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postheadericon Calling all dog-lovers

Calling all dog-lovers! Dogs have made some of the most unforgettable characters in literature. It’s not uncommon for children to become as attached to a dog in print as the real thing. Puppy love comes in all forms. In fact, I believe I can trace my canine-cravings to my earliest days of reading, when I fell in love with Old Dan and Little Ann (from Where the Red Fern Grows). Below, I’ve compiled a list of five famous dogs you must bring home for your littlest children! (Good news…you won’t have to clean up after these champions!)

Carl is the star of seven picture books by Alexandra Day. The gist of these stories is that Carl, a responsible and caring rottweiler, is given the responsibility of caring for baby Madeleine while her parents are out. Once the adults are out of the way the fun begins! Carl includes Madeleine on some wild adventures. Sometimes they just trail the parents (keeping out of sight, of course), and sometimes they get into trouble—but Carl always manages to cover his tracks! With realistic watercolor illustrations and few words (only those necessary to suggest the storyline), Day’s books are designed for very young readers, 2-5 year olds, and will make rottweiler fans out of readers everywhere.

In 1976 Eric Hill’s son Christopher was born. Eric created a story about a small puppy to read to his son at bed-time. In 1980 Where’s Spot? was published. Now over forty Spot titles fill the library bookshelves, and the list is still growing. Cuddly and creamy-colored, with big brown spots on his back and the tip of his tail, this dog is destined to be your child’s best friend. With simple storylines and sturdy flaps, Spot books appeal to 2-5 year olds.

This is the Fiftieth Anniversary for our next dog protagonist. (Now how old would that be in dog years?) Harry, a small white dog with black spots, was created in 1956 by Gene Zion. Five installments complete the Harry collection. He is a wholesome, amusing addition to any children’s library. Whether he’s trying to quiet down his neighbor, hiding a hideous sweater, or visiting the seaside, Harry’s always into mischief! Even reluctant readers, ages 2-8 years old, can’t resist Harry!

Norman Bridwell gave birth to the next character, basing him on the kind of dog he dreamed of having as a little boy. But there’s nothing little about Clifford! Even though he’s fire-engine red and as big as a house, Clifford doesn’t do anything a real dog couldn’t do (with a little imagination.) The Clifford stories are based on ordinary events that turn extraordinary when Clifford makes innocent mistakes. His side-kick is his sweet little blonde owner, Emily Elizabeth. Designed for readers aged 6-10 years old, Clifford has been a children’s favorite since 1963. Now a PBS cartoon, Clifford continues to delight dog-lovers the world over.

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog introduces us to Hank, and it isn’t long before you get the impression that author John R. Erickson is a keen observer of dogs. Indeed, as a former cowboy and ranch manager, Erickson started spinning yarns about Hank and Drover, two dogs he worked with on the range. These “true” stories became the Hank series, which now numbers at 48 installments. Designed for middle readers, ages 6-12, these make perfect read-aloud books that will even entertain adults. There are even recordings of the author reading the books available now!

Without a dog-gone doubt, dogs in print can substitute as man’s best friend. It’s a fine reward to see your little one light up at the sight of a book. A good dog and a good book, a match made in heaven!

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