20 Books About Dogs Your Kids Will Love

Welcome to Elephant Notes . . . our periodic take on some of the ideas, issues, and news impacting parents, children, and reading.

July 2020

Reading books and discovering new facts about different animals can be extremely exciting for children. We have compiled a list of 20 wonderful children’s books about dogs for you and your child to explore together. A mix of comedies, heartwarming tales, and educational adventures, each of these picture and board books offers the perfect opportunity for you and your child to snuggle up and learn more about man’s best friend.

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Puppy Story Books

Where’s Spot?
Eric Hill
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-5

Where has little puppy Spot gone? His father is looking for him everywhere! Help him search behind doors, inside chests, and even inside the grandfather clock. Lift each flap to discover all sorts of different animals as you search for one special little puppy.

This book is super interactive and fun to read with your child. As you read and search for Spot, you lift flaps to see if he is hiding in certain places, giving your child an opportunity to interact closely with the book. Reading Where’s Spot? Feels like an adventure as you look high and low for the missing puppy, which makes reading this book with your child an incredible bonding moment.

Good Dog, Carl
Alexandra Day
Book Type: Board
Age: 1-4

Mom has to run some errands, so she leaves Carl the Dog to take care of Baby. While she is gone, Carl and Baby have a blast! They play in Mom’s powder, go down the laundry shoot, and even have a dance party. But before Mom gets home and sees just how much fun they had, Carl puts Baby back in his crib and cleans up the whole mess they created.

This book is such a fun and comical read. Everything that Carl and Baby do together is so whimsical and entertaining that you’ll find yourself wanting to join in on the fun. With wonderful illustrations and a loveable dog, this book is a classic that everyone should have on their shelf.

Ruff! Ruff! Where’s Scruff?
Sarah Weeks
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-5

It’s bathtime for little Scruff, but he is nowhere to be found! Have the cows seen him? Moo-no! Have the pigs seen him! Oink-no! Help find Scruff so he can get clean!

This book is another one that is highly interactive and adventurous. It offers flaps to lift pop-ups, and exciting textures throughout the story. It is also sort of an iSpy adventure because if you look carefully, you can find Scruff hiding on every page! All the excitement of searching for Scruff is sure to engage even the most reluctant reader.

The Poky Little Puppy
Janette Sebring Lowrey
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-3

Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and take an adventure in the wide, wide world. As they are exploring, they notice the smell of rice pudding and run home, only to get scolded by their mother for digging under the fence. The poky little puppy, though, stays out late and comes back home after everyone is asleep, eats some pudding, and then goes to sleep. This goes on day after day, until the threat of no desert keeps the puppies at home where they belong.

The Poky Little Puppy, written in 1942, is one of the most popular picture books of all time. It is a classic, and there is no wonder why. The illustrations are colorful and engaging, sure to pull any reader in. More than that, we love this book because the repetition makes it really easy for children to make predictions and guess what will happen next, opening up conversation about plot and building essential literacy skills.

Lola Goes to Work
Marcia Goldman
Book Type: Picture
Age: 1-6

Meet Lola, a tiny terrier with a big job. She dreams of becoming a therapy dog so she can help bring smiles to those who might be going through a tough time. She has to go through arduous training and difficult tests, but she works hard to achieve her dream and becomes not only an inspiration, but also a symbol of hope.

We love this book because it carries so many great messages for young children. In Lola’s training, children learn the importance of hard work and perseverance, as well as the idea that sometimes you will fail but you just have to get right back up and try again. And, through Lola’s work, children learn about how big of a difference kindness can make in another person’s life.

Children’s Books about Dogs and Cats

Dogs vs. Cat
Chris Gall
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

It’s an age-old trope that dogs and cats do not always get along. In this book, a dog and a cat get adopted by a loving family but are forced to share a room with one another. They feud… until a howling, smell, terrifying newcomer comes along and shakes up their world.

We think this is a great book to share with your child because each page is sure to make you laugh. Dog and Cat have such clear personalities, with the dog being very goofy and messy and the cat being grumpy and serious. This not only adds a humorous element to the book, but it also offers a great opportunity for you to discuss characters with your child and really interact with the book. We also think the illustration style is really great and unique, and the book is laid out almost like a comic book with multiple illustrations per page.

Woof Meow Tweet-Tweet
Cecile Boyer
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-6

What’s the difference between a dog, a cat, and a bird? This book explores some of the different things that are unique to each animal. Learn more about these pets through words and sounds associated with each.

This book is super unique because it uses animal sounds to illustrate each animal, rather than having the actual animal on the page. This encourages children to draw upon knowledge they already have and put it to the test. We also like this book because it points out some of the differences between dogs and cats and birds that are really interesting to explore.

My Dog, My Cat
Ashlee Fletcher
Book Type: Board
Age: 1-3

In this bright board book, the narrator shares the things that make her dog and her cat so different. Her dog barks, while her cat meows. Her dog likes steak, while her cat prefers tuna. Her dog’s tongue is wet and slobbery, while her cat’s is rough and dry. But there is one thing they have in common–they both love their owner.

