Melody Eisler, Silverdale Branch Manager, recently shared an excellent Central Kitsap Reporter article about therapy dog and unofficial KRL librarian, Jangle. Jangle is a black Labrador retriever whose handler happens to be Silverdale’s Youth Services Librarian, Miss Greta. You can meet her at the Silverdale Branch for these fabulous events:
Family Storytime on Tuesdays at 11:15.
Dog Tales from 2-5 on Thursdays
And every month on the 3rd Saturday, from 1:30-3, she’s here with additional therapy dogs Boomer and Jagger and Norma Jean for any kid to read to.
Thinking about sweet Jangle, and my own loveable dog, Lula, who is also a black lab (but kind of the opposite of a certified therapy dog), I started to reflect on all the wonderful dog stories that are so prolific in children’s literature.
Common themes such as the bond between child and dog, heroism and sacrifice, and the connection to nature and wild places appeal to adults and children alike. The titles that stay with me the longest are those that evoke the most emotion. You know, the emotional roller coaster dog stories that follow an arc of loneliness, then acceptance, the amazing bond of friendship , and then suddenly the dog …. dies.
Why are there so many dog stories where the dog dies? Dogs and other pets play an important role in children’s lives. They provide companionship and unconditional love, their life spans are much shorter than our own, and death is a fact of life. These stories teach us important lessons about friendship, loss, grief, and coping. Dog stories are cathartic and like the dogs they depict, they provide therapeutic value to children dealing with, well, life.
Below are a few of my favorite dog stories for school aged children. Note – this list is not a comprehensive list and not every dog dies.
Marty Preston hides a beagle, Shiloh, from his abusive owner and resolves to keep Shiloh a secret in order to keep him safe.
When their puppy, Ginger, is kidnapped, siblings Jerry and Rachel Pye must put the clues together to find him. Estes’ heartfelt and excellent writing style make this book stand out.
A boy, initially reluctant to write poetry, writes about his dog. His poems become more complex and become a means to deal with a painful loss in his life.
An ugly dog named Winn-Dixie helps a young girl cope with difficult life changes and make a home in a new town.
Henry must keep his dog, Ribsy, out of trouble or he can’t go on a fishing trip with his dad. Humorous close calls keep Henry on his toes.
The quintessential dog story, this classic epitomizes the bond between boy and dog, the natural world, courage, heroism, and sacrifice.