Good friends help each other, and the animal kingdom is full of good friends. Two animals that work together in a way that benefits both species have what’s called a symbiotic relationship. For example, think of a zebra on the African savannah and the oxpecker bird that often rides on its back. In this symbiotic relationship, the zebra benefits when the oxpecker bird flies above it and sounds an alarm when a predator is near. The oxpecker bird benefits when it eats bugs and parasites that are on the zebra’s body.

Animals that work together are fascinating to learn about, and they remind us of how interconnected the natural world is. Keep reading for a list of children’s books available at the Orem Library all about symbiotic animal relationships. 

Picture Books

Animals Work Together | Books about Symbiotic Animal Relationships

Anemone Is Not the Enemy

By Anna McGregor
Picture Book

Anemone lives alone in the rock pool. The tide comes in and the tide goes out. All Anemone wants is a friend, but friends are hard to make when you accidentally sting everyone who comes near you. Perhaps Clownfish has a solution to the problem.

Friends Stick Together

By Hannah E. Harrison
Picture Book

When a loud-mouthed tickbird lands on Mortimer the rhino’s nose and starts a symbiotic relationship, the reserved Mortimer is mortified, until he realizes they just might be the perfect pair.

I’ll Take Care of You

By Maria Loretta Giraldo
Picture Book

A tiny seed finds itself lost in the world, but with care from the Sky, Earth, and Sun it grows up to be a beautiful apple tree. When the tree meets a bird in need of help, it offers its branches as shelter and shows little readers the magic of being cared for and of taking care. This comforting tale celebrates the harmonious relationship between birds and trees, reveals the quiet wonder of our ecosystems, and helps little readers appreciate the care they receive from their family and friends every day. In return, children will learn that they can care for others too and cultivate empathy and kindness.

Junior Nonfiction

Just You and Me

By Jennifer Ward
Junior Nonfiction

A fascinating rhyming exploration of symbiosis: how different animals (and even some plants!) help each other in nature.

Weird Friends

By Jose Aruego
Junior Nonfiction

In the animal kingdom, you just can’t predict who will be friends with whom. One type of bird baby-sits for newborn crocodiles; there is a beetle that cleans a mouse’s house; and a certain fish leads blind shrimp through underwater traffic. In a world full of predators, the most unlikely creatures form alliances to help each other survive.

Although the ways in which these creatures interact might seem outlandish, their behavior is real animal nature. And kids will love learning about funny and fascinating animal friendships around the globe.


By Alvin Silverstein
Junior Nonfiction

Discusses the three kinds of symbiosis—mutualism, commensalism, and parasitism—and describes examples of these relationships.

Written by Chelsea C. (Outreach)