Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978
More Articles Browse All Articles >>

You are in:  Play | Books to Read to Your Dog

Books to Read to Your Dog

Dogs love stories too. Here are our suggestions for books to read aloud or, if puppy is napping, quietly.

Browse the list or go to directly to books for:
Ages Infant - 3 Years : Ages 4 - 7 Years : Ages 8 Years & Up

Ages Infant - 3 Years

Cat and Mouse in the Snow
Ages: Infant - 3 yrs.
Author: Tomek Bogacki
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Cat and Mouse go out searching for the green meadow where they like to play. All has changed. With large, softly textured characters and peaceful text, this will be one of those beloved, "read-it-again" stories.

Sally Goes to the BeachSally Goes to the Beach
Ages: 2 - 4 yrs.
By: Stephen Huneck
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

This handsome, oversized book, illustrated by bold color woodcuts, gives youngest listener/viewers a dog's-eye view of a summer vacation at the beach. Sally, a black Labrador, takes a first timer's enthusiastic delight in the sights, sounds and sensations of a day in the sun, sea and sand.

Martha Blah Blah
Ages: 3 - 5 yrs.
By: Susan Meddaugh
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books

Meddaugh's exuberant, comic illustrations of Martha, a family dog who happens to learn how to talk from eating her favorite dish, "Granny's Alphabet Soup," are just garden variety genius. Instead of barking or whining, Martha orders steak for dinner in plain English.

I’m Not Going to Chase the Cat Today
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Artist: Jessica Harper    Illustrator: Lindsay Harper du Pont
Harper Collins

This sprightly cautionary tale in enthusiastic support of the adage "One good turn deserves another," tells what happens when the family dog awakes from a nap resolving that he will not chase the cat today.

No Dogs Allowed!No Dogs Allowed!
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Author: Sonia Manzano    Illustrator: Jon J Muth
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers

This is Iris. And this is her family: Shorty the Fortune-teller,Mami the Busy, Papi the Clever, Carmen the Beautiful, plus the Wise Old People, Don Joe the Grocer, and, of course, El Exigente, the Dog (who's very good at sleeping). Everyone, especially El Exigente, is excited to go to the lake...but will they EVER get there?

Hondo & Fabian
Ages: 3 - 9 yrs.
By: Peter McCarty
Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers

Hondo, an ingratiating dog, and Fabian, a laid-back cat, are friends. They also each embody the essence of their species. No adult who ever loved a dog-- or cat-- is likely to pass this duo by: they are irresistible.


Ages 4 - 7 Years

Harry and LuluHarry and Lulu
Ages: 4 - 7 yrs.
Author: Arthur Yorinks    Illustrator: Martin Matje
Hyperion Books for Children

The stories Arthur Yorinks tells are always quirkily original, and this tale about Lulu, a little girl who knows what she wants, and Harry, the stuffed toy red poodle (who happens to be exactly what Lulu DOESN'T want) is one of the author's best.

Art Dog
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
By: Thacher Hurd
HarperCollins Childrens Books

Filled with Hurd's trademark loose lines and brightly-hued colors, this book is utter, charming nonsense. Arthur is a mild, art-loving guard dog at the Dogopolis Museum of Art. He spends evenings reading quietly in his little apartment in West 17th Street. ..unless the moon is full. Then he is transformed into "Art Dog" who fills the city with extravagant street art.

Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Marsha Wilson Chall    Illustrator: Wendy Anderson Halperin
Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc.

With appealing, richly detailed double-page illustrations in pencil and watercolor, Bonaparte tells the story of a resourceful French dog who is determined to find his boy master, Jean Claude, when the latter is shipped off to school in Paris.

Boodil, My DogBoodil, My Dog
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Pija Lindenbaum
Henry Holt & Company, LLC

Seemingly simple, the story of Boodil, the bullterrier, is actually complexly ironic. The reader perceives Boodil as lumpish, dithering, dawdling, obstinate, stubborn, and generally idiosyncratic; the child-narrator sees him as charming, playful, delightful, and original.

Cat Up a Tree
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: John Hassett    Illustrator: Ann Hassett
Walter Lorraine Books

The time-honored technique of repetition and accumulation will make this whimsical tale a delight for preschool children, who will also enjoy counting the quickly multiplying cats and finding hidden details in the trees.

