23 Best Elephant Books for Kids

Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading.

November 2019

What better way to inspire early reading than books about elephants! Whether the little reader is a baby, toddler, pre-schooler, or kindergartener, elephant books offer engaging and fun reading experiences. Widely known as gentle giants, elephants are renowned for their nurturing nature and strong sense of familial binds. It’s no wonder there are so many great children’s books that focus on elephant characters and behavior. Check out some of our favorite elephant stories for kids! 

Elephant books featuring an elephant character can be fun and educational. Since elephants are large, imposing animals, authors often like to use elephant imagery to demonstrate “large/small” concepts in board books. In addition, because of the many human-like elephant traits, including impressive memory capabilities and strong family structures, elephants are wonderfully empathetic characters in picture book stories involving teachable moments.

Elephant Books

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mother and baby elephant at river

Following is a list of elephant books for kids that are appropriate for all age groupings.

Babies

It’s never too early to read to newborns and babies! There’s nothing more soothing than a parent, sibling, grandparent or caregiver reading to a small baby. Strong connections are born from voices that inflect love, compassion and humor that books provide. Best of all, babies routines may change and evolve or short periods of time, so there’s plenty of opportunities to read to your favorite little. Following are some ideal selections for the tiniest of readers:

If I Were an Elephant Book Cover

1. If I were an Elephant . . .
Jellycat
Book Type: Board

An adorable board book that playfully illustrates all the things elephants like to do. The book features a blue fabric elephant tail attached to the book that’s sure to entertain babies!

We love the interactive nature of the book, which inspires multiple readings. The texture and colors of this sweet elephant are perfect for keeping the youngest of readers engaged.

Little Elephant Book Cover

2. Little Elephant
Laura Rigo
Book Type: Board

A sweet board book that offers child-friendly portrayals of baby animals and their mothers, this book uses simple language to show how mommy animals keep their babies out of trouble. You’ll have a hard time finding a more adorable illustration of a baby elephant than this book provides!

This is a great pick for babies, because it portrays the special bonds between parents and their kids. Parents will love the illustrations in this lovable board book as well. 

Welcome Little One Book Cover

3. Welcome Little One
Sandra Magsamen
Book Type: Board

The perfect gift for anyone expecting a new baby! This enchanting board book beautifully and poignantly expresses the love that forms between parents and babies in a lovely rhyming text complete with lively illustrations.

Imparting a wonderful message of the special bond between a child and their parents, this book is a great pick for families to cherish together. The simple illustrations and heartfelt story are great for babies and their parents alike.

4. Elmer’s Colors
David Mckee

Elmer the Elephant has a unique, bright-colored patchwork all over his body. His sweet and gentle nature offers the perfect voice to help the youngest readers to learn all about colors. Who could be a friendlier teacher than a colorful elephant!

This classic and colorful tail is a great way to introduce babies to colors and shapes. This elephant book is the perfect choice for storytime. 

5. Little Elephant Listens
Michael Dahl

Little Elephant uses his big ears to listen to his parents at playtime, bath time and bedtime. Gorgeously colored illustrations and short text make this board book a perfect read for children 6 months and up!

A great option for introducing your young child to sights and sounds of life, this creative story will keep your child engaged and invested. We love this book for older babies, who are learning to observe the world around them. 

Toddlers

Reading to toddlers and helping them to begin to understand letters and words are the foundation of early reading skills. Establishing scheduled reading times, such as bedtime, naptime or even during long car or plane rides, provides parents, caregivers and children important one-on-one time to form loving bonds and early learning opportunities. Reading together also helps children develop a deep love of reading themselves – whether it’s enjoying the time spent together or simply enjoying a great story!

What if Animals Kissed Goodnight Book Cover

6. If Animals Kissed Good Night
Ann Whitford Paul and David Walker
Book Type: Picture

A perfect bedtime read, a young girl wonders how animal families might say good night. From wolf pups that howl and baby bears that howl, the whimsical art and playful rhyming verse make this book an ideal book for snuggles before sleep time.

We love this book for toddlers because it presents a sweet message about family bonds and bedtime routines. This will become a bedtime staple for you and your little reader. 

Always Book Cover

7. Always
Emma Dodd
Book Type: Board

A beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated book showing how one little elephant learns that a parent’s love is unconditional. This heartwarming message is a perfect addition to any family’s children’s library.

