Fantastic Fiction for Kids – Dogs!

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Today’s Fantastic Fiction for Kids comes courtesy of Tricia from The Miss Rumphius Effect, and her 8 year old son, William.

William (who’s almost 9) and Tricia (who’s 5 times that!) love to read together. Even though William thinks he’s “too old for picture books,” these dog-eared titles still get pulled off the shelves for regular reads. That’s because the pooches in them warm our hearts and make us laugh. William is in the third grade and loves to read, draw and build Legos. Tricia is on the faculty at the University of Richmond where she helps prepare future teachers.
chowder_frontcoverChowder by Peter Brown

Chowder is a bulldog whose owners carry him around in a backpack and let him use their computer. There’s no doubt that he’s an unusual dog. However, he is lonely and wants some animals friends. A visit to a grocery store with a petting zoo begins badly, but in the end, Chowder gets the friends he’s been longing for. You may not like the look of Chowder’s drooling mug, but you’ll still find yourself cheering him on.
bark_george_frontcoverBark, George by Jules Feiffer

When George’s mother asks him to bark, he meows. Then quacks, oinks, and moos. Whatever will they do? George is off to see the vet, who will surely have the answer. After reading this we always play “Wouldn’t it be
funny if …?,” where we suggest other sounds George might make.
dear_mrs_larue_frontcoverDear Mrs. Larue: Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague

Prison or a country club for dogs? You be the judge. In black and white (prison) and color (country club) illustrations, Teague takes readers on a rollicking good ride with Larue, the letter-writing canine. While LaRue may make his life sound like it’s full of hard knocks, he comes out on top in the end!
harry_the_dirty_dog_frontcoverHarry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham

When Harry runs away from home, he is transformed from “a white dog with black spots to a black dog with white spots.” He eventually returns home, but is not recognized by his family until he’s scrubbed clean. Originally published in 1956, we love this new version because Margaret Bloy Graham’s illustrations have been updated to include splashes of color.
martha_speaks_frontcoverMartha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh

Martha is a plain old lovable pooch until she is fed vegetable soup and the letters go up to her head instead of down to her belly. Now Martha talks, and talks, and talks. And really, who hasn’t dreamed of having a conversation with their dog?
officer_buckle_frontcoverOffice Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

In this Caldecott Medal winner, Officer Buckle gives safety lectures to school kids that are boring, boring, boring. Once Gloria the police dog comes along, safety lectures are never the same again! Don’t dogs always make their owners look better?

Doggy music that might bring a smile to your face includes:

  • Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
  • Mad Dogs and Englishmen By Noel Coward
  • I’ve Got a Dog and My Dog’s Name Is Cat by Barry Louis Polisar
  • Where Has My Little Dog Gone? by Wylie Gustufson and Layne Brooks (from the album “Doggone Country Favorite Songs About Dogs”!)
  • Golden Retriever by Super Furry Animals
  • I love my dog by Cat Stevens
  • Old Shep, sung here by Johnny Cash from a really great album – The Johnny Cash Children’s Album

  • As to activities, Tricia suggests this no-sew sock dog that she and her son William made over the summer, and also this origami pattern for a dog. Older kids (and parents) could try making this dog lead (leash) found via

    Tricia and William's dog, Syd
    Tricia and William's dog, Syd

    For more recommendations on kids’ books with a dog theme you could try this list from Donald Beck on Amazon, or for poetry and nonfiction as well as picture books you could try this extensive list from

    Thankyou Tricia and William for your great picks today!

    And my other dear readers, if you don’t already know Tricia’s blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect you’ll be in for a treat if you head on over – do go and have a good root around and say hi! And then if you have the time and energy, we’d love to hear about your favourite dog books – do leave us a comment!

    17 Responses

    1. Lynn

      I should make it a point to reread Harry the Dirty Dog — it looks really cute, and I sort of remember it from my childhood. Another good one is Matthew van Fleet’s Dogs book, with all of the pull tabs. Sandra Boynton’s Dogs counting book is really cute. We just got Boynton’s “Snugglepuppy” at a book swap today, and I took it home even though my son didn’t like it when we read it awhile ago. He still hates it. You win some, you lose some. There are so many dog books out there, but this is a great list.