Hachiko The True Story of a Loyal DogHachiko The True Story of a Loyal Dog
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Pamela Turner    Illustrator: Yan Nascimbene
Houghton Mifflin Children's Books

Based on true events, this is the story of a dog who went to meet the train at Shibuya Station at the end of every day for ten years after his master died. The author has invented a young boy to tell the story in simple, child-like sentences.

If I Were a Lion
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Sarah Weeks    Illustrator: Heather Solomon
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Sarah Weeks’ heroine is surely a future lawyer, who lays out her defense by methodically taking issue with the charges against her (namely, being “wild” in the house). As she asserts, “Do I snarl? Do I snap? Climb a tree to take a nap?” While pleading her case, we see the proof of her “civilized” nature contrasted with the genuinely wild behavior of lions, bison, rhinos and raccoons, who commit such crimes as scaring the hair off the cat.

Mabela the Clever
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Margaret Read MacDonald    Illustrator: Tim Coffey
Albert Whitman & Company

A delectable spine-tingling tale about some mostly foolish mice and a clever cat that has crafty dinner plans for them. Placing the intended victims in a straight line, the Cat brings up the rear, promising the hapless mice that once they march into the forest they will be inaugurated into a secret Cat Society.

Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Andrea U'Ren    Illustrator: Andrea U'Ren
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

If the adult who reads this appealingly illustrated work to a young child can accept the unlikely premise that Pugdog's master (who appears to be no less than age 21) thinks his new pet is a boy dog when, in truth, he is a she, author/illustrator U'Ren's light-hearted frolic delivers an important message.

Sally Goes to the Mountains
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
By: Stephen Huneck
Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Any child lucky enough to have met Sally, a game and curious black Labrador, in her first adventure, Sally Goes to the Beach, will be pleased with this worthy and equally handsome sequel. Artist/author Huneck's bold color woodcuts make the listener/viewer an intimate part of Sally's first camping trip, even to being sprayed by a passing skunk.

Sidney Won't SwimSidney Won’t Swim
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
By: Hilde Schuurmans

Children are often wary of new experiences. Sometimes they are downright scared, just like the dog hero Sidney in this cautionary tale. Terrified by his teacher's announcement "Don't forget to bring your swimsuits. Tomorrow is your first swimming lesson!", Sidney proclaims angrily that "Swimming is the dumbest thing in the world."

The Stray Dog
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Marc Simont    Illustrator: Marc Simont
HarperCollins Childrens Books

As winsome and irresistible a dog to find his way into a picture book in recent memory, Willy is rescued in the nick of time from the dog warden by as sympathetic and deserving a family as a listener/reader might hope for.

Three Stories You Can Read to Your DogThree Stories You Can Read to Your Dog
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Sara Swan Miller    Illustrator: True Kelley
Houghton Mifflin Co.

Does your dog sleep a lot? Maybe he or she is bored. Why not try reading these three stories to your dog? Accompanied by lively illustrations, they are all about the things dogs understand best -- burglars, bones, and running free.

Three More Stories You Can Read to Your Dog
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Sara Swan Miller    Illustrator: True Kelley
Houghton Mifflin Co.

Though the format looks as though these light-hearted tales are of the I-Can-Read variety, they have a sophisticated vocabulary and require an adult teller for both child and dog listeners. Any child who has a dog member of the family, as well as those who wish they had one, will enjoy these canine adventures from daily life: going to the vet, longing for a friend to play with, and being strong-armed into taking a bath.

Having a Wonderful Time
Ages: 4 & Up
Author: Tom Pohrt    Illustrator: Tom Pohrt
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Detailed, realistic illustrations are the main attraction in this wry, 30's-era fantasy of a girl's travels with her cat. Although this is a picture book, older children will be more apt to appreciate the dry wit and details like the macabre menu of the Crocodile Cafe.

Ages: 4 & Up
Author: Michael Rosen    Illustrator: Neal Layton
Random House Children's Books/Doubleday

In this topsy-turvy picture book, the narrator is a good-natured garrulous dog who has a pet human being--small girl variety--named Rover. Seeing the world through canine eyes both tickles the funnybone and broadens the listener's perspective.

Cats, Cats, Cats!
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Leslea Newman & Erika Oller
Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

This felicitously rhymed text about old Mrs. Brown and her houseful of cats (one double-page spread has more than fifty!) will delight cat-lovers of all ages. Their benefactress not only provides each cat with a pillow, but chats with them and manicures their nails. But neither she nor the reader/viewer can imagine what goes on once old Mrs. Brown goes to bed.

