Must-Read Compassionate Books

It’s always a good time to crack open a book, and we’ve picked the best ones for kids who care about animals—so you can foster their interests and introduce new subject matter at the same time. Check out our list of animal-friendly books for kids ages 12 and under, and share it with your students and their parents.

Baa Humbug

In this book about being an individual, Baa Humbug is a sheep with a mind of his own. He doesn’t follow the herd, and he teaches us that it’s OK to be different. Buy it!

Before You Were Mine

Enjoy this story of a boy and his adopted dog. While the child wonders what life was like for his dog before the two met, he knows that his new life will be full of love. Buy it!

Benji Bean Sprout Doesn’t Eat Meat!

Benji “Bean Sprout” is just like any other boy, except for one thing: He doesn’t eat meat. Follow Benji as he visits adorable animals at an animal sanctuary and discovers why he’s a vegetarian. Buy it!

Black Beauty

Black Beauty’s story begins when he is a handsome, spirited young colt enjoying a carefree existence frolicking in the meadows with his mother and other horses. But his idyllic life changes when he’s sold to a series of other people who don’t always treat him kindly. Through Black Beauty’s struggles and pain, we learn that horses and all animals deserve to be treated with kindness. Buy it!

Blueberries for Sal

A human mother and her little girl go up the mountain to pick wild blueberries to preserve for the winter. At the same time, a bear mother and her little cub go up the other side of the mountain in search of blueberries to eat to prepare them for the winter. See what happens when the two mothers find that their little ones have inadvertently changed places! Buy it!

The Boy Who Loved All Living Things

This is Albert Schweitzer’s imaginary childhood journal in which he recounts how his animal friends taught him to be kind to all living creatures. Buy it!

The Boy Who Loved Broccoli

Baxter loves broccoli, and it gives him superpowers. He goes on to perform good deeds and convinces other people to eat broccoli so that they can be superheroes, too! Buy it!

Buddy Unchained

Buddy the dog was left chained outside without clean water or food. Follow his story, from his sad life in a backyard to the hope of being adopted into a loving home! Buy it!

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web is the most famous animal-friendly children’s book of all time! Wilbur the pig knows that his life on the farm is in trouble when he discovers that he’s destined to be the farmer’s Christmas dinner. That is, until his friends Fern the girl, Templeton the rat, and Charlotte the spider decide to help him. Buy it!

The Chicken Gave it to Me

Narrated by a chicken on a farm, this book exposes readers to the cruelty of using animals for food as well as to the common hopes that we all share. Buy it!

Dave Loves Chickens

Dave is a lovely monster from far, far away who doesn’t understand why humans eat animals. Buy it!

Farmer Sue Knew

After having her own babies, Farmer Sue realizes that mother cows want to raise their calves—not be separated from them so humans can drink their milk—so she decides to stop selling cow’s milk and sells vegan milk instead. Buy it!

The Story of Ferdinand

Ferdinand is a peaceful bull who enjoys smelling the flowers and lying under a tree. Unfortunately, men who are looking for the “biggest, fattest, meanest bull” for the bullfights in Madrid think that Ferdinand is exactly the one they are looking for after they see him get upset about being stung by a bee! Buy it!

Fiona Finds Love

All cats should live indoors, safe from danger. Learn about Fiona and her journey from being abandoned and struggling to survive to living the type of life she and all other companion animals deserve. Buy it!

The Great Pig Escape

During their long drive to the market, Bert and Ethel’s pigs mysteriously disappear. Buy it!

The Happy Tale of Two Cats

Read about two cats whose lives with their respective families are very different. One enjoys lots of love and playtime with guardians, while the other is treated unkindly and spends most of her time alone. Use this comparison to help students understand the importance of meeting their animal companions’ social and emotional needs. Buy it!

Hetty and Harriet

A young hen and her slightly older, wiser friend look for the perfect home. Buy it!

Hobbes Goes Home

Hobbes Goes Home is the story of Hobbes, a little brown dachshund, who’s taken to the local animal shelter by his mother to save him from an abusive home. The book tells readers about Hobbes’ experiences at the shelter and how, after dreaming about a new family, Hobbes meets a man who will change his life forever! Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, you’ll love the heartwarming true story of how “Hobbes goes home.” Buy it, and try this engaging activity!

