For kids who love furry friends and favorite pets, the right animal chapter book can get them hooked on reading. These early chapter books about animals will appeal to kids ages 6-9, who have moved beyond easy readers and are ready for transitional chapter books.
These books have large text and are loaded with illustrations, making them accessible to young readers, but challenging enough to help kids develop their reading skills. So get ready for some fun stories about all kinds of animals and their antics. Cats! Dogs! Mice! Squirrels! Cockroaches! Wait, cockroaches?
Note: this post contains Amazon and Bookshop affiliate links. Purchases made through these links may earn commission for this blog. Bookshop supports independent booksellers.
Fun Chapter Books about Animals
The following early chapter books either have animals as the protagonists, or have a strong animal theme. Our parent tips for choosing the right early chapter book for your reader will be useful on your next trip to the library.
Would it help you to have a printable version of this book list? You can grab one at the end of the post!
HOW TO SAVE YOUR TAIL*: *IF YOU ARE A RAT NABBED BY CATS WHO REALLY LIKE STORIES ABOUT MAGIC SPOONS, WOLVES WITH SNOUT-WARTS, BIG, HAIRY CHIMNEY TROLLS ... AND COOKIES, TOO by Mary Hanson, illustrated by John Hendrix
How's that for a book title? Castle-dwelling, book-and-cookie-loving Bob the Rat extricates himself from all sorts of trouble with his talent for telling fractured fairy tales.
CAPTAIN PUG (series) by Laura James, illustrated by Églantine Ceulemans
A quirky and humorous series about a pug who lives with the charming Lady Miranda. The pair are off on a boating adventure, but poor Captain Pug highly dislikes the water, much preferring a tasty jam tart. Pug gets lost during the adventure, hatches a plan to be found but must overcome his fear in order to for his plan to work.
THE ADVENTURES OF SOPHIE THE MOUSE (series) by Poppy Green, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell.
A very sweet and wholesome early chapter book series about a friendly mouse who lives and goes to school in Silverlake Forest. There are currently 18 books in the series and the stories manage to be sweet without being saccharine.
WELCOME TO THE BED AND BISCUIT (series) by Joan Carris, illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
I love the Bed and Biscuit series as wish it was better known. Grandpa Bender is a vet with a boarding house full of lovable, delightful and well-meaning animals. Hijinks ensue. Highly recommended.
THE BAD GUYS (series) by Aaron Blabey
Mr. Wolf is on a mission to change his reputation and convinces his fellow reprobates, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha and Mr. Shark to join him in the Good Guys Club. Their first mission is to free 200 dogs from the Maximum Security City Dog Pound! Absolutely hilarious and extremely silly in the very best way.
8 CLASS PETS + 1 SQUIRREL ÷ 1 DOG = CHAOS (series) by Vivian Vande Velde, illustrated by Steve Björkman
This is one of the funniest books we've ever read aloud, but it's a great choice for kids on the advanced end of early chapter books. The story begins when a dog chases a squirrel into a nearby elementary school. The squirrel runs from classroom to classroom leaving chaos in its wake. Each chapter is narrated in the first person by the various class pets that inhabit the classrooms. The pets range from hamsters to snakes to fish to birds. Reading the pets' different perspectives on the ruckus is extremely entertaining!
DOWN GIRL AND SIT (series) by Lucy Nolan, illustrated by Mike Reed
This funny, charming series is told from the point of view of two dogs, who are not exactly the brightest canines on the block. They interpret their humans' actions and intentions in unexpected and laugh-out-loud ways. Very clever and great fun.
BUNJITSU BUNNY (series) by John Himmelman
Bunjitsu Bunny one of my favorite series. Each book is composed of short vignettes about Isabel and her friends who all study martial arts. Each clever and funny story conveys a zen-like lesson without being at all preachy. My then-6 year old was very into the idea of battles and fighting so he of course loved reading a book in which the first action sequence involved the possibility of one character head-butting a door (they don't actually get that far...). I, however, was delighted with the "sneaky" lessons in non-violence, friendship, compassion and self-discipline!
