Pre-K

Growing Reader

Get Your Slink On: 10 Picture Books for National Reptile Awareness Day

by Julie Falatko

Photo credit: Adriana Varela Photography, Moment Collection/Getty Images

National Reptile Awareness Day is October 21. What better time to read some new and old favorites about reptiles? (And if this is the first time you’re hearing about this holiday, then consider today National Reptile Awareness Day Awareness Day.)

I love reptile picture books so much that I wrote one. Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), illustrated by Tim Miller, will be published by Viking Children’s Books on February 2, 2016.

Here are ten of my favorite picture books about crocodiles, alligators, turtles, lizards, or snakes. Why no dinosaur or dragon books? Because then the list would be 85 books long. Why no frog books? Because they’re not reptiles. (It’s true, I checked.) Consider this a list of reptiles you might find today. Whether or not you’re likely to stumble across an alligator walking upright and wearing a tie is a discussion for another time.

Does each of these books make you aware of reptiles? You bet. Remember, it’s like they say: “Read about a reptile, life is worthwhile!” (Okay, maybe they don’t say that. Maybe I just made that up. But you should still read these reptile books.)

  • Alligators All Around

    by Maurice Sendak

    This book is part of the Nutshell Library, a perfectly tiny and utterly essential quartet of books by the great Maurice Sendak. Alligators All Around is an alphabet book, and a rhyming book, and a song from the Carole King musical “Really Rosie” (once you hear it, you will only be able to sing the book, and that’s great, honestly). Reptile Awareness: Learn the requirements of alligator care. They eat oatmeal, have headaches, and keep kangaroos as pets.

  • Brief Thief

    by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

    “And now, Leon has to go poo.” Really, does it get any better than that? Brave words in this artsy, funny, wacky picture book, about a lizard named Leon and some stolen underpants. Leon is faced with the voice of his conscience (or is it?), urging him to do the right thing. This is a book with a conclusion that actually made me scream in surprise. Reptile Awareness: Sometimes reptiles can be “sneaky little lizards,” but they do know right from wrong.

  • Chameleon Sees Colors

    by Anita Bijsterbosch

    The chameleon in this Dutch import sees only black and white, until, through cleverly placed holes in the pages, he adds colors to his world (and himself). In the end, he falls in love, which isn’t something you see too often in a novelty book about colors and animals. Reptile Awareness: A chameleon sees the rewards of beauty and color in the world, and we do too.

  • Crictor

    by Tomi Ungerer

    Crictor is a boa constrictor who lives in a little French town with Madame Bodot. A romping good classic that proves reptiles can be delightful, lovable, and protective, and maybe even better pets than dogs. Don’t tell my dog I wrote that. But can he make the number 8 with his body? No. He cannot. Reptile Awareness: Reptiles are brave and loyal. Best to have one on your side.

  • The House on East 88th Street

    by Bernard Waber

    This is my favorite “what if” reptile story. What if you moved into a house in New York City, and a crocodile was already living there? What if he was a performing crocodile who ate only Turkish caviar? What if he turned out to be very helpful, and then his original owner wanted him back? Reptile Awareness: A rescue crocodile can become a beloved family member in no time at all.

  • If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don’t!

    by Elise Parsley

    Feisty Magnolia brings an alligator to school for a nature-themed show-and-tell, but her alligator’s antics make her wish she’d brought a stick. Or dirt. Learn from Magnolia’s (hilarious) mistake, and bring a nest to school instead of a naughty alligator. Reptile Awareness: Alligators have trouble behaving in school, and for heaven’s sake, don’t give them gum.

  • Herman and Rosie

    by Gus Gordon

    Herman and Rosie both live in New York City, leading parallel lives of dead-end jobs during the day, music at night, and a fondness for films about the ocean. We know their destiny is to be together, but the beauty of this book is that the whole story is the long looping path of getting them together. We fall in love with them separately, and that makes their meeting that much more satisfying. And what does this have to do with reptiles, you ask? Herman just happens to be one. Reptile Awareness: Reptiles need music in their lives, too.

  • Lizard from the Park

    by Mark Pett

    Leonard finds an egg in the park, and, needing a friend, brings it home. The egg hatches into a lizard (Buster!) and Buster and Leonard spend their days together. But then Buster grows big (really big), and starts to feel a little less happy in Leonard’s apartment. A luminous story about loneliness, friendship, and imagination, this book is about a boy who does the right thing for his friend. Reptile Awareness: Some reptiles show up just when you need them most.

  • One Cool Friend

    by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small

    This appears to be a penguin book, but it is, in fact, a reptile book as well. Elliot goes to the aquarium, and comes home with a penguin. He does what he can to make it comfortable, all the while avoiding his apparently unseeing father. I won’t tell you much about the reptile in here so as not to spoil the surprise. Reptile Awareness: Reptiles are good at blending in.

  • The Watermelon Seed

    by Greg Pizzoli

    A watermelon-loving crocodile faces his greatest fear when he swallows a seed and is sure a watermelon is growing in his belly. Silly, relatable, and some of my favorite picture book endpapers. Reptile Awareness: Good information for when you invite a crocodile to your summer picnic.