This book is not only heartwarming and sweet, but it is also very educational. Through simple sentences and detailed illustrations, the author points out differences between dogs and cats. The bright pictures will draw your child in, and the interesting facts will introduce them to new and interesting facts as they read!

Is There a Dog in This Book?
Viviane Schwarz
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-7

Three cats, Tiny, Moonpie, and Andre, smell something funny one day. After a bit of sniffing they realize–oh no–there is a dog in the book! This is not good. Dogs are snappy and yappy and smell and noisy, and they hate cats. The three friends decide it is best to hide from the dog, but the new furry friend might surprise them.

This book is hilarious! It has such a light and humorous tone, and the characters are so fun to watch. With liftable flaps, this book also offers the opportunity for close interaction and allows you child to really dive into the story. The message of the book, too, is so important–that we should never judge a book by its cover!

Baby’s Very First Fingertrail Play Book: Cats & Dogs
Fiona Watt
Book Type: Board
Age: 3-5

Meet some cats and dogs! Follow textured finger trails and lift flaps to discover new things about our furry friends. Trace the curl of a cat’s tail, peek inside a kennel to see who’s hiding, and look through cut-out holes to see who is coming on the next page.

This is the perfect book to introduce dogs and cats to babies! It offers so many different textures and liftable flaps that add so much to the reading experience. The illustrations are also super bright and cute, which is sure to get your child even more engaged with this lovely book.

Children’s Books about Dogs in Heaven

Dog Heaven
Cynthia Rylant
Book Type: Picture
Age: 1 and up

We’ve all heard the expression “all dogs go to heaven,” but what does their paradise look like? Explore expansive fields where dogs can run and run and yummy biscuits that no one can resist. Recommended by pet lovers all over the world, Dog Heaven, will comfort anyone whose pet will always have a special place in their heart.

Dog Heaven won the Newberry award, and it is no wonder why. The illustrations and color scheme that the author chose are so calming and match the tone of the book so well. Additionally, the story line is wonderful and heartwarming. It is an excellent book to share with children who are grieving the loss of a beloved pet.

I’ll Always Love You
Hans Wilhelm
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-7

Ellie, a dachshund, and her special boy share a lifetime of happiness. Together, they grow bigger and stronger, snuggle on the couch, and even take trips to the beach. Sadly, however, every dog has their time, and, one day, Ellie does not wake up. Her special boy grieves her and says his final goodbyes.

We added this book to our list because we found that it can be extremely relatable for young children who have recently lost their pets. Many children grow up alongside their furry friends, just like the boy in the book. Reading this book will help grieving children take the next steps towards healing and realize that everything is going to be okay.

The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise
Adrian Raeside
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-9

Rick is heartbroken over the death of his beloved dog, Koko. One night, however, he wakes up to find Buster, a silly messenger dog. Buster brings Rick along on an adventure to a magical paradise for pets where Rick is reunited with Kiko. Explore the land beyond the rainbow bridge, where cats roll in fields of catnip and dogs can chase frisbees endlessly.

This book does a great job of balancing humor with seriousness, making it a more lighthearted book than many about doggie heaven. Still, it artfully captures the special bond between humans and their pets, as well as the devastation we feel when they are gone. The idea of a pet paradise, just over the rainbow bridge, can bring children comfort by assuring them that their dogs are in a safe and happy place.

What Is Doggy Heaven?
Darren Saligari
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-8

What is doggy heaven? It’s the most wonderful place, full of bones, flying frisbees, and other dogs to play with. Discover where our furry friends go after they leave our sides.

This book is another great example of one that can help your child heal and come to terms with the loss of their pet. We like this one, in particular, because it is all about Doggy Heaven specifically and goes really into depth imagining what this place might look like. The illustrations are also fantastic and depict a really safe, calm, and loving environment for man’s best friend.

The Heaven of Animals
Nancy Tillman
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

Animals go to heaven too. And what a place it is! Angels know every dog’s favorite game. Cats can bask in their very own, private rays of sunshine. And horses can gallop across the sky.

We chose this book because of its rhyming scheme, in addition to its reassuring message that all animals go to heaven. The rhythm of the text is very lyrical and soothing, making it perfect to reassure your child that everything is going to be okay. The illustrations of dogs and cats and horses alike, all doing things that they love, is so heartwarming and comforting that it will bring every member of your family peace of mind.

Children’s Books about Rescue Dogs

Can I Be Your Dog?
Troy Cummings
Book Type: Picture
Age: 3-7

Arfy is a homeless mutt living in a box in an alley who is just looking for a home. He writes to every person on Butternut Street about how he’s an ideal pet–he’s house broken, he has his own squeaky bone, and he even gets along with cats. Sadly, no one responds. Until someone special steps up and offers Arfy a forever home.

