Humane Reading List

Children’s Reading List

Compassion and empathy are, for the most part, learned behaviors. Humane education helps to awaken empathy. If we can affect children early on in their lives and help them develop strong ethics, then perhaps they will continue to make ethical decisions throughout the rest of their lives.

Napa Humane has identified several books that teach children to be caring, compassionate individuals delivering messages in kindness, respect, and responsibility.


Title Author Book Description Recommended age
A Home for Nathan Claudia Roll, Illustrated by Finn Rizer Follows the story of a cross-eyed kitten who is adopted by a shelter volunteer and goes on to teach kids about responsible pet ownership and the value of caring. Topics included in this book are responsible pet ownership, therapy cats and the purpose of an animal shelter are discussed. ages 3 and up
Animal Have Feelings, Too!  Exploring Emotions from A to Z Karen Lee Stevens, Illustrated by Teri Rider This charming and informative book follows the humorous story of Sandy, a lovable Labrador retriever who explores her world of emotions from A to Z. Whimsically illustrated, this book helps children understand that people and animals experience many of the same feelings. ages 4 and up
Are You Ready for Me? Claire Buchwald. Illustrated by Amelia Hansen. A guide to the many responsibilities involved in dog guardianship, which includes loving and protecting your companion. An excellent Humane Education teaching tool as well as an important book for families to read together before considering committing to a dog. Gr. K-3.
Before You Were Mine Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by David Walker This is a gentle story of a young boy who wonders what his loving dog’s life was like before he was adopted from a shelter.  Themes of kindness, animal adoption, curiosity and friendship are discussed. ages 3 and up.


Buddy Unchained Daisy Bix, llustrated by Joe Hyatt Happy in a new home, Buddy tells the story of his former life of neglect, abuse, and finally, rescue, to live a good life with a family that cares about him. Information is included for parents and other adults about resources they can readily contact when they encounter a dog being abused. Themes of animal abuse and neglect and responsible pet ownership are discussed.  ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award. ages 6 and up


Chewy Louie Howie Schneider Almost immediately upon being brought home, puppy Louie sinks his teeth into everything from toy trains to the dining-room table. Louie’s energy and escapades make for a fun and funny tale. Themes of responsible pet ownership, commitment, and dog behaviors are discussed. ages 2 and up.
Each Living Thing Joanne Ryder, illustrated by Ashley Wolff This story is about having an awareness and an appreciation for all living things no matter how small. It mentions many different animals and the roles they play in the world. Themes of animal appreciation, respect, and coexisting with wildlife are discussed. ages 2 and up.
Forever Dog Bill Cochran, illustrated by Dan Andreasen A young boy named Mike works his way through the grieving process after his beloved dog Cory passes away. This book can help children understand the death of a pet and the feelings that often surround this experience. Themes of friendship and pet loss are discussed. ages 3 and up
Fred Stays With Me! Nancy Coffelt. Illustrated by Tricia Tusa. A small girl’s bond with her beloved pet helps her handle the disruption of her parents’ divorce. She has to sleep in two different beds in two different homes, but wherever she goes, her dog, Fred, stays with her. He does make trouble–barking at the poodle that lives next door to Mom’s house, shaking mud all over her car seats, eating Dad’s socks–but when the grown-ups object, she is adamant that she will never let him go.  Fortunately the girl is as loyal as her dog and stands by him as they resolve the conflict with her parents through training and better housekeeping.  Loyalty, companionship, divorce, and responsibility are all themes of this book. Grades PreK-2.
Ginger Written and illustrated by Charlotte Voake Ginger is a lucky cat who loves his basket, his little girl and his delicious meals. When the little girl brings a kitten home as a friend for Ginger, the older cat is not happy about sharing his bowl and basket. Ginger hides in protest, letting the girl know that certain steps must be followed for a settled cat to adjust to life with a frisky kitten. Themes of bringing a new animal home, respecting an animals feelings, responsible pet ownership and patience are discussed. ages 3 and up.


