These 12 children's books are the perfect gift for compassionate kids

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 1 June 2015

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it." — Oscar Wilde

Is there any more perfect gift than a great book? And the stories that we read as kids can stay with us well into adulthood. Here are 12 of our favourite children’s books. We know the young animal lover in your life will adore them.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte’s Web — E. B. White

Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider are unlikely friends. But when Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered for meat, clever little Charlotte makes it her mission to convince the farmer to let him live.

"The thought that all animals are individuals and want to live had a huge impact on me as a little kid."
- Lucy, Communications

Bonus: It’s also a movie!

Buy it

Black Beauty

Black Beauty — Anna Sewell

A story of a horse told from the horse’s perspective. He goes through the hands of a number of different ‘owners’. Some are kind, some are cruel.

"This book taught me about kindness. Written from the horse’s perspective, it instilled the fact that all animals have feelings, emotions and personalities, just like humans."
- Tash, Executive Officer

Buy it

Lizard Gully

Lizard Gully — Warwick Tennant

The smartly dressed individuals of Lizard Gully have a very important responsibility — making rainbows for the sky. The community of Australian animals must work together to stop criminals from stealing all the petals that make the rainbows.

"It made me think ‘snakes are people too!’ and I became very protective of reptiles in my childhood."
- Lou/snake girl/bat lady, Supporter Services and Wildlife Carer

Buy it

Grandad's Gifts

Grandad’s Gifts — Paul Jennings

This is a spooky and touching story about a boy who is able to bring a fox who had been killed for its fur back to life — with a little help from his recently deceased grandfather.

"I read this so many times as a kid. The regret the boy’s grandfather felt for killing the fox, and the extent to which they both go to make amends is so heartwarming, and so hopeful"
- Kim, Communications

Buy it

Troggle the Troll

Troggle the Troll — Nick Falk and Tony Lowe

Troggle is a small troll who doesn’t want to eat people for dinner. Can he convince his family that vegetables are yummy?

Buy it

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit — Margery Williams

An oldie but a goodie! The Velveteen Rabbit is about a boy who gets sick and is made to burn all his toys that might carry the infection – including the little bunny that he loves the most. Later, he sees the bunny brought to life!

[PLUGIN type="quotation" quote="‘Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'"]

"It’s about the transforming power of love, and of kindness. It’s about true friendship and the gift of freedom. I love it to bits."
- Isobel, Communications

Buy it

The Story of Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand — Munro Leaf

Ferdinand isn’t like other bulls. While the others want to charge around and butt heads, Ferdinand is happiest sitting quietly under his favourite tree and smelling the flowers.


"As the quiet kid sitting under the tree, Ferdinand helped me. Now it’s my job to help all the little bulls."
- Amy, Youth Campaigner

Buy it

The Day No Pigs Would Die

A Day No Pigs Would Die — Robert Newton Peck (Young adult fiction)

A dark story about a boy who bonds with a pig named Pinky. But when his family is going through tough times, Pinky’s fate takes a sad turn.

"I’d never thought of a pig as a friend or someone you could love and who would love you back. This book completely reshaped the way I thought about all animals."
- Lisa, Communications Director

Buy it

Wanted: The Perfect Pet

WANTED: The Perfect Pet — Fiona Robertson

This is a story of a boy who wants a dog more than anything in the world so he places an ad in the newspaper. A lonely duck desperate for a friend disguises himself as a dog and goes to meet the boy.

"The overall message is that all creatures are unique and all desire and deserve love and companionship no matter their species."
- Kat, Senior Graphic Designer

Buy it

The Very Best of Friends

The Very Best of Friends — Margaret Wild

When Jesse is forced to cope with the sudden loss of her partner James, she shuts out his beloved cat William. But she soon learns that sometimes we need animals just as much as they need us.

Buy it

Born Free

Born Free — Joy Adamson (suitable for young adults)

Born Free is the story of Elsa the lion cub who was orphaned and raised by Joy and George Adamson and later released back in the wild. Though not technically a children’s story, it was much loved by a number of our staff when they were young.

"It taught me a lot about the feelings and emotions animals have, and that they have families and should be free to live their lives, in their home, just like us."
- Megan, Membership Liaison

Buy it

The Incredible Journey

The Incredible Journey — Sheila Burnford

Three family pets go an adventure to find their humans that have gone on holiday.

"This one left a lasting impression on me and shaped my strong beliefs in loyalty, protecting those you love and never giving up!"
- Clarissa, Supporter Services

Buy it

The bond felt between animals and children is undeniable. And the children of today are the world leaders of tomorrow. When children grow up with hearts and minds full of kindness, compassion, hope and belief in a better world … well … anything is possible.

Do you know some future world leaders? We hope that you will share stories about love and compassion with the children in your life.

See the world through a child’s eyes …