Literature Connections to
Elephants and Their Young

Teacher's Guides > Elephants and Their Young

The amount of children’s literature featuring or focusing on elephants—real or toy or imaginary—is great. The list below represents the books we have chosen to highlight for the special ways they relate to the guide, as well as some classics we just couldn’t leave out. If you have other favorite books on elephants, by all means share them with your class. The exciting science and mathematics activities in this guide can be a great springboard to reading, writing, and other language and literacy abilities.

Amos and Boris
Doctor De Soto Goes to Africa
Elephant Walk
How Big Is A Foot?
How Many Teeth?
Little Bull: Growing Up in Africa’s Elephant Kingdom
Little Elephant
Mr. Archimedes’ Bath
Mud
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
Seven Blind Mice
Splash!
"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I’m Going to Sneeze!"
The Trouble with Elephants
Weighing the Elephant
Whose Footprints?

Additional Literature on Elephants

 

Amos and Boris
by William Steig
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. 1971
Penguin Books, New York. 1977
Grades: K–4
Amos, the mouse, and Boris, the whale, discover their common link as fellow mammals when Boris returns Amos to land after he almost drowns at sea. After many years of mousing about, Amos is able to return the favor and—with the help of two elephants—rescue Boris when he is beached by a tidal wave. A tender and comical story of friendship, enriched by sophisticated vocabulary, that includes elephants using their intelligence and strong trunks to move a heavy object.

Doctor De Soto Goes to Africa
by William Steig
HarperCollins, New York. 1992
Grades: K–2
In this sequel to Doctor De Soto, the dentist mouse and his wife travel to Africa to help an elephant with a terrible toothache. A monkey seeking revenge adds some drama to the story.

Elephant Walk
by Jean Craighead George; illustrated by Anna Vojtech
Scholastic, New York. 1998
Grades: K–2
As a baby elephant and his herd make a long day’s trek across the savanna, the little one learns that mud and dust are ecstasy and that his trunk can be very useful. At the end of the journey, he meets many other members of his family and has a great time at the reunion. The story demonstrates many elephant behaviors, and at the back of the book are two pages with illustrations showing elephant communication.

How Big Is A Foot?
by Rolf Myller
Dell/Bantam, New York. 1962, 1990
Grades: K–5
When the king asks the apprentice carpenter to build the queen a bed for her birthday, he readily agrees and asks for the measurements. The king obliges and measures her bed using his feet. Somehow the bed that gets made is much smaller. This delightful story clearly shows the need for a standard unit of measurement, and connects to the measurement activities in the guide.

How Many Teeth?
by Paul Showers; illustrated by True Kelley
HarperCollins, New York. 1991
Grades: K–2
In a lively and colorful way, this book introduces human teeth, describing how many we have at various stages of life, why they fall out, and what the different types do. Useful for comparing teeth of humans to elephants during the tusk and teeth activities.

Little Bull: Growing Up in Africa’s Elephant Kingdom
by Ellen Foley James
Sterling, New York. 1998
Grades: K–4
This book is based on the large-format film Africa’s Elephant Kingdom produced by Discovery Channel Pictures. It begins with the birth of Little Bull then follows his life through the seasons. As they roam the landscape, we meet Little Bull’s attentive family, enjoy the antics of all the young elephants, and see how the little elephant learns about his environment.

Little Elephant
photographs by Tana Hoban; story by Miela Ford
Greenwillow Books, New York. 1994
Grades: Preschool–3
Crisp color photos and simple text convey the story of a baby zoo elephant’s venture into and out of the pool in its enclosure. In the water, the endearing calf splashes about, blows bubbles, and plays hide-and-seek. Its attentive mother is always nearby, ready to reassure the little calf.

Mr. Archimedes’ Bath
by Pamela Allen
HarperCollins, New York. 1980
Grades: K–2
Upset by his bath overflowing and puzzled by the changing water level, Mr. Archimedes first tries to blame one of his three bath companions (a kangaroo, a goat, and a wombat). He then resorts to scientific testing and measuring to find out about his bath.

