As the whole world now knows, the First Family-elect is looking for a dog. This humanizing tidbit was the main—maybe the only—thing that stuck with my daughter when I let her stay up to watch Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last Tuesday. “Those girls are going to get a puppy!” she kept murmuring to herself as I cried, both of us in equal rapture.

And my kid doesn’t even like dogs. 

Actually, our whole family consists of cat people (and one cat), but I've seen my share of dog-crazed children in the library over the years, and along with several million other people, I have some suggestions for Malia, Sasha, and their parents. I’m in no position to weigh in the pet choice debate, and Malia in particular seems to have done a fair bit of research already, but if she came to my library and asked for a book about dogs, here’s what I’d recommend:


The Legacy of the Dog and The Legacy of the Puppy, by Hiromi Nakano

  • Photos and illustrations of dozens of different breeds. Hugely, hugely popular at my old library!

How to Talk To Your Dog, by Jean Craighead George; illustrated by Sue Truesdell

  • Fun, easy-to-read suggestions on communicating with your own dog (though not necessarily with strange dogs)

Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays, by Peg Kehret and Greg Farrar

  • Inspiring true stories.


Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo

  • A modern classic.

One Small Dog, by Johanna Hurwitz

  • A realistic story--and something of a cautionary tale--about one family's experience with a none-to-easy puppy.

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

  • The life of a stray dog, with a happy ending but few punches pulled.

Picture Books/Readers 

Three Stories You Can Read to Your Dog, by Sara Swan Miller; illustrated by True Kelly

  • Is your dog bored? Maybe you can read your dog these stories, which are all about what real dogs are like. Bonus illustration points for the totally goofy expressions on the dog’s face.

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School, by Mark Teague

  • Ike the Dog has got to be one of the great rascals—and unreliable narrators--of literary history.

Good Boy, Fergus!, by David Shannon

  • My kid particularly recommends.

There’s a longer list of books starring dogs here. Anyone else have any favorites you’d recommend to a kid about to bring a longed-for dog into the family?

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Wow! You've covered a lot of dog reading! I'm anxious to see what kind of dog Obama's girls pick too....a poodle or a great dane or...

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