Featured Book: Cool Dog, School Dog

cool dogCan you imagine the trouble that a playful puppy might get up to if she romped into an elementary school classroom? This is a delightful story with gorgeous, heart-warming illustrations and high-spirited, endearing text about a little dog named Tinka who really, really wants to come to school with her favorite boy. When she finally discovers a secret way to get to school, she unknowingly breaks all the rules and wreaks havoc in the halls and in his boy’s classroom, until the teacher finally orders Tinka to leave. But at the very last moment, Tinka’s secret talent is discovered – Tinka is a reading dog! As the children bring books to read to Tinka, this playful pup happily settles down on her special little bed to listen to great stories, and is then invited to come back to school every day to showcase her talent. Artistically crafted and beautifully presented, this book would make a wonderful addition to any home or school library.

photo-20As an elementary school teacher for over ten years, I can relate first-hand to what it’s like to have a puppy in a classroom. When I first got my then-puppy Tango (who is now turning 13 in March!), my second grade students kept asking if I would bring her to the classroom to visit. After much consideration and even more careful planning, I decided that we could go ahead and arrange for this. I taught my students, before Tango even set foot in the classroom, how to meet a new dog properly, how to behave in kind, respectful, and appropriate ways around a small animal (who was much smaller than they were), and how to read a dog’s body language. They also needed to earn the letters to spell the words “Tango Time” by being kind and respectful to each other throughout the week, and when Tango finally arrived that Friday morning, each pair of children earned ten minutes of “Tango Time” in the reading corner. This was time they could just play quietly with her, talk to her, or cuddle with her. But you can imagine my surprise when my students began bringing books to read to her – and then arguing during recess over which books Tango liked most!

I didn’t know it then, but this experience marked the beginning of my thinking about How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom. This program has, in truth, been over twelve years in development, and this wonderful story, Cool Dog, School Dog floods my heart with warm memories of the very first time I brought my sweet Tango into my own classroom. Thankfully, Tango was invited (she didn’t have to find a way to sneak herself in, though I’m partially convinced that she would have done so had I not invited her) and the students were prepared – but I can only imagine the fun and chaos that might have ensued had she discovered her own way in the way adorable Tinka did!

Thank you, Deborah Heiligman, for this delicious and delightful poetry-as-story, and Tim Bowers, for your bubble-gum lovely illustrations that have danced into my heart. It’s no surprise that this book made its way onto my “Featured Books List” for inclusion in this program, and it is my hope that it will soon be in thousands of classrooms across the country! To learn more about this great author and illustrator and about their many entertaining books, please visit their websites at: http://deborahheiligman.com and http://www.timbowers.com

You can also purchase Tinka’s other books on Amazon – just click on the pics below!

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Featured Book: Stanley’s Party

Stanleys-Party-480Have you ever wondered what your dog gets up to when you go out for the evening? Linda Bailey’s Stanley’s Party is a fun and highly creative “tail” featuring one adventurous dog who knows how to have a seriously good time. The illustrations by Bill Slavin are absolutely adorable, and bring this very lovable character to life. When Stanley’s people go out, he knows that he’s not supposed to sit on the couch. But he also knows how luxurious and comfortable it is. He knows he probably shouldn’t play with the stereo, but man, he also just loves to dance. He knows that the fridge and TV are off limits, but it’s just too much fun to enjoy snacks while watching his favorite shows (of course, all the while sitting on that oh-so-luxurious couch!). And of course, somewhere in Stanley’s adorable little brain he also knows that having a party is probably not a great idea, but sometimes a dog just gets carried away, doesn’t he?! I won’t spoil the ending, but let’s just say that even though things go badly for Stanley for awhile, they come together in his favor in the end. 🙂

If you are a teacher or a parent, the children in your life will LOVE this book. How do I know? I’ve read it to over 300 second-grade children and each and every time, they can’t wait to tell me about what they imagine their own pets get up to when they go out. And then they ask me to read it again, which in my opinion, is the true mark of a great book. But don’t take my word for it – just take a look at this long list of awards that Stanley’s Party has earned:

