I grew up with a dog by my side and a book constantly in my hand. I loved reading about nature and animals, especially dogs. Some of the books I read as a child were classics then and are still popular today. If your child loves dogs, reading books about dogs is a great way to encourage them to read. There’s an excellent assortment of great dog books for kids to read.
Big Red, written by Jim Kjelgaard and published in 1945. Big Red is set in the Canadian wilderness. Seventeen year old Danny Pickett and his father are mountain trappers living in a small shack. Danny does odd jobs for their landlord, Mr. Haggin, who owns a champion Irish Setter show dog named Red. Danny falls in love with Red the moment he sees him and eventually convinces Mr. Haggin to let him train Red and teach him about life in the wilderness. Danny’s father has a run-in with a mean bear called Old Majesty who’s been killing Mr. Haggin’s steers. Danny and Red take on the dangerous task of tracking Old Majesty to stop the bear once and for all. This is a story about poverty, the privilege of wealth, trust, loyalty, determination, courage and love. One of my all time favorites, it’s a great dog book for kids that’s filled with adventure, action and the great outdoors.
Where the Red Fern Grows, written by Wilson Rawls in 1961. The story is set in the Ozarks where 12 year old Billy Coleman wants one thing more than anything else. His desire for a pair of Redbone Coonhound puppies is so strong he’s willing to do whatever it takes to earn enough money to buy them. After picking berries to sell and doing other odd jobs for neighbors, he finally saves enough money to buy his puppies and Billy wastes no time teaching them the art of coon hunting. This book is a tear jerker, but it’s an excellent story about the loyalty and courage of dogs.
The Incredible Journey, written by Sheila Burnford in 1961. Thinking they have been left behind by their family, a Labrador Retriever, Bull Terrier and a Siamese cat set off to find them. Traveling through the rugged Canadian wilderness, the three friends cover 300 miles. With danger around every corner, they are chased by wild animals, survive rushing rivers and hunger as they search for their lost family. This is another great book for kids that stresses the loyalty, courage and determination of two dogs and a cat surviving alone in the wilderness against overwhelming odds.
Barry: The Bravest Saint Bernard, written by Lynn Hall in 1973. This book is based on a true story about Barry, a Saint Bernard who lived from 1800 to 1814 at a monastery in the Swiss Alps. Barry’s job was to patrol the mountain pass used by travelers to cross the rugged mountains between Switzerland and Italy. Because of Barry’s bravery, he was able to rescue at least 40 people during his lifetime, making him the most famous St. Bernard of all time. To this day, one pup from every litter born at the monastery is named Barry to honor his courage and dedication. It’s a touching book that’s even more heartwarming because it is a true story.
Because of Winn-Dixie, written by Kate DiCamillo in 2000. Ten year old Opal and her father are new to town. While Opal is in the Winn-Dixie supermarket, she sees a dirty, ragged looking stray dog and adopts him even though everyone tells her to leave him alone. Winn-Dixie and Opal spend their days getting to know the residents of the small town. Winn-Dixie has a nose for trouble, but through it all, Opal and her dog become fast friends with the town’s more colorful residents. Along the way, she begins to understand some life lessons and learns how to let go of what needs to be left in the past. Opal also begins to develop a closer bond with her father.
Marley and Me, written by journalist John Grogan, is an autobiographical book about his life with a Yellow Labrador Retriever that chews on everything he can get his teeth on. Grogan chronicles life with Marley as he grows into an energetic adult. As Grogan’s family grows along with Marley, his exploits will make you laugh. This is an excellent book for kids that is funny and very entertaining, but does have a serious side to it.
These are some of my favorite dog books I’ve read over the years, and there’s many more just waiting for kids to discover. I still love a good book about animals and nature. The library is full of great dog books for kids to read, and it’s never too late to introduce a child to the joy of reading.
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