The Rosie StoriesThe Rosie Stories
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Cynthia Voigt    Illustrator: Cat Smith
Holiday House, Inc.

This charming easy chapter book consisting of three gentle stories, readers are introduced to a lively little dog full of personality. While the author has anthropomorphized Rosie a bit, anyone who has ever owned a dog will know it is only a little bit.

Zat Cat!
Ages: 5 - 9 yrs.
By: Chesley McLaren
Scholastic Inc./Scholastic Press

This jaunty story about a Parisian cat will appeal to the same sophisticated children who love to hear about Eloise and her adventures at The Plaza Hotel in New York. The listener gets fleeting glimpses of the Jardin Luxembourg, Le Musée du Louvre and winds up with "zat cat" behind the scenes at a grand fashion show.

Measuring Penny
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Loreen Leedy
Henry Holt & Company, LLC

This oddball picture book will be an inspiration to any child embarked on a special homework assignment. In this instance, Lisa, an eight or nine year old, has been given a project “to measure something” in a number of ways. She selects her Boston terrier, Penny, as a subject, and the kinds and scope of her measurements are original to say the least: Penny’s tail is “one dog biscuit long”; her ears are “one cotton swab long.”

Puss in Cowboy BootsPuss in Cowboy Boots
Ages: 6 - 10 yrs.
Author: Jan Huling    Illustrator: Phil Huling
Simon & Schuster/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Though the Puss in this telling of the old fairy tale wears "the purdiest pair of red snakeskin cowboy boots ever worn," he is as crafty and sly as of yore. With the story transported to Texas, the wily cat manages to marry off his penniless master to the daughter of "the biggest, the richest, and the most powerful oilman in the state of Texas," Mr. Patoot.


Ages 8 Years & Up

A Cat of a Different Color
Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Steven Bauer
Random House Children's Books/Doubleday

Begin with one greedy mayor, add one shallow wife and one overgrown bully of a son. Blend this nefarious mix with a group of naive townsfolk, and you have the ingredients for a predictable story. Yet this pleasing book sustains interest by including the save-the-day schemes of a clever cat with his own greedy kin to win over.

Casebook of a Private (Cat’s) Eye
Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Mary Stolz   Illustrator: Pamela Levy
Front Street Books

Veteran author Mary Stolz's latest heroine is surely destined to become the Miss Marple of catdom. The time is 1912, the place is Boston, and the feline private investigator is Eileen O'Kelly, a liberated pussycat who revels in being "the only female" detective in Bean Town.

Because of Winn DixieBecause of Winn Dixie
Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press

Although she lives in the Friendly Corners Trailer Park, ten-year-old Opal has no friends. She and her preacher father have moved to Naomi Florida for her father’s new job. Here, on an errand to the local grocery store, Opal acquires a unique friend, a large brown stray that she names for the store Winn-Dixie.

Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Tomi Ungerer
Roberts Rinehart

Surprise! Not only is this the first Tomi Ungerer work for children in 25 years, but it is an uncharacteristically flat and cheerless tale: a two-generation saga about a decidedly bourgeois cat couple, the Kralls, and their incredible offspring, a pug dog named Flix.

Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Tor Seidler
HarperCollins Children's Books / Laura Geringer

Owned by the McDonahue family, Toes is a black cat with seven digits on each paw whose siblings will have nothing to do with him. They ostracize him not for his extra toes, but for his extra smarts. Toes learns to understand some human words, cultivates an appreciation of the classical music and does “tricks” that amaze the children.

The Canine Connection: Stories About Dogs and PeopleThe Canine Connection: Stories About Dogs and People
Ages: 8 - 11 yrs.
Author: Betsy Hearne
Simon & Schuster Children's/Margaret K. McElderry

In twelve short stories, the author writes with insight into dogs and their sometimes worthy and sometimes not, human companions. The parts the dogs play in the lives of their people are touching (literally), comforting, and frequently amazing.


Don't Miss
Reading to Dogs ... A "Pawsitive" Experience
Learn how to improve children's literacy skills by reading to dogs.

Share This

What Makes a Good Toy?

Award-Winning Toys

Media Ratings Television Ratings Movie Ratings Video Game Ratings

Sign Up
Our news & features delivered to your inbox.