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"The Poky Little Puppy" What lessons does this book teach your children?

Updated on January 24, 2013

entertainment vs. learning

The Poky Little (devious) Puppy

This Little Golden Book was actually one of the original twelve and was written in 1942. It has sold over 15 million copies and is one of the most popular children’s books out there.“The Poky Little Puppy” is written by Janette Sebring Lowery. In this book there are many lessons and rules to help children learn while being entertained. The pictures are brightly colored and grab a child’s attention. The cover is made of a cardboard like material making it easier for the child to hold and less likely to get damaged and pictures a puppy in low playful stance with bright flowers, a caterpillar and a lizard.

The first of the lessons or things a child can and will learn from this book is counting to five. They start off with 5 little puppies and when they reach the hill “they count themselves: “one, two, three, and four. One little puppy wasn’t there.” This same phrase is repeated throughout the story three times. So the child is counting to 4 and remembering there was 5 learning that one is missing, three times. This is keeps the child attentive because she brings in new and interesting animals that they find when looking for the lost puppy, that are either going up or down the hill. A small lesson, yet still important.

Secondly by introducing new animals to the child it helps to develop their sense of different species like a dog and a horse are no longer the same thing they are learning that a caterpillar is not a snake or a spider is not a toad etc. She also tells the children how they move, what color they are, their size and uses classifiers to decipher between them. I also seem to notice now as an adult that the extra animals she uses can be divided up into two classes, insects; caterpillar, spider, and grasshopper, and amphibians; snake, toad, lizard. Granted the later may not be noticed by the child, it is still a lesson.

Thirdly the author used descriptive words that can be looked at as opposites like “up the hill” and “down the hill.” The author also uses large and small, quick, hop, and green, brown, big and little, fuzzy. All these words help to describe the animals they see coming up or going down the hill. She also uses words to help children use and understand direction. These include but are not limited to “through the meadow…down the road…over the bridge…across the green grass…up the hill” this helps children learn the proper words for direction and it read very rhythmically so it is entertaining as well.

Lastly the big lesson here is a little more complicated the more I think about it. at first I just thought the lesson was to obey your parents and the rules or you will be punished. However after reading it for the 20th or so time I began to see that the pokey little puppy was quite devious. He lagged behind and even though he knew it was wrong he showed up after the other puppies had gone to bed without their dessert because they had dug a hole under the fence and ran off. Seeing as every one way asleep, assuming that he planned it, he ate all the dessert and fall asleep happily. The second day was the same. Now mind you he was not a “slow” puppy he was quite keen to details, he smelled the rice pudding and chocolate custard and the strawberry shortcake. He held back because he knew they would be in trouble and dessert would be held from them as a punishment. So arriving late he could sneak it for his self and not be punished. Little did he expect he was caught the third day because the 4 other puppies realized the lesson their mother was trying to teach them and as a group they filled in the wholes and she rewarded them with dessert. By the time the pokey little puppy got home thinking he could have the dessert all to his self there was none. With that all said the lesson the child is to walk away with is to listen to you parents and don’t break the rules, when one is broken it is best to learn from your mistakes. Also that groups, or peer pressure can be bad or it can be good.

This book does more than just teach a simple lesson like caring or sharing, this lesson can be deep when really thought out. It is entertaining with the colorful pictures and the emotion in the puppies’ faces as they are punished, being adventurous and later law abiding. The author writes with a slow but steady rhythm that as a child I found soothing and easy going. This book was easy for me to understand as a child and that helped a lot.


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    • TripleAMom profile image


      7 years ago from Florida

      I had this book as a child and my children have it and love it. Fun hub to read.

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 

      8 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      My mom gave me her copy of Poky Little Puppy when I started school...I gave that same book to my daughter....and now my grandson reads that same exact book....and it's still in great shape!

    • hazeleyedbeauty profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from upstate ny

      Wow, thanks for all the comments. It’s great to know that this book still touches so many. This too was one of my favorites and I was going through a box and found it. i sat down in the middle of my basement and read it, so many memories. And Patricia, your right it’s said kids rely on electronic wizardry so much now. I am going to read to my kids every day and I hope to spark an interest in book by doing so.

    • perfectmom profile image


      8 years ago from Chicago burbs, IL

      I have many great memories of Little Golden Books. My mom used to let me pick one out at the grocery store and I'd read it while she shopped. Then I'd always convince her to buy it even though I had already read it.

    • 2patricias profile image


      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Wow, this has taken me back several decades! I had this book in the early 1950s, probably as a gift. I loved it - the wonderful phrases 'up the hill' and 'down the hill' had a beautiful rythem. Of course, it could be that I simply enjoyed hearing my mother read.

      I feel sorry for kids now who get fobbed off with electronic games. Electronic wizardry is no substitute for sitting with a loving parent and having their attention.

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      The Pokey Little Puppy was a favorite childhood book of mine. I believe I still have my original copy...

      I love that you described the lessons taught in this book. They certainly are great little lessons for young children.

      Thanks for sharing! I'm going to see if I can find my copy and read it to my kids. :)


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