Hope: A Pig’s Tale

Hope, a young piglet born on a factory farm, is injured, thrown away, and left to die—until some compassionate folks come to her rescue. She’s taken to an animal sanctuary, where she gets to frolic and have fun. Buy it!

How the Little Fox Saved Her Coat

A fox goes to a town to tell the children there about the way foxes like her and her family are hunted for their fur. The children promise to protect her as well as other animals like minks and rabbits by never wearing fur. This tale of friendship embraces the message that it’s easy to be kind to all living, feeling beings. Buy it!

How to Eat a Rainbow

Vegan Publishers

This is a magic-themed healthy children’s recipe book that addresses the most difficult dietary areas: treats, snacks, and drinks. Buy it!

How to Heal a Broken Wing

Everyone passes by the injured pigeon lying on the ground—except Will. He takes the bird home so that he and his mom can nurse him back to health and get him back in the sky. Buy it!

Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale

Hubert is a pudge, and pudges can’t ever grow up because they are sent to the slaughterhouse to be turned into TV dinners and other greasy food products. Hubert goes on a mission to save his fellow pudges and teach the farmer a lesson in compassion. Buy it!

Hunter and His Dog

A hunter tries to teach his new dog to hunt ducks, but the dog doesn’t want to. Instead, he nurses injured ducks back to health. When the hunter learns what his dog is doing, he realizes that it’s wrong to hunt. Buy it!

I’m a Supervegan

Meet Elizabeth, a compassionate, caring, and brave “supervegan.” In this story, students learn that sometimes we may be unsure of ourselves but that with the help of our family and friends, we can understand just how awesome we truly are and how super we can be to animals by being vegan. Buy it!

Jack and the Bean Stew

This book is about a young boy who finds himself on an adventure after he is given some magical beans. Its message highlights the real power of beans and other vegan foods to support health. Buy it!

JJ The American Street Dog

Maya’s parents are about to buy her a dog, but then her uncle gives her a dog he found on the streets. Although her parents are reluctant to take in the stray, they grow to love their new dog and learn that rescuing dogs can be very rewarding. Buy it!

Junebug: No Life Too Small

June makes it her mission to speak up for tiny animals. She encourages her friends to use caution and show compassion whenever they encounter bugs in their daily life—and explains how even the smallest beings are just like us in many ways. Buy it!

Kayla the Vegan

At her new school, Kayla encounters children who find her vegan lifestyle odd and unusual. She shows her classmates that being compassionate is cool and that eating healthy vegan food benefits everyone. Buy it!

The Lady and the Spider

A spider’s serene life on a lettuce leaf is disturbed when a woman harvests it to eat, providing an anecdote that reminds us of the effect of our actions on animals’ lives and our environment. Buy it!

Lena of Vegitopia and the Mystery of the Missing Animals

Lena of Vegitopia and the Mystery of the Missing Animals is a vegan-themed fairy tale about one brave little girl who stands up for her animal friends and helps rescue them from being eaten. Buy it!

Libby Finds Vegan Sanctuary

Libby, a turkey who is to be killed for a holiday celebration, finds her way to a sanctuary. There, she’s free to spend the rest of her life doing the things she loves—like being with her new friends and enjoying the sunshine. Buy it!

Liberation Summer

Jayden Young is a young adult who learns about the cruelty of the factory farming industry and the existence of food deserts in low-income communities. This inspires him to make positive changes for animals and his fellow humans. Buy it!

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey

Dive deep into the true story of Kunkush, a cat who was separated from his refugee family, and the compassionate people who helped reunite them. Buy it!

Love Me Gently

Love Me Gently is a kids’ guide to caring for canine companions. In this book, you’ll learn about love, compassion, and kindness toward animals—mostly, dogs. It also talks about the real-life problems of a boy and his newly adopted puppy and how they work them out together. Buy it!

