Pandas. They’re fuzzy, cute, slightly reclusive members of the animal kingdom—and they’re at risk of extinction as a result of habitat loss and poaching. The adorable stars of some of my favorite fiction and nonfiction picture books about pandas are sure to make your little ones panda fans for life. All of these titles are in print and should be available from your local library or favorite bookstore.
Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex (2013)
When Chu, a young panda, sneezes, big things happen. All day his parents are on the alert for a sneeze, but none comes. Then, when they are least expecting it, Chu has to sneeze. Written with novelist Neil Gaiman’s typical quirky style and illustrated with adorable, funny anthropomorphized animals, this story is sure to please readers young and old.
Mrs. Harkness and the Panda by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (2012)
When her husband died on an expedition to China to bring the first panda to the United States, Ruth Harkness made the unbelievable decision to complete his quest on her own. Harkness’s 1936 expedition brought international attention to the panda, which until then was believed to be a mythical creature by many people, even in China. Melissa Sweet’s beautiful collage illustrations are a wonderful addition to the story.
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle (2003)
From the team that brought you Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, this book features a slew of animals—starting with a panda—that are threatened or endangered. This will be a favorite among fans of Brown Bear and animal lovers.
Panda Kindergarten by Joanne Ryder, photographs by Dr. Katherine Feng (2009)
This photographic exploration of a panda “kindergarten class” at the Wolong Nature Reserve in China combines charming photos of baby pandas at play with simple panda facts. Perfect for curious young animal lovers!
Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies, illustrated by Sydney Hanson (2016)
A little panda who is determined to have a pair of pants debates with his mother about the merits of pants for a panda (his mother doesn’t think there are any). When the little panda finds a pair of pants of his very own, however, they turn out to be surprisingly useful! Young readers will giggle over the little panda’s reasons for wanting pants, while adults will smile wryly at this accurate depiction of childlike reasoning.
The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Hannah Marks (2019)
A panda, the main character of this story, is supposed to have a problem. That’s how a story works, right? Unfortunately for the narrator, the panda is confident he doesn’t have any problems. Instead, he decides to make the narrator’s job a little more exciting and BE the problem. This wacky story and its imaginative (and contrary) panda will have little ones in stitches.
Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (2014)
Mr. Panda has a whole box of doughnuts, and he’s happy to share. You just have to ask him nicely. This is a funny reminder that it always pays to be kind and polite.
Queen Panda Can’t Sleep by Susanna Isern, illustrated by Mariana Ruiz Johnson (2016)
Queen Panda can’t fall asleep, and she’s making everyone in her palace miserable, too. Finally, her royal advisor sends out a decree offering a bag of pearls to anyone who can make Queen Panda fall asleep. Visitors come from all over the world, but none of their approaches works—until one puts all the palace servants to sleep, leaving the queen to take over their work. This charming fable is vibrantly illustrated.