Tigers in Children’s Books

Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo



My students have been waiting for these books! It has not been easy to find an interesting and very readable non-fiction series for the Grade 2 to Grade 5 age group. So, I am very happy to have this series published by Orion in partnership with the Born Free Foundation.

Each book retells a rescue mission undertaken by Born Free. The reader is quickly drawn into each desperate situation: from orphaned bear cubs who survive floods and starvation to ex-circus and zoo animals who have only known iron bars and maltreatment. First, concerned people draw attention to their plights and then Born Free work with teams across the world to find the best, most natural environments for these beautiful creatures.

Sometimes the rescues take years. The foundation must negotiate the animals ‘release’, find temporary homes, ensure they are healthy enough to travel and then find the money and complete all the necessary paperwork to transport the animals often thousands of miles to the most natural and caring environment they can find. Children learn that with determination even the most terrible situations can be changed.

Before reading  Born Free: Tiger Rescue by Louisa Leaman I showed this ‘selfie with tiger’ and asked the students:

What do you see?

What do you think?

What do you wonder?

Boy with a tiger By Marcy | Published December 18, 2011

Reasons why the boy was able to ‘hug’ the tiger included:

The tiger is friends with the boy.

The tiger is dead.

The tiger is asleep.

I prompted the students to tell me facts they knew about tigers. How could an animal with such sharp teeth and claws be treated like a pet?  We had a very lively discussion for over 30 minutes as some students insisted the tiger was friendly and almost convinced the entire class that this was possible. However, one boy stood his ground and said the photo must be a fake because tigers are dangerous and wouldn’t want anyone leaning across them.  With the class buzzing to learn more about the photo I started to read the book.

The children followed the story of Roque, a tiger sold in a pet shop in Barcelona in 1998 and his eventual release into a tiger sanctuary in India. They were incensed that these creatures could be bought so easily and compared the habitat of wild tigers with those in the ‘entertainment’ industry. It was a great link to the habitats unit they were doing in their PYP class and I hope, if mum and dad ever said ‘let’s go and see the tigers’ they would have plenty to say about how the body and spirit of a majestic, wild creature is broken for the sake of a photo opportunity.

Children are naturally caring and want to see animals up close. Classmates were impressed when others said they had ridden elephants and swam with dolphins.  These books are so important to have in a school library.  They are so well written, with lots of information and exciting stories to follow.


Adopt a tiger like Roque or choose your favourite Born Free animal here.


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