The Magic Finger

The Gregg family loves to hunt, but the little girl who lives next door to them thinks that it’s horrible. After pleading with them to stop, the angry girl’s magic finger turns them into birds. Before they know it, they’re living in a nest, and their troubles have just begun. Buy it!

Maverick and Me 

Katherine Schwarzenegger is an author and blogger who loves animals. So it makes perfect sense that her latest children’s book has an animal rights message. Maverick and Me tells the story of an abandoned puppy who’s found on the side of the road and soon meets his new best friend—a little girl named Scarlett. She and her family take him home, and his life changes completely. Buy it! 

Mindfulness for Vegan Children

With this book, students can learn about and practice mindfulness. It offers some calming breathing techniques that can help them be more aware of their mind and surroundings—while also encouraging compassion toward all animals and the planet. Buy it!

Mission: Protect Bear

Witness the power of friendship and bravery in Mission: Protect Bear. Bear’s friends Duck, Deer, and Skunk understand the dangers of bear-hunting season and use their individual skills to protect Bear. Buy it!

Mitch Spinach and the Smell of Victory

Mitch Spinach receives a message to help the principal find the missing key to the trophy case. Using his remarkable sense of smell and vegan brain power, Mitch solves the mystery of the lost key. Buy it!

Mitch Spinach and the Tree House Intruder

Mitch Spinach gets a message from his sister, Molly, that someone broke into their amazing treehouse. Can Mitch and Molly catch the intruder and help a bullied classmate at the same time? Buy it!

My Mama’s Milk

My Mama’s Milk teaches readers about the relationship between mother and child and explores how all mammals produce milk specifically for their own babies. Buy it!

My Name Is Jessie

Read about Jessie, a homeless dog in pursuit of her forever home. Witness her perseverance through all the trials of her life and see how she finally finds kindness and safety. Buy it!

Oregon’s Journey

Read about Oregon—a bear forced to perform in a circus—and the efforts of a friend to get him back to his natural habitat, where he can live free with other bears. Buy it!

Our Farm

The animals of Farm Sanctuary write poems and rhymes about being rescued and given a second chance after grim lives on factory farms. Buy it!

Perfect the Pig

Perfect the Pig can fly, so he’s kidnapped by a greedy entertainer. His friend Olive must rescue him before the entertainer can take him away. Buy it!

Santa’s First Vegan Christmas

This year, experience the holidays with a story of love, peace, and compassion! Written by Robin Raven and illustrated by Kara Maria Schunk, Santa’s First Vegan Christmas challenges the traditional Christmas narrative. It presents a new meaning to Santa’s kindness, which extends to all animals as well as all people. As the very first vegan children’s book that is Christmas-themed, reading it just may become a welcome holiday tradition. Buy it, and try this engaging activity!

The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach

Mitch Spinach seems to be an ordinary boy, but his classmates begin to suspect something’s different about him after they see him drinking mysterious smoothies of fruits and veggies and reading notes written in code from his lunchbox. The truth is that his smoothies give him superpowers! Buy it!

Steven the Vegan

Steven the Vegan helps kids explain to their friends why they are vegan. The story takes place on a school field trip to a local farm, where Steven tells his friends why he sees animals as friends and not food and shows them where their food comes from. Buy it!

The Super Crazy Cat Dance

In this rollicking tale, cats of all shapes, sizes, and colors populate a little girl’s world and inspire her to create a crazy and kooky dance. Buy it!

The Super-Duper Dog Park

Welcome to the Super Dog Park, an awesome amusement park where dogs get to ride bikes, fly kites, and enjoy an unforgettable day. Buy it!

That’s Not My Momma’s Milk!

Meet all different types of animal moms and their young, and learn why each mom’s milk is for her own baby. Buy it!

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals

This book introduces young readers to vegetarianism and veganism. The book shows readers how to live a vegan lifestyle and raises issues for parents and children to discuss about eating animals. Buy it!

The Three Little Pigs Save the Earth

When a hungry wolf knocks on the door of three happy vegan pigs one day, a series of surprising events results in a peaceful vegan Earth! Presented with beautiful full-color illustrations and rhyming text, this story will surely bring love and awareness into children’s lives in an entertaining fashion. Buy it!