The unique foil illustrations and simple text keep your little elephant lover engaged and coming back to this book time and time agin. Its message of unconditional love will teach your toddler just how much they matter. 

Where's Ellie Book Cover

8. Where’s Ellie
Salina Yoon
Book Type: Board

Where’s Ellie is a hide-and-seek book that encourages readers to search for Ellie the elephant among familiar colorful objects. Each page offers a hint of the sweet Ellie, but it isn’t until the last page that the readers will find her. Young readers will never tire of finding her over and over again!

We this hide-and-seek elephant book because it keeps toddlers searching. The textured elements are a great way to introduce your child to tactile learning and make for a fun read. 

Oliver's Tree Book Cover

9. Oliver’s Tree
Kit Chase
Book Type: Picture

When Oliver the elephant is challenged to play a game that all his friends are good at, friendships are tested. A wonderful story about how playtime with friends can also be a learning experience about how to respect everyone’s differences.

This book’s sweet watercolor illustrations and fun narrative is great for teaching toddlers a lesson about playing with friends. Oliver’s Tree is a wonderful choice for young readers. 

Ottie Elephant Book Cover

10. Ottie Elephant
Melissa Crowton
Book Type: Board

An interactive first storybook, Ottie Elephant allows readers to follow her on adventures all thorough town. Lift fun flaps to explore what’s in her basket and who’s behind a window shade.

Ottie Elephant will be sure to help readers have fun making faces in a mirrored page and even get to touch the soft felt of Ottie’s house. This book’s interactive nature is great for curious toddlers to learn all about objects, spaces, and colors. 

Pre-School

Children truly develop a love of learning during their important preschool years. It’s important to reinforce those reading skills at home, whether it’s a bedtime ritual or simply a pre-designated reading time. Through reading together, parents and caregivers not only help children sound out words and model reading behavior (such as turning pages together), but value is placed on the reading experiences.

Elephants Cannot Dance Book Cover

11. Elephants Cannot Dance!
Mo Willems
Book Type: Picture

What happens when best friends are very different? Two lovable and funny characters — an optimistic and sometimes reckless pig and a cautious, pessimistic elephant – offer a great story for beginning readers.

This story presents an important message for preschoolers: the importance of trying new things.  Elephants Cannot Dance is great book that teaches about sharing, learning and friendship!

The Elephants and the Chocolate Cake Book Cover

12. The Elephants and the Chocolate Cake
Balachander Vijayakumar and Janani Balachander
Book Type: Picture

Loco and Toco, are working to find a birthday cake for their friend Poco, but they’re having trouble finding one that’s big enough for all three of them. Follow along as they try all sorts of things to locate the perfect cake.

Every young early reader will respond to this sweet story of elephants in search of the biggest, chocolatiest cake to make a celebration perfect! A delightful story of friendship that guides children to develop problem-solving skills.

The Elephant Who Tried to Tiptoe Book Cover

13. The Elephant Who Tried to Tiptoe
Andrew Newman
Book Type: Picture

Ellie the Elephant is not the best at tiptoeing. It’s just not what animals like her were made to do. Read along to discover what Ellie does best in this heartwarming tale.

This bestselling book follows the adventures of Ellie the Elephant as she falls in and out of love with herself. It is a  lovely story that reminds children to be their true self and love the body that they have.

Tilly and Tank Book Cover

14. Tilly & Tank
Jay Fleck
Book Type: Picture

Tilly is taking her daily stroll when she notices something in the distance. Is it another elephant? He’s got a trunk and a tail, but he’s a little too green to be an elephant. Find out how Tilly gets along with a tank in this sweet story.

This exceptionally timely picture book sweetly shows how a blossoming friendship between an elephant and a tank can teach kids to make friends and not war. It’s never too early to help children understand that friends and friendships can come in many different shapes and forms!

Wish Book Cover

15. Wish
Matthew Cordell
Book Type: Picture

An elephant couple embark on a life together and wish for a baby of their own. After some thwarted plans and unexpected challenges, their deepest wish miraculously comes true!

We love this read-along book for its simple and heartfelt narrative. This uplifting book about the beginning of a family is perfect for parent/child reading time.

Kindergarten

Kids independently reading books kicks into high gear once children enter Kindergarten. These young readers suddenly have independent access to an array of new reading materials. From the school library to a classroom’s book selections, children have ample opportunity and encouragement to expand their reading horizons. It continues to be important to compliment in-school reading with at-home book time. It’s also the perfect time to institute “Family Reading,” whether it be a designated time or day!

