! So much can be learned, both from a behavioral standpoint and as a glimpse into history.

@shygirl2--Thanks for stopping by and your comment and votes! I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.


kristenaugusta profile image

kristenaugusta 5 years ago

I have two grandsons who are always looking for something to read! One is 11 and the other 3. I think they both would enjoy the books you have reviewed. Thanks so much for the reminder!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, kristenaugusta! Thanks so much; I'm glad I chose some titles suitable to entertain your grandsons. I appreciate your comment! ;-)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, Black Beauty was my favourite too! I even sat through re runs of the tv series! I can still sing the theme tune! but these are all a great selection, nice one! cheers nell


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Wow, Nell! I never even knew they made a TV series out of "Black Beauty!" Amazing the things you learn by hanging around here! ;-)

Thanks much for stopping by and sharing that bit, and I'm glad you enjoyed the choices. ;-)


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

Will bookmark this for later use when maybe someday I have grandchildren! Amazing how you read Black Beauty eighteen times! Sad animal stories always make me cry too! Take care MsLizzy


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, Fossillady!

Glad you found this useful enough to bookmark.

And yes, I do tend to read favorite stories over again--still to this day.

I've now read all of the books in Lillian Jackson Braun's "The Cat Who..." series 3 times each.. ;-)


Rebecca E. profile image

Rebecca E. 5 years ago from Canada

atumbled and awesome, good job, hope to see you on StumbleUpn.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Thank you very much, Rececca! I'm pleased that you found it worthy. ;-)


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

DzyMsLizzy, I came across your comment on Lucky Cat's hub about rescuing two white cats- Sunny and no, not Cher... um oh dear, I will have to check. Anyway, I have to tell you I love children's books and did NOT know about the Marmalade Cat series, which is a travesty considering I have an orange cat named Joey! I wrote a hub concerning this wise guy today, as it happens! And when I googled Amazon for cat and puppy books, this one did not come up. I feel as if I have had a serendipitous day. Snuggles to your cats. Voted up.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hi, Storytellersrus,

Thank you so much for stopping by. I'm pleased you enjoyed the hub, and thank you so much for the vote. (Head-bonks, purrs & nose-taps to you from the kitty crew.) ;-)


ellahall2011 profile image

ellahall2011 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing this wonderful and entertaining hub! Thanks for the great information.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello, ellahall2011--

Thank you very much for your kind comment. And I love your profile picture--that kitty looks a lot like one of ours, (who is currently quite crabby as we've brought in 3 kittens to foster until they find homes).

;-)

I'm glad you found the article enjoyable.


bankscottage profile image

bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

My wife loves children's books. She even took a college course that involved reading Newbery and Caldecott Award winners. One of her favorite books is "Bats on the Beach". Where else would bats go for vacation?


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Hello again, bankscottage,

What a fun sounding book, "Bats on the Beach." I'll have to look that up for my grandkids. Thanks for stopping by and sharing that. Your wife sounds like a wonderful, youthful spirit.


bankscottage profile image

bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

I have to correct the title, it is "Bats at the Beach", by Brian Lies. He has a series, "Bats at the Library" and "Bats at the Ballgame". I have only read "Bats at the Beach".


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

Debating whether to read these or not--as a child, I had recurring nightmares involving bats. Strange, because at that age, I'd not been exposed to horror movies or vampire tales.....or even seen a real bat, since I was raised in a big city. LOL They do sound like cute books! I'm sure they won't cause nightmares--I was just joking, there..although the history is true...


bankscottage profile image

bankscottage 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

I saw a review about that concern and they did not seem to think it would be a problem. Also, from what I remember, it was more cute and comical than scarry. Bats should remember the "moonscreen" when they head to the beach. Check out the book on Amazon, they have a few of the pages you can look at and some reviews.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 4 years ago from Oakley, CA Author

LOL--I'll check it out. Like I said..I was joking..I don't think my adult self would have nightmares about bats. ;-)

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