Classroom Resources

Melvin and the Boy 
by Lauren Castillo

A young boy wants a pet very badly, but his parents always say ‘no’. One day he sees a turtle at the park who is looking at him and follows him. When the boy asks if he can keep it as a pet, his parents agree and the boy names the turtle Melvin. But back home, Melvin won’t play. He won’t eat. Walking the turtle doesn’t work either. The only time Melvin comes out of his shell is when he takes a bath. The boy can see that Melvin is not happy in their house. So they return him to the pond where the boy will be sure to visit him often. This book demonstrates that not all animals make good pets, especially those found in the wild.

Hey, Little Ant
by Phillip and Hannah Hoose

This parable about mercy and empathy asks readers to look at life from an insect’s point of view. A boy converses with the tiny ant he wants to “squish.” The ant pleads with the boy to spare him. A great conversation starter about how we and animals (even insects) are alike and different, and how peer pressure can lead to bullying. Can be performed as a song (the music is appended).

Tails Are Not for Pulling
by Elizabeth Verdick

If pets could talk, what would they say? Maybe – Fur is for petting, backs are for scratching, noses are for nuzzling . . . and tails are not for pulling! Toddlers and pets belong together – as long as toddlers don’t chase, grab, squeeze, yank, and tease. In simple words and colourful illustrations, this book teaches the basics of kindness to animals: careful handling, awareness, safety, and respect. It also includes helpful tips for parents and caregivers.

Mrs. Crump’s Cat
by Linda Smith

When Mrs. Crump finds a cat on her doorstep she tries to shoe him away however the cat slips inside the house and into Mrs. Crump’s life. Mrs. Crump learns how to properly take care of the cat and grows to appreciate the cat’s company. This is a great story of how cats can provide companionship and unconditional love.

Nico & Lola
By Meggan Hill

This book is a great way to introduce young children to the responsibilities of owning a pet. Nico, a little boy takes on the responsibility of caring for his aunt’s Pug named Lola. The boy learns to be kind by giving Lola everything she needs to be healthy and happy.

If I Had a Dog
by Carolyn Jackson

Six-year old Maxine is passionate about dogs and would love to have one of her own. When Maxine and her big brother Hugh set out for the park one day, they encounter many different dogs in many circumstances and Maxine learns how to approach them safely, reading and reacting to their own particular body language. This book could be used as an introduction to pet care and safety.

You Can’t Rush a Cat
by Karleen Bradford

When Jessica visits her grandfather for a few days, he tells her about a feral cat living in the bushes near his house. Despite his efforts, the cat refuses to come out. Jessica asks her grandfather to be patient, claiming, “You can’t rush a cat.” As the weather turns cold, they keep trying to get the cat to come inside until it finally learns to trust these humans. This book could help to illustrate the perils faced by cats left to live and reproduce on their own.

by Eleanor Koldofsky

This nostalgic story offers a glimpse into urban life at the turn of the century, when horses were common sights on city streets, bringing ice and coal and pulling fire wagons. Young Consuela loves horses and shows the hard-working creatures as much kindness as she can. This story would accompany a history lesson, especially emphasizing the importance of animals in establishing our society.

Jasper’s Day
by Marjorie Blain Parker

Having watched their beloved dog Jasper grow weak and tired from cancer, Riley’s family made the difficult decision to have him euthanized and plan to make his last day a very special one. Beautifully illustrated snapshots of the day’s small pleasures address topics such as pet loss, grief, and euthanasia as a way of alleviating a dying pet’s pain.

The author, Marjorie Blain Parker, was born in Edmonton and grew up in Calgary. She told the Alberta SPCA: “The story was inspired by friends of ours who, years ago, spent such a day with their own dog. I was so touched by the idea of celebrating their pet’s life in this way. I hope to touch my readers as well as help them through their own difficult times by showing that Riley will be OK after Jasper is gone.”

This book is highly recommended for any school library. You can download accompanying worksheets and an activity guide.

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
by Judith Viorst

My cat Barney died last Friday. I was very sad. I cried…

So begins this simple story told from the perspective of a child to whom all children can relate when they lose a beloved pet. As the child tries to remember the 10 best things about Barney, the author aptly handles both the emotions stemming from the loss of a beloved pet and the questions about the finality of death which naturally arise in such a situation. A teacher’s guide and suggested learning activities can be found atLearning to Give.

