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Does your child love dogs? If so, why not encourage a love of reading with inspiring dog books for kids. There are dozens of children’s books with engaging stories and great illustrations to capture your young reader’s imagination and help them build literacy skills. 

Not only is it fun to read about dogs, but our four-legged friends can also be great reading companions. They’re good listeners and don’t correct the mistakes of young readers. A 2017 study found third graders who read in the presence of a dog experienced were more calm than children reading without a canine by their sides. Plus, Scholastic says, reading out loud to animals builds confidence, reading fluency, motivation, and purpose in children.  

To help you choose the children’s books about dogs, here are a few of our favorites, ranging from picture books about dogs to dog chapter books for older readers. 

Dog Books for Kids: What to Look For

Boy reading toy dog a book

As a parent, what do you look for when selecting books for your kids? After all, if you want to encourage a healthy reading habit, it makes sense to choose books your children will be most likely to enjoy. 

So how do you choose? We recommend starting with the following questions:

  • Do you have favorite dog books from your own childhood? 
  • Do you want your child to have age-appropriate reading material? 
  • Does your child like to look at illustrations or is he or she more of an active listener? 
  • Do you look to reviews and award-winning dog story books for kids? 

The answers to these questions can help direct you to the best dog books based on your child’s preferences and what you want to present during storytime. You can also look at best-seller lists, read reviews, or ask other parents for their own recommendations when shopping for the perfect dog books for kids.   

If you have a dog, you might even find yourself drawn to covers with similar looking canine characters! That could be fun for you and your kids! Whatever your criteria, there are plenty of great children’s books about dogs for all ages. 

Our Favorite Dog Books for Kids

These age-appropriate titles are sure to delight kids and pet parents alike. 

“I Love Dogs” by Sue Stainton

Recommended age group: Preschool – Grade 2 

I Love Dogs by Sue Stainton

Written by a bestselling author, this book ranks highly for both text and illustrations. It is the story of a boy walking through a park and spotting all different breeds of dogs, some “yappy, happy, fluffy, and scruffy.” The brightly colored pictures and rhyming words are excellent for vocabulary building. 

 “If You Give a Dog a Donut” by Laura Numeroff 

Recommended age group: Preschool – Grade 3  

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Young children will giggle and laugh at the silliness of this story! As the book progresses the doggy main character asks for a list of absurd things, like apple juice, paper, string, and a hat. This book is a fun way to practice matching words to pictures and is also excellent for doing crafts, as there are lots of free online resources to go with the book. 

“Hairy MacLary from Donaldson’s Dairy” by Lynley Dodd 

Recommended age group: Preschool 

Hairy MacLary from Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd

A group of canine friends go for a walk together on a sunny day. But when they encounter Scarface Claw, there’s a mad scramble to get home. Delightful illustrations and fun rhymes make this an entertaining board book series for both young children and those reading to them.

“Dog Man” by Dav Pilkey 

Recommended age group: Junior Readers / Grades 3 – 6

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

Do you have a reluctant reader? Try Dog Man! Being a graphic novel, the first book in the series has a fast plot that follows a canine police officer who solves crimes. The humor in this dog book series is spot on for early readers and talks about kindness, justice, and hard work, making it a top pick for school librarians.   

“Harry the Dirty Dog” by Gene Zion

Recommended age group: Preschool – Grade 3 

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

Originally published in 1956, “Harry the Dirty Dog” is a classic loved by thousands. The National Education Association has listed it as an all-time top 100 children’s book. The large, blocky text makes it easy to follow along as a little white dog runs through mud, dirt, and coal until he’s completely, yup, you guessed it, dirty! Luckily, his owners are happy to give him a soapy bath when he comes home. This cute book is a must-have for dog lovers of all ages, especially anyone who enjoys classic hand-drawn illustrations. 

“Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog” by Lisa Papp

Recommended age group: Grades 1 – 4 

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp

This book tackles a difficult topic (animal shelters) in a positive way and promotes dog rescue and adoption. When a little girl named Madeline visits an animal shelter, she decides to volunteer by collecting donated blankets and reading to the sad dogs. A sweet tale! Parents will surely approve of the heartwarming message in this story. 

“Pig the Pug” by Aaron Blabey

Recommended age group: Preschool – Grade 2 

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

Pugs have never been more popular. They are everywhere! If your child is a fan of these wrinkly, snorting, adorable small breed dogs, consider introducing them to the “Pig the Pug” series. This book teaches about the importance of getting along with others. Pig learns to share his toys and bones instead of being greedy. Both children and adults will laugh at the quirky faces and hilarious dialogue between dog characters. This is an ideal story for little ones learning to understand their emotions.     

“Rules of the Ruff” by Heidi Lang 

Recommended age group: 8– 12 years

Rules of the Ruff by Heidi Lang

It’s not easy being twelve and facing a lonely summer, but in this book, the protagonist Jessie convinces a grouchy dog walker to let her apprentice for him. Guided by his rules of dog handling, Jessie soon gets the hang of walking a pack. But when a new dog walker moves to town, she soon finds herself with a doggone rival. 

Tips for Reading Dog Story Books to Kids

Girl reading book to dog

When you read to your children, you do more than foster a love of books. For example, reading favorite books before bedtime is a tried and true way to help your child learn new words and gives them a chance to settle before bed and talk about their day with you. 

Here are some of our suggestions for making canine storytime a success:

Read in a calm environment. Don’t try to get through a book with the television blaring in the background. Instead, curl up in a cozy reading nook or in your child’s bedroom to help everyone concentrate and focus on the story.

Don’t force a full read. If your child seems uninterested or is preoccupied by something else, don’t try to force getting through the full book. You can even pick small parts to read every day or every night, so that you keep your child’s attention and don’t overwhelm them. 

Encourage your child to read out loud. If your kid is old enough to read, practice reading dog story books out loud at home in an encouraging and supportive setting. This can help build confidence. 

Ask your older child what they learned. If you have an older child who is advanced enough to read dog chapter books, try asking them what they learned after they finish a chapter. Discussing the book as they’re reading it can help your child develop critical thinking skills.

Invite your dog to listen. Make storytime a family affair and invite your dog to read along. This is especially handy for shy readers, since dogs are patient listeners and appreciate the attention. Plus, they don’t mind hearing the same book or chapters repeatedly!