Children's Books About Dogs for Preschool, Storytime, or Anytime
2012 Caldecott Winner
Whether you are looking for fictional stories about pet ownership, dog rescue, or animal companionship, or some other theme, one probably fits to suit your needs. Children's picture books that feature dogs are abundant, even prolific.
Here in Iowa, my young children and I have enjoyed the local library story hour which pairs dogs-in-training for the local therapeutic dog program with young children at story hour. Once a month these dogs come in with their trainers and read books with young children at the local library. The kids adore reading with these gentle animal friends and it is also good training for the dogs, who are being trained to work with elderly patients in nursing homes and for other therapeutic purposes. The world would not be nearly as pleasant a place without the wonderful pets and working animals that are so loving and easy to love, and sharing children's books featuring dogs can help children who do not have pets at home experience the joys of interacting with animals.
If you are interested in building a storytime theme on this topic, keep in mind that August is the month for both National Dog Day and Homeless Animal Day.
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Rashka
Though wordless picture books can sometimes pose a challenge for storytiome presenters, this book makes the list because it received the prestigious 2012 Caldecott award for children's book illustrations. This story about a little dog with a brand new toy is illustrated in a style that integrates finger-painting strokes with more traditional illustrations. The effect is joyful. This author captures the essence of children's lit, with a perfect and compelling blend of story and illustrations. The story about a dog who loses her favorite toy to a larger dog could be integrated into a theme on bullying.
The Stray Dog by Marc Simont
Another award winner, this book is tells the realistic story of a family who meets a stray dog at a park and rescues him from the dogcatcher. This book introduces the importance of animal adoption and rescue, and could also start a discussion about pets and proper care. Animal care and control in many cities make animals available for adoption. If you are a storytime presenter, this book would be an excellent one to share during a coordinated event with a local pet adoption event. The watercolor illustrations in this book are lovely, and the story is based on real events.
Three books by Ezra Jack Keats explore the relationship between children and their pets. My Dog is Lost, The Pet Show, and a Whistle for Willie are all stories for children that blend a child's relationship with his or her pets with the theme that anything worth having is worth working for. This is something I particularly like about Keats' style of realistic fiction writing. It has heart!
Dot the Fire Dog by Lisa Desimini
This preschool-level book about the firehouse mascot Dot describes a cute dalmatian's day helping out the fire men. Dot is always prepared to answer the call for a fire. During the story, she rescues a cat from a burning house and finishes her day resting nearing the fire men's black and yellow-striped boots. The book is a friendly approach to fire safety and has the added merit of showing how animals can perform useful work in addition to offering companionship.
Be Gentle With the Dog, Dear! by Matthew J. Baek
This realistic fiction story geared to younger toddlers and preschoolers is a great teaching tool for helping kids understand that pets need their space to be respected. The two main characters are Tag the family dog and his owner's baby daughter, Eliza, who is precious most the time, but sometimes is completely obnoxious. The book depicts a normal family dog behaving in a normal way to the taunting that can come from exuberant young toddlers, and reminds young children to be gentle with their pets. The central child character in this book is a young toddler.
Buster Goes to Cowboy Camp
Popular children's author Denise Fleming serves up a western-themed story told from a dog's point of view in this wonderful little gem of a children's book about a dog who overcomes his shyness at sleep away camp. Buster goes to cowboy camp (really the kennel) when his owner takes a weekend vacation. Buster is terribly homesick at first, but soon he makes friends and participates in camp crafts, stick throwing, ball chasing, and even makes some new friends before he goes home. The book features easy-going humor with a cast of interesting canine characters. The animals in this story are really cute, and any kid who's gone away to a sleepover camp will appreciate the humor in this tall tale. Pet owners might enjoy reading this to their pups before boarding their pets during vacation.
Mary Casanova writes and Art Hoyt illustrates this heart-tugging tale about two dogs-George and Zippity. George is the family pet, and he feels displaced by Zippity, a young energetic stray dog that the family adopts. Zippity is a high-energy dog with show-off mannerisms. But when Zippity runs away during a rainstorm, George saves the day by sniffing out the wet and shaking Zippity and rescuing him from a mud puddle. This story is action-packed and quickly paced, and the touching conclusion shows both dogs coexisting as family pets together.
Sally Goes to the Vet
Stephen Huneck has written an entire series of appealing tales told from a dog's point of view. In this story, Sally is injured during a day of play, and has to go to the vet's office for medical treatment. Though no serious harm comes to Sally, she has to get a shot. This book is a good introduction of veterinarians to young children, and the artwork is appealing and unusual.
Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle
You will either love or hate this unusual and potent story that is part fantasy and part fancy. I've never met a person who was indifferent to this book. Walter, is, to put things plainly, a very stinky farting dog, and the plot of this book focuses on that fact. The book is wildly popular and has sold many many copies, but keep in mind the humor is based on the dog's malodorous persona. Somehow Walter is lovable in spite of his shortcomings, and this book has an appeal for anyone who likes to root for the underdog.
The First Dog by Jan Brett
If you are familiar with Jan Brett's imaginative and detailed collection of winter-inspired stories, you may have missed this one, which Jan Brett admits was inspired by a visit to the natural history museum. Unlike her other books, which draw heavily from folklore, this is an original story about a prehistoric boy who befriends a wolf. The wolf's keen sense of hearing and smell save the day again and again. The story, obviously created by an animal lover, is both an adventure story and an homage to canine and human companionship.
Finally, two oldies, but goodies:
Go Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman is a must-have book for children who are just learning to read. This class beginning reader story shows dogs who are busy at work, at play, and even driving cars and stopping at stoplights! The text of this story contains many silly scenarios that always make my son laugh, but the story is still readable at a beginning reader level. If you buy the board book version of this story note that it is condensed from the original length. I own both versions of the story myself.
Harry the Dirty Dog is another story that everyone should own. It has been in publication for half a century and is still a story anyone can relate to. Harry, like other dogs (and children) doesn't want to take his bath, and runs away. This story will have a multi-generational appeal and is one of those stories that always evokes an "oh, I remember that one!" type of response from parents and grandparents.
I have published over 50 hubs about children's books here on HubPages. Children's picture books are one of my passions, and I enjoy sharing my favorites with you. A sampling of my children's book hubs follows.