Toro: A Calf’s Tale

Toro is the story of a bull calf and his miraculous escape from a factory dairy farm. Using kid-friendly imagery, this entertaining story informs readers of all ages about the short, miserable lives that animals in the industry endure. Buy it!

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig 

The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig is the story of Esther, who was adopted by her human dads when she was a tiny piglet. They were told that she was a mini pig, but she kept growing and growing and GROWING. Find out what it’s like to raise a pig and see their ultra-cool and creative solution to Esther’s increasing size. Through all of her changes and adventures, one thing stays constant: the love in her eyes. She shows us that families come in all different shapes and sizes. ♥ Buy it! 

A Thanksgiving for the Turkeys

Meet Milo, a turkey who is initially excited about Thanksgiving but then learns that the holiday isn’t one to celebrate if you’re one of his kind. Students will discover how humans can make their feast animal-friendly. Buy it!

A Turkey for Thanksgiving

Mr. and Mrs. Moose invite their animal friends for Thanksgiving, but Turkey doesn’t show up. What terrified Turkey doesn’t realize is that they want him as their guest, not their dinner! He hides out as his friends try to find him. Buy it!

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

The day before Thanksgiving, eight boys and girls take a field trip to a turkey farm and are shocked to find out that Farmer Nuggett plans to kill all the turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners. Buy it, and try this engaging activity!

Vegan Is Love

This book introduces veganism to young readers as a lifestyle of compassion and action, exploring issues such as animal experimentation, animals in entertainment, and eating meat. Buy it!

Vegan Lunch Box

Offering an exciting array of 130 vegan recipes and foods, this book gives parents ideas for lunches that their kids will actually want to eat. Buy it!

Vegan Lunch Box Around the World

This book features 125 vegan recipes and foods from around the world, providing ideas for even the pickiest eaters, and includes nutritional and allergy information. Buy it!

Victor’s Picnic

When Victor attends a picnic with vegetarian animals who share their food with him, he enjoys a variety of snacks and learns what foods to eat in order to stay healthy. Buy it!

Victor, the Vegetarian

Victor wants to save his two lambs after he finds out that his father wants to eat them, so he runs away with them into the woods. Buy it!

The Way I Love You

The simple words and illustrations in this board book describe the love between a girl and her dog. Ideal for early readers, it can be used to practice sight words and celebrate the friendship that many children experience with their animal companions. Buy it!

What’s in Your Lunch Box?

Sheeba encourages her friends at school to a eat healthy plant-based diet, and she gets some help from a cosmic cow who shares the plight of animals used for food. Sheeba and the cow teach the children to garden, and to have compassion and concern for animals everywhere. Buy it!

When Anju Loved Being an Elephant

Growing up in her natural habitat with her family on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Anju loved being an elephant. That all changed when she was stolen and sold to an American circus and forced to spend decades traveling around the country to entertain crowds. Buy it!

Where Does Dinner Come From?

This book features a young girl who’s curious about the origins of the food in her vegan meal. Follow each ingredient from the table back to the farm, plant, or tree it came from. Buy it!

Who Cares about Animal Rights?

Who Cares About Animal Rights? presents the major issues and arguments of the animal rights movement in an easy-to-understand way for young readers, helping them identify problems with factory farming, animal experimentation, and animal exploitation. Buy it!

Whose Coat?

Aurora wants to buy a coat, but she refuses to purchase one after the department store clerk tells her that they came from animals. The salesperson claims that animals no longer need their fur. A skeptical Aurora ventures into the forest to investigate and ends up teaching the salesperson a lesson in animal rights. Buy it!

The Wild Reveler

This book is for everyone who has been touched by the beauty and majesty of wild horses. It’s a poetic fantasy about a herd of mustangs who are rescued by The Wild Reveler—and their fight for survival as their habitat becomes more endangered. Wild horses are part of our cultural history and our human experience, so they’re a part of who we are. Their presence gives us spiritual nourishment and a link to our past. Buy it!

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind