Recommended Reading

Recommended Books for Young Readers

Dog Blue

By Polly Dunbar

Young Bertie's favorite color is blue, and he yearns for a blue dog, and only a blue dog. So what will he do when a spotted black-and-white puppy enters his life? This book is illustrated with simple but warm drawings.

Recommended for ages 3 to 6.

"Let's Get a Pup!" said Kate

By Bob Graham

Following the death of her cat, Kate is lonesome for a new pet. The family goes to the local animal rescue center for a puppy, and falls for a large, older dog in the process. The book extolls both the reasons to adopt from a shelter and the rewards of giving an adult dog a second chance. 

Recommended for ages 3 to 6.

Buddy Unchained

By Daisy Bix and illustrated by Joe Hyatt

Happy in a new home, Buddy tells the story of his former life of neglect, abuse, and finally, rescue, to live a good life with a family that cares about him. Information is included for parents and other adults about resources they can readily contact when they encounter a dog being abused.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Chewy Louie

By Howie Schneider

Almost immediately upon being brought home, puppy Louie sinks his teeth into everything from toy trains to the dining-room table. Louie's energy and escapades make for a fun and funny tale.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

H is for Horse: An Equestrian Alphabet

By Mike Ulmer and illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen 

From basics such as mucking out the stall and how to judge a horse's qualities to historical facts on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Mike Ulmer relays the fun and fundamentals of the world of horses. Lush, detailed paintings by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, whose work School Library Journal has described as 'luminous,' capture the beauty and magnificence of these creatures.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Lucky Boy

By Susan Boase

Boy, a small, brown and "kind of stinky" dog, is neglected and bored in his backyard. Mr. Miller is recently widowed and struggling with his loss. One night Boy digs his way under the fence, and when Mr. Miller discovers him in his yard the following morning, it's love at first sight.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Max Talks to Me

By Claire Buchwald and illustrated by Karen Ritz

Alex and his dog Max are true friends-the kind that share each other's excitement, comfort each other when they are sad, wait together when parents are away, and have fun wherever they are. By observing and listening to his dog, by sharing good times and bad, Alex and Max are earning each other's love and devotion. Parents will appreciate the information about the dog-child bond that they will find at the end of Max Talks to Me. Children will want to share Max and Alex's adventures and friendship over and over as they read the gentle, engaging story and look at the beautiful illustrations.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Orville: A Dog Story

By Haven Kimmel and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

Orville spends all of his days chained in the yard and barking to tell the world how unhappy he is. But when Sally moves in across the street, Orville finds himself getting a second chance at life. 

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Tails Are Not for Pulling

By Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marieka Heinlen

This concise book teaches youngsters how to understand animal body language and to treat animals kindly. 

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.


By Colin Thompson

Watercolor-and-ink paintings bring to life the story of a little dog in an animal shelter who rescues the other dogs from a fire. When the public learns of her courageous act, the shelter is flooded with offers to adopt the once unknown and unwanted heroine.

Recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Go Home: The True Story of James the Cat

By Libby Phillips Meggs

James is a stray cat who is tired, hungry and injured. His fortunes change when a family adopts him and gives him a forever home. Compassionately told and featuring realistic drawings, this book will help young readers develop a more sympathetic attitude toward stray cats.

Recommended for ages 5 to 9.

A Home for Nathan

By Claudia Roll and illustrated by Finn Rizer

Follows the story of a cross-eyed kitten who is adopted by a shelter volunteer and goes on to teach kids about responsible pet ownership and the value of caring. 

Recommended for ages 5 to 7.

Claude & Medea: The Hellburn Dogs

By Zoe Weil

This is the first in a series of children's novels promoting humane values through an exciting mystery. Claude and Medea are two Manhattan 7th graders who seek out opportunities to right wrongs and do good in the world. In The Hellburn Dogs, the duo and a group of friends team up to solve the mystery of a rash of dog thefts. 

Recommended for ages 9 and older.

A Day, a Dog

By Gabrielle Vincent

This astonishing wordless picture book tells the heart-rending story of an abandoned dog. In remarkable black-and-white pencil drawings, the artist shows us the dog being heedlessly thrown out of a car, chasing after it fruitlessly and giving up, at last, unwittingly causing a major highway accident. Reviewers have described it as "a powerful documentary in picture-book form" and "a passionate condemnation of cruelty to animals and a work of art that shouldn't be missed."

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.

A Dog's Life: The Autobiography Of A Stray

By Ann Martin

This touching animal survival story stars Squirrel, who spent most of her life as a stray. Now, from the comfort her new home, she shares the heartbreaking stories of how she found her way in the world for ten years. By the author of the Baby-Sitters Club book series. 

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.

The Ghost of Cutler Creek

By Cynthia DeFelice

Allie Nichols, first introduced in The Ghost of Fossil Glen, returns, this time to encounter a ghost dog who helps her solve mysterious puppy deaths and uncover a child and animal abuser in her community. 

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.

The MAGIC SQUAD and the Dog of Great Potential

By Mary Quattlebaum

Calvin is a classic underacheiver who is content to be average ... until the day he visits the local shelter and falls in love with a huge, friendly mutt with "great potential" named Train. Calvin's quest to train Train and find him a good home mirrors his own personal struggle to realize his own potential.

Recommended for ages 8 and older.

Black Beauty

By Anna Sewell

Young readers will follow Black Beauty's fortunes, good and bad, with gentle masters as well as cruel. Children can easily make the leap from horse-human relationships to human-human relationships, and begin to understand how their own consideration of others may be a benefit to all.

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.

Stealing Thunder

By Mary Casanova

Libby has always wanted a horse of her own, and caring for her neighbor’s horse is the next best thing. When she discovers Thunder is being abused, Libby knows she has to rescue him, no matter what the risk! In this exciting adventure, Libby finds her own voice as she stands up for what she believes in a world of adults who think they know best.

Recommended for ages 9 to 12.


By Kathe Koja

High school misfit Rachel is content just volunteering at the local animal shelter and writing stories, until she meets a feral collie who inspires her to build relationships and confront her own emotions.

Recommended for young adults over age 12.