Animals in Literature

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Max Talks to Me

Max Talks to Me tells the story of a boy and how he communicates with his dog, Max and the special bond that they have. Even though Max cannot speak in words, the reader discovers that when the boy watches and listens to Max, that he does ‘talk’ to the boy, through his behaviour and body language. Learning how others, including both animals and people, feel by reading body language and social cues is an important communication skill.

Why use this book?

  • Seventy-seven percent of dog bites come from a family or friend’s dog
  • It is important for students (and adults) to learn how to safely and respectfully interact with dogs and how to read their body language
  • This book provides insight for children on how their actions can affect the emotions of others

Ask your students:

  • Why is it important to have a friend who is a good listener? Why is it important to be a good listener for your friends?
  • What are some ways that the boy shows he is a responsible pet owner? Gives Max water, takes Max for a walk/exercises Max, comforts Max, etc.
  • Do animals and people have the same body language? What are some examples? Although people and animals use body language to communicate, body language is not universal! We don’t have tails, or fur to show how we are feeling, like many animals do, so we express emotions in other ways. Learning how animals use their bodies to communicate is an important part of being an animal caretaker (see additional resources on reading dog body language)


  • Max Talks to Me (but what is he saying?) – As a class, work through the Max Talks to Me: But What is He Saying? Activity Sheet
    Ask students to match up Max’s behaviour to what he is communicating to the boy. Go through each number with the students showing them the image and asking them to identify what “Max is saying.” The images in the book depicting Max’s actions occur in order. Finally, ask students what the boy could do to respond to Max in each scenario.

Max Talks to Me? is part of the AnimalTales program. Above, is a small selection of the discussion questions and activities that can be found in the Grade One and Grade Two Teacher’s Guide. For additional discussion questions and activities request the FREE book-lending program for your class.

Additional Resources Related to Book:

  • Reading Dog Body Language – The American Kennel Club offers a in depth look at home to read dog body language.
  • How to Read Canine Body Language – The Arizona Humane Society provides a visual representation of different canine body language.
  • The Family Dog – for additional information on dog safety, including videos and posters on safely greeting dogs, reading dog body language, etc.


Claire Buschwald, 2007


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