Animals in Literature

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What Pet Should I Get?

There’s something about a Dr. Seuss book that is special. Maybe it’s the whimsical creatures, maybe it’s the rhyming pattern; whatever it might be, it’s undeniable that Dr. Seuss has written some of the most memorable children’s books ever. In 2013, years after he passed, his wife Audrey, found a box containing materials for various projects in his studios. Among the contents in the box were the manuscript and finished line art for what would become What Pet Should I Get?

Why use this book:

  • What Pet Should I Get? captures a timeless childhood moment of choosing a pet. It follows two school-aged siblings as they try and decided on what pet best fits the family. It is also a story about making decisions. This book captivates students to think about how different pets need different things and not all pets are right for all situations.

Animal Welfare Considerations:

  • An added bonus to this book is there is ‘Notes from the Publisher’ that gives a look into the life of Dr. Seuss and his work. Included in these notes is a warning/caution on pet stores stating that while it was common for people to go to pet stores to get a pet when the book was written, today there are many other options available, and encourages the reader to consider adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. This would be a great opportunity to have that discussion with students, in an age appropriate manor. When setting out to look for a new pet, the children in the story head to a pet shop. It would be good to discuss all of the different places where students can look for a new pet including animal shelters.
  • Pets are a huge responsibility – and one that the whole family should be involved in – adults accompanying the children would be the best way to find an animal companion for the family. Furthermore, in the story two children set out to find just one pet. Certain animal species, like some species of fish, guinea pigs, and gerbils are social and prefer to be with animals of their own kind. In these cases getting more than one pet would make the most sense.

Post Reading Activities:

  1. Finish the Story
    1. Have students write the ending to the book. First ask students,
      1. What are some things you would consider when choosing a pet?
      2. How would your home and family life influence your decision on what pet to get?
    2. Students can then provide an ending to the book by writing a short paragraph explaining their reasoning behind the pet they picked.
  2. What ________ Needs
    1. All pets have basic needs. As a class, brainstorm the needs of pets (including food, water, shelter, grooming, veterinary care, exercise, and love).
    2. Discuss how the specific needs of the animal are similar and different from other pets.
  3. What pet would you get?
    1. Divide students into four groups and hand out Pet Cards.
    2. Students will take turns selecting a card, placing it face up on the table and listing one benefit and one challenge of owning that animal. Other group members can then add other benefits and challenges. Encourage students to be specific! for example, there are several different dog cards, however they differ in age, size, energy level, etc.
    3. When students are finished with all of the cards, have each group member pick the animal that would suit their family the best and explain one.
    4. Once groups are finished ask a few students to share their responses with the whole class

Extra Activity:

For additional pet related resources visit the Seussville website! Pet related activities, crafts, recipes and printouts are all available. Students might find the Pet Care Daily Calendar particularly useful. There is also a What Pet Should I Get? online game that introduces pet tips at the end of each level, and concludes with a very simple quiz. While the game itself doesn’t have much substance, students might enjoy playing it when they have free computer time.

Curriculum Connections:


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