Top Ten Dog Books
Apologies for the excessive amount of Staffordshire terrier pictures in this post. RIP gorgeous boys.
As any of my long-time readers will know, we lost our much adored Rex in March 2014 and his brother Flint has today joined him in doggy heaven. Rex was our first born child and was treated as such. We were a bit worried about how he would react when we had children but we needn’t have. He was best big brother the girls could have ever asked for. He slept under their cots and as they grew older he put up with being dressed in tutus and having forks stuck in his eyes and other places. He was incredibly patient, loving and loved; by us and our extended family and friends. My instagram feed is full of Rex shots. Sigh.
If you also love dogs, these are my absolute favourite dog books. I could list twenty, but I’ve narrowed it down to my ten ‘must-haves’ – actually there are fourteen as I couldn’t cull any further, but ‘Top Fourteen’ doesn’t have the same ring!
Top Ten Dog Books
Early Childhood – Lower/Middle Primary Titles
‘Let’s Get a Pup’. Published by Walker Books. Written and illustrated by Bob Graham.
You can read my full review here. This book is an absolute gem and I tear up most times I read it. And having just added another dog to our household I totally understand the final line, ‘The end of Kate’s bed was a lonely place’ (when she has another dog on her bed!). Softcover edition is here and hardcover is here.
‘Fearless’ and ‘Fearless in Love’. Published by Harper Collins. Written by Colin Thompson and illustrated by Sarah Davis.
Fearless is one of those books that you will come back to time and time again and always enjoy. Colin Thompson is a master of dog books and Sarah Davis is one of my favourite illustrators (you can read more about her here) so this book was always going to work for me! The book trailer here says it all really.
‘Annies Chair’. Published by Penguin. Written and illustrated by Deborah Niland.
Again, I think every dog owner should have this book on their shelves. When Rex died recently and we were discussing new dogs, PudStar already had the name – ‘Benny’, who is the main fur character in ‘Annie’s Chair’ and also happens to be a staffy. Tyson already came with his name, but if we had got a pup, Benny it would have been! This is a gorgeous, colourful story of Annie and her special chair; PudStar use to repeat a line from the book all the time to Rex…’no one sits on my chair EVER, without me’.
‘Mutt Dog’. Published by Scholastic. Written and illustrated by Stephen Michael King.
A gorgeous book about a stray dog and his desire to belong. In his illustrations, Stephen Michael King has captured everything that is wonderful about dogs – especially those of the ‘mutt’ variety. Teachers notes are here.
‘Why Do I Have to Eat Off the Floor?’. Published by Walker Books. Written by Chris Hornsey and illustrated by Gywnn Perkins.
Why can’t I sleep in your bed?
Why can’t I drive the car?
Why can’t we play all the time?
These seemingly innocent questions, the kind usually asked by a child to an adult, take on a wildly humorous twist when addressed to a child by her More…dog, Murphy. His owner patiently answers all of his why questions, until finally, she’s forced to tell it like it is: that Murphy is a D-O-G (not a human). We used to read this one to Rex all the time!
I have loved Smudge (the main character) for many, many years now. My mum introduced me to ‘The Ugliest Dog in the World’ (she is also a teacher librarian) when I was still in school and as we are both dog lovers we’ve used these books for many years now in our respective school libraries. These are both bestsellers and remain in print; they are a must-have for your dog collection! The books are based on Whately and Smith’s family dog at the time, Skitty – what an amazing memento to have of a loved family dog! Teachers notes are here.
‘Buffy: An Adventure Story’. Published by Walker Books. Written and Illustrated by Bob Graham.
Another Bob Graham one (the man knows dogs!) which will warm your heart. Buffy is a performing dog whose endless talents far outweigh those of his jealous master, Brillo the Magician. When Brillo realises that his audience is more interested in his gifted pooch, he banishes Buffy to the streets. All alone in the world, Buffy soon discovers there isn’t much of a market for a harmonica-playing, tap-dancing, cattle-rustling dog, but then he meets Mary Kelly, a little girl who transforms his life.
Middle Primary Titles
‘The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness’. Published by Random House. Written and illustrated by Colin Thompson.
This picture book is another one about dogs from rescue centers and it will warm your heart and have you wanting a three legged dog. George lives with his grandmother and a big empty space where his mother and father should be. One Friday on his way home from school, George visits the animal shelter. There, in the very last cage, is Jeremy, a sad dog who looks as lost and lonely as George feels. When Jeremy comes home to live with George and his granny, their whole lives change, and they learn that when it comes to love, it’s quality not quantity that counts . Teachers notes are here.
‘Just a Dog’. Published by Scholastic. Written by Michael Gerard Bauer.
I really love Michaels writing – see me gushing about him here and here. This is probably my favourite of his books – although that is a tough call. Some dogs change everything. Mr Mosely isn’t a pedigreed dog, but he is just the dog Corey and his family want: he is loyal, protective and loving. And he is much more than that. He might well be the one thing that holds them all together. Reading ‘Just a Dog’, I laughed out loud and I cried (and cried some more – Michael owes me a box of tissues and a nights sleep). Every library needs mulitpile copies of this book on its shelves and every home with a dog also needs this book. Teachers notes are here.
‘The Dog Who Loved a Queen’. Published by Harper Collins. Written by Jackie French.
I can’t recommend this ‘Animal Stars’ series highly enough. I mean for starters they are written by Jackie French, our children’s laureate and the woman can do NO WRONG. She is an amazing writer and the depth of research she has done for each of the books in this series is astonishing. These books take cute animal stories to a whole other level – these are stories with grit and gusto, where animals who have lived through some amazing historical events get the chance to be the star. ‘The Dog Who Loved a Queen’ was the first one in this series that I read and it is probably still my favourite.
‘Shadow’. Published by . Written by Michael Morpurgo.
When a western dog shows up outside the caves in Afghanistan where Aman lives with his mother, Aman is initially repulsed – it is not customary for people to keep dogs as pets in his part of the world. But when Aman and his mother finally decide to make a bid for freedom, the dog Aman has called Shadow will not leave their side. Soon it becomes clear: the destinies of boy and dog are linked, and always will be. Teachers notes are here.
Upper Primary – Lower Secondary Titles
‘Caesar the War Dog’. Published by Random House. Written by Stephen Dando-Collins.
Dogs in war zones are often mentioned on the news for their bravery and loyalty and this book is a fabulous story of a fictional dog based on the true story of Australian military dog Sarbi and its experiences in Afghanistan, combined with the factual experiences of Endal, the devoted British dog who cared for his wheelchair-bound ex-serviceman master and became the most decorated dog in history. Great teachers nores are here.
‘Stay’. Published by Harper Collins. Written by Jesse Blackadder.
This one is also based on a true story and it is the first book in an excellent new animal series, the second is ‘Paruku: the Desert Brumby’. ‘Stay’ is the story of one of those fibreglass Guide Dogs that you used to see on the streets. In 1991 Left alone on the streets of Hobart to collect money for the Royal Guide Dogs of Tasmania, one night some rowdy Antarctic expeditioners walk past her on their way to the docks and before she knows it, Girl has been dognapped, smuggled aboard the Aurora Australis, and is headed for Antarctica with her own Antarctic nickname – Stay. But the southern continent throws up more adventures than Stay could ever have imagined. She’s slimed by King Neptune, picked on by the Antarctic huskies, dropped, repaired, hidden, flown, chained up, liberated, befriended, lost and betrayed. Will she ever make it back to Australia with the money she’s raised for the Guide Dogs?
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