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Book Recommendations Archive

2016 Reading Recommendations

Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Starsby Maria Gianferrari
Recommended by Linda M. Pannuto, Youth Librarian, Orion Township Public Library in Lake Orion, MI

Penny is super excited about the Sleepover Under the Stars at the local recreation center. Penny shows Jelly her dog some of the constellations that night and the next day she starts packing. Penny’s list includes sleeping bag, pillow, pjs, book and of course Jelly. Upon closer look at the announcement she sees at the bottom of the announcement it states “no pets allowed.” Penny sets out to make a pretend Jelly from construction paper, yarn, fleece, marshmallows, pipe cleaners, cotton balls, and more. “But none of them was right.” So Penny calls her friends, moves the slumber party to her house where all pets are allowed.

You can integrate this story when doing a STEM activity. It lists all of the attributes of the dog that cannot be replicated and it could make a fun engineering activity trying to make a dog from other materials.
Good for all elementary-age children.

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi

For as long as she could remember, Diva, a small yet brave dog, lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea, a curious streetwise cat, also lived in Paris, France-but at no fixed address. When Flea passes Diva's courtyard one day, their lives are forever changed. Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do. The latest from New York Times best-selling author/illustrator and Caldecott Honoree, Mo Willems, is sure to please!
Best for students in grades 1-3.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There's no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He's large, he's outspoken, and he's imaginary. He has come back into Jackson's life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything? Newbery Medal-winner, Katherine Applegate, delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience and proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary.
Best for students in grades 4-6.

Like a Wolf by Géraldine Elschner and Antoine Guilloppe
Recommended by Kristin Shankles, Youth Services Librarian at Middle Country Public Library in Centereach, NY

Pointed ears, sharp teeth, and a back slightly bent under dark fur: a lonely shelter dog gets mistaken for a wolf. No one came close—no one dared—so the sad dog howled. Until one day, someone reached out a hand to him. This 2016 USBBY Outstanding International Book Award winner will be sure touch your heart.
Best for students in K-3.

Yoda Gets A BuddyYoda Gets A Buddy by Beth Stern / Illus. Devin Crane

Yoda is busier than ever in the Foster Kitten Room, taking care of litter after litter. Buddy, a blind kitten who is recovering from eye surgery, has been with Beth and Howard longer than any other foster kitten, so Yoda takes him under his wing—or paw—and makes him his fostering partner! While Yoda grooms and scolds the naughty kittens, Buddy is the cat they cuddle up to and adore, mimicking his every move, with no clue he is blind.

One day Frankie, a new foster, is introduced and from the very first moment, none of the kittens like him. Oversized ears and an unruly cowlick make him look goofy. But Buddy loves this new little guy and helps the other kittens see all of Frankie’s goodness and sweetness. And when they discover Buddy is the kitten with a true disability and challenge, the other felines learn that love truly is blind when we see each other with our hearts.

All proceeds of Yoda Gets A Buddy will benefit Bianca's Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center, a state-of-the-art feline-focused center at North Shore Animal League America. For more adorable stories, be sure to follow Beth and her kittens on Instagram!

2015 Reading Recommendations

Superdog: The Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Buehner / illus. Mark Buehner

Dexter the dog is so little that Cleevis the tomcat bullies him. But little Dex has dreams—big dreams. He wants to be a superhero. So he reads all the comic books he can, builds his muscles, and even orders a hero suit. Suddenly, even Cleevis needs his help! Dexter has determination, spirit, and heart as he proves, above all, that no matter how little you are, you can still do very big things. Best for children in preK-grade 3.

Hero Cat by Eileen Spinelli

Five tiny kittens cry for their mama, as smoke begins to fill the abandoned warehouse that has been their home. But Mother Cat has left her cozy heap of kittens to go in search of food. Determined to save her babies, Mother Cat dashes into the burning building and follows the sounds of frightened mewing. In five daring acts, she saves each kitten—a true hero cat! This story, accompanied by beautiful illustrations rendered in pastel, honors the tenth anniversary of the real story of a homeless cat who rescued her kittens from a burning building in 1996. Best for children in preK-grade 3.

My Dog, My Hero by Betsy Byars, Laurie Myers & Betsy Duffey / illus. Loren Long

'My Hero' to Be Chosen: Eight finalists will compete tonight for the title My Hero. The winner will wear the coveted gold Hero medal. These brave and courageous dogs will each appear with their nominator who will tell their story. Each story is told in the unique, sometimes humorous, but always compelling voice of the person whose life was changed by the heroic action of a very extraordinary dog. Best for children in grades 4-6.

Stubby the War Dog: The True Story of World War I's Bravest Dog by Ann Bausum

Move over, Rin Tin Tin. Here comes Sgt. Stubby! That German shepherd star of the silver screen may have been born behind enemy lines during World War I, but Stubby, the stump-tailed terrier, worked behind enemy lines, and gained military honors along the way. Private Robert Conroy casually adopted the orphan pup while attending basic training on the campus of Yale University in 1917. The Connecticut volunteer never imagined that his stray dog would become a war hero. He just liked the little guy. When Conroy's unit shipped out for France, he smuggled his new friend aboard. By the time Stubby encountered Conroy's commanding officer, the dog had perfected his right-paw salute. Charmed, the CO awarded Stubby mascot status and sent him along with Conroy's unit to the Western Front. Stubby's brave deeds earned him a place in history and in the Smithsonian Institution where his stuffed body can still be seen. Almost 100 years later, Stubby's great deeds and brave heart make him an animal hero to fall in love with and treasure all over again. Best for children in grades 4-6.

Don't Need Friends by Carolyn Crimi

There's a new dog in the junkyard, and boy, is he ever grouchy! He seems the perfect friend for surly, grumbling Rat. But the two animals are only interested in shouting at each other. "Don't you come near me!" barks Dog, and Rat mutters back, "Fine with me. Don't need friends, don't need 'em at all!" But as this crusty duo soon discovers, everybody needs a friend. Especially during a bitter winter in a junkyard where warmth is hard to find—and a foot-long salami sandwich is a near-miracle.

Dog in Charge by K. L. Going and Dan Santat

Dog can Sit.
He can Stay.
He can even Dance.
But when he's in charge, can he keep the cats in line?
All one, two, three, four, five of them?

The King's Taster by Kenneth Oppel and Lou Fancher

Max is the cook's dog. And because he is also the king's taster, Max gets to feast on French Fries!

Rose Pudding!
Cheese Pie!
Pizza!

No wonder Max loves his job. Who wouldn't want to dine on these delicious dishes? The new king, that's who. And if the new king has his way, it won't just be their job that the cook and Max lose!