Winner, Time to Read Award, B.C. Achievement Foundation, 2007
Winner, Oregon SMART Award, 2006
Winner, Saskatchewan Shining Willow Award, 2005 
Winner, Georgia Storybook Award, 2005 
Winner, B.C. Chocolate Lily Award, 2005
Winner, Christie Harris Award (B.C. Book Prizes), 2004 
Winner, Blue Spruce Award, Ontario Library Association, 2004 
Winner, Zena Sutherland Award for Children’s Literature, 2004
Winner, Tiny Torgi Award (CNIB Print Braille), 2004 
Winner, Child Magazine Best Children’s Book Award, 2003
“Book Sense 76” Title
Shortlist, California Young Reader Medal, 2007

Stanley’s debut was so popular that Linda Bailey wrote four more books featuring this wonderful character (inspired by her own dog Sophie). To learn more about Linda Bailey’s great work, please visit her website by clicking here.

To order Stanley’s Party on Amazon now, just click here. What a great gift for the children in your classroom or in your own home! To order any of Linda Bailey’s other Stanley books on Amazon, just click on the images below. Happy tails to you!

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Featured Book: Dex: The Heart of a Hero

51oDBgDcSFL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Have you ever had a conversation with kids about who their favorite super heroes are, and what their superhero’s special powers are? Well Dex isn’t just any superhero – he wasn’t born with special powers. He was an adorable little weiner dog who the author, Caralyn Buehner, describes as looking “like a plump sausage sitting on four little meatballs.” Don’t you already just love this book?

Dex was a dog who didn’t exactly stand out in a crowd. He was slow in games and rarely got noticed by his friends, unless they were making fun of him. But Dex had a dream, and not just any dream. He dreamed he would become a real, live superhero! One day, he decided he wasn’t going to just dream about it – he was actually going to become one. So he took action – he began researching comic books and watching super hero movies. He started training harder and harder, and was thrilled when his little sausage body began to actually develop muscles.

Then the day came when his very own custom super-hero costume arrived on his doorstep. Dex, with the heart of a hero, began helping other little dogs who needed a hand. His friends continued to make fun of him, but he didn’t care. He knew that what he was doing was important and good and kind and right, and his heart had never felt so full. Finally, the day came when one of his friends (who had teased him all along), needed his help. And Dex, because he truly was a hero, bravely saves his friend in danger. In the end, Dex becomes a model for his friend who decides that maybe he might like to become a super hero, too.

This book will inspire children to consider what their own super hero gift might be to the world, and to imagine, if their own pet had a special super hero power, what that power might be. This story teaches children that their dreams can become a reality, no matter how big or impossible they might seem, if they only believe in themselves and gather the courage to take action in small steps every day towards their dreams.

To order your own copy of Dex, The Heart of a Hero on Amazon, just click here.

To learn more about Caralyn Buehner’s great work (and Mark Buehner’s wonderful illustrations), please visit their website by clicking here.

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Featured Book: Maggie’s Second Chance

51Sz8IatmNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_If you have ever been lucky enough to have a rescue dog rescue you right back, this book is for you. This is an incredible story about a beautiful Lab mix named Maggie who is left behind when her family moves. It illustrates, with heartbreaking images and text, the sad reality that so many dogs face when the family they love turns their back on them. Maggie is left alone in the icy, dark house with no blanket, food or water.

When she is rescued (thankfully), it is clear to the animal services workers that Maggie is pregnant. She is taken to a place where she gives birth to her puppies, is fed, and is given what little love busy volunteers are able to find time to give her. But because she was black and difficult to see in photos, she didn’t get adopted.

But Maggie’s luck changes when a young boy sees her picture in the newspaper and asks the question, “What happens if Maggie doesn’t find a home?” When he realizes that Maggie would likely be euthanized, he engages his classmates and teacher in creating a plan to propose an animal shelter at the next town council meeting. When the plan passes, the entire class gets involved to help. Maggie is rescued at the very last minute as she finds a new, and hopefully temporary home, at the new shelter.

This is a wonderful book to help open children’s eyes to ways they can get involved in helping animals in their own community, and may inspire classrooms of children from across the nation to do their small part. Just imagine the impact we could make – and how many dogs’ lives we could save – if everyone did just one small thing.

Thank you, Nancy Furstinger and Joel Hyatt, for such an inspirational and meaningful book for children and their adults.

