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.
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.
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 7 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 below.)
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; and to be sure, real kittens do manage to find plenty of trouble!
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 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.
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.
© 2011 Liz Elias