One Duck
by Hazel Hutchins

A duck nests in a field and goes about the business of hatching her eggs. A farmer, who doesn’t know about her, decides it’s time to turn the soil. As his tractor gets closer and closer to the hidden nest, the animal senses danger, but is determined to protect her eggs, and flies off only at the last possible moment. Seeing the duck, the farmer stops his tractor and moves the nest. The next day, the duck is seen leading her newly hatched ducklings to a pond. This story illustrates how, with a little care, human interests and those of nature can co-exist.

Orville: A Dog Story
by Haven Kimmel

Orville, an ugly, homeless dog who has just about given up on life, is discovered one morning by a couple who decide he will make a good watchdog. After they clean him up, they realize he is bigger and wilder than they thought, so they put him on a chain. He barks to let the world know just how miserable he feels, but the more he barks, the more the people stay away. Just before he’s about to be sent to the pound, however, Orville finds a way to connect with a lonely young woman who has moved in across the street. This story demonstrates the life a chained dog and the possibilities that lie ahead when chains are broken – both for dogs and humans.

How Smudge Came
by Nan Gregory

When Cindy, a young woman with Down syndrome, finds a puppy amid the garbage, she knows that’s no place for a puppy. She brings him home and takes her to the hospice where she works, where a patient also falls in love with him. But when told she can’t keep a dog, Smudge ends up at an SPCA animal shelter – though not for long. This is a great picture book for preschoolers and beginning readers that gently raises many discussion points about the responsibilities of pet ownership and attitudes toward people with disabilities.

The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk . . . and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave. This moving parable for readers of all ages offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return. It also illustrates the importance of responsible stewardship and how much we receive from nature.

The First Dog
by Jan Brett

A simple, imaginative tale of how the first domestication of a wild animal may have occurred. Kip, a cave boy living at the end of the Ice Age, is followed on his journey home by a Paleowolf, who – smelling the boy’s roasted Woolly Rhino bones – begs for a treat. Each time the boy stops to rest and eat, the wolf hound senses danger and flees, saving the boy’s life, too. The author’s website features related activities for different subject areas.

In Flanders Fields
by Norman Jorgensen

On a World War I battlefield, a young soldier risks his life to rescue a robin caught in barbed wire separating enemy lines. His courageous act dramatically affects not just the robin, but all who witnessed it. This fable provides an opportunity to discuss the realities of war, the meaning of sacrifice and how an act of kindness to animals can raise the spirits of people. This short picture book is suitable for upper elementary to junior high grades. Teaching notes can be downloaded from the Freemantle press website.

Max Talks to Me
by Claire Buchwald

Max Talks to Me is a story of love and devotion between a young boy, Alex and his beloved dog Max. The story captures the caring behaviours and trust that fosters a rich relationship between child and his pet. For more information about the author and the book, please visit the gryphon press website. A classroom guide is available with discussion questions as well as worksheets.

“Let’s Get a Pup!” Said Kate
by Bob Graham

When Kate and her parents go to their animal shelter to adopt a puppy, it’s love at first site…twice! In this sweet, humorous tale, a young family decides that two dogs are better than one—especially when one is wee and bouncy, and the other “old and gray and broad as a table.” A fun way to introduce the joys – and struggles – of pet ownership.

Buddy Unchained
by Daisy Bix

Buddy Unchained is a deeply moving look at a dog abandoned and adopted. The story is simple yet of vast importance, and at the end we want nothing more than to make sure that all the Buddys of the world are loved and cared for like this patient, easy-to-please pup.

by Andrew Clements

When a homeless dog shows up at the back door, a family takes him in, feeds and bathes him, and names him. Written entirely in haiku, the pet experience is a clever, fun introduction to the poetic form and an engaging lead-in to a class writing exercise.

Fred Stays With Me!
by Nancy Coffelt

Sometimes I live with my mom. Sometimes I live with my dad.

Told from the point of view of a young child whose parents are divorced, this simple book follows a girl and her dog from one parent’s house to the other’s, giving her a sense of continuity and stability. With a simple text and childlike language, the story expresses and addresses a child’s concerns, highlights the friendship between child and pet, presents a common ground for the parents, and resolves conflict in a positive way.

Before You Were Mine
by Maribeth Boelts

The little boy wonders what his dog’s life was like before he was adopted from the shelter. Did he have a name and family who loved him? How long had he been alone? This is a heartwarming story about how adopting an animal can bring happiness and comfort to a pet as well as the new owner.

The Way I Say I Love You
by David Bedford & Ann James

This is a wonderful book for K-2 students. It shows the special place in our hearts for our pets. After all they aren’t just furry animals that we must feed and clean up after, they are in fact our family, our friends, and sometimes our confidants. This book shows the kind of love that a little girl expresses to her beloved pet dog.


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