The Emotional Lives of Animals & Children: Insights from a Farm Sanctuary by William Crain

In 2008, Bill Crain, a professor of psychology at The City College of New York, and his wife Ellen, a recently retired pediatrician, opened Safe Haven Farm Sanctuary in Poughquag, NY, which provides a permanent home to over 70 animals rescued from abuse and neglect. In his observations of these animals, Crain discovered that their emotional behaviors can help us understand those of human children. According to Crain, there are a variety of emotional behaviors that are shared by animals and children: fear, play, freedom, care, spirituality, and resilience. His insights explain how we can learn valuable lessons from other animals about friendship, respect, empathy, trust, compassion, and love. Educators may use this book to expand their general knowledge of the rich emotional lives of animals.

Rusty the Rescue: a book about shelter dogs and us by Christina Capatides / illus. Ryan Bauer-Walsh

Rusty is a dog in the local animal shelter. He is loving, loyal and waiting on his forever home. Sure he’s a mixed breed, but he wants you to know that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, he’s got all the best qualities of more than one breed!

This book -- the first in the "Rusty the Rescue" series -- is meant to introduce young readers to the plight of shelter animals and the beauty of adoption. It also familiarizes them with the character of Rusty, who – in later books – will become a superhero of sorts; bringing the old adage of “Who rescued who?” to life. Rusty teaches children to respect and value shelter animals for their unselfish natures, adorable quirks and unconditional love. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to North Shore Animal League America (the world's largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization), in order to help the very shelter dogs who inspired the book. Best for students Pre-K through kindergarten.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
School Library Journal Best Book 2014

From the award-winning author of A Dog’s Life: Autobiography of a Stray and Everything for a Dog comes another heartwarming story of the power of human animal interaction. Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger's syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym!). She has difficulty making friends at school and feels disconnected from her peers. When her father brings a lost dog home, Rose finds a best friend and companion. She gives her new dog a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose's rules of homonyms, is very special.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Readers will root for Rose as she struggles to be accepted by her father and classmates. Educators can use this book to promote discussion about empathy or to encourage inclusion activities. The focus on homonyms proves an opportunity to build students’ vocabulary. Best for students in grades 4-6.

Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens by Beth Stern / illus. Devin Crane (Aladdin, available November 2014)

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Oh My Dog comes the true story of Yoda, a very special cat—and adorable Instagram sensation—rescued by Beth and Howard Stern. When Beth first met Yoda at the animal shelter, he was skinny and his fur was matted. He hid in the back of his cage and wanted nothing to do with anyone. But Beth chose Yoda. She took him home, cleaned him up, and gave him love. Beth fosters kittens, too, and before long Yoda discovered them—and his life purpose. Now he’s happy, and fluffy, and very, very busy. He makes sure the orphan kittens eat, he keeps them safe, and he even cleans up after them. Yoda acts like a father and mother to the foster kittens that fill his home, and taking care of others has helped him too: even though Yoda has a serious heart condition, he’s made a miraculous turnaround, and is healthier than doctors thought he could be. To further the important work that Beth does on behalf of animals, all of her proceeds from this book will be donated to North Shore Animal League America’s Bianca’s Furry Friends campaign.

How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain by Gregory Berns

The powerful bond between humans and dogs is one that’s uniquely cherished. Loyal, obedient, and affectionate, they are truly “man’s best friend.” But do dogs love us the way we love them? Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns had spent decades using MRI imaging technology to study how the human brain works, but a different question still nagged at him: What is my dog thinking?

After his family adopted Callie, a shy, skinny terrier mix, Berns decided that there was only one way to answer that question—use an MRI machine to scan the dog’s brain. His colleagues dismissed the idea. Everyone knew that dogs needed to be restrained or sedated for MRI scans. But if the military could train dogs to operate calmly in some of the most challenging environments, surely there must be a way to train dogs to sit in an MRI scanner.

With this radical conviction, Berns and his dog would embark on a remarkable journey and be the first to glimpse the inner workings of the canine brain. Painstakingly, the two worked together to overcome the many technical, legal, and behavioral hurdles. Berns’s research offers surprising results on how dogs empathize with human emotions, how they love us, and why dogs and humans share one of the most remarkable friendships in the animal kingdom.

How Dogs Love Us answers the age-old question of dog lovers everywhere and offers profound new evidence that dogs should be treated as we would treat our best human friends: with love, respect, and appreciation for their social and emotional intelligence.

2014 Summer Reading Recommendations

A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen / illus. by Linzie Hunter
Amelia wants a dog, needs a dog, and believes she simply cannot live without a small brown dog with a wet pink nose. Her parents think she can. Rather than begging or pleading, Amelia adopts an imaginary dog named Bones. But when Amelia's make-believe pup runs away, her parents are in for a real surprise!

There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz
If you're feeling feline-friendly, this may be just the novelty book for you. When did you last play with cats...inside a BOOK?! The cats in this book want to have fun, and by turning the pages and flipping the flaps YOU can play their favorite games with them! Tiny, Moonpie and Andre love wool to tangle with, cardboard boxes to hide in, pillow fights...and fish! But where there are fish, there is also water - lots of it. So who's going to rescue the cats from the giant floodwave? You are, of course!

There Are No Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz
Our lovable feline friends Tiny, Moonpie, and Andre have returned, and this time they’re filled with the spirit of adventure: they want to go off to explore the world! They have their suitcases packed and are ready to set out, but can’t get out of the book. They try pushing their way out and jumping their way out, but nothing seems to work. Finally, they get a brilliant idea: they decide to wish themselves out! But they’re going to need help. Will it work? Are you missing them yet?

One Nation Under Dog: America's Love Affair with Our Dogs by Michael Schaffer
When Michael Schaffer and his wife drove to a rural animal shelter and adopted Murphy, a mistreated Saint Bernard, they vowed that they’d never become the kind of people who, say, get their dog a facial treatment. But then they started to get weird looks from the in-laws: You hired a trainer? Murphy is on antidepressants? It turned out Murphy wasn’t alone: yesteryear’s pooch has moved from the backyard doghouse to the master bedroom, evolving from man’s best friend to bona fide family member. One Nation Under Dog is the beloved chronicle of this new world of American pet mania. Schaffer, guided on occasion by Murphy, provides a surprising, lively, and often hilarious portrait of our country—how the way we treat our pets reflects evolving ideas about everything from science and consumerism, to politics and family—through this fabulously reported and sympathetic look at both us and our animals. Best for adults or students in grades 9-12.

Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet by John Bradshaw
Cats have been popular household pets for thousands of years, and their numbers only continue to rise. Today there are three cats for every dog on the planet, and yet cats remain more mysterious, even to their most adoring owners. Unlike dogs, cats evolved as solitary hunters, and, while many have learned to live alongside humans and even feel affection for us, they still don’t quite “get us” the way dogs do, and perhaps they never will. But cats have rich emotional lives that we need to respect and understand if they are to thrive in our company. A must-read for any cat lover, Cat Sense offers humane, penetrating insights about the domestic cat that challenge our most basic assumptions and promise to dramatically improve our pets’ lives—and ours. Best for adults or students in grades 9-12.