Ellie the Elephant Makes New Friends at School Book Cover

16. Ellie the Elephant Makes New Friends at School
Agnes Green and Viktoriia Mykhalevych
Book Type: Picture

Join this energetic elephant as she tackles her first day of school. She might feel big and clumsy, but the day begins the look up as she makes new friends.

If your little one is nervous or anxious about going to school for the first time, this is the perfect book for you! Here’s a story to ensure your favorite little has a better understanding of everything associated with starting a new school – from meeting a new teacher and classmates to making new friends!

The Story of Babar Book Cover

17. The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant
Jean Brunhoff
Book Type: Picture

First published in 1931, Babar the elephant embarks on an adventure after escaping to the city. Upon returning to the great forest, he is ultimately crowned King of the Elephants.

Perhaps one of the most classic elephant children’s books of all time, Babar is a classic story of literature’s most beloved elephant. This classic is a great tale of adventure and perseverance that your kindergartener will love. 

"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze" Book Cover

18. “Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze”
Patricia Thomas
Book Type: Picture

A fun and whimsical book explaining the humor of an elephant’s giant sneeze. Monkeys, birds, fish, crocodiles, zebras and kangaroos alike have funny and irreverent reactions to an elephant’s sneeze!

This book’s detailed illustrations and humorous text are perfect for little learners. Parents and children alike will laugh out loud at the this fun and funny book.

I Wish I Was an Elephant Book Cover

19. Ranger Rick: I Wish I Was an Elephant
Jennifer Bove
Book Type: Picture

The perfect read for kids that love elephants. Learn to read while also learning all the fascinating facts of these majestic animals. Could you talk like an elephant, sleep like an elephant, live in an elephant family? This fun books helps you find out!

Full of colorful photos and fun facts, this “I can read” book will teach your reader all about what it’s like to be an elephant. 

Don't Think About Purple Elephants Book Cover

20. Don’t Think About Purple Elephants
Susan Whelan
Book Type: Picture

Sophie sometimes worries at bedtime. Her worries make her sad and she sometimes has trouble falling asleep. Her family tries to help, but it’s her mom that finds a perfect solution in the form of a purple elephant!

A wonderful story to help kids find a way to ease their stress, we love this book’s colorful pictures and fun plot. This is a wonderful book to help kids feel better and makes for a great bedtime read. 

Audible Books

Another great choice to consider is audible books for kids. Audible books geared toward children are terrific for car rides or any stretches of time where kids might be bored and looking for interesting ways to engage. There are some wonderful elephant-focused selections available that bring these gentle giants to life in magical ways:

The One and Only Ivan Book Cover

21. The One and Only Ivan
Katherine Applegate
Book Type: Chapter

Ivan has grown used to being viewed through the glass doors of the enclosure he’s always lived in at the mall. He is used to living behind the glass, until he meets an unexpected friend– a baby elephant named Ruby taken from the wild. Follow along on his adventure to get Ruby back to where she belongs. 

This book is a wonderful lesson in unlikely friendships, and is a great pick for families to listen to together. 

All About Elephants Book Cover

22. All About Elephants
Karen Darlington
Book Type: Picture

If your child loves elephants, this lively, fast-paced and informative book will enchant them! The fantastic audio shares everything from describing their distinctive shape to their playful attitudes.

This is a great choice for elephant-lovers to learn more about the habitat, features, and lives of elephants. It is a perfect book to listen to and enjoy as a family. 

Liking Who I Am Book Cover

23. Liking Who I Am
Sylvia Yordanova
Book Type: Picture

What better figure than an elephant to help teach children about feeling confident and at ease with their body and how they look. When a young elephant discovers that not everyone in the world is alike, he learns that everyone is given exactly what they need for survival.

Listening to this book with a child offers good opportunities to discuss self-esteem and self-confidence!

How to Find Great Children’s Books

Lastly, if you’re looking for ways to get great books in your favorite little’s hands easily and more frequently, check out Elephant books, a children’s books subscription club that delivers brand new, hardcover, high quality books for kids to your front door every month. Beautifully packaged in Kraft paper and hand-tied orange grosgrain ribbon, each package also comes with fun and engaging reading tools.

If you love elephants and enjoyed this article about our favorite elephant books, check out our article about how to host the perfect elephant baby shower.

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