Books shape how children see everything around them, ignite their imaginations, and inspire positive actions. Give a child a book and you offer them the opportunity to change the world. This holiday season, nurture a child’s love for animals and cruelty-free living with one of these vegan-friendly picture books that enlighten and entertain at the same time.

 

1. Santa’s First Vegan Christmas
In this charming book by Robin Raven (and illustrated by Kara Maria Schunk), a reindeer named Dana teaches Santa a lesson about how to be kinder to animals. As they journey around the world together, they spread more than holiday cheer, sharing love and compassion with each turn of the page. This is a story of kindness bound to be cherished for many holidays to come.

2. The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig
Authors Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter (along with Caprice Crane) bring their New York Times bestselling memoir for adults to life for children in this loveable picture book. Jenkins’ and Walter’s lives were changed forever when they discovered that their adopted mini-pig, Esther, was not so mini after all. Kids will love this true story about the family’s move to a big farm to accommodate Esther’s size, and how it inspired them to create the Happily Ever Esther animal sanctuary—a home for dozens of rescued animals, from chickens to a donkey.

3. Gwen the Rescue Hen
The second book in Stone Pier Press’s Farm Animal Rescue series, Gwen the Rescue Hen sheds light on the realities of factory farming in an age-appropriate and relatable way. Author Leslie Crawford’s playful prose tells the tale of Gwen and her fateful escape from an egg farm. Free from the hen house, Gwen’s adventure is only just beginning as she discovers a new life on the outside. As children read about the friendship that she forges with a boy named Mateo, they will gain more than an enlightening look at farmed animal rescues, but also a lesson in compassion, and a close look at the extraordinary individuals who are chickens. The book also includes a bonus section, with fun facts all about chickens.

4. If Animals Said I Love You
Through alliterative rhymes, in this book for preschoolers author Ann Whitford Paul takes an imaginative look at how non-human animals, from cheetahs to gorillas, might express their love for others in their families. In David Walker’s whimsical illustrations that feature various animal mamas and papas snuggling their babies, human families are made aware of the similarities between us and our animal counterparts. Though we might say it differently, we all love the same.

5. Pig Park
In this upbeat picture book written by M.J. Minor and illustrated by Julian Galvan, readers meet Curly, a spunky and playful pig. Highlighting the similarities between dogs and pigs, this is a story of empathy and friendship that inspires families to think differently about why they may consider some animals as good companions, and others differently. Curly’s love for carrots and friends that include String Bean Pete, also brings excitement around eating fruit and vegetables.

6. Not A Purse
When I went vegan, the changes that my connection to animals inspired were strictly limited to my food. However, I quickly learned about the injustices to animals in my home goods and beauty products, in addition to food system cruelties. As I did my research, I became educated about the multitude of everyday items in our homes that exploit animals. Through surprising facts that every child will understand, and fun-loving illustrations by Jack Veda, my book Not A Purse enlightens families about the various ways that animals are worn and used at home, and inspires them to explore alternatives.

 

Stephanie Dreyer is the author of Not A Nugget and Not A Purse, and the founder of StephanieDreyer.com where she helps families cook and eat healthier.

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