I’m a new dog owner and this is my first dog because you can’t count the beagle that we had when I was 2-years-old. Someone — maybe the meter reader? — left the gate open and he got run over and after that, we just had a steady stream of Siamese cats. But now I get why dog people can be so over-the-top with their dogs. Dogs try to win your heart much more so than a cat, and these dogs in children’s chapter books have won untold hearts the world over. Even if you are not a dog person, these dogs will convert you! These dogs are either rescuing someone or being rescued, getting kidnapped or preventing robberies, or just a dog-about-town. Please meet some dogs to fall in love with! What dogs in children’s books have you fallen in love with? Please share!
Best Dogs in Children’s Books
10. Harry the Dirty Dog series by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloom Graham
I love that Harry is this independent, dog-about-town. If there is something objectionable to him, he’ll do something about it himself whether it’s burying his bath brush or hiding the lady next door’s music. In this classic picture book, Harry gets so dirty that even his family doesn’t recognize him. What’s a dog to do when he hates the bath? [picture book, ages 2 and up]
9. Walter the Farting Dog series by William Kotzwinkle, Glenn Murray, and Elizabeth Gundy, illustrated by Audrey Coleman
Let’s face it, farting is just funny, especially to kids, and Walter the Farting dog is no exception. Thank goodness farting can save the day! [picture book, ages 3 and up]
Georgina is homeless and living with her mother and brother out of their car after her father leaves them. She cooks up an elaborate scheme to kidnap a dog to then return it for the reward. She kidnaps a dog named Willy but things don’t work out the way she thinks they will. Will Willy teach her right from wrong? [middle grade, ages 11 and up]
7. Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Meet Ginger Pye, the smartest dog you’ll ever know. Jerry Pye and his sister, Rachel, feel pretty smart themselves for buying Ginger. It was the best dollar they ever spent. Ginger steals everybody’s heart . . . until someone steals him! Newbery winner. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
6. Martha Speaks series by Susan Meddaugh
Martha is a pretty amazing dog. After eating alphabet soup, she can actually talk and this trick comes in handy at times! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
This is one of my middle daughter’s all-time favorite books. It also has great vocabulary!
“An unlikely group of animals bands together to help a squirrel in need. ‘Readers will relish every moment of this impeccably paced fantasy,’ said PW in a starred review.” [chapter book, ages 7 and up]
4. Shiloh series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
This beagle, Shiloh, will steal your heart as it does Marty Preston who rescues Shiloh from his abusive owner. My oldest loved this series. Newbery winner. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
3. Madeleine’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans
After Genevieve rescues Madeleine from the Seine, she is adopted by her orphanage until Lord Cucuface finds out. Luckily it turns out well in the end. Caldecott Winner [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Dog guru Cesar Milan says that you might not get the dog you want, but you get the dog you need and Winn Dixie is exactly what Opal needs when she moves to a new town with just her father; her mother has left them. It’s unclear, at the end of the day, if she rescues Winn Dixie or he rescues her but then isn’t that the way it is with karma? Newbery Honor Book. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
1. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
I love this book, this dog Sky, the boy Jack, and the author Sharon Creech. And just exactly like Mr. Walter Dean Myers, poet, and visitor of school classrooms that are clean with mostly nice kids, Sharon Creech is also accessible and excited when someone loves her books! I follow her on Twitter and she will tweet back! She’s @CiaoBellaCreech. [a pretty amazing novel in verse, ages 8 and up]
Best Dogs in Children’s Books Honorable Mentions
Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this story is told in alternate chapters through the voice of eleven-year-old Abby and her dog Tam about their harrowing adventures when they are separated and what they go through in order to be reunited once again. This book reminds me of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Newbery series Shiloh and would appeal to boys and girls alike in grades three through five.
Thank you to reader AScattergood for this great call! Gloria is man’s best friend, particularly for a safety police officer! [picture book, ages 2 and up]
Thank you to The Cath in the Hat for this classic! [picture book, ages 1 and up]
Three Stories You Can Read to Your Dog by Sara Swan Miller
Thank you to The Cath in the Hat for this great recommendation!
Good Boy, Fergus! by David Shannon
Thank you to The Fourth Musketeer for this great recommendation. [picture book, ages 2-7]
Thank you to The Fourth Musketeer for this great recommendation: a hilarious picture book for 5 and up about a dog that throws a big party when its owners are out of the house.
Thank you to The Fourth Musketeer for this great recommendation: for pure “AAWW adorableness”, I LOVE the poetry collection by which has poems and gorgeous illustrations about a number of different dogs.
The Adventures of Lucy Snigglefritz by Patrick Milne
Thank you to reader Jennifer for this recommendation: I bought a WONDERFUL book for my niece from a craft show this past Christmas called The Adventures of Lucy Snigglefritz. It’s about a cute little circus dog. The author and illustrator were both presenters at the show and I talked to them for a couple of minutes. Wonderful people. It’s a self-published book and I wish them good luck with it because my niece loves it. The website is http://www.fayemousbooks.com.
Carl series by Alexandra Day
Thank you to Alicia for this great recommendation!
p.s. Related posts:
Book Lists Around a Particular Animal
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.