Just Imagine


Animal Antics

The books in this theme, offers the opportunity to discover animals, in both real and imagined contexts. The selection of texts will stimulate our interest in animal journeys, introduce us to new and exciting animals and show us how animals help people to deal with a range of feelings and emotions, as well as the other way around.

There’s a non- fiction choice which charts the exciting journeys of animals’ movement, from one part of our planet to another:

  • Chris Packham – Amazing Animal Journeys

A range of fiction and picture books which offer opportunities for children to connect with various issues and dilemmas. They show how animals can help children and adults to deal with human problems and emotions. These include:

  • Jackie Morris – The White Fox
  • Nicola Davis – King of the Sky

And there’s plenty of fun too. Take a glimpse into the world of animals you may never have heard about:

  • Martin Brown – Lesser Spotted Animals

Book introductions

Here’s a creative idea for introducing this collection of books to your class or group. Gather a collection of soft animal toys.  Ask the class or group to make suggestions about the books that could be read aloud to the toys.

What do we need to consider when we make our choices?

  • Importance of seeing yourself in a book
  • the feelings and emotions you have, when you read about familiar things

Introduce the collection of ‘Animal Antics’ books. Ask:

  • would the toys like these types of books and why (link back to the previous discussion?

Organise the class into groups and give each group a soft toy

  • choose a name for the toy and decide on their likes, dislike and the type of reader that they are.
  • Then choose a book from the collection, which their toy would love to listen to

Take it further

  • Why do you think your toy would like the book that you have chosen?
  • What would be your second book choice and why?
  • Is there a book that you think your animal toy wouldn’t want to read? why?

Book talk

Here are some things that you might like to discuss with the class or group when they are reading the collection of animal books

  • Has anyone read a book featuring pet animals?
    • Have you or a family member got a pet/s?
    • Why do people love pets?


  • Do any of the books suggest that animals can help people to live?
    • In what ways are animals useful to humans?
    • Can animals help people to deal with feelings and emotions?


  • Why do you think authors use animals as characters in stories?
    • Do the animals behave like animals in the story?
    • Do they behave like humans (you could introduce the idea of anthropomorphism – the idea that an animal has feelings or characteristics like those of a human being)?
    • Do you prefer stories with animal or human characters? Why?


  • What facts have you learnt about an animal that you didn’t know before?
    • Have you read anything that shocked or surprised you?
    • Which organisations help endangered animals?
    • Do we still need the World Wildlife Fund?


  • Can we categorise the animals that we have been reading about (e.g. wild, pets, zoo, endangered etc)
    • Should zoos exist?
    • Why do people keep animals in captivity?
    • Is having a pet different to keeping an animal in a zoo?


  • What would happen if animals could talk or people could talk to animals?


  • If you could be…
    • If you could be any animal character from one of the fiction books, which one would you be and why?
    • If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why?
    • If you could be any animal character from one of the fiction books/film, which one would you be and why?


  • Do you know any other stories, where animals are the main characters?
  • What would our planet be like, if animals were in charge?


  • What would you say to encourage readers who don’t like animal stories to read these books?



The Reading Journey: Animal Antics (24 books)

The Reading Journey is Just Imagine's programme for supporting independent reading, to develop wider reading and make more productive use of book corners.  The Reading Journey is designed specifically to keep class book... Read more

Display ideas

A Space for Books

Create a corner. Place a grass carpet on the floor, and use the board to display as many animals from the books as possible. Use a range of colours to create a lush outdoor feel.

Soft Animal Toys

Children can read the books to these toys. If possible include some animals that are represented in the book collection.

Supplement the theme

Put additional fiction, non fiction and poetry books, about animals, into the space along with the theme books. Children will soon start adding their own favourites too.

Children's Work

Display any work, reviews, artwork etc. that the children produce, having read the books.

Animal Antics

Display and arrange the books from the Animal Antics theme so that children want to pick them up and share with the animal toys and each other


Sonia Thompson is the Deputy Headteacher for English, Attendance and Foundation subjects at St Matthew’s C of E Primary School in Nechells, Birmingham. It is a vibrant, inner-city school. She is passionate about evidence-based reading for pleasure practices and has developed a range of reading for pleasure opportunities for the children at her school. These materials were trialled in Year 4.