Everyone loves stories about pets. The themes of their faithful companionship and of their courage are always inspiring. In this day of superheroes, robots and zombies, it’s a good thing if Grandma and Grandpa gently steer the young ones back to classic stories of goodness and joy. Here are seven classic dog stories to share with your children and grandchildren. You might even institute a family read aloud time to enjoy these great stories together.
The Poky Little Puppy: This one is for the little readers. One of the original twelve Golden Books, this story of the puppy always a bit late for the party is always a favorite. Janette Sebring Lowery is the author and this classic was first published in 1942. It’s the best-selling picture book of all time.
Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey: When a terrible accident robs him of courage, Kavik finds something even more valuable—a friend to love him. His loyalty to his friend leads him on a long and difficult journey, his courage restored.
Sounder by William Armstrong: Sounder is a coon dog owned by an African American sharecropping family in the South. When the father of the family is arrested Sounder is shot and is no longer able to hunt. The story of this family’s survival and the faithfulness of their coon dog has stood the test of time.
Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: Young Marty finds an injured beagle puppy. When he learns that the dog belongs to a violent man who beats him, he wants to rescue the pup. Should he keep the dog himself or does he have an obligation to return Shiloh to his rightful owner? This book won the 1992 Newbery Award for excellence in children’s literature.
Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls: Billy Colman lives in the Cherokee Country of Northeast Oklahoma. His proudest possessions are two bluetick hounds, Old Dan and Little Ann. The hounds are experts at treeing raccoons and win the gold cup. But an encounter with a mountain lion changes everything.
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford: This amazing story is about a black lab, a bull terrier and a Siamese cat who make a long, dangerous and death-defying journey to return to the family they love.
Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight: Set in depression-era Yorkshire, England, Lassie, the loyal collie is sold away from the boy who loves her to a wealthy family. In time she is sent to an estate in Scotland. The story chronicles the stately dog’s arduous journey home to the boy she loves.
As you share these inspiring stories with your grandchildren, engage them in conversation about the themes that emerge. Why are animals so loyal to their owners? Why do we love our pets so much? What can we learn about life from the stories?
And don’t forget to throw in some of your own stories from the past. What pets did you have as a child and what lessons did you learn from interacting with them? Children love to hear real-life stories from their family members, especially if they hear a bit about being a child in the “olden days.” See if you can disengage those grandchildren from television and video games for a bit and enter into the classic world of heartwarming dog stories.