Have you read any of the books by Thornton Burgess?  They are well-loved in our home.  Inspired by the Burgess Bird Book Companion, I decided to make my own reading guide companion for The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton Burgess.  My son loves the Thornton Burgess books so much. He was sad that there was not such a great website to go along with each one, so here is my version for the Animal Book.
 Burgess Animal Book for Children Learning Guide
The Burgess Animal Book for Children, by Thornton Burgess is a story about Peter Rabbit.  He wants to learn more about his relatives, and the other animals in the forest, so he goes to Old Mother Nature who teaches him all about the different animals in the forest.  The book teaches about the different families and orders of many mammals in a very entertaining way- through a great story.  This book is on the recommended reading list for Ambleside Online, year 1.

Where to get The Burgess Animal Book for Children:

You can listen to this book for free on librivox.org, or you can download a free version for kindle here:The Burgess Animal Book for Children.  Also, there is an online version that you can read at the Baldwin Project.  I found it available at our library.  We loved it so much though, that I bought our own  copy.


Burgess Animal Book For Children Learning Resources:

To help you in your lesson, here is a beginning guide All About Mammals. Here is a Worksheet on matching mammals to their family and order.  (These links are from the website exploringnature.org.  This website has many free resources about animals and nature.  You can also pay for a membership to access more content.)
For a more detailed Taxonomic Key for all of the animals, look here at Ambleside Online.  The orders of some of the animals have been changed since the book was written, so she gives some updated classifications.  Also listed there are the pages numbers going along with the Peterson Field Guide Color-In Book: Mammals.
Wonder-Weirded Wildlife also has a a great set of study resources to go along with the book.

Animal Pictures and Coloring Pages:

If you want to make a free coloring book of all the animals, Little School House in the Suburbs has compiled a fantastic resource to go along with this book. I also have linked to some of the best ones I have found on the web for each animal I could find. If you want to purchase some coloring pages to go along, check out the Peterson Field Guide. National Audubon Society’s First Field Guide- Mammals is another great book to get more information and detailed pictures of the animals as you study them.  Afterthoughts blog has a list of coloring pages for all of that animals, too.
I also found this website that has compiled a set of real-life pictures of all the animals discussed in the Burgess Animal Book. You could print them and create a picture book to go along with the readings.

Each Chapter below has links to the following:

  • Librivox audio of the chapter
  • Exploring Nature and eNature sites with more information about the animals covered in the chapter
  • Life-like coloring pages for each of the animals covered in the chapter
  • Pages from the Handbook of Nature Study -The Handbook Of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock, an amazing book to help in nature studies.  I have found it available as a free download.  It is a huge book- over 900 pages, but it has so much amazing information in it.  You might end up purchasing a hard copy like I did.
Chapter 1: Jenny Wren Gives Peter Rabbit an Idea
burgess animal book - Peter Rabbit
Peter arranges to go to school with Old Mother Nature.
Chapter 1 audio from Librivox.org
Cottontail Rabbits: Exploring Nature, eNature
Coloring Page
Marsh Rabbit:  eNature
Snowshoe Hare:  Exploring Nature,  eNature
Handbook of Nature Study p. 218



Chapter 2: Peter and Jumper Go to School 
Animals covered: The Cottontail Rabbit, Northern Hare, and Marsh Rabbit.
Hare Coloring Page, Cottontail Coloring Page
Chapter 3: More of Peter’s Long-Legged Cousins
Animals covered: The Swamp Hare, Arctic Hare, Prairie Hare, Antelope Jack and Jack Rabbit
Arctic Hare: Exploring Nature
Swamp Hare: eNature
Antelope Jack: eNature
White-Tailed Jack Rabbit, or Prairie Hare:  Exploring NatureeNature
Black-Tailed Jack Rabbit: Exploring Nature, eNature
Chapter 4: Chaterer and Happy Jack Join
Animals Covered: The Squirrel family, and order of Rodents
Chapter 5: The Squirrels of the Trees
 Animals Covered: The Red, Gray, Fox, Kaibab and Abert Squirrels
Red Squirrel:  Exploring Nature, eNature
Handbook of Nature Study p. 233-238, 646, 680
Gray Squirrel: Exploring Nature, eNature
Handbook of Nature Study p. 235
Fox Squirrel: eNature
Kaibab, Abert Squirrel: eNature
Chapter 6: Striped Chipmunk and His Cousins
Animals Covered: The Chipmunk, Spermophiles, and Flying Squirrel
Handbook of Nature Study p. 239-241
Flying Squirrel: Exploring Nature, eNature
Flying Squirrel Coloring Page, Chipmunk Coloring Page
Handbook of Nature Study p. 235
Chapter 7: Johnny Chuck Joins the Class
Animals Covered: The Woodchuck and his ways
Woodchuck Coloring Page
Handbook of Nature Study p. 15, 228-232
Chapter 8: Whistler and Yap Yap
Animals Covered: The Whistling or Hoary Marmot and Prairie Dogs
Chapter 9: Two Queer Little Haymakers
Animals Covered: The Pika or Cony and Mountain Beaver or Sewellel
Pika Coloring Page
Mountain Beaver: eNature
Chapter 10: Prickly Porky and Grubby Gopher
Animals Covered: Porcupine and Pocket Gopher
Pocket Gopher: Exploring Nature, eNature
Porcupine Coloring Page, Gopher Coloring Page
Chapter 11: A Fellow with a Thousand Spears
Animals Covered: More about the Porcupine
Chapter 12: A Lumberman and Engineer
Animals Covered: Beaver
Beaver Coloring Page, another coloring page
Handbook of Nature Study p. 219-223
Chapter 13: A Worker and a Robber
Animals Covered: The Muskrat and Brown or Norway Rat
Chapter 13 Audio
Handbook of Nature Study p. 219-223
Muskrat: eNature, Exploring Nature
Muskrat coloring page, Brown Rat coloring page
Chapter 14: A Trader and A Handsome Fellow
Animals Covered: The Cotton Rat, Wood or Pack Rat and the Kangaroo Rat

