Top Ten Dog Books by Shannon Houghton

When I first organized my classroom library by genre, I had animal books. That expanded into animal chapter books and animal picture books. Now, I have two buckets of animal chapter books, two of animal picture books, PLUS two buckets of dog books.

Gurl, dis mah library:

But what IS IT about dog books? Why are they so sad? Shiloh, Sounder, Daisy, Old Yeller?

It’s time to lighten up. So here are my top ten dog books THAT WON’T MAKE YOU CRY.

10. Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman. The only reason this book might make you weep is if your child decides this is their new favorite book, and in your overtired parental state you become dismayed at too many repetitions. Try it in app form if you want to shake things up.

9. Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh. When Martha eats alphabet soup, you can bet she won’t be yammering in LOLspeak. An inquisitive dog, Martha will make you chuckle while reading this book, or any of her other adventures. Apparently Martha Speaks is now an animated show? Hear Meddaugh talk more about this exciting development in a video here.

8. The Adventures of Wishbone. How do I get my reluctant kids to read traditional tales or historical fiction? By bribing them with Wishbone! I’ve never seen the TV show, and I don’t think most of my kids have either, but dogs in costume are always rad.

7. Books from the Checkerboard Animal Library series. So these books aren’t funny, per se, but I know I’ve heard a few less-than-kind students laugh at a classmate when they’ve snapped up the last Checkerboard dog book from the shelf. There’s a book for pretty much every breed in all of existence, and chances are, once they read one, they read them all.

6. Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School byMark Teague. Isn’t it funny when dogs do VERY SERIOUS things, like writing letters? Yes, it is. Play a sweet Ike LaRue game here.

5. Little Red Riding Hood (or anything else) by William Wegman. I know the popularity of his work kind of peaked in popularity in the early ‘90s, but the dogs have such earnest faces, how can it not make you laugh?

4. I Has a Hotdog: What Your Dog is Really Thinking by Professor Happycat. Many of those fabulous dog LOLs and memes you’ve seen online, all collected in one handy volume. In the interest of full disclosure, my husband is a developer for Cheezburger. But both of us are cat people, so that status shouldn’t impact this list.

3. Walter the Farting Dog. A former principal refused to add this book to our school library, so I added it to my classroom library. Because we’re subversive like that. Also, apparently this is being made into a movie. So there’s that.

2. The Incredible Life of Balto by Megan McCarthy. I dare you to look at ANY of McCarthy’s goggle-eyed characters and not break into a smile. I’ve read a lot of Balto books, but this is the only one where I can say I feel bouncy afterward.

1. The One & Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Now. This book probably made you cry. If you’re not a cylon. But who is the comedic relief of the whole book? Bob! He makes me smile WHENEVER I think of him, even now as I’m writing this! The too-cool-for-school rat dog kept me going, and my students pointed out that he appeared whenever the story got too heavy. I love Bob!

And hey, if you do want dog books that will make you cry, here are a few good lists:

Carmel Clay Public Library
“What’s the saddest dog story?”
Recommended Dog Books for Independent Reading

Shannon Houghton is a 2nd/3rd grade highly capable program teacher in Federal Way, WA. She likes connecting reading & math and gesticulating emphatically. Her two cats, Olive and Cricket, approved this post.