Bow Wow, Books: Best Books for Kids and Young Adults

When young people read non-fiction books about animals, or fictional books “peopled” with friendly animal characters, it’s not just for fun and entertainment.

Learning in this way that other creatures are cute and kindly can help build the foundation for a lifetime of compassion. Below, representatives of two Bay Area bookstores weigh in with recommendations for great dog reads for kids. We’ve included book prices to show you what a bargain children’s literature can be. Get the young pups in your life reading about animals!


Hicklebee’s Bookstore, 1378 Lincoln Ave., San Jose; 408-292-8880


A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray 
By Ann M. Martin 
Scholastic, 2007, 192 pages, $6.99

Squirrel and her brother Bone’s mother teaches them the many skills they will need to survive as stray dogs. But when she is taken from them, suddenly and too soon, the puppies must make their own way in the world, facing many challenges. When Bone and Squirrel become separated, Squirrel must fend for herself. Ages 10+



Aggie the Brave 
By Lori Ries, Illustrations by  Frank W. Dormer 
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2010, 
48 pages, $12.95                                                      

“Aggie is going to the vet to get spayed. Mommy says this is a good thing to do.” But it’s Ben who needs to be brave as he confronts a night without his best friend. When Aggie comes home, she can’t run and play and Ben does his best to make her feel better. A story of the special bond between a boy and his loyal dog. Ages 4-7



Doggy Whys 
By Lila Prap
NorthSouth, 2011, 32 pages, $16.95 

Why do dogs do as we tell them? Why do dogs differ so much? Why are some dogs more obedient than others? Why do dogs bark? These questions and many more are answered in this funny, fact-filled feast.  Ages 4+ 



How to Talk to your Dog
By Jean Craighead George
HarperCollins, 2003, 40 pages, $6.99

This book by the Newbery Award-winning author of over 80 books about nature and animals demonstrates in words and photos how to communicate with your best friend. Ages 6-9 



Let’s Get a Pup! Said Kate
By Bob Graham 
Candlewick, 2003, 32 pages; $6.99

There are lots of dogs at the animal shelter, but Kate and her mom and dad know they want Dave the moment they see him. He’s small and cute and a perfect fit for the end of Kate’s bed. But then they see Rosy, who is old and gray and broad as a table, they feel compelled to reconsider their choice. Ages 4+



Say Hello to Zorro
By Carter Goodrich  
Simon & Schuster, 2011, 48 pages, $15.99 

Mister Bud is a dog of routine. Disaster strikes when a new dog, Zorro, is introduced into the household, throwing everything off! But when the dogs discover they like the same things, like chasing the cat and napping, things get better – as long as everyone follows the schedule. Ages 4+


Laurel Book Store, 4100 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland; 510-531-2073


Love That Dog 
By Sharon Creech 
HarperCollins Children’s, 2008, 128 pages, $5.99

Jack tells his story in free verse with the help of paper, a pencil, and of course a dog. He doesn’t want to write poetry, but eventually gets into it because he likes the topic. Ages 8+



May I Pet Your Dog? The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs and Dogs Meeting Kids 
By Stephanie Calmenson, with illustrations by Jan Omerod
Clarion Books, 2007, 32 pages, $9.99 

Very good guide to helping young people feel comfortable with dogs that aren’t their own. Ages 4+



Martha Speaks 
By Susan Meddaugh
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010, 96 pages, $6.99

After eating alphabet soup, family dog Martha can speak! Having a talking dog isn’t always as fun as you might think, though. Ages 5+



Selvakumar Knew Better
By Virginia Kroll, with illustrations by Xiaojun Li 
Shen’s Books, 2009, 32 pages, $8.95

A coastal family wants their dog Selvakumar to be quiet, but he keeps trying to warn them of the danger he feels is coming. They move to higher ground, but Selvakumar nudges them even higher to safety.  A great story illustrating that animals can sense things like earthquakes and tsunamis before people do. Ages 7+