Classroom Resources

Dog House Blues
by Jacqueline Pearce

Erika struggles to deal with being bullied by other pre-teen girls. She is torn by her love of her family’s numerous pets adopted by her veterinarian mother, and the shame of being nicknamed “dog girl.” Written for the BC SPCA Kids’ Club, the love and intimacy with which Pearce describes the dogs in this book is evident. The humorous personalities of Erika’s dogs are based on the real life incidents of pets which belong to Pearce’s friends. A good lesson on how relationships between humans – and animals.

Any Pet Will Do
by Nancy Shouse

This fun-filled chapter book begins with nine-year-old Jeremy’s father telling him “Pets are a huge responsibility,” inspiring the determined Jeremy to start a petsitting business to discover the type of pet that’s best for him. Along the way Jeremy – and his parents – learn how much fun and how much work it is to have a pet. The endnote from the author cautions that Jeremy’s example is not one to be followed, and points out how Jeremy could have researched pet needs before caring for them. A free teachers’ guide can be downloaded from the Orca Book Publisher’s website.

A Dog’s Life: the Autobiography of a Stray
by Ann M. Martin

Squirrel is not like most dogs. Born a stray, she must make her own way in the world, facing busy highways, changing seasons, and humans both gentle and brutal. Her life story, in her own words, is marked by loss, but also by an inspiring instinct to survive. It brings home the hardships endured by animals who are lost or abandoned. Discussion questions are included on the Scholastic website.

Beautiful Joe
by Margaret Marshall Saunders

Born in Nova Scotia, Margaret Marshall Saunders (1861-1947) taught school briefly before starting her career as a novelist. Her second book, Beautiful Joe, achieved international recognition. Inspired during a visit to Meaford Ontario about 1892, it is based on the story of a dog rescued from a brutal master by a local miller, William Moore. Margaret relocated the story to a small town in Maine and changed the family’s name to Morris to win a literary contest sponsored by the American Humane Education Society.

The book was first published in 1893 and quickly became the first Canadian book to sell more than a million copies. It was printed in at least ten languages and seven million copies had been sold by 1939. Miss Saunders was awarded the Companion of the British Empire (CBE) in 1934 in recognition of her contribution toward securing humane treatment for animals.

More information at

Because of Winn-Dixie
by Kate KiCamillo

Ten-year-old Opal Buloni begins her account of the summer her life changed because of Winn-Dixie, a goofy stray dog she adopted. Author Kate DiCamillo earned one of the highest honors in children’s books when Because of Winn-Dixie was designated a Newbery Honor Book for excellence.

Download a teacher’s resource guide from the Candlewick Press Website

by Carl Hiaasen

In his first novel for a younger audience, Carl Hiaasen plunges readers right into the middle of an ecological mystery, made up of endangered miniature owls, the Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the adult system Sure to be a hit for middle school mystery fans.

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

When 11-year-old Marty chances upon a mistreated beagle pup, he is not prepared for the ethical questions he has to face. Should he return the dog to its owner, only to have the animal abused again? Should he tell his parents? Should he steal food to help the poor creature? As Marty grapples with these questions, it will prove thought-provoking for readers young and old alike. Two sequels – Shilo Season and Saving Shilo – complete the trilogy.

Download lesson plans and worksheet activities courtesy of the Animal Humane Society.

Dog Lost
by Ingrid Lee

A stray pit bull and a boy whose father is a violent alcoholic both have much to fear and when they try to find comfort from one another they find more obstacles to overcome. Tackling issues such as the turmoil of dysfunctional families, the sinister underworld of dog fighting, and the despair of terminal illness, this hard-hitting book is a page turner that lends itself to serious discussion.

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