I love teaching children about pets because it’s a door into learning about animals in a very relatable way for young children. Great lessons build on pre-existing knowledge and experiences. Pets are something many children have prior knowledge about, even if the pet isn’t their own. These books about pets for preschool and kindergarten are perfect for young children. Their messages range from silly to profound (sometimes both) and many focus on empathy and caring for others. Which is a great reason to get a pet even if it’s one for your class! If you have favorite books about pets for preschool that you don’t see here, leave the titles in comments so that this list can keep growing.
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A Pet for Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold is a goofy story about a little boy Buzz getting his pet fly a pet… yes, a pet for a pet. They try out all kinds of pets with hilarious results because of course we are talking about a fly, and in the end decide what they have works for them. A cute and funny book about friendship that will make your students giggle and makes a great book to start a discussion about what makes a good pet.
Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennet is a story about a little boy and his disappointing pet fish Norman. All great children’s books slip a lesson between the pages. This one is about how our first impressions aren’t always right. Friendships can take a while to grow but once they do they are solid, even with a once disappointing pet fish named Norman.
Pete the Cat; A Pet for Pete by James Dean is a cute book about getting your first pet, it should be noted that this is an I Can Read book, so it’s text is simplistic, but the book itself is a little longer than you might expect. I think it’s a good choice for reading in the book nook during free choice or for circle time with a group that can sit comfortably a little longer than most.
Some Pets by Angela Diterlizzi is a simple action book that looks at all the different ways pets move. It’s a great book for circle time because after reading it you can get up and move like the pets. The illustrations by Brendan Wenzel are so detailed this book is also a sit and read with a single student favorite. There is so much to find on each beautiful page. The book is simple enough for very young classes but won’t bore Prek or kindergarten students either. A great book for all classes.
Dog’s Colorful Day by Ema Dodd was a huge hit at our house when my son was little. He loved identifying the colors of all the drips of paint, ice cream and more that Dog gets on him throughout the day. Now that I am back in the classroom, my students love doing the same thing. This is a great book not only because it has counting and colors but because of the language it uses while the spots of color are splatting, squashing and squishing onto his beautiful white fur. Students love repeating these words with enthusiasm as he noted how poor Dog was getting so messy! It’s a fun book to read and one that I added to my collection years ago.
Sally Goes to the Farm by Stephen Huneck Sally is a black lab who goes to the farm to meet Molly a yellow lab and see what it’s like to be on a farm. I liked this book, and my daughter did too when we read it a few years ago. Its text is very very short, but the illustrations are magnificent. We both giggled at the dogs drinking milk straight from a cow. Does that really happen on a farm? I have no clue, but it sure made my daughter laugh. This was also a good book for emergent readers to read because of the length of text and how well the illustrations support it.
Pet Show! by Ezra Jack Keats is about a children’s pet show in an urban neighborhood. Everyone brings their pet, but Archie can’t seem to find his wayward cat. At the show, pets are brought by their owners to get prizes for all kinds of categories, like brightest goldfish, handsomest frog, and busiest ants. I love this because as children listen, they are learning wonderful language full of creative adjectives. In the end, creativity wins out as Archie finds a creative way to be part of this awesome pet show!
My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. In this story, a little boy writes to Santa and asks for a very specific gift, a real live penguin! It is not long before he realizes that a real live penguin is not as much fun as he thought it would be. He is very responsible though and sacrifices a lot for Osbert. He is thankful to Santa for getting his gift exactly right. But writes a follow-up letter explaining how it would be ok if Santa sent a replacement.
I Got Two Dogs: (Book and CD)by John Lithgow will delight you. The book comes with a CD and I urge you to play it. Hearing a book by the author is always amazing, but this song was thoroughly entertaining. As a dog lover who fondly remembers my childhood dog eating all the lasagna at my first boy-girl dinner party, I can relate to the naughty but lovable dogs. The message is about devotion and unconditional love, and you don’t have to be a dog lover to get that.
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev is a gem. Buy it now. I mean that. This book is about a little boy and his elephant who are banned from the local pet club. Because well, elephants are not allowed and for no real reason. This lets parents and teacher reiterate the fact that sometimes people find themselves excluded for no reason. It’s not about them. It is about the people excluding them. In the book, after being banned, they find others who have been made to feel unwelcome, different, and lesser and start their own pet club. One that welcomes everyone and their pets no matter what, a perfect example of resilience!
Lola Gets A Cat by Anna McQuinn When this book arrived at my door my then 6-year-old declared it as her new favorite Lola book. “It’s the best one yet!” I am not sure if it’s because she, too, loves cats and desperately wants one. Or if she liked the step by step process of researching, meeting, and bringing a cat home. Either way, this is a wonderful book for any family thinking about getting a cat. It really helps explain the process and what to expect.
The Fintastic Fishsitter by Mo O’Hara is a funny tale of a little sister tasked with keeping an evil cat away from a zombie goldfish that it desperately wants to eat! The cat is no match for this strong little girl who knows how to hold her own. In the end, she does the job they hired her to do and then some.
Otto Goes to Bed by Todd Parr is a really fun and positive book. Otto is a dog who doesn’t want to go to bed; he wants to play, chase his tail and a bath and brushing teeth doesn’t help. Instead, he figures out that there is something he likes about bedtime, dreaming! I like that this book addresses that going to bed feels like missing out on things for kids. I know I felt like that for years. Instead of blankly saying “Sleeping is great” or “You have to go to bed” this book finds something positive about going to bed. Todd Parr books are among my very favorite books to read at preschool, and this book is no exception.
Dogfish by Gillian Shields is a book with a simple premise that knocks it out of the park. A little boy wants a dog, but it’s simply not practical for him and his mom to have one. They are busy, live on a high floor in an apartment building, and besides, they have a rad goldfish already! What seems like a sweet story is profound. It teaches children about dealing with disappointment but doesn’t shame them for it. It’s all about making the most of what you do have. Please note: this book features a single mom with no explanation of the family structure which is something people ask me for all the time, so it’s worth a note.
McDuff Moves In by Rosemary Wells will pull at your heartstrings and make your child beg for a dog. McDuff escapes from a dog catcher’s truck and braving the world alone, finding unfriendly animals. Until he meets Fred and Lucy. They take him in initially just for one night … but who can resist this Westie? My son loves this series of books, and I do too. They are calm, sweet and I love the illustrations by Susan Jeffers.
The Pigeon Wants A Puppy by Mo Willems is all about that feeling so many kids, and apparently, pigeons have when all they want is a puppy, there is no talking them out of it. The Pigeon waxes poetic about playing with the cute puppy, promises to take care of it ( I have heard that one at my house), and goes on about how long he’s waited for this puppy…until he meets one! Children will relate to the emotions the Pigeon expresses, and I love using them. Even the tantrum is a teaching tool about big emotions. This makes a great circle time read aloud.