Devoted: 38 Extraordinary Tales of Love, Loyalty, and Life with Dogs by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Author Rebecca Ascher-Walsh presents a collection of inspiring dog stories and touching photos--dogs who comfort veterans, dogs who learn to surf, dogs who detect cancer, and dogs who save the day: Each one is devoted. These 38 uplifting dog stories showcase the most amazing dog rescues, accomplishments, and abilities that fascinate us and touch our hearts. Best for students in grades 6 and up.

Classic Poetry for Dogs: Why Do I Chase Thee by Jessica Swaim / illus. Chet Phillips
Jessica Swaim re-envisions classic literature through a roundup of cultured hounds including Rover Frost, Emily Doginson, and Edgar Allan Pug. Poems range from the savory “Shall I Compare Thee to a Steak Fillet,” to the reflective “Sizing Up Shoes on a Soulful Evening” and the mysterious “The Maven,” each with a cunning twist that will leave you grinning. The poets are also brought to life with distinguished portraits by Chet Phillips and insightful biographies. Best for students in grades 6 and up.

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo
With the horrors of war bearing down on them, Aman and his mother are barely surviving in an Afghan cave, and staying there any longer will end horribly. The only comfort Aman has is Shadow, the loyal spaniel that shows up from places unknown, it seems, just when Aman needs him most. Aman, his mother, and Shadow finally leave the destroyed cave in hopes of escaping to England, but are held at a checkpoint, and Shadow runs away after being shot at by the police. Aman and his mother escape--without Shadow. Aman is heart-broken. Just as they are getting settled as free citizens in England, they are imprisoned in a camp with locked doors and a barbed wire fence. Their only hope is Aman's classmate Matt, his grandpa, and the dream of finding his lost dog. After all, you never lose your shadow. Best for students in grades 6 and up.

Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips by Michael Morpurgo
It's 1943, and Lily Tregenze lives on a farm, in the idyllic seaside village of Slapton. Apart from her father being away, and the 'townie' evacuees at school, her life is scarcely touched by the war. Until one day, Lily and her family, along with 3000 other villagers, are told to move out of their homes - lock, stock and barrel. Soon, the whole area is out of bounds, as the Allied forces practice their landings for D-day, preparing to invade France. But Tips, Lily's adored cat, has other ideas - barbed wire and keep-out signs mean nothing to her, nor does the danger of guns and bombs. Frantic to find her, Lily makes friends with two young American soldiers, who promise to help her. But will she ever see her cat again? Lily decides to cross the wire into the danger zone to look for Tips herself...Now, many years later, as Michael is reading his Grandma Lily's diary, he learns about The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips - and wonders how one adventurous cat could still affect their lives sixty years later. Best for students in grades 6 and up.

Biscuit Loves the Library by Alyssa Satin Capucilli / illus. Pat Schories
It's Read to a Pet Day at the library! There are so many fun things to see and do! Biscuit plays with story-time puppets, visits with friends, and listens to recorded books. Before he goes, a librarian helps him find the activity that he loves most of all. The easy-to-read, joyful tale of Biscuit—everyone's favorite little yellow puppy—will help cultivate a love of books and libraries in children who are learning to read. Best for students in PreK and up.

Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail
Meet Fred—a mischievous, playful, loving dog. It's time for Fred to go to bed . . . but Fred really, really doesn’t want to! From hiding up in trees, to splashing in muddy puddles, to hiding behind bookshelves, Fred will do anything to avoid bedtime. He would even rather have a bath than go to bed . . . but all of this running couldn't possibly have possibly made Fred sleepy—could it? Bound to strike a chord with parents and children with their own bedtime distraction techniques, Yasmeen Ismail’s hilarious text and cheerful, vivid illustrations will have every reader shouting by the very last page, "Time for Bed, Fred!" Best for students in PreK and up.

Is That My Cat? by Jonathan Allen
“Is that my cat? It can't be. My cat is a slim, sleek pussy cat.” But something's up with this rather large kitty—the same one who used to fit through the cat door, climbed trees fearlessly, and always wanted to play. Now, it takes two hands to pick her up, and now this fussy eater finishes all her food! In true Jonathan Allen style, the story unfolds little by little, page by page—keeping us guessing right until the end, when we get a BIG, happy surprise. Best for students in PreK and up.

Top 10 New Dog and Cat Books for 2013-14 School Year

Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going To School? by Bill Martin and Michael Sampson / illus. by Laura J. Bryant
On the first day of school, Kitty Cat discovers that there are lots of things to enjoy. She plays, she enjoys a snack, she paints, she sings, she listens to a story, and she shares something special during Show-and-Tell. The day ends with a big hug from her mom. Children will love Laura J. Bryant’s appealing illustrations that bring Kitty Cat to life. Best for students in PreK-Kindergarten.

Dog Loves Counting by Louise Yates
Dog can't go to sleep. He loves books so much that he just can't stop reading. Dog tries counting sheep, but it's not working—perhaps there are some other creatures he can count? Soon Dog is off on an adventure, finding friends and numbers in unexpected places. Join Dog in his third adventure and let him show you why he loves counting! Best for students in PreK-Kindergarten.

The Cat with Seven Names by Tony Johnston / illus. by Christine Davenier
A friendly cat visits six diverse people in a busy urban neighborhood, receiving snacks and love. When a near-accident threatens the cat, the neighbors pull together as a community. Told from the point of view of each of the neighbors, this heartfelt story reflects the universal desire for connection and companionship. Best for students in Grades 1-3.

Dog-Gone School by Amy Schmidt and Ron Schmidt
This photographic book of school-themed poems is sure to delight dog lovers and poetry fans alike. As they did in the companion title, Loose Leashes, this husband-and-wife team combine his photographs with her poetry for a whimsical marriage of images and words. Best for students in Grades 1-3.
 

To Be a Cat by Matt Haig / illus. by Stacy Curtis
Barney Willow thinks life couldn't get any worse. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him - Barney has no idea why. And his teacher, Miss Whipmire, seems determined to make every second of Barney's existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year, and there's no sign of him ever coming home. Barney just wants to escape; to find another life. Being a cat, for example. A quiet, lazy cat. Things would be so much easier - right? Cats have it made. They laze in sun patches, are showered with affection by loving humans, can cough up hairballs wherever they want, and never have to wonder why their dad disappeared one day and never came back. It’s clearly much easier to be a cat than to be a middle school boy. But when his feline fantasy comes true, the fur starts flying in this heartwarming tale. Best for students in Grades 4-6.

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
When Cally Fisher says she sees her dead mother, no one believes her. The only other living soul who sees Cally's mom is a mysterious wolfhound who always seems to be there when her mom appears. And when Cally stops talking—what's the point if no one is listening?—how will she convince anyone that her mom is still with them or persuade her dad that the huge silver-gray dog is their last link with her? A Dog Called Homeless is the touching story of how one girl's friendship with a homeless dog can mend a family's heart. Best for students in Grades 4-6.

