It is not an exaggeration to say that human history has started with dogs considering that hunting was the primary method of getting foods in the prehistoric period. Dogs will be the friendliest animal to us. Most of us will have a precious memory with dogs since we were young. There are many stories in which dogs saved children, dogs sacrificed themselves for their human friends, etc. They are a lot more than a pet. They are more like our life-long friends.
There are many children’s books on dogs. Some of the best ones are introduced herein. Through reading these books, I hope our children get more familiar and friendly with dogs.
Whistle for Willie
(Author and Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats, Age range: 2 and up)
It is a story of Peter who wants to learn how to whistle to call his dog, Willie. One day, Peter saw a boy who called his dog by whistling. Then, Peter tried to whistle to get the attention of his dog, Willie, but he couldn’t do it. After numerous unsuccessful attempts, he played around by doing other stuff. After a while, he could finally whistle and called Willie by whistling. Willie reacted to Peter’s whistle, and Peter was very excited. Peter was so proud of himself, and his parents and his dog, Willie, were also happy for him.
Most children should have a memory of trying to whistle when they were young. Whistling should be quite an accomplishment for them. My 4-year-old daughter still cannot whistle, and she asked me how I could whistle a couple of times when I whistle in front of her. The first whistle can be a good accomplishment for children. Reading a story on whistling with great illustration was quite fun. The scene where Peter is trying to run away from his shadow was also so cute. This part reminds me of the famous fairy tale, Peter Pan, where children’s shadows run away from them.
The book was written by Ezra Jack Keats. His other book, The Snowy Day, was introduced in one of my previous articles, books on snow. Please note that the main character of this book, Peter, is a black boy for his emphasis on multi-culturalism. Ezra Jack Keats has written several books on dogs such as “Goggles!”. In Goggles!, both Peter and Willie are the main characters.
Go, Dog. Go!
(Author and Illustrator: P. D. Eastman, Age range: 3~7 years)
Many dogs, such as big dogs, little dogs, black dogs, white dogs, yellow dogs, are introduced. Many kinds of dogs do a lot of activities, including driving, playing, and working. In the later part of the book, a lot of them go to someplace by driving. Their destination is a big tree. They climb up the tree and have a big party on the tree.
The book illustrates the main concepts of geometry (in, out, on, up, down, over, under, around, big, little) in a fun-way through repeated illustrations. The book’s author and illustrator, P. D. Eastman (1909~1986), has worked at Walt Disney Productions. Probably, this is why the illustration reminds me of Disney’s animation film.
Good Dog, Carl
(Author and Illustrator: Alexandra Day, Age range: 1~4 years)
A mom asks Carl, a dog, to take care of her baby while she is gone out for a while, and she leaves home. Carl watches out the windows to confirm the mom leaves. Then, Carl and the baby do a lot of mischievous things together in the house. Those activities include paying with mom’s cosmetics, messing up the living room, swimming in a fish tank, dancing in the living room, taking out some foods from the refrigerator and eating them, and making a mess. Then, Carl puts the baby in the bathtub, bathe him, and dries him with a hair-dryer. Afterward, Carl cleans up all the mess and greets mom. When mom arrives home, mom says, “good dog, Carl!”.
It is a wordless picture book, and there are not many words in the book. Still, all the pictures illustrate what both Carl and the baby are doing clearly. There is quite an imagination in the book: Carl does a lot of mischievous things while mom is gone, puts everything in place, and pretends nothing has happened.
Alexandra Day has written numerous picture books about Carl. One of her books, Carl’s Christmas, was selected as a New York Times bestseller in 1990.
How Rocket learned to read
(Author and Illustrator: Tad Hills, Age range: 3~7 years)
Rocket is a dog who loves to play. One day, he meets a little bird who tries to teach Rocket how to read. At first, Rocket is reluctant to learn it, but later, he is captivated and becomes an enthusiastic student of the little bird and learns how to read. The class stops when the winter comes, and the bird is gone. While the bird is away, Rocket practices what he has learned very hard. Next spring, the bird comes back and reads many books with Rocket over and over again.
How Rocket learned to read was written by Tad Hills (1963~). In the book, Rocket, who only loves to play, is somehow motivated to learn how to read. The little bird knows exactly how to motivate Rocket to read books. Reading or listening to this book will motivate our children to learn how to read.
Harry the dirty dog
(Author: Gene Zion, Illustrator: Margaret Bloy Graham, Age range: 4~8 years)
Harry is a white dog with black spots, and he likes everything except taking a bath. So, one day, he hides a scrubbing brush in the backyard and runs away from home. Then, he becomes filthy by playing in a construction site and at a railroad. He also plays tags with other dogs, slid down a coal chute, which made him very dirty. Afterward, he misses his home and comes back home. But, nobody thinks he is Harry because he is so dirty. Then, he digs the ground, finds the scrubbing brush, and rushes to the bathtub for a bath. Two children in the family help Harry take a bath. Finally, they realize that it is Harry, and Harry becomes happy.
The book is quite fun to read. Harry is a playful and lovely dog. His mischievous actions make most of us smile. A lot of children who do not like to take a bath may be convinced to bathe. Some children may think that they need to take a bath for their parents to identify them.
The author and illustrator are Gene Zion (1913~1975) and Margaret Bloy Graham (1920~2015), respectively. They were married in 1948 and divorced in 1968. During the period of their marriage, they worked on 13 books together. After Harry the dirty dog (1956), a series of three more books on Harry are published: No Roses for Harry! (1958), Harry and the Lady Next Door (1960) and Harry By the Sea (1965).