I grew up around labs, beagles, terriers, German shorthairs, miniature poodles, and I loved them all. So how did I end up with two daughters who are afraid of dogs?
We had a greyhound when my older daughter was born – a sweet and gentle giant who hardly even barked – but he died when she was about 18 months old. She doesn’t have many vivid memories of him, and we haven’t gotten another dog since.
My younger daughter is so afraid of dogs she panicked when we walked into Old Navy, where they have a dog mannequin front and center as soon as you walk in the door, along with the child and adult sized mannequins. The first thing she said to my husband when he came home from work was, “Dog!” and, “No barking, no walking.” The best kind of dog, according to her, but even so, kinda scary.
Since it's pretty clear we’re not quite ready for a walking, barking, real-life dog at the Lerner house, I read my girls books about friendly dogs to teach them that dogs are safe. Here's a list of nine of my favorites, three for each age group from young picture book readers up through young adult fiction readers.
by Marjorie FlackThe oldest book in the list, published originally in 1932, this book is a simple story about the adventure of a Scottie dog living back in the era when the milkman delivered milk to your door each morning. It’s one in a series of books about Angus, and I love the three-color, realistic illustrations and straightforward storylines.
by Sarah BoyntonThis is another cartoon-style board book with a rhyming verse about loving a dog written in Sandra Boynton's signature style. You can look up the song on YouTube, but it pretty much sings itself.
by Norman BridwellWith over 40 books about Clifford, you won’t run out of reading material any time soon if you like this oversize bloodhound. And what’s not to like…he goes from being the runt of the litter to arguably the most loved dog – and the biggest! – in children’s literature.
by John Lithgow, illustrated by Robert NeubeckerYou can find this song on YouTube as well, or buy the book and CD. So much fun to sing, it tells about the relationship between the owner and his two trouble-making dogs.
by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Suçie StevensonThis beginning reader series features another big friendly dog and his boy companion. Check out "Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas," the first book to win the Theodor Seuss Geisel award for the most distinguished American book for beginning readers.
by Susan MeddaughMartha is truly a fun dog, a dog kids would dream of having. She eats a bowl of alphabet soup and learns to talk. The silly things Martha says and the trouble she gets into are entertaining for child and adult alike, plus this is one book series turned into a television show that I can get behind. The show is just as adorable and witty as the books.
by W. Bruce CameronThis novel about a search-and-rescue dog is the perfect transition book for your older child. It’s based on a segment of Cameron’s popular adult fiction book "A Dog’s Purpose," so for my older, voracious reader, it was the perfect segue into adult fiction.
by Spencer QuinnThis is also a good introduction to an adult fiction writer’s work for younger readers. Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mysteries are the most fun dog books for grownups, and these Bowser and Birdie books capture the same free spirit and smart characters.
by Wilson RawlsThere’s something about putting a dog in a book that brings out the starkest of emotions. This classic gets right to the heart of the matter while exposing young readers to the rich culture of the Ozarks.