Navy SEAL Dogs: My Tale of Training Canines for Combat by Michael Ritland, Gary Brozek & Thea Feldman
Mike Ritland was a smaller-than-average kid who was often picked-on at school—which led him to spend more time with dogs at a young age. After graduating BUD/S training—the toughest military training in the world—to become a SEAL, he was on combat deployment in Iraq when he saw a military working dog in action and instantly knew he'd found his true calling. Ritland started his own company to train and supply working and protection dogs for the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, and other clients. He also started the Warrior Dog Foundation to help retired Special Operations dogs live long and happy lives after their service. Navy SEAL Dogs is the true story of how Mike Ritland grew from a skinny, bullied child, to a member of America’s most elite SEAL Teams, to the trainer of the world's most highly skilled K9 warriors. Best for students in Grades 7-8.

Bob: No Ordinary Cat by James Bowen
A special edition of Bowen’s A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life for young adults, featuring eight pages of photographs. “We are all given second chances every day of our lives, but we don't usually take them. Then I met Bob.” James Bowen was a homeless musician, performing on the streets of London to survive. But the moment he met an injured stray cat with ginger fur and big green eyes, his life began to change. Together James and Bob the cat faced the world - and won. A true 'tail' of love and friendship to make you smile! Best for students in Grades 7-8.

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul / illus. Wendy MacNaughton
Caroline Paul was recovering from a bad accident and thought things couldn't get worse. But then her beloved cat Tibia disappeared. She and her partner, illustrator Wendy MacNaughton, mourned his loss. Yet weeks later, Tibia waltzed back into their lives. His owners were overjoyed. But they were also...jealous? Betrayed? Where had their sweet anxious cat disappeared to? Had he become a swashbuckling cat adventurer? Did he love someone else more? His owners were determined to find out. Using GPS technology, cat cameras, psychics, the web, and animal communicators, the authors of Lost Cat embarked on a quest to discover what their cat did when they weren't around. Best for students in Grades 9-12.

A Dog's History of America: How Our Best Friend Explored, Conquered, and Settled a Continent by Mark Derr
Wherever humans have gone in the New World, dogs have been their companions, from the time people crossed the Bering Land Bridge some twenty thousand years ago. Mark Derr looks at the ways in which we have used canines—as sled dogs and sheepdogs, hounds and Seeing Eye dogs, guard dogs, show dogs, and bomb-sniffing dogs—as he tracks changes in American culture and society. In A Dog’s History of America, Derr weaves a tapestry of heroism, betrayal, tragedy, kindness, abuse, and unique companionship. The result is an enlightening perspective on American history through the eyes of humanity’s best friend. Best for students in Grades 9-12.

Early 2013 Recommendations

Riding In My Car by Woody Guthrie / illus. Scott Menchin
Little Brown & Company, 2012

Inspired by his love of Woody Guthrie's Riding In My Car, award winning illustrator Scott Menchin invites readers on an exciting cross-country road trip with a family of dogs. This interactive book features pull-tabs, pop-ups, and lift-the-flaps on every page, and makes kids feel like they're really coming along for the ride, visiting some of America's most notable landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and more! Hidden beneath each flap are fun American facts for the child readers and interesting biographical details about Woody Guthrie for adults. The entire song can be found on YouTube so readers can read and sing along! Available at your local library. Best for students in PreK-Grade 3.

Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project About Dogs and Physics by Theron Humphrey
Chronicle Books, 2013

Maddie is a sweet-tempered coonhound Mutt-i-gree who accompanied her owner, Theron Humphrey, on a yearlong, cross-country trip while he worked on a photojournalism project. In his spare time, Theron took photos of Maddie doing what she does best: standing on things. From bicycles to giant watermelons to horses to people, there really isn't anything that Maddie won't stand on with grace and patience. The poignant Instagram photos of this beautiful dog and her offbeat poses have captured the imagination of all those who long for a road trip with a good dog for company. Available at your local library. Great for all ages.

Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
Penguin Classics, 2012

In September 1960, John Steinbeck and his poodle, Charley, embarked on a journey across America. A picaresque tale, this chronicle of their trip meanders through scenic backroads and speeds along anonymous superhighways, moving from small towns to growing cities to glorious wilderness oases. The book is animated by Steinbeck’s attention to the specific details of the natural world and his sense of how the lives of people are intimately connected to the rhythms of nature—to weather, geography, and the cycle of the seasons. His keen ear for the transactions among people is evident, too, as he records the interests and obsessions that preoccupy the Americans he encounters along the way. Originally published in 1962, Travels with Charley provides an intimate and personal look at one of America’s most beloved writers in the later years of his life—a self-portrait of a man who never wrote an explicit autobiography. It was written during a time of upheaval and racial tension in the South—which Steinbeck witnessed firsthand—and is a stunning evocation of America on the eve of a tumultuous decade. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grade 9 and up.

Art Dog by Thacher Hurd
HarperCollins, 1997

Someone has stolen the Mona Woofa from the Dogopolis Museum of Art! It’s up to Art Dog, the mysterious, masked painter who roams the streets of Dogopolis, to find the missing masterpiece. Children will love this magical mystery and adults will chuckle at Hurd’s silly dog-related references to famous works of art. Reading level: PreK-3. Available at your local library.

Buddy by M.H. Herlong
Penguin, 2012

Tyrone "Li'l T" Roberts meets Buddy when his family's car accidentally hits the stray dog on their way to church. Buddy turns out to be the dog Li'l T's always wished for--until Hurricane Katrina comes to New Orleans and he must leave Buddy behind. After the storm, Li'l T and his father return home to find a community struggling to rebuild their lives--and Buddy gone. But Li'l T refuses to give up his quest to find his best friend. Reading level: Grades 4-6. Available at your local library.

The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods
Dutton, 2013

Brian Hare, dog researcher, evolutionary anthropologist, and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, and Vanessa Woods offer revolutionary new insights into dog intelligence and the interior lives of our smartest pets. In the past decade, breakthroughs in cognitive science have proven dogs have a kind of genius for getting along with people that is unique in the animal kingdom. Animal Science teachers and students may be especially interested in this book. Reading level: Grade 9 and up. Available at your local library.

Almost Home by Joan Bauer
Viking Juvenile, 2012

“Sometimes the best thing you can do is just sit with someone who’s hurting; you don’t have to say anything or offer advice, you just sit there. I think dogs understand this better than people.”
      - Sugar Mae Cole

When twelve-year-old Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home in Missouri. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't so easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. With the help of her Mutt-i-gree®, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own grace and good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can't control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds. Best for students in Grades 4-6.

Howler by Michael Rosen / illustrated by Neal Layton
Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2005

A follow-up to Rosen’s 1999 success, Rover, Howler is a hilarious adventure featuring a puzzled dog trying to make sense of the very strange human world he lives in. Told from the dog’s perspective, the story revolves around the arrival of a new baby, who is called ‘Howler’ by the canine narrator. Both children and adults will enjoy the fun, colorful illustrations and amusing details. Available at your local library. Best for students in PreK-Kindergarten.

