4 October is World Animal Day. This date was chosen as it is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, whose love and care for animals was an important part of his spirituality. This is intended to be a day when people in every country around the world, regardless of nationality, religion, faith, or politics can celebrate the importance of animals in our lives and reflect on the ways that we treat them, raising awareness of animal rights and welfare issues. The ultimate hope is that in some small way this will make the world a better place for animals.
Humans have a long and intimate association with animals. For our entire evolutionary history, we have used them for food and other products, we have put them to work for us in various ingenious ways, and we have treasured them as valued companions. But we have not always treated them well. In this time of pandemics, climate change, and political upheaval, it is easy to forget the effects that these things have on animals. Our focus is naturally on people, but on 4 October why not take a day to remember the place of animals in all of this.
If you’d like something to read on World Animal Day, then here is a list of books that you might enjoy…
A reading list for animal lovers of all ages
A personal favourite. This beautifully written book describes how a gift of a colony of honeybees transformed one woman's life. (Yes, bees - and other insects - are animals too!)
Anything by Instagram sensation David Attenborough is worth your attention, but this is a personal favourite of mine as it captures his youthful enthusiasm as he sets out on the dawn of what was to become an illustrious career, and along the way essentially invents the idea of the wildlife documentary that we know and love him for today.
A beautifully illustrated and comprehensive survey of the entire animal kingdom from sponges to siamangs, and everything in between. The best single volume book covering the full range of animal life on a global scale that I know of.
Does exactly what it says in the subtitle. A wonderful book for fans (like me) of natural history museums.
A beautifully illustrated children's book. It's huge, so bring a big bag with you to the library if you want to take it home!
A fascinating, and often funny, account of shores, coasts, reefs, seas, oceans, and the animals that live in them.
This book by a 14 year old (!) naturalist about a year he spent watching wildlife around his home in Northern Island (a home he knew he would soon have to leave) has been winning all sorts of awards and acclaim since it was published earlier this year. I'm sure Dara has a promising future ahead of him, and hopefully many more books like this.
An astonishing memoir from British TV wildlife superstar and animal rights activist Chris Packham that mixes up his life-long love of nature with his struggles to come to terms with various aspects of his own life. This would make a great combo with Dara's book. Neurodiversity is a theme of both books, but in each case it's woven into a much bigger story rather than being the single focus.
This is simply the best book I know of about New Zealand's animals. We've learnt so much since it was published that it's starting to show its age, but it deserves to be a classic.
This multi-award winning book became something of a publishing phenomenon when it came out, and has led to a renaissance in nature writing, which until this was published had fallen out of favour a bit with general readers.
There are dozens of books in this series called 'Animal' from Reaktion Books, each one about a different species, focussing in particular on how humans have perceived and interacted with them. They never fail to provide an interesting and different perspective on our relationship with particular animals. Aquarists: check out 'Goldfish' by Anna Marie Roos.
All of Gerald Durrell's books are worth reading, but it all started here when he fell in love with nature as a child living on the island of Corfu.
First published in 1960, this account of the authors' time spent living in a house on the remote west coast of Scotland, and the otters that he befriended and cared for, has become a classic of nature writing. It is said to have "inspired a generation of naturalists".
A quick read for animal lovers short on time. Very good on the evolutionary history of animals.
A fascinating cornucopia. Full of interesting nuggets and stories, with one for each letter of the alphabet from axolotl to zebra fish.
One for the kids (of all ages, including 'grown up' ones). Quite simply delightful in every possible way.