by Marsha Rakestraw
Modeling a message of compassion for others is a vital part of creating a better world for all. Children’s picture books are a valuable means of sharing with younger children examples of people helping those in need, and of inspiring them to think critically about what it means to be a good human.
Here are 16 children’s picture books featuring people helping animals.
1. Slow Down for Manatees by Jim Arnosky
2009. Preschool–grade 3.
A pregnant manatee, injured by a motor boat, is rescued and taken to an aquarium for rehabilitation. Once she has her baby and recovers, she and her baby are released back into their natural home.
2. The Bat in the Boot by Annie Cannon
1996. Grades K–2.
A family finds a baby bat in a boot and takes care of him until his mother comes back and retrieves him.
3. Turtle Girl by Carole Crowe
2008. Grades K–3.
Magdalena’s grandmother has taught her all about helping to protect baby sea turtles. But when her grandmother dies, Magdalena feels hurt and angry and doesn’t want to help the turtles anymore. Will the “turtle-time love” they shared help Magdalena remember her compassion for the turtles?
4. How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham
2008. Grades K–2.
“No one saw the bird fall.” In a busy city, a pigeon breaks her wing and tumbles to the pavement. No one notices … except Will. Will and his family take the bird home, care for her until she heals and then release her to fly again.
5. Call the Horse Lucky by Juanita Havill
2010. Grades K–3.
When Mel and her grandmother happen upon a neglected horse while riding their bikes in the country, a call to the humane society leads to a new home for Lucky as a therapy horse.
6. The Pet Shop Revolution by Ana Juan
2011. Grades 1–3.
Mean Mr. Walnut has the biggest pet shop in the city, selling unhappy animals to wealthy people. No one has enough courage to confront him until Mina’s pet rabbit goes missing and a rescue operation eventually leads to a change of heart.
7. Seababy by Ellen Levine
2012. Grades K–2.
A baby sea otter who is separated from his mother is taken to an aquarium to recover. Eventually he is placed with a foster otter mom who teaches him how to fend for himself, and he is released back into the wild.
8. Jackrabbit by Jonathan London
1996. Grades K–2.
When baby Jackrabbit is left behind when her family flees their home destroyed by developers, a human family cares for “Jackie” until she’s old enough to return to the wild and start her own family.
9. Lucky Ducklings by Eva Moore
2013. Grades PreK–2.
Tells the true story of five little ducklings who were rescued when they fell into a storm drain.
10. Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
2011. Grades 2–6.
Tells the story of the “Michael Vick dogs” who were rescued from a dog fighting ring, especially focusing on the story of Audie, a pit bull puppy who was rehabilitated and found a new home.
11. Leopard and Silkie: One Boy’s Quest to Save the Seal Pups by Brenda Peterson
Tells the story of baby seals in the Pacific Northwest and the “seal sitters” who help protect them from harm.
12. Jasper’s Story: Saving Moon Bears by Jill Robinson and Marc Bekoff
2013. Grades 2–6.
This book tells the story of Jasper, a moon bear who was kidnapped and held in captivity, immobilized, for 15 years while his bile was extracted for herbal use, and his rescue and recovery. Having overcome brutal treatment, Jasper becomes a symbol of courage and forgiveness and an ambassador for other rescued moon bears.
13. Arrowhawk by Lola M. Schaefer
2004. Grades K–3.
Based on a true story, a red-tailed hawk is shot with a poacher’s arrow. He struggles to survive the next several weeks with an arrow lodged in his thigh and tail. Eventually, on the verge of starving, he is captured by wildlife rehabilitators and nursed back to health, until he can once again be released into the wild.
14. Tenzin’s Deer by Barbara Soros
2003. Grades 2–6.
When Tenzin encounters a wounded deer, his compassion and his dreams tell him how to care for her until it’s time to let her go.
15. Martha by Gennady Spirin
2005. Grades K–3.
A family in Moscow rescues a crow with a broken wing and makes her part of the family until she’s healed enough to return to the wild.
16. Tuki and Moka: A Tale of Two Tamarins by Judy Young
2013. Grades K–4.
Eduardo and his father regularly make trips into the Amazonian rainforest to collect Brazil nuts to sell. Eduardo enjoys these trips, including seeing his tamarin friends, Tuki and Moka, and the other wildlife. One night animal traffickers kidnap the tamarins and other animals to sell. When Eduardo discovers his friends have been stolen, he attempts a dangerous rescue.
Find more suggested books for young people in our online Resource Center.