Because of Shoe & Other Stories edited by Ann M. Martin
Henry Holt and Co., 2012

Editor Ann M. Martin gathered a selection of short stories from a diverse set of authors to create this heartwarming anthology. The stories are told from a variety of perspectives – adult, child, and dog – and each illustrates the connection between children and dogs. A wonderful collection for any young dog lover. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grades 4-6.

From Baghdad, with Love: A Marine, the War and a Dog Named Lava by Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman with Melinda Roth
The Lyons Press, 2006

 

 

 

 

From Baghdad to America: Lessons from a Dog Named Lava by Jay Kopelman
Skyhorse Publishing, 2008

 

‘Semper fidelis’ (always faithful) is the motto of the United States Marine Corps. What better mascot for loyalty than man’s best friend? Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopelman’s two memoirs tell the true story of the rescue attempt of a dog from Iraq and their life together after the war. Complete with photos, bibliographies, and a wealth of resources for veterans and their families, this pair of books features Kopelman’s observations and reflections of the emotional impact war has on our troops and highlights how dogs can help. Available at your local library. Best for adults or students in Grades 9-12.

Good Dog, Paw! by ChinlunLee (2004, Candlewick Press)

Paw has a very important job: Each day, he accompanies his owner, April, to the veterinary clinic and “sings soothing songs” to the animals waiting to see her. The day begins and ends with April giving Paw a "ten-point checkup" that covers him from nose to tail and ends with a big hug. Children will find comfort in Paw’s daily routine and will smile at the sweet illustrations. Parents and teachers can use this book to introduce children to the veterinary profession and prompt for discussion of good health. Best for students in PreK-Grade 3. Available at your local library.

 

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow (2011, Scholastic)

World War II has just ended when Mikhail finds a dying man and his German shepherd, Zasha, in the woods. It's dangerous to own a German dog after Germany attacked Russia, so Mikhail must keep Zasha a secret to keep her alive. Reluctant readers will be drawn in to this adventure story and teachers can use this book to prompt for discussion of some of life’s more difficult lessons about war, forgiveness, hope, and love. Barrow provides an Epilogue with factual information about the impact World War II had on dogs in the Soviet Union, as well as historical facts about the Black Russian Terrier, “the Black Pearl of Russia.” Best for students in Grades 4-6. Available at your local library.

Late 2012 Book Recommendations

My Dog Skip (Warner Home Video, 2000)

When Willie Morris receives a dog for his 9th birthday, his life changes forever. With the help of his new canine pal, Skip, Willie wins over bullies, goes on adventures, and experiences puppy love. The precocious pup exemplifies unconditional love, devotion, and friendship. Based on a true story and written with the backdrop of World War II, this film can be used to prompt for discussion on world history, racism, segregation, and American patriotism. Both children and adults will enjoy this heartwarming story of the relationship between a dog and his boy. Available at your local library. Rated PG.

Sheep by Valerie Hobbs (Square Fish, 2009)

Told from the point of view of a “Border collie of distinct lineage in search of employment,” Hobbs tells the story of a stray pup searching for a forever home. Readers will enjoy this tale of resiliency and hope; a sure favorite of adults and children alike. Teachers can use themes from this book to discuss animal abuse, companionship, devotion, and the importance of a dog’s purpose. Best for students in Grades 3-5. Available at your local library.

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner (Perfection Learning, 2010)

Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat with a fantastic imagination. When his mother sends him to his room, he imagines he is a Chihuahua ("My name is Skippito Friskito. I fear not a single bandito"). Children will love Skippyjon’s poems and Spanish expressions and will smile at the colorful illustrations. Teachers can use this story to illustrate strengths and limitations and highlight the importance of imagination and play in the classroom. Best for students in PreK-Grade 3. Available at you local library.

July 2012 Book Recommendations

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery / illus. by Jean Cassels (2008, Walker Childrens)
Recommended byMutt-i-grees® Peer Trainer Valerie Lawson

Abandoned in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the inseparable cat-dog duo wandered the devastated city for four months before being rescued and taken into an animal shelter. Since both pets had bobbed tails, a shelter volunteer named them Bob Cat and Bobbi. Readers learn that Bob Cat is blind and would not have survived without Bobbi's protection. An afterword includes a photo and additional information. This touching story highlights the plight of the animals affected by Katrina, as well as the value of animal shelters and their many volunteers.Best for students in preK-Grade 3. Available at your local library.

One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson (2012, Scholastic Press)

Hal is the only child of incredibly wealthy (and neglectful) parents who will stop at nothing to make him happy. When his father brings home a dog, Hal is ecstatic; however, when he learns that Fleck is only a weekend rental, Hal takes readers on a journey across London to keep his new friend. Themes of loyalty, greed, and devotion are woven through this adventure story, with an overarching moral that love can’t be bought. Best for students in grades 3-5. Available at your local library.

The Dogs of War: The Courage, Love, and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs by Lisa Rogak (2011, St. Martin's Griffin)

Military working dogs gained widespread attention after a dog named Cairo participated in the SEAL Team 6 mission that led to Osama bin Laden's death. Before that, few civilians realized that dogs served in combat, let alone that they could parachute from thirty thousand feet up. Rogak’s book highlights the amazing range of jobs that our four-legged soldiers now perform. Students will appreciate the heartwarming stories of the deep bond that dogs and their handlers share with each other. Best for students in grade 9 and up. Available at your local library.

June 2012 Book Recommendations

I Got Two Dogs (book and CD) by John Lithgow / illus. by Robert Neubecker [Simon & Schuster, 2008]
Recommended by Mutt-i-grees® Peer Trainer Valerie Lawson

"I got two dogs, Fanny and Blue/Bet you kind of wish you had two dogs too.... They're not too smart, but they're loyal and true-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo/Oh there's nothing I'd trade for my Fanny and Blue." Both children and adults will get a kick out of singing along with this catchy tune and following the lyrics in this fun book. Vibrant illustrations decorate the book and flutes and trumpets accompany Lithgow’s playful melody on the CD. Best for students in PreK-1st grade. Available at your local library.

Rover by Michael Rosen / illus. by Neal Layton [Doubleday, 1999]
Recommended by Mutt-i-grees® Peer Trainer Jim Messina

Children will giggle at this silly story told from a dog’s point of view. The canine narrator tells readers about the eating, sleeping, and dressing habits of his pet human, Rover, and her parents, whom he names Rex and Cindy. The story focuses on their adventures during a trip to the beach (“an enormous sandpit where some of them run around like crazy, and some lie down and pretend to be dead”). Adults will chuckle at the funny illustrations and children will enjoy this lost and found story. Best for students in Kindergarten-3rd grade. Available at your local library.

May 2012 Book Recommendations

Miles Of Smiles: The Story of Roxey, the Long Island Rail Road Dog, by Heather Hill Worthington / Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth (2010, Blue Marlin Publications)

Roxey, a lovable stray dog, is adopted as a mascot for the Long Island Railroad. Roxey's passion for train-hopping takes him on exciting adventures all over Long Island. He collects friends wherever he goes, including a very famous historical figure. Teachers can use this book as part of a history lesson or to prompt for discussion of stray animals. Available at your local library. Best for students in Kindergarten – Grade 3.