Chapter 14 Audio

Cotton Rat: eNature
Woodrat: eNature
Kangaroo Rat: eNature, Exploring Nature
Generic Rat Coloring Page

Chapter 15: Two Unlike Little Cousins

Animals Covered: Wood or Deer Mouse, and Danny Meadow Mouse (Field Mouse)

Handbook of Nature Study p. 224-228

Chapter 16: Danny’s Northern Cousins and Nimbleheels

Animals Covered: The Banded and Brown Lemmings and the Jumping Mouse
Chapter 17: Three Little Redcoats and Some Others
Animals Covered: The Pine Mouse, Red-backed Mouse, Rufous Tree Mouse,
Rock Mouse and Beach Mouse
Chapter 18: Mice with Pockets, and Others

Animals Covered: The Silky and Spiny Pocket Mice, Grasshopper Mouse,
Harvest Mouse and House Mouse

Handbook of Nature Study p. 224-228
Pocket Mouse: eNature
Grasshopper Mouse: eNature
Harvest Mouse: eNature
House Mouse: eNature
Chapter 19: Teeny Weeny and His Cousin

Animals Covered: The Common or Long-tailed Shrew or Shrew Mouse, Short-tailed Shrew or Mole Shrew and Marsh or Water Shrew

Chapter 20: Four Busy Little Miners

Animals Covered: The Common Mole, Brewer’s or Hairy-tailed Mole, Oregon Mole, and Star-nosed Mole

Chapter 21: Flitter the Bat and His Family

Animals covered: The Red Bat, Little Brown or Cave Bat, Big Brown or House Bat, Silvery Bat, Hoary Bat and Big-eared Bat

Handbook of Nature Study p. 221-224
Bats: eNature, Exploring Nature

Chapter 22: An Independent Family

Animals covered: The Common Skunk, Hog-Nosed or Badger Skunk and Little Spotted Skunk

Handbook of Nature Study p. 245-247
Skunk: eNature, Exploring Nature
Striped and Spotted Skunk coloring page
Chapter 23: Digger and His Cousin Glutton

Animals Covered: The Badger and Wolverine or Carcajou

Chapter 24: Shadow and His Family


Animals Covered: The Common or Bonaparte Weasel or Ermine, New York Weasel, Long-Tailed or Yellow-bellied Weasel, Least Weasel and Black-footed Ferret

Chapter 25: Two Famous Swimmers


Animals Covered: Billy Mink and Little Joe Otter

Chapter 26: Spite the Marten and Pekan the Fisher

Animals Covered: The Pine Marten or American Sable and the Fisher or Pennant Marten

Chapter 27: Reddy Fox Joins the School

Animals Covered: The Red, Black and Silver Foxes, Gray Fox, Kit Fox, or Swift, Desert Fox, Arctic and Blue Foxes

Handbook of Nature Study p. 251-253

Chapter 28: Old Man Coyote and Howler the Wolf


Animals Covered: The Prairie Wolf or Coyote and the Timber or Gray Wolf
Handbook of Nature Study p. 250-251

Chapter 29: Yowler and His Cousin Tufty

Animals Covered: The Bay Lynx or Bob Cat and the Canada Lynx or Lucivee

Chapter 30: Some Big and Little Cat Cousins


Animals Covered: Puma the Panther, also called Cougar and Mountain Lion, the Jaguar, the Ocelot and the Jaguarundi Cat or Eyra

Chapter 31: Bobby Coon Arrives

Animals Covered: The Raccoon and the Civet or Ring-tailed Cat, also called Coon Cat and Bassaris

Handbook of Nature Study p. 247-252

Chapter 32: Buster Bear Nearly Breaks Up School

Animals Covered: The Black Bear and his habits
Chapter 33: Buster Bear’s Big Cousins

Animals Covered: Grizzly Bear, the Alaska or Great Brown Bear and the Polar Bear

Chapter 34: Unc’ Billy and Old Mrs. Possum

Animals Covered: The Virginia Opossum, which is the only North American Marsupial

Chapter 35: Lightfoot, Blacktail, and Forkhorn

Animals Covered: The White-tailed or Virginia Deer, Black-tailed Deer and Mule Deer

Handbook of Nature Study p. 290-291

Chapter 36: Bugler, Flathorns and Wanderhoof


Animals Covered: The Elk or Wapiti, Moose and Caribou

Handbook of Nature Study p. 290-291
Chapter 37: Thunderfoot, Fleetfoot and Longcoat

Animals Covered: The Buffalo or Bison, Antelope and Musk Ox

Handbook of Nature Study p. 281

Chapter 38: Two Wonderful Mountain Climbers

Animals Covered: The Rocky Mountain Sheep or Bighorn and the Rocky Mountain Goat

Handbook of Nature Study p. 268
Chapter 39: Piggy and Hardshell

Animals Covered: the Peccary or Wild Pig and the Armadillo

Handbook of Nature Study p. 287

Chapter 40: The Mammals of the Sea

Animals Covered: The Sea Otter, Walrus, Sea Lions, Seals and Manatee or Sea Cow