We went through a phase where all the books that we read had to feature human main characters. No animals allowed. This was a hard phase! There are SO many good books featuring animals, especially fuzzy, friendly woodland animals! Thankfully, that phase has passed and we're ready to embrace books about all people and animals. Books like these are especially perfect for the fall and winter!
Since I have multiple little book-lovers now, I've broken this into three categories: picture books, chapter books, and non-fiction books.
Picture Book Read Alouds Staring Woodland Animals
Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem- This is a favorite for the Charlotte Mason early years! The sweet little animals in the story are always finding something to celebrate. This collection features a story for every season, plus more.
The Hat by Jan Brett- A must-read winter tale! A sweet little hedgehog gets caught up in the laundry line, and dons a new "hat." The other animals laugh at him, until they decide that they too would like some winter clothes.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn- This was my daugther's favorite book for years! Chester the raccoon is afraid to go to school. His wise mother gives him a kiss in his hand and tells him to take it with him so that he can have it all night.
Wait Till The Moon is Full by Margaret Wise Brown- As if an amazing, classic author is not enough to convince you to read this book, it is illustrated be THE Garth Williams. This sweet story is about a little raccoon who wants to go exploring, but is told to "wait till the moon is full." The repetition of this cornerstone phrase started to irritate my daughter a bit, but my two younger children really enjoyed it.
The Mitten by Jan Brett- Jan Brett retells the sweet folk story of a child who loses a mitten in the snow. But this wayward mitten is put to good use when animals flock to it for shelter. There are other versions of this story, but I'd argue that this is the most beautiful one!
Annie and the Wild Animals by Jann Brett- There are so many Jan Brett books that we love, and that feature woodland animals. Her illustrations are captivating! In this book, Annie hopes to lure a wild animal to tame as a pet through some delicious corn cakes.
The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi- Stir up the imagination with a tea party where all of the guests are animals! This book was used for winter Tinkergarten a few years ago, which means there is a lot of great play inspiration in it!
The Snowy Nap by Jan Brett- I just can't get enough of Jan Brett's hedgehogs! They are so cute, and even my rough-and-tumble boy said, "I just want to cuddle it!" I guess we should also study real-life hedgehogs!
Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre- We enjoy these real photography books more for their photos than the words, but the text is short and sweet. The pictures show animals and snowflakes in the winter.
Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson- This sweet story features a young fox who is confused about the falling leaves and changing of seasons.
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson- Karma Wilson wrote a slew of these bear books, and though some might categorize them as "light reading," they are clever and lyrical. This is not a book that I dread reading to my children! The Christmas book Bear Stays Up is equally delightful.
Chapter Books Read Alouds Starring Woodland Animals
The Adventures of TumTum and Nutmeg by Emily Bearn- This is a book that we read my daughter's kindergarten year. We bought the treasury that included the first three books, but we only made it through the first book. It was a little scary for her at that point. Two years later, she has recently read the whole treasury on her own, and then shortly after that, my husband read it aloud to her. So it was a hit!
Sophie Mouse by Poppy Green- These books are great for young readers because they are simple and sweet.
The Adventures of Geraldine Woolkins by Karin Koffman- In this existential story of a mouse, Geradline struggles to understand who her creator is.
Poppy by Avi- A brave little mouse stirs up the order of things when asks the tyrannical owl, Mr. Ocax, if she and her family can move to another part of the forest. A suspenseful tale that is best for middle and upper elementary students.
A boy and his pet raccoon share adventures together in northern Wisconsin. Based on a true story, this book evokes the joy of a simpler time, and of a wild and free childhood.
Heartwood Hotel by Kallie George- This book is on our to-read book, because they characters are wholesome and the story is sweet! I know H will get pulled into this series quickly!
The Big Thornton Burgess Story-Book- I linked to this book for reference, not because I think you should buy an $800 book! We do happen to have this book, and it is the coziest, sweetest storybook. The premise is that the storyteller is telling animal stories to a bunch of children by a fire- couldn't be cozier than that!
Perhaps non-fiction books don't make cozy read alouds, but these are great to include if you are learning about woodland animals!
Tracks, Scat, and Signs By Leslie Dendy- These take-along guides are some of our favorite books. They are factual and engaging. This book is helpful for identifying animals in the wild.
Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints by Millicent E Selsam- This book can help you identify tracks, mainly those that you would see in your own neighborhood. There are hands-on activities for little learners in the back.