Spunky Tells All, by Ann Cameron / Illustrated by Lauren Castillo (2011, Frances Foster Books)

Spunky, a mixed-breed dog, would be happy to share his secrets, but his human family doesn’t speak his language! Through a series of humorous miscommunications, his family decides that Spunky wants a feline friend. Told from Spunky’s point of view, readers will enjoy the dog’s observations and reflections of human, canine, and feline life. Teachers can use this story to prompt for discussion of canine body language and perspective. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grades 4-6.

What the Dog Said, by Randi Reisfeld with H.B. Gilmour (2012, Bloomsbury)

Ever since her father, a police officer who worked with troubled youth, was killed a few months ago, Grace Abernathy hasn't wanted to do much of anything. She’s isolated herself from her friends and she’s failing out of school. But when she begins to train a talking shelter dog to become a service dog, Grace gets exactly what she needs: a new friend, closure over her father’s unsolved murder, and a new sense of purpose. Teachers can use this touching story to prompt for discussion of resiliency and overcoming adversity. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grades 6-8.

March 2012 Book Recommendations

Jojofu, Michael Waite / illus. by Yoriko Ito [HarperCollins, 1996]

Though Takumi loved all his dogs in his pack, his favorite was named Jojofu (translates to Heroine), for she was the bravest and smartest dog in the land. Based on a Japanese folktale, Jojofu tells the story of loyalty, companionship, and trust. Parents and teachers can use this book to introduce children to the sensory world of dogs and to prompt for discussion of friendship and cooperation. Best for students in Kindergarten - Grade 3. Available at your local library.

Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven, by Graham Salisbury / illus. by Jacqueline Rogers [Yearling, 2011]

What do you want so badly that you can taste it - and can you persuade someone to give it to you? Fourth grader Calvin Coconut uses this persuasive writing assignment to try to convince his mother that he’s ready to adopt a dog. As part of a series, this book might interest reluctant readers. Teachers can use this story to complement a persuasive writing assignment or to prompt for discussion about pet ownership. Best for students in Grades 3-5. Available at your local library.

Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together, by Phil Zeltzman and Rebecca A. Johnson [Purdue University Press, 2011]

Researchers have maintained that dog ownership is good for your physical and emotional health; dogs motivate us to stay active and alert. Walking a dog is not only the best way to bond with your pet; it’s also a time for meditation and reflection. Students and teachers can use this book to learn about exercise and nutritional requirements for dogs and to promote fitness in both people and pets. Best for students in Grade 7 and up. Available at your local library.

February 2012 Book Recommendations

A Ball for Daisy, by Chris Raschka [Schwartz & Wade, 2011]

This Caldecott award-winner tells a poignant story of loss (and victory) without a single word – Daisy, the dog, loses her favorite toy. Parents and teachers can use this charming picture book to emphasize how body language and facial expressions can be essential when communicating feelings. Best for students in PreK-Kindergarten. Available at your local library.

Wild Life, by Cynthia DeFelice [Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011]

Erik, a 12 year-old boy, moves from his comfortable home in New York to the wilderness of North Dakota when his parents are called to serve in Iraq. Leaving behind his friends (and his newly acquired hunting license that he was looking forward to using), Erik struggles with the abrupt change. A lost dog helps Erik to reconnect with his grandparents and settle into his new home. The fast-paced story is great for male reluctant readers. Best for students in Grades 4-6. Available at your local library.

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, by Susan Orlean [Simon & Schuster, 2011]

Orlean’s book follows Rin Tin Tin's journey from orphaned dog left on a World War I battlefield to international icon and movie star. Rich with interesting historical tidbits about dogs in war and Rin Tin Tin himself, this compelling book can be used by parents and teachers to discuss the deep, historical bond between humans and dogs. Best for students in Grade 9 and up. Available at your local library.

January 2012 Book Recommendations

Saving Audie: A Pit Bull Puppy Gets a Second Chance, by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent / photos by William Muñoz (2011, Walker & Company)

Audie, one of more than 50 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, shows us that dogs are amazingly resilient. Many people believed the dogs rescued from the dog fighting ring were damaged forever, but thanks to some animal advocates, these victims got a second chance. Both children and adults will appreciate this heartwarming story of survival, overcoming adversity, and second chances – despite his horrible past, Audie has become a Canine Good Citizen and even helps train other dogs! Parents and teachers can use this book to prompt for discussion of breed stereotypes, introduce dog fighting, and to discuss resiliency. The book contains full color photos, a Vick case timeline, a list of further reading (books, websites), and information about pit bulls. Available at your local bookstore or library. Best for students in Grades PreK-3.

My Dog: A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy & Healthy Pet, by Michael J. Rosen (Workman Publishing Company, 2011)

This guidebook is a great reference for both children and adults. It can be used by dog owners as a customizable “owner’s manual” or it can be used to educate non-owners about the responsibilities of owning a dog. The guidebook covers everything from the basics of handling, feeding, grooming, and training to dog history and fun facts. Parents and teachers can use the “How to Speak Dog” section to prompt for discussion of body language and canine communication. The book also includes a field guide to 75 popular dog breeds, illustrated with full-color photos and breed facts. Available at your local bookstore or library. Best for students in Grade 4 and up.

December 2011 Book Recommendations

Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog, by Garth Stein (HarperCollins, 2011)

Students will enjoy this adaptation for young readers of Stein’s New York Times bestseller, The Art of Racing in the Rain. Told from the perspective of Enzo (the dog) as he reminisces on his life with Denny (a racecar driver), the book focuses on bouncing back from setbacks and overcoming adversity. Parents and teachers can use this novel to prompt for discussion of resiliency, optimism, and empathy. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grade 6 and up.

Dear Hound, by Jill Murphy (Walker & Co., 2010)

Alfie, a deerhound who's been left with a dogsitter, has run away. Though he misses his owner, Charlie, he copes with life in the forest by befriending a pair of foxes. Charlie and his mother search for Alfie for months, never giving up hope. Readers will be pleased with Charlie’s upbeat attitude and perseverance. Parents and teachers can use this book to promote discussion of positive thinking and persistence and can use the illustrations to discuss dog body language. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grades 3-5.

Puppy is Lost, by Harriet Ziefert / illus. by Noah Woods (Blue Apple Books, 2011)

Max is so upset about his missing dog that he cannot eat or sleep. Told from the perspective of both Puppy and Max and illustrated with fun, collage-like illustrations, readers learn how Max and Puppy are reunited. The colorful illustrations will appeal to young readers, and parents and teachers can use this book to prompt for discussion of dog instincts. Available at your local library. Picture book, best for students in PreK-Grade 2.