THE STORY OF DIVA AND FLEA by Mo Willems, illustrated by Tony DiTerizzi
In Paris, the adventurous Flea convinces the easily intimidated Diva to take a trip around the city to explore the wonder of life on the streets. Afterwards, Diva assures Flea that inside an apartment isn't so scary and the two friends embrace how much greater their world is now, for knowing each other.
THE CHICKEN SQUAD (series) by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell
In this very funny series, Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie are chicks with varying degrees of intelligence. They solve backyard crimes that involve the squirrel population, a friendly dog, and a lot of laughs.
SPUNKY TELLS ALL by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Find it: Amazon
Spunky contemplates the eternal mysteries of Humans, such as why they know nothing of "Smellody" and how erasing is the most important part of homework. But when the family gets a new pet, Spunky forms an unusual friendship. Includes illustrations by the wonderful Lauren Castillo.
LULU AND THE BRONTOSAURUS (series) by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith
Quirky is the name of the game for this story about a gimme-gimme-gimmie girl who learns some valuable lessons about sharing and putting others before herself. Viorst's hilarious text is accompanied by Lane Smith's great illustrations.
GOOSEBERRY PARK AND THE MASTER PLAN by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Arthur Howard
This is a companion book to the wonderful Gooseberry Park novel, but written for younger readers. We adored both books. In this title, the colorful cast of characters band together during a drought and come up with a plan that involves a cat, a possum, a raccoon, 200 owls, and 20 packs of chewing gum.
THE ADVENTURES OF HENRY WHISKERS (series) by Gigi Priebe, illustrated by Daniel Duncan
The Whiskers mouse family lives under The Queen's Dollhouse in Windsor Castle. When the dollhouse undergoes renovations, Henry's sister goes missing and Henry is off on an adventure to find her!
MAYBELLE IN THE SOUP (series) by Katie Speck, illustrated by Paul Rátz de Tagyos
I realize you think you could never love a book (much less a series) about a cockroach. But I dare you to take the challenge. Maybelle and her comic addiction to yummy food will win you (and your kids) over.
LULU AND THE DUCK IN THE PARK (series) by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
I really loved this sweet and funny story about Lulu, an animal lover who, unable to leave an abandoned duck egg in the park, hides it under her sweater and brings it to school. Each book in the series has Lulu looking after a different animal.
DUCK FOR A DAY by Meg McKinlay, illustrated by Leila Rudge
What a delightful story! Two classmates, Abby and Noah, vie for the opportunity to take care of the class pet: a duck named Max with some usual requirements.
DOG DIARIES: SECRET WRITINGS OF THE WOOF SOCIETY and CAT DIARIES: SECRET WRITINGS OF THE MEOW SOCIETY by Betsy Byers, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers illustrated by Erik Brooks
A diverse group of dogs from all over the globe gather together practice their doggie storytelling skills. Or if you prefer felines, try the companion book, Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society. (Tip: Byers is an excellent source for early chapter books.) A Bank Street book of the year.
THE LIGHTHOUSE FAMILY (series) by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Preston McDaniels
Find it: Amazon
Rylant's use of language in this charming series harkens back to back to classic children's literature (think: Beatrix Potter and Kenneth Grahame). Pandora the cat and Seabold the dog live in a lighthouse and a boat, respectively. When the sea brings them together, the adventure begins.
MOOSE AND HILDY (series) by Stephanie Greene, illustrated by Joe Mathieu
A moose and pig may seem like unusual pair of best friends, but these humorous stories will keep your kids reading and laughing! In the first book, Moose takes up painting while he waits for hunting season to end.
SOCKS by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Tracy Dockray
Socks narrates his own tale of life after a new baby enters his previously quiet home. It's hard to go wrong with Beverly Cleary. Dog fans can pick up a copy of Ribsy. We also adored the audiobook!