    2. Sarah N.

      What a great collection of books. Harry the Dirty Dog, Martha Speaks, and Bark George are all favorites here. I love the no-sew sock dog (as well as many of the other sock animals at that site)!

    3. Kristine

      We love “No Roses for Harry” where that mischeivious Harry does everything possible to destroy the rose jumper that Grandma knitted for his birthday.

      Our fav dog books would have to definately be about Hairy McClary. My fav is probably Hairy McClary and Zachary Quack.

      I Popped over to Tricia’s site and was reading about some alarming research about the teaching of maths in the early years and it reminded me that I wanted to point out this article to you Zoe – It talks about the perception of reading of school aged children and how our ‘encouragement of reading’ can help or hinder that.

    4. Zoe @ Playing by the book

      Hi Kristine,
      Thanks for the link. Certainly an interesting read, though I’m not sure I agree with it entirely. I was so depressed one day after Christmas – M came home from school where clearly they had been discussing in class what everyone had got for Christmas (remember, this is a class of 4 and 5 year olds) and M asked me “Mum, what’ a DS? Everyone got one for Christmas.” I was going to start this next sentence with “I’m sorry”, but I’m NOT sorry – I just don’t think 4 and 5 year olds should be getting DS’s – I’m sure that at that age, where reading is still being established, the instant gratification of a such a game is going to leave little room for reading. Still, I’d be interested to hear what you thought of the camp creek post.

    5. Tricia

      William was very sad to read this post and discover we left off BENJY’S DOG HOUSE (also by Margaret Bloy Graham). You can see a picture of it here:

      Benjy is determined too old to sleep in the house and so is moved to the back yard to sleep in a barrel. Benjy is not happy and begins roaming the town at night, finally finding comfort at the local bakery, at least until the baker’s cat comes home with kittens.

    6. vanessa@silly eagle books

      These look great–we have not read any of them yet!

      As for the butterfly guides–it would be great to find some old, damaged ones for us to cut up. I will have to look for some–the images are so beautiful.

    7. Elisabeth(YSPrincess)

      I really like Officer Buckle & Gloria. Can’t wait til I have a chance to read it at one of my storytimes. Hopefully the kids will like it as much as I do. :p

      Do you often do themed posts like this? I love seeing books of the same theme for storytime ideas, and I LOVE that you include songs, too!

      Do you work at a library? Or are you just amazing naturally?

    8. Sallie Wolf

      One of my favorite dog books is Bad Dog,by Nina Laden, a picture book noir, that reads like Dashiell Hammett for kids. Although many of the jokes have adult appeal I’m sure my older son would have loved this as a child. He really got a kick out of word play on a very sophisticated level at a very young age. As an adult, I found this really fun to read aloud.

    9. Kristine

      The Great Dog Bottom Swap – I know that one kids love it.
      Do you know “Dog Breath – the Terrible Trouble with Haly Tosis” by Dav Pilky. It’s a funny story of a dog that is rejected by his family but saves the day when he apprehends burglars with his bad breath.

      In regards to the article – I don’t think that Lori was suggesting that we should necessary go buy electronic toys for children. Ithink there is other issues involved in that decision. The points I took away from the article were that
      * Children need to have sufficient free time that they can choose to read and choose to do other leisure activities.
      * The importance of children as seeing reading as a normal activity that people do. This brings home that children (particularly boys) need to see both of their parents (particularly Dads) read to the children but also choosing and enjoying reading a range of texts for themselves.
      * When teachers set reading guides (such as you need to read for 10 mins a night) that they may be giving some children the idea that reading is a chore.

    10. Margo Dill

      This dog book post is such a great idea! I love a bunch of these books–Gloria, Martha, and the Dear Mrs. LaRue dog book! I just love dogs.

    11. Lucy Curtin

      My kids love The Great Dog Bottom Swap too. Hilarious and brilliantly written.

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