From a girl who wants an African lion for a pet to a boy who teaches his goldfish dog-tricks, these books must be added to your child’s library!
If you have a child, echoes of “Can you get me a dog?” must have indubitably resonated across the walls of your house. If you are considering a pet, or even if you don’t and want your child to live vicariously, here are 9 great children’s books on pets that tell stories of kindness, responsibility and tons of fun!
1. Appaka by Sreelatha Radhakrishnan and K P Muraleesharan
Appakka by Sreelatha Radhakrishnan will make you fall in love with the story. Nonnu is a little girl who lives in the village with her mother and uncle, and Appaka is her pet goat. Her world revolves around Appaka; every morning when she goes to school, she makes sure Appaka has enough to eat. One day, Nonnu returns from school to find Appaka missing! Heartbroken, she starts searching for her. Will she find her friend? The book is memorable for its beautiful illustrations, which bring in experiences of life in the village.
2. Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant and Suçie Stevenson
Henry and Mudge started as a simple and heartfelt book about a boy Henry and his dog Mudge, who does not wear clothes or walk on his hind legs. This book gives you a sense of what it is like to have a dog fawn all over you, fall asleep in the corner, lick you silly or slobber all over the place – a slice of life with a real dog, one that is filled with rich rewards!
3. The Lost and Found Pony by Tracy Dockray
Possibly no other animal, even the dog, dominates the child’s imagination as much as a horse. It symbolizes freedom, adventure and enchantment, so there is no book collection on animals that should go bereft of a book on horses. The Lost and Found Pony is one such book, a brilliantly written and illustrated masterpiece about a girl whose pony is taken away from her to be sent to the circus. Throughout the years, the pony and the girl miss each other and the girl continues looking for him.
4. Dogfish by Gillian Shields
The story of a little boy who desperately wants a dog but has to make do with the goldfish that he has, DogFish is a hilarious, charming and inventive picture book. The boy yearns so much for a dog that he has to use his imagination to great effect and try to get his goldfish to do substitute a dog and even do some tricks, resulting in laugh-out-loud moments and a stellar closing line – “Why would I need a dog when my goldfish is the best in the world?”
5. Duncan and Dolores by Barbara Samuels
We loved this book the minute we started reading it and the twist in the end is just purr-fect! Cats are temperamentally not the same as dogs and Duncan the cat in Duncan and Dolores does not like roughhousing displays of affection or to be dressed up in clothes, thank you very much. Dolores takes some time to understand this about her pet, and with hilarious consenquences!
6. Dogku by Andrew Clements
This delightful book on Mooch the dog is a story that is told as a series of short haikus, each haiku painting a beautiful picture that stands on its own as well. Illustrated with beautiful oil paintings that sparkle with deft humour, each page has the power to lodge itself as a memory in a child’s heart. Consider this perfect haiku from the book:
Squirril sits on tree
Mooch sits below looking up
Who has more patience?
7. Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts and David Walker
A beautiful and touching picture book, Before You Were Mine should be part of any book collection, let alone one that talks about animals or pets. In the book, the narrator is a little boy who talks to the new dog that he has just adopted from a shelter and wonders what the dog’s life must have been before he brought him home – was he treated well or badly? Did he live comfortably or had to endure cruelty? Guaranteed to have you and your child hugging it close to you as you read it, this book will open your child’s heart to a dog.
8. I want a Pet by Lauren Child
When we read this book, we couldn’t stop giggling at the tongue-in-cheek humour of its story. The book is about a little girl who is not able to choose which pet to bring home – – a goldfish, a dog, a sheep or maybe even an African lion? Granny says that African lions are out because they “have a habit of snacking between meals!”
9. The Secret Life of Pets (A Little Golden Book) by Dennis R. Shealy and Craig Kellman
You’ve seen the movie, now read the book that inspired it! The book is the story of pets and the behind-the-scenes lives they lead when their owners are away. The book is told from the perspective of Katie’s dog, Max, who lives in New York and has a bevy of pets as his neighbours in the same apartment block. Funny, touching and riveting, this book about what their pets actually do when they are away, will enthrall children of all ages.