November 2011 Book Recommendations

Dogku, by Andrew Clements / illus. by Tim Bowers [Atheneum Books, 2007]

This popular book, written in haiku, is a must-read for younger students. Written primarily from the perspective of Mooch the dog, the story tells of a dog’s adventures while looking for a new home. Parents and teachers can use the book’s illustrations to promote discussion of body language and facial expressions. Older students can use this book as a prompt for poetry writing activities. Best for students in PreK-Grade 3. Available at your local library or bookstore.

Listen! by Stephanie S. Tolan [HarperCollins, 2008]

This award-winning novel tells the story of a twelve-year-old’s mission to tame a dog who’s been abused. Told from the point of view of Charley, a young girl coping with a recent accident and the death of her mother, Tolan’s novel highlights the deep bond between children and dogs. Parents and teachers can use this book to promote discussion of resiliency and bouncing back from difficult situations, as well as setting and achieving goals. Best for students in grades 5-8. Available at your local library or bookstore.

October 2011 Book Recommendations

How Rocket Learned to Read, by Tad Hills (2010, Schwartz & Wade)

Rocket the dog learns to read with help from a tiny, yellow bird. When the bird leaves for the winter, Rocket continues practicing. And when his teacher returns the following spring, Rocket greets her with excitement. Parents and teachers can use this book to encourage reluctant readers. The animated illustrations can be used to promote discussion of body language and facial expressions. Available at your local library. Best for students in PreK-Grade 2.

Julia Gillian (And the Dream of the Dog), by Alison McGhee (2010, Scholastic Press)

Julia Gillian is having a tough time getting adjusted to sixth grade. Not only does she have to deal with the seventh and eighth graders in the hallways, but she’s paired with a reading buddy who hates to read. Worst of all, her beloved dog, Bigfoot, is getting old. Soon, Julia learns that no matter how hard she tries to control for variables, she cannot manage without the support of family and friends. Teachers can use this book to prompt for discussion about strengths and weaknesses and to discuss the changes students may face as they grow older. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grades 4-6.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (2003, Random House)

This award-winning book is told from the perspective of Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15 year-old autistic boy trying to solve a neighborhood mystery. Readers will identify with the real-life situations that Christopher faces and will note that his story may not be so different from their own. Teachers can use this book to promote lessons on empathy and awareness. Available at your local library. Best for students in Grade 10 and up.

August 2011 Book Recommendations

What is Your Dog Doing? By Marilyn Singer and Kathleen Habbley (2011, New York: Atheneum Books)

This fun (and sometimes silly) book shows an assortment of dog behaviors and activities. Young students will enjoy the brightly colored illustrations and rhyming text. Parents and teachers can use this book to illustrate the variety of roles that dogs play in our lives. Best for students in PreK-Grade 1. Available at your local library or bookstore.

Everything for a Dog, by Ann M. Martin (2009, New York: Feiwel and Friends)

This companion to Martin’s 2005 novel, A Dog's Life: The Autobiography Of A Stray, tells the story of a stray dog looking for a good home. The book is told from the perspectives of Henry, who desperately wants the companionship of a dog; Charlie, who is dealing with the aftermath of his brother's recent death; and Bone, a stray dog. Students will relate to the human characters and will enjoy reading chapters told from the dog’s point of view. Parents and teachers can use this book to promote discussion of empathy, feelings, and the benefits and responsibilities of dog ownership. Best for students in Grades 5-8. Available at your local library or bookstore.

My Dog: An Unconditional Love Story (DVD, released 2010)

This film explores the unique relationship between humans and their beloved dogs through candid interviews with notable dog lovers. Parents and teachers can use this film to promote discussion of the lessons we can learn from dogs: companionship, devotion, and unconditional love. Best for adults or for students in Grade 9 and up. Available on Netflix or for purchase at Amazon.com.

July 2011 Book Recommendations

A Dog Needs a Bone, by Audrey Wood [2007, New York: The Blue Sky Press]

Ever wonder what your dog is thinking? Young children will enjoy the rhyming text in this fun book about a dog that’s left alone while his mistress goes to the store. Both children and adults will appreciate the playful illustrations – crayon drawings on paper bags – that complement the silly story. Parents and teachers can use this book to prompt discussion about taking another’s perspective. Can be found at your local library or bookstore. Best for students in PreK – Grade 1.

The True-or-False Book of Dogs, by Patricia Lauber / Illus. Rosalyn Schanzer [2003, New York: HarperCollins]

This book explores the history of the relationship between dogs and humans by providing thirteen true-or-false statements and information that allows readers to determine the answers. Statements include: “Dogs hear more than we do,” “Dogs see what we see,” and “A dog’s body may tell of its feelings.” Parents and teachers can use this book to supplement Dog Dialog lessons or to prompt discussion about the similarities/differences between dogs and people. Can be found at your local library or bookstore. Best for students in Grade 2-5.

101 Dog Tricks: Step-by-Step Activities to Engage, Challenge, and Bond with Your Dog, by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy / Photography by Nick Saglimbeni [2007, Gloucester, MA: Quarry Books]

Training can be a great way to bond with your dog! Trick training can challenge dogs, both mentally and physically, and can help to promote communication between dog and owner. This book provides a wide range of tricks with easy to follow instructions and color photos that break down each step. Parents and teachers can use this book with a live dog to engage students in hands-on interaction or to illustrate the many skills dogs can learn. Can be found at your local library or bookstore. Best for adults or students in Grade 3 and up.

June 2011 Book Recommendations

I am the Dog, by Daniel Pinkwater / illus. Jack E. Davis [2010, New York: HarperCollins]

A boy and his dog switch places for a day in this fun story. As a dog, Jacob gets to eat kibble and chase squirrels, while his canine companion, Max, brushes his teeth, goes to school, and plays video games. The question is: who has the better life? Children will love the silly illustrations and humorous situations. Parents and teachers can use this book to complement the Curriculum’s theme of empathy (taking another’s perspective) and to prompt discussion about the differences and similarities between dogs and humans. Can be found at your local library or bookstore. Best for students in PreK - Grade 1.

Marley: A Dog Like No Other, by John Grogan [2007, New York: HarperCollins]

Both children and adults will enjoy this special adaptation of Grogan’s Marley & Me for young readers. In this true story, an energetic golden retriever, Marley, teaches the Grogan family what really matters in life: loyalty, courage, and devotion. Parents and teachers can use this book to complement Dog Dialog lessons about responsibility and to prompt discussion about the death of a pet. Can be found at your local library or bookstore. Best for students in Grade 3- Grade 7.

Dogs Don’t Bite When a Growl Will Do: What Your Dog Can Teach You About Living a Happy Life, by Matt Weinstein and Luke Barber [2004, New York: Penguin]

This book of collective wisdom shows how humans can benefit from the lessons dogs can teach us. The brief chapters describe short scenarios highlighting what we can learn from dogs, including “Dogs Love to Play,” “Dogs Don’t Get Stuck in the Negative,” “Dogs Don’t Care About Breed,” and “Dogs Go With the Flow.” Parents and teachers can use this book with older students to prompt discussion about the various lessons we can learn from dogs. Can be found at your local library or bookstore. Best for adults and students in Grade 6 and up.