This book is so heartwarming and funny at the same time. The dog’s narration is silly and sure to make you and your child laugh. The storyline is also very sweet and will have you rooting for Arfy as he searches for a loving home. We also love the illustrations, which are very cartoon-ish and help bring even more life to this already exciting story.

Before You Were Mine
Maribeth Boelts
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

In this book, a little boy imagines what his dog’s life must have been like before he was adopted. Maybe he had another boy who adored him, but he was brought to the shelter because the family had to move away. Or maybe he belonged to someone who didn’t appreciate all the silly messes puppies can get themselves into. The boy wonders about dozens of possibilities, but realizes they don’t matter. Because now his dog is right where he belongs.

Adopting a shelter dog can sometimes raise a lot of questions in your child’s mind. They might ask the very same questions as this book’s character, in fact. This book is a great way to sort through this possible confusion, while also celebrating that your rescue dog has made it to their perfect home.

Found Dogs
Erica Sirotich
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-5

This rhyming and counting book tallies up all the dogs at a shelter. Then, it counts down backwards as each puppy is adopted to a loving family. Join in as these patient pound dogs are united with their new families.

We love this book because not only does it offer a great opportunity to discuss pet shelters and rescues, but it also doubles as a fun counting book. It is great for preschool children who are still learning their numbers because the material is interesting and will capture their attention. It is also so heartwarming and satisfying to see each and every dog adopted into a wonderful and loving home.

Pick a Pup
Marsha Wilson Chall
Book Type: Picture
Age: 2-5

Today is the day that Sam gets to pick out his new best friend. But how can he possibly decide? At the shelter, there are sleepy pups, hyper pups, glamorous pups, and even some that are mixtures of everything. Sam keeps searching until he discovers that the true trick to picking a pup is that the pup really picks you.

This adorable book is a great one to read with your child if your family is looking to rescue a dog because it walks through what you might experience when you arrive at the shelter. It’s also great for dog-lovers in general because it demonstrates how different dogs can have totally different, yet equally lovable personalities. With bright and cartoon-like illustrations, this is a great read to dive into.

Operation Rescue Dog
Maria Gianferrari
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

Lulu, a lovable stray dog, sleeps under the moon, drinks from mud puddles, and is waiting to be rescued. Alma, a lonely little girl, misses her mother, who is off fighting in Iraq. Discover how these two come together to find warmth, companionship, and love in one another.

Not only will this book tug at your heartstrings, but it will also make you smile and laugh. Alongside beautifully crafted pictures and a moving story line, this book carries really great themes about the power of friendship, kindness, and companionship. It shares just how big of an impact someone–or something–can have on a person’s life to make it that much brighter.

FAQ

Why is Jack London’s White Fang not on this list?

Although White Fang is a fantastic, classic book about dogs, it is also not a book written with children under six years old in mind. The book features violence, negative commentary on human nature, social critique, and very mature themes, as it follows the perspective of a kidnapped dog who sees the ugly sides of nature and of society. Because of this novel’s more mature content, most children are exposed to it in middle or high school. It is, however, of course ultimately up to individual families to decide if they would like to read it together at an earlier age.

Elephant Books

Elephant Books is a subscription-based book service for kids. We pride ourselves on choosing high quality, engaging, and entertaining books for the whole family to enjoy together. Below are two examples of books about dogs that we have included in our packages. Visit our website to learn more about us and how you can get incredible board and picture books delivered right to your door monthly.

A Dog Wearing Shoes
Sangmi Ko
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

One day, Mimi is walking along when she spots a curious looking dog. It has fluffy ears, no collar, and is wearing yellow boots. Immediately, she wants to bring her home, and despite Mom’s insurance that the dog probably already has a family, Mimi gets attached to her new friend. But, when the pup runs off in the park one day, Mimi has to understand that there might be someone else out there missing the little dog too.

We selected this book because we feel that, even though it is lighthearted and fun at times, it also carries important messages for children. It encourages children to be compassionate and empathetic, even if it means making a personal sacrifice. It also shows how it’s important to always do the right thing. We also love this book because of its unique art style and the illustrator’s choice to draw the story in all black and white, save for the dog’s bright yellow shoes.

The Very Very Very Long Dog
Julia Patton
Book Type: Picture
Age: 4-8

Bartleby Is a very, very, very long dachshund who lives in a bookstore. He notices, however, after a walk around town that his bumbling backside leaves a trail of destruction and accidents behind him. Embarrassed, he vows to never leave the bookstore again. His friends, however, hatch a plan to help him embrace who he is and keep his backside under control.

We absolutely love this book because it is so full of humor, friendship, and fun. Bartleby is such a silly character, whose unfortunate accidents and mishaps will have you and your family laughing throughout the entire book. All of his friends, however, remind us that sometimes we need a little help to get through tough times and that teamwork can help solve even the most difficult of problems. This whimsical and exciting book is the perfect addition to any bookshelf.

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