riley in a toy cart reading go dog go

Dog Days of Summer: The Ultimutt Book List

Today I learned that the dog days of summer actually refer to this time of year when the sun occupies the same region of the sky as Sirius, the brightest star visible from Earth and part of the constellation Canis Major (The Greater Dog). But for our First Book Title Selection team, the dog days of summer signifies a time of wonderful reading pawsibilities; a time to celebrate our furry friends, their infectious tail wags, and a book list filled with our very best dog puns.

Eligible educators, supporting Title I schools and organizations can shop our Dog Days collection on the Marketplace for brand-new books at a reduced cost; families can shop these titles and support First Book through Bookshop.org. 10% of your purchase directly supports First Book.

In addition to some of our favorite dog books, we’re doubling pup on the cuteness and sharing some of our Furst Book pet friends.

riley in a toy cart reading go dog go
Riley loves reading with his fave stuffed buddies; photo courtesy of Kerri Martin

Best in Show: 12 Dog Books to Adopt Right Now

1. Whistle for Willie

by Ezra Jack Keats 

Oh how Peter wished he could whistle! Then he could whistle for his dog, Willie, and Willie would come running. But while he is trying to learn, there is a whole neighborhood for Peter to explore. Since it was first published in 1964, Whistle for Willie has delighted millions of young readers with its simple writing and its striking collage artwork. 

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2. See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog  

by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka 

See Max. Max is not a cat—Max is a dog. But much to Max’s dismay, the book keeps instructing readers to “see the cat.” How can Max get through to the book that he is a DOG? Spoofing classic primers, Max the Dog talks back to the book in a twist that will have fans of funny early readers howling. 

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Jojo reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Jojo’s no wimp, but she does love sneaking a peek at diaries; photo courtesy of Kyle Zimmer

3. Rocket’s 100th Day of School (Step Into Reading, Step 1)  

by Tad Hills 

Rocket the dog is excited about the 100th day of school and enlists the help of his friends to collect one hundred special things to bring to class, from heart-shaped stones found with Mr. Barker to feathers Owl provides. But will he find enough items in time? 

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4. King & Kayla and the Case of Found Fred  

by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers 

King the dog and his human owner (and detective partner) Kayla have found a lost puppy. Kayla learns that the pup has no collar and obeys commands, but no one in their neighborhood has seen him before. Then King discovers a big clue. Can he use this clue to help Kayla find the lost puppy’s family? 

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5. Madeline Finn and the Library Dog  

by Lisa Papp 

Madeline Finn does NOT like to read. Fortunately, she finds a little help when she meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad, and when Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. 

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eddie reading in bed
Eddie loves a class taco, and a classic novel; photo courtesy of Lori Prince

6. ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market  

by Raúl the Third 

Follow Little Lobo and his dog Bernabe as they deliver supplies to a variety of vendors, selling everything from sweets to sombreros, portraits to piñatas, carved masks to comic books! Get ready to pour over the funky, comic-style illustrations of life in a bustling border town. 

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7. Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship  

by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon 

Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog, but when he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too.  

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Boop Tabitha’s snoot for a great finish to your summer reading; photo courtesy of Christopher Edwards

8. Because of Winn-Dixie  

by Kate DiCamillo 

One summer’s day, India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries—and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog, and just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. 

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9. Sled Dog School  

by Terry Lynn Johnson 

The only thing Matt truly loves is his team of dogs, so when he has to set up his own business to save his failing math grade, the Sled Dog School is born. But people, just like dogs, can be unpredictable. And sometimes the bravest thing a person can do is admit they need help. 

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10. Rez Dogs  

by Joseph Bruchac 

From the beloved and bestselling Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac comes a novel in verse set during the COVID-19 pandemic, about a Wabanaki girl’s quarantine on her grandparents’ reservation and the local dog that becomes her best friend. 

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Cleo reading in bed
Cleo can’t decide if she’s pup to the challenge on her new read; photo courtesy of Thelma Martinez

11. Wish  

by Barbara O’Connor 

With the help of a true-blue friend, a big-hearted aunt and uncle, and the dog of her dreams, eleven-year-old Charlie unexpectedly learns the true meaning of family in the least likely of places. 

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12. The Storm Runner  

by J.C. Cervantes 

When Zane Obispo decides to save his dog no matter the cost, he is thrust into an adventure full of surprising discoveries, dangerous secrets, and an all-out war between the gods of Maya mythology, one of whom happens to be his father.

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Caturday Bonus Picks

Just in case you like your furry friends a little sassier and with more toe beans, our Title Selection team has added some bonus books to keep you feline fine. If you only have nine lives to live, spend at least one of them with these great reads!

13. Lola Gets a Cat  

by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw 

Lola wants a cat, but Mommy says taking care of a pet is a lot of work. So Lola does her homework. At the library she finds books about cats and pet care, and she practices taking care of her stuffed kitty as though it were real. Finally, Lola is allowed to pick out her new friend at an animal shelter. 

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double cats reading on a desk
Double your fun with a book club hosted by Lucy and Margaret; photo courtesy of Courtney Claytor

14. Zoey and Sassafras #1: Dragons and Marshmallows  

by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay 

Zoey discovers a glowing photo and learns an amazing secret. Injured magical animals come to their backyard barn for help! When a sick baby dragon appears, it’s up to Zoey and her mischievous cat Sassafras to figure out what’s wrong. Will they be able to help little Marshmallow before it’s too late? 

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15. Klawde #1: Evil Alien Warlord Cat  

by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth, illustrated by Robb Mommaerts 

Klawde had an entire world of warlike cats at his command, but when he is stripped of his feline throne, he is sent into exile on a small planet named Earth. Raj had a cool Brooklyn apartment with friends, pizza, and comics nearby, but then his mom moves the family to Oregon. It’s only when his doorbell rings and he meets a furball of a cat that Raj begins to think maybe his luck is turning around.

Purrrchase on Marketplace | Bookshop

Join the Network

Educators can join First Book’s network — the largest and fastest-growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada — to bring these titles to your classroom.

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