May 2011 Book Recommendations

This month Kay suggests checking out these resources. They can be used on their own, or with several lessons, and they complement the Dog Dialog feature lessons:

NOVA: Dogs Decoded [DVD, 2010, PBS Studios]

This educational film reveals the science behind the unique relationship between humans and their dogs and investigates new discoveries in genetics that are illuminating the origin of dogs. Researchers look to genetics to explain a dog’s ability to read our emotions and sense our moods. Parents and teachers can use this film in combination with the Dog Dialog lessons to highlight canine body language and communication skills. Available on Netflix.com or for purchase at www.shoppbs.org. Best for adults or students in grade 8 and up.

Is My Dog a Wolf? How Your Pet Compares to Its Wild Cousin, by Jenni Bidner [2006, New York: Lark Books]

This book examines the similarities and differences between dogs and their wolf ancestors. Colorful photographs and clear descriptions make this book engaging and informative for both students and adults. Discussion topics include dog's senses, postures, and expressions. Parents and teachers can use this as an introduction to dog behavior or in combination with the Dog Dialog lessons. Available at your local library or for purchase at Amazon.com. Best for students in grades 3-5.

April 2011 Book Recommendations

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle, by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009)

Major Brian Dennis discovers Nubs, a stray dog whose ears had been chopped, while serving with the Marines in the Middle East. When he leaves Nubs behind, the dog travels 70 miles across a desert to follow him. Major Dennis eventually raises enough money to ship Nubs to America, where he now lives. Both children and adults will be touched by this heartwarming story of love and devotion. Available at your local library or bookstore. Best for students in preK-grade 2.

Star in the Forest, by Laura Resau (New York: Delacorte Press, 2010)

After her father is deported back to Mexico, Zitlally feels like her life is falling apart. With the help of a neighbor friend and a dog named Star, Zitlally gains courage and confidence. Mexican folklore adds a hint of magic to this touching story of friendship and family. Parents and teachers can use this book to prompt discussion about immigration, Mexican culture, and dedication. Available at your local library or bookstore. Best for students in grades 4-6.

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, by Jim Gorant (New York: Gotham Books, 2010)

This chilling investigation into professional football player Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation provides insight into the horror of animal abuse. Gorant describes the torture and execution of Vick’s dogs in painful detail, while at the same time highlighting the struggle to rehabilitate the rescued dogs. Parents and teachers can use this book to prompt discussion of animal abuse and negative breed stereotypes, and to discuss decision making and consequences. Available at your local library or bookstore. Best for adults or students in grade 6 and up.

March 2011 Book Recommendations

The following books could supplement curriculum lessons and read-aloud sessions. Teachers may also suggest these for parents to read:

Dogs & Devotion: A Celebration of the Bond between Dogs and Their People, by The Monks of New Skete (New York: Hyperion, 2009)

The Monks of New Skete, experienced dog breeders and best-selling authors of numerous books on dog training, remind us of the heartwarming lessons that we can learn from dogs in this inspirational book of photographs and meditations. The Monks believe that our canine companions have a lot to teach us about how to live, and each meditation reinforces the deep connection between dogs and humans. Written in easy-to-read style with large photos throughout, it is a wonderful addition to any dog lover’s library. Parents and teachers can use this book with older children to promote discussion of the lessons we can learn from dogs. Available at your local library or bookstore. Best for adults or children in Grade 4 and up.

Barking Buddha: Simple Soul Stretches for Yogi and Dogi, by Brenda Bryan / photos by Bev Sparks (Seattle: Skipstone, 2009)

Yoga teacher Brenda Bryan explains how to practice “doga” -- partnering with a dog for stretches, massages, and thoughtful meditations -- in this unique exercise program for both you and your dog. Bryan explains that dogs can be enriching yoga partners because of their pack mentality, their emotional healing abilities, and their desire for human companionship. Meditations on gratitude, unconditional love, joy, and inspiration are coupled with explanatory photos in this instructional book. Parents and teachers can use this book to enhance their own yoga practice or to teach children basic yoga positions, both at home and in the classroom. Available at your local library or bookstore.

Read-aloud recommendation:

May I Pet Your Dog? The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids), by Stephanie Calmenson / illus. by Jan Ormerod (New York: Clarion Books, 2007)

Harry the dachshund teaches a little boy the best techniques for meeting a dog in this sweet, instructive story. Told from Harry’s point of view, this book is a fantastic resource for parents and teachers to use to emphasize guidelines on the safest way to approach a dog. Through Harry, Calmenson gives practical advice, such as how to read a dog’s body language and how to react to certain vocal cues. Both children and adults will appreciate Harry’s gentle, straightforward instructions. This book is an excellent read-aloud for at home or in the classroom. Available at your local library or bookstore. Best for children in PreK-Grade 2.

February 2011 Book Recommendations

How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O’Connor (New York: Frances Foster Books, 2007)

This book was recommended by Barbara Aragon, Lead Mutt-i-grees Teacher at Fenton Avenue Charter School, CA

After Georgina’s family was evicted from their apartment, she began living in a car with her mother and brother. Her mother works two jobs, but still doesn’t have enough money for a new home. Georgina is embarrassed that the kids at school might find out, so she thinks of a plan to make some money. In the hopes of collecting a $500 reward, she decides to steal a dog. In this touching story, O’Connor highlights the hardships of growing up in unfortunate circumstances. In the end, Georgina’s plan unravels and her conscience gets the best of her. Parents and teachers can use the themes from this book to prompt discussion of ethics/morals and overcoming adversity. Barbara Aragon, who is field-testing Mutt-i-grees Curriculum for Grades 4-6 suggested that this book is applicable to all Grades 4-5 lessons. Can be found at your local library or on Amazon.com. [Reading level: grades 4-5]

The Jungle Book #5: The Boy and His Sled Dog, by Rudyard Kipling. Adapted by Diane Namm and illustrated by Nathan Hale (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010)

Quiquern is a young Inuit who desperately wants to hunt and fish with the older boys in his village. His father says he is too young and inexperienced, but he gives Quiquern a sled and a puppy to practice with. Quiquern trains the dog to hunt, fish, and pull his sled. When a snowstorm strikes, Quiquern goes on an exciting adventure with his dog to find food in order to save his village from starvation. Parents and teachers can use this story to illustrate the bond between children and dogs. Can be found at your local library or on Amazon.com. [Reading level: grades 2-4]

Morris and Buddy: The Story of the First Seeing Eye Dog, by Becky Hall. Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger (Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company, 2007)

This true story tells the tale of Morris Frank, a blind man, and his seeing-eye dog, Buddy. Morris travels from America to Switzerland to find a dog who could help him to become more independent. Hall details the challenges Morris encounters as he trains Buddy and learns to trust him with his life. Includes a bibliography and an afterward with captioned photos that explain what happened to Morris and Buddy upon their return to America. Parents and teachers can use this story to introduce the concept of service dogs to children. Can be found at your local library or on Amazon.com. [Reading level: grades 3-5]