Mud
by Mary Lyn Ray; illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Harcourt Brace, San Diego. 1996
Grades: K–3
As winter thaws into spring, the frozen earth turns to marvelous mud. This book celebrates the joys of mud—and shows children doing so. As students participate in the mud activities of the guide, they, like elephants, can enjoy the squishy, squashy, gooey feel of mud.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
by Bill Martin, Jr.; illustrated by Eric Carle
Henry Holt, New York. 1991
Grades: Preschool–K
The sounds made by a variety of zoo animals are expressed in this book through rhyming text. The polar bear hears a lion roaring, the lion hears a hippopotamus snorting, the hippo hears a flamingo fluting, and so on. In the end, the zookeeper hears children making the animal sounds. Teachers are sure to hear students doing the same.

Seven Blind Mice
by Ed Young
Philomel Books, New York. 1992
Grades: K–4
This strikingly illustrated book retells the classic fable of the blind men and the elephant, only this time with brightly colored mice. Each mouse feels just one part of the strange Something (an elephant) near their pond and comes to the wrong conclusion about what the Something is. The book provides a great way to introduce the different parts of an elephant (as well as an important lesson in logical thinking!).

Splash!
by Flora McDonnell
Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1999
Grades: Preschool–1
In this colorful, playful picture book, the jungle animals are hot. But the baby elephant has a solution. He leads them all to a water hole for a drink and then a refreshing water fight. A great connection to the water activities in the guide.

"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I’m Going to Sneeze!"
by Patricia Thomas; illustrated by Wallace Tripp
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, New York. 1990
Grades: Preschool–2
Knowing the havoc it will cause, all the animals try to prevent the elephant from sneezing. The colorful, active illustrations and rhyming text keep the story moving and make the book a delight to read. It’s filled with humor and even suspense—will the elephant sneeze or not? This is the reissue of an old favorite.

The Trouble with Elephants
by Chris Riddell
HarperCollins, New York. 1991
Grades: Preschool–2
Despite the many troubles elephants can cause—like taking up all the room in the bathtub, eating all the cupcakes at picnics, or sliding down the banister—a little girl decides that the real trouble with elephants is that you can’t help but love them.

Weighing the Elephant
by Ting-xing Ye; illustrated by Suzane Langlois
Annick Press Ltd., distributed by Firefly Books, Buffalo, New York. 1998
Grades: Preschool–5
Hei-dou, a young boy in China, is in charge of the elephants who work for the people of his village. During the day Hei-dou and the other school children watch over Huan-huan, a baby elephant whose elephant parents are busy at work. When the cruel and clever Emperor hears about the intelligent young elephant, he wants it for himself, but when the baby elephant is in the palace it will do none of its tricks. Enraged, the Emperor decides to send the elephant far away unless someone can tell him what the elephant weighs. Villagers, farmers, and scholars come up with ideas for weighing the elephant, but nothing works. Then while watching the moon shine on his father’s fishing boat, Hei-dou has an idea which wins him the right to keep the elephant.

Whose Footprints?
by Molly Coxe
Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. 1990
Grades: P–1
When a mother and daughter go on a walk across their farm through the snow, they discover many sets of tracks and have fun identifying them. It is a pleasant and peaceful story which connects well to the elephant foot activities.

Additional Literature on Elephants

The Ant and the Elephant
by Bill Peet
Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 1972
Grades: Preschool–3

The Elephant’s Child
by Rudyard Kipling; illustrated by Lorinda Bryan Cauley
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, San Diego. 1983
Grades: 2–6

Elephants Swim
by Linda Capus Riley; illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin, New York. 1998
Grades: Preschool–3

Elmer
by David McKee
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, New York. 1989
Grades: Preschool–2

Have You Seen the Crocodile?
by Colin West
HarperCollins, New York. 1986
Grades: K–2

Horton Hatches the Egg
by Dr. Seuss
Random House, New York. 1976
Grades: Preschool–3

Hot Hippo
by Mwenye Hadithi; illustrated by Adrienne Kennaway
Little, Brown, Boston. 1986
Grades: K–3

I Am A Little Elephant
by Francois Crozat
Barrons, New York. 1993
Grades: Preschool

Never Ride Your Elephant to School
by Doug Johnson; illustrated by Abby Carter
Henry Holt, New York. 1995
Grades: Preschool–2

One Day in the Jungle
by Colin West
Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1995
Grades: Preschool

The Story of Babar: The Little Elephant
by Jean de Brunhoff
Random House, New York. 1976
Grades: Preschool–1

Tusk Fairy
by Nicola Smee
BridgeWater Books, Mahwah, New Jersey. 1994
Grades: Preschool–2

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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