What would the world be like without our animal friends? We spend hours a day with our farm animals. Milking cows, gathering eggs from our chickens, herding our sheep, laughing at our ducks, petting the cat and dogs are teaching our boys responsibility and compassion. My middle son is known in our farming community as the animal whisperer. He can get any of our animals to do just about anything we need them to.
I think this fasciniation is universal. Down through time, probably more books have been written about animals or through the viewpoint of animals than any other theme. They entertain us, charm us, teach us. Whether the animals are portrayed as themselves or personified with human characteristics, they are favorites among children and adults alike. Here are some of our favorites.
Thornton Burgess wrote so many absolutely wonderful stories of animals. We have read many and they are still treasures even though my boys are getting older. I have begun a collection of the old hardcovers for each of them but they are available in inexpensive paperbacks.
Books by Robert McClung, such as Ruby Throat: The Story of a Hummingbird, are my favorites for teaching younger children about the animal world. Simple but well-written text and lovely illustrations engage the young reader and help to build lasting relationships with each animal. These are out of print but worth seeking out.
Animals have played an important role in history and we have many titles from various time periods.
Only a Dog: A Story of the Great War is a touching true story of love and sacrifice. Bertha Smith wrote this book in 1917 based on an account a British soldier described to her. Private Rice and Army are buried side by side near Armentières in Flanders. This has been republished by Simply Charlotte Mason.
Dhan Gopal Mukerji won the Newberry Award with Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. This is a true living book, relating the author's boyhood in India, raising his beloved pigeon, and the important role helping the Allied war effort in World War II.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling - Begin this classic story with your children and they will beg you to keep reading. At the end you will know facts about India, the mongoose, cobras and much more. Suspenseful to the end.
You can't have a list of books about animals and leave out Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting! The doctor's ability to talk to the animals has been thrilling children for generations.
And another just for fun...the Freddy the Pig series by Walter Brooks. Freddy is the ultimate Renaissance pig. He has many adventures such as traveling to the moon, playing football, camping, being a detective, etc. Don't miss these for simple animal fun.
So many wonderful books have been written about animals that no list could cover them all. Seek one out and make a new animal friend.