Teachers and parents, if you are looking for a wonderful addition to your library, this is it!

To order your copy of Maggie’s Second Chance, just click here. If you would like to read more books by this author, please visit Nancy’s homepage here: http://www.nancyfurstinger.com

Just a little update: I contacted Nancy Furstinger to let her know how much her work has impacted the 125 children who participated in the pilot of this program, and I wanted to share her response with you! She wrote that Maggie’s character was inspired by the real life story of a dog named “Jolly,” and the class of fourth grade students featured in the book created this incredible organization, “Dawgs n Texas,” which has saved over 7,000 animals to date! To read more about these inspirational students and how they are making a difference, “One animal at a time, One child at a time, One day at a time,” just click here.

Featured Book: May I Pet Your Dog?

51kFwEGsTqL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This book is a must-have for every elementary school classroom and family library, regardless of whether or not a dog lives with you in your home. Children and dogs seem like they were made for each other in so many ways, but unfortunately, many children are never taught how to behave safely and appropriately around dogs – which can lead to accidents such as dog bites.

May I Pet Your Dog teaches children how to be kind, safe, and compassionate around dogs with the loving support and guidance of the adults in their lives. It illustrates for children, step-by-step, what they should do when they meet a dog they don’t know when they are out on a walk, asking first: “Is your dog friendly?” If the answer is yes, the child can then ask: “May I pet your dog?” If the answer is again “yes” (because his or her owner has indicated that the dog is friendly), children should then hold their hand out, fingers down, and let the dog sniff their hand.

When the dog feels safe (which children learn to know by reading the dog’s body language), it is ok to then pet the dog – but not by reaching over a dog’s head, because this can be scary for a dog. Instead, children should pet a dog gently on their back.

This book takes children through different scenarios as they meet dogs with different personalities, preferences, and temperaments, and teaches children that not all dogs want to be petted. This is significant because in a recent survey I gave to nearly 120 children in 2nd grade, 49% of the children said that “when you meet a new dog, it’s ok to run over and pet them.” This tells me that nearly half of the children I surveyed did not know how to meet a new dog safely!

May I Pet Your Dog teaches children how to stay safe when they meet a dog who growls at them, and it teaches them how to give a dog a treat safely. It teaches children to avoid reaching out to pet dogs who are in cars (because they can be territorial), and teaches children not to pet working dogs (such as guide dogs). There are so many great lessons packed into this little book!

To get your own copy of May I Pet Your Dog today, you can order it on Amazon by clicking here.

To learn more about the author, Stephanie Calmenson, you can visit her author page by clicking here, or visit here website at http://www.stephaniecalmenson.com

Featured Book: Before You Were Mine

51tej6UL-lL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This wonderful book by Maribeth Boelts tells the story of a little boy’s wonderings about what kind of a life his dog had before they took him home from the shelter. He wonders if his dog had a warm and loving home, or if perhaps he was kept outside on a chain. He wonders if his family had to leave him behind, or if the dog got lost outdoors. He wonders what the dog’s life was like in the shelter – if he had food and water, and if he lived in a cage there, all alone.

This is a great book choice to help children learn compassion for a shelter dog’s life, and plants the seed of an idea for families to consider going to shelter to rescue a dog before going to a pet store (many of which get their dogs from puppy mills).

Part of the reason I launched this program was to help prevent the millions of dogs who are relinquished to shelters and then unnecessarily euthanized each year. Too often, because children simply do not know that their actions may be scaring or provoking a dog, they get bitten. Dr. Mary Renck Jalongo (2008) estimates that approximately 400,000 dog bites to children are reported each year, and that these bites are more likely to be disfiguring because children are small. Unfortunately, when a dog bites, it is often relinquished to a shelter. This doesn’t have to happen – age appropriate education that teaches children how to behave around dogs can help prevent dog bites in the first place.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that between 6 and 8 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year, and of these healthy, adoptable animals, approximately 2.7 million are euthanized each and every year. 

If you are looking for a gift for a young child, a new mom, or if you have any little ones in your lives, pick up a copy of Before You Were Mine to help them learn more about kindness and compassion towards animals. To read more great books by Maribeth Boelts, check out her website by clicking here!