Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

We are truly in the dog days of summer - record high temps, record low rainfall. Just where did this saying come from? According to, it has to do with the constellations, and the brightest star in Canis Major, Sirius.

 In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.

So what to do to make these days better? How about reading some books about dogs? There are so many books about dogs for all ages, you could make a readathon of dog books the whole family could participate in. For the youngest readers, there is Dr. Seuss' Go, Dog, Go; Gene Zion's Harry, The Dirty Dog; and Laura Numeroff's If You Give A Dog A Donut. For the elementary-aged children try Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh , William H. Armstrong's Sounder, Wilson Rawls' Where The Red Fern Grows, Fred Gipson's Old Yeller, Jack London's Call of the Wild or White Fang, John R. Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series and Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmations. If these books don't teach your children something about empathy, nothing will.

For mom and dad, how about Garth Stein's The Art of Racing In the Rain or David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? Looking for something scarier? Try Stephen King's Cujo or for a touch of fantasy there's Carolyn Parkhurt's The Dogs of Babel. If you're looking for a dog book that will make you laugh and cry, try John Grogan's Marley and Me. 

 When you're reading marathon is done, you can still stay inside and enjoy air-conditioning by watching the movie adaptations of a number of these great books. What books featuring dogs would you add to this list?


  1. oh boy oh boy. Three of my favorite books!! Go, Dog, Go! is so full of fond memories of my earliest reading experiences - the joy of being able to read page after page is still a warm memory for me.

    When I taught 4th grade, I started every year off with Shiloh, and it captured the hearts of every student in the class.

    And Edgar Sawtelle? Some of the most poignant prose ever written, and one of my all-time favorite quotes. "She had learned, in her life, that time lived inside you. You are time, you breathe time. When she'd been young, she'd had an insatiable hunger for more of it, though she hadn't understood why. Now she held inside her a cacophony of times and lately it drowned out the world. The apple tree was still nice to lie near. They peony, for its scent, also fine. When she walked through the woods (infrequently now) she picked her way along the path, making way for the boy inside to run along before her. It could be hard to choose the time outside over the time within.” How can it get any better than that???

  2. Hah, just looking at your list of dog books, I know why I have bought so much kleenex over the years! OMG, I won't go near Old Yeller any more - and Where the Red Fern Grows and Jack London - holy cow - I must have cried buckets and buckets! I think I'll take the dog mystery books - they're fun, unrealistic, and the dog never dies! LOL

  3. James Herriot had some great dog stories in his collection

  4. I usually stay away from dog books, because they always make me cry, and they mostly have the same ending. I can't stand to read about a dog dying. It just knocks me right over. Perhaps I will read Oogie, that one doesn't end on a sad note!

  5. I am not a big fan of books involving animals of any sort, but it would certainly be appropriate to read one about dogs during this awful awful weather!

    Bring on the polar bears of winter!

  6. Greta looking books! I still cant read dog related books (since we put our 15 year old dog down last fall) but the rest - wonderful choices ;)

  7. I loved both of the books that you pictured on your post. I really do enjoy books where animals sometimes take center stage!

  8. Cute post! I got Edgar Sawtelle a few years ago and haven't felt motivated to read it, but I've heard it's good and it's by a Colorado author! My daughter, who doesn't like to read for fun much, loved The Art of Racing in the Rain.

    You're never to old for Go, Dog, Go. I always loved the pictures.