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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets’ children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids’ books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

The dog days are here

May 31, 2011

We've gone from a lovely spring to brutal heat yet it's not even summer officially. The heat, however, reminds me that the dog days of summer are indeed close; that is, if they're not here already.

It's a great time to lay back with a good book to beat the heat and read about what else? Dogs.

Animal constellations may be a good place to start the story of summer's dog days. Jacqueline Mitton's Zoo in the Sky (National Geographic) sets the stage for the summer sky (and the background for the term "dog days"). Luminous illustrations and brief text introduce stories of the stars and help readers see the animals.

Closer to earth there are working dogs like the four that live in Upstate New York with writer and photographer, John Katz. His photoessay (a picture book, really) for children, based on his dogs, are introduced in Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm (Holt). The dogs' distinct stories and personalities are sure to remind children that everyone — even those with four legs — hold special places in families.

When Sam and Gram go to the shelter to Pick a Pup (McElderry), that one special pup picks Sam. The lively language in this rhyming picture book introduces a range of canine behavior while gently suggesting that choosing a dog takes a bit of work.

Of course some dog books are just plain fun. Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley (Holiday) presents a delightful brown and white mutt who, inspired by the tale of Puss in Boots, tries on different footwear from rain boots to heels — finally figuring out that he already has what he needs.

The dog days are just starting and so is the pleasure of sharing books on a summer day.


I wrote and illustrated a picture book on how to meet new dogs safely, "Don't Lick the Dog…Making Friends with Dogs." It came out in 2009 from Henry Holt BFYR. Maybe my pack can join your wonderful picks of the litter some long dog day ~

I am always looking for new book ideas. I am not familiar with any of the books that you referenced so will look forward to reading them by the pool this summer. Was wondering if you had any suggestions regarding books for a 7 yr. old active boy who has trouble decoding. He is on that fine line where he doesn't want to read babyish text but isn't ready for a chapter book like the Magic Tree House books.

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"I feel the need of reading. It is a loss to a man not to have grown up among books." —

Abraham Lincoln