It’s no secret that we love a good book here at Sassy Mama; here are some paw-ticularly great kids’ books to celebrate the Year of the Dog!
Encouraging little people to love words and stories is one mama job we take very seriously, whether it be books that help kids adjust to a new sibling, encourage girls to be strong, sassy and outspoken, or books to nurture the often overlooked sensitive side of boys. In celebration of Lunar New Year and the new Year of the Dog, we round our favourite children’s books for toddlers, preschoolers and older kids, where dogs and puppies feature either as the main hound of the show, or the indispensable pooch sidekick.
Our Fave Childrens’ Books Starring Dogs
1. That’s Not My Puppy… Its Coat is Too Hairy
by Fiona Watt, illustrated by Rachel Wells
This just may be one of the first books you’ll ever buy your baby. Just one of the hugely popular series of board books aimed at very young children, That’s Not My Puppy… features bright pictures and different textures. This mix of visual and sensory stimulation engages babies and toddlers, and is said to develop sensory and language awareness. A huge hit in many a household!
2. Go, Dog. Go!
by P.D. Eastman
There are a lot of dogs in this book! Big dogs and little dogs; red, green, and blue dogs; dogs going up and dogs going fast. This classic has been a favourite for over 50 years, and is credited with helping kids learn about colours and numbers.
3. Spot the Dog Series
by Eric Hill
Spot the Dog features over 100 books in the series – available in board books for the littlest dog lovers, lift-the flap-books, and paper books with longer sentences for older preschoolers. Pretty much every theme is covered, from Spot’s First Colours to Spot’s Baby Sister and Spot’s Hospital Visit. Author Eric Gordon Hill OBE was a popular author and illustrator of children’s picture books, and his works have been widely praised for their contributions to child literacy.
4. Harry the Dirty Dog
by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham
Harry, the dog, is not so keen on taking a bath. Some kids will relate. Harry goes on an adventure and runs away from home, then gets even dirtier from the coal engines, and smoke. Will his owners recognize him when he gets home? Is that a black dog with white spots or a white dog with black spots? Lovely illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham make this book a joy for parents and kids alike.
5. Clifford the Big Red Dog
by Norman Bridwell
Clifford is a book about a girl named Emily Elizabeth and her dog named Clifford. Clifford is a loveable very big dog who sometimes gets into trouble but always does the right thing at the end (admits a mistake, owns up to something naughty he has done, does a good deed to compensate). There are lots of different titles in this series and the illustrations of this cute but humongous red dog really capture children’s imaginations.
6. Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy
by Lynley Dodd
Hairy Maclary From Donaldson’s Dairy is a classic, first published in 1983 by New Zealand author Lynley Dodd, This book is the first of a series of books all featuring Hairy Maclary. Hairy Maclary goes off for a walk in town, followed by a few friends; a new dog joins on every page, from the Dachshund Schnitzel von Krumm, to Greyhound Bitzer Maloney, and Old English sheepdog Muffin McClay. But what happens when arch enemy tomcat Scarface Claw shows up? A lovely read for parents with the cumulative rhyming text.
7. The Poky Little Puppy
by Janette Sebring Lowrey
This oldie but goldie board book is one of the original twelve Little Golden Books published in 1942, but it’s a sweet story that little puppy lovers adore. A curious puppy, who digs holes under fences and stays out a little too late, then has to go to bed without any strawberry shortcake!
8. The Detective Dog
by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
A book by Julia Donaldson is something to treasure for parents and kids alike. This is a favourite for older kids to read themselves – or younger kids being read to – with its perfect pitch everything text that Julia Donaldson is famous for. “Peter’s dog Nell has an amazing sense of smell. Whether it’s finding a lost shoe or discovering who did a poo on the new gravel path.” This is what makes dog Nell the detective dog that she is, and its how she comes to catch the book thief who is a lover of the written word himself. There’s a happy ending, of course, and it involves the key to lots more books – a great message to all readers.
9. The Hundred and One Dalmatians
by Dodie Smith, illustrated by Michael Dooling
Probably one of the ultimate dog books (it features 101 Dalmatians for a start, plus other dog breeds, too!). Pongo and Missis the two main Dalmatians live with their human owners, the Dearlys, and their 15 cute Dalmatian puppies. But when neighbour Cruella de Vil, the fur-loving diva enters the scene, the Dalmatians had better watch out if they are to save their skin (or spotted coats, rather!).
10. Mo: The Talking Dog
by Michelle Booth
Have you ever wondered what your dog would say if he could talk? This is the story of a puppy, Mo who can’t bark. So his owner’s scientist friend ‘grows’ Mo a new voicebox and so the crazy adventure begins. This book for older kids (8yrs+) also addresses kids struggling to fit in and school bullies so there are a lot of good conversation starters for families here, too.