Animal poems are a great way to introduce children to the wonderful world of poetry. Every kid has a favorite animal, right? Spark their interest in different forms of poetry with everything from haikus about cats to couplets about frogs to sonnets about cows.
We are sharing some wonderful classic animal poems by famous poets you may recognize, as well as stellar animal poetry books for all ages.
Classic Animal Poems
These are some of my favorite classic animal poems. As a bonus, they are particularly great for kids to memorize. We have some great tips on how to memorize poems, too!
- "The Crocodile" by Lewis Carroll
- "A Jelly-Fish" by Marianne Moore
- "The Tyger" by William Blake
- "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear
- "Today I Saw a Dragonfly" by Alfred Lord Tennyson
- Two haiku by Matsuo Basho
- "Sympathy" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar (best for teens)
- "At the Zoo" by William Makepeace Thackeray
We have a printable with all of these poems, including the titles from the book list. Fill out the form below and we'll zoom it right over to you.
MORE: Classic poems for kids to memorize
Animal Poetry Books
The following animal poetry books are chock full of cat poems, dog poems, frog poems, cow poems, even wildebeest poems! In all seriousness, the animal poems in these collections range from the serious and sentimental to the silly and sublime.
Additionally, every poet below has authored more poetry books you will want to check out!
Note: this book list contains Amazon and Bookshop affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may earn commission for this blog. Bookshop supports independent booksellers. You can find my growing list of children's poetry books at Bookshop here.
TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT! edited by Fiona Waters, illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright is a fabulous anthology of animal poems for every day of the year. Waters has collected an enormous variety of verse, from haiku, nursery rhymes, classic poems and more. Britta Teckuntrup's colorful collage-style illustrations cover every centimeter of space and are a joy to look at. Keep this book open on your coffee table at all times, turning the pages to reveal a new poem each day.
DEAR TREEFROG by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Diana Sudyka
I love stories told in a series of poems and Sidman's ode to a friendship between a girl and a frog is a joy. A child, recently moved to a new home, steps out into her new surroundings and her observations and connections to a treefrog help her feel more confident until she can meet a new (human) friend. Sidman includes facts about frogs with each poem and end notes give more information for young environmentalists.
MORE: Spring poems for kids
AMPHIBIAN ACROBATS by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Robert Meganck
Calling all future herpetologists! How much fun is a book of poetry about the boisterous behavior of amphibians? I'll tell you. Tons of fun. Each poem is not only fun to read aloud, but chock full of scientific information on more frogs than you ever knew existed. Side notes for further reading accompany each poem. The back matter is wonderful–providing explanations of poetry styles, and fascinating facts.
MORE: Nonfiction poetry for children
AMONG A THOUSAND FIREFLIES by Helen Frost, photographs by Rick Lieder
You will want to stare for hours at Lieder's gorgeous photographs of fireflies. That won't be a problem because Frost's poem about a firefly in search of a mate begs to be read over and over. Unlike the other selections on this list, Among a Thousand Fireflies is read as a single poem, but what a poem it is!
DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST by Irene Latham, illustrated by Anna Wadham
Wildebeest is such a fun animal name to say and it's not the only animal kids will love to read about! How about the oxpecker, the impala or the ever popular dung beetle? With some entrancing onomatopoeia and informative side notes about the animals and their habitat, kids will come back to this collection again and again.
SUPERLATIVE BIRDS by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Robert Meganck
I could not love this book more! These nonfiction verses share fascinating information about birds, from the tiniest to the loudest, to the bird with the most feathers and other intriguing birds. Does your child love facts but hasn't yet developed a love of poetry? Read this!
PREDATOR AND PREY: A CONVERSATION IN VERSE by Susannah Buhrman-Deever, illustrated by Bert Kitchen
I love finding unique poetry books for kids and parents to enjoy together. This is a wonderful collection for those of you who have kids who love to watch nature shows about the survival of the fittest. Each double page spread introduces a predator and its prey in two poems told from the animals' points of view. Some of the poems written in alternating voices, which makes them great fun to read aloud with your kids. This collection will appeal to nature and animal lovers, kids who like drama and those of you who appreciate unique literary forms.
WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU by by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Find it: Amazon | Your Library
An entire story told in haiku? Awesome! This is the story of a shelter cat and his new adopted life. With bold illustrations, this is a wonderful, funny and unique book. After you've read this one, be sure to catch the sequel, Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku.
MORE: Haiku books for kids
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