Ginger Finds a Home Written and illustrated by Charlotte Voake In this story, a heartwarming friendship grows between a little girl and a stray cat she later names Ginger.  In his previous life, Ginger foraged for food wherever and whenever he could, and slept in a patch of weeds.  As Ginger learns to trust the little girl, he quickly adjusts to his new life as her companion. Themes of trust and patience in developing a relationship with a cat are discussed.


ages 3 and up


Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog Pamela S. Turner, illustrated by Yan Nascimbene This is a true tale of a loyal dog named Hachiko who walks to the train station with his human companion, Dr. Ueno, every day and then waits patiently for Dr. Ueno to return. A young child takes an interest in Hachiko and brings yummy snacks while he waits, forging a friendship with Hachiko. When Dr. Ueno dies, Hachiko continues to wait diligently for his return, leaving his post only to sleep at Dr. Ueno’s home. Themes of loyalty, death and remembering are discussed. ages 5 and up.
“Let’s get a Pup!” Said Kate Bob Graham Following the death of her cat, Kate is lonesome for a new pet. The family goes to the local animal rescue center for a puppy, and falls for a large, older dog in the process. The book extols both the reasons to adopt from a shelter and the rewards of giving an adult dog a second chance.  ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award. ages 4 and up
Nico & Lola Meggan Hill, photography by Susan M. Graunke Nico’s aunt asks her nephew if he would be so kind as to watch her pug, Lola, while she’s away. Excited, Nico agrees, but later begins to wonder, “How will I be so kind?” So begins a pleasant story about sharing everyday kindnesses. This book has a wealth of meaningful messages like, “being kind is showing concern for others.” Each message is illustrated by the actions of either Nico or Lola as they spend their time together doing doggy and boy activities. Each new page shows the duo participating in excellent behaviors: cleaning, helping one another, sharing, exercising, and getting along with others. ages 2 and up.
Not Afraid of Dogs Susanna Pitzer, illustrated by Larry Day Although he insists he is “not afraid of anything” Daniel avoids dogs. What happens when Daniel comes home to find his mom has agreed to pet sit for Bandit? After hiding from the small brown-and-white dog all day, he encounters her alone at night cowering from the noise of a thunderstorm. When Daniel sees the dog’s fear his own dissolves; he provides her cuddles. In the course of the story Daniel moves from angry and fearful to kind and open-hearted. Overcoming fears and helping animals are themes discussed in this book. ages 5 and up.
Pole Dog Tres Seymour, illustrated by David Soman How does a dog become a “Pole Dog?”  This story follows the life of an older dog in the days after he is left by a pole along the highway until he is spotted by a family driving by. How the dog survives alone and how he feels are poignant themes in this realistic portrayal of the life of an abandoned dog. This book is a reminder of a dog’s unwavering desire for security. Themes of abandoning an animal and a animals need for security are discussed. ages 6 and up


Six-Dinner Sid Inga Moore Sid is a cat, who likes to eat six dinners a day, so he lives at numbers 1-6 Aristotle Street (unbeknownst to his owners, who, because they don’t speak to each other, each think he is theirs exclusively). Sid’s life is perfect until he catches a cold and is taken to the vet, who works out Sid’s secret, and, ahem, ‘lets the cat out of the bag’. Unhappy with his new ration of one dinner a day, Sid goes to live at numbers 1-6 Pythagoras Place, where everybody talks to their neighbors, and knows what Sid is up to from the beginning – so they don’t mind.  This is a useful book for explaining the importance of community, and the fact that people live differently in different kinds of homes. It is also useful for discussion about the habits of animals. ages 4 and up
Tails Are Not for Pulling. Elizabeth Verdick. Illustrated by Marieka Heinlen Animals may not have words, but they can communicate. Paying attention to an animal’s cues can help a child understand what the animal is “saying” and what an appropriate response might be. That’s part of what this book is about. But mostly it’s about showing children how to love pets gently-because pets are for loving, after all. A special section for adults includes ideas for teaching kindness to animals, activities, and discussion starters. ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award. KIND Children’s Honor Book. Gr. Pre S-K.
The Way I Love You David Bedford. Illustrated by Ann James As a smiling girl interacts with her enthusiastic pup, she describes her feelings for the dog: “I love…the way you always care,/the way you’re always there./That’s the way I love you.” The engaging illustrations show the two friends sharing a variety of experiences: wearing crowns and having tea, playing with a tennis ball, snuggling together in a soft chair, and finally cuddled up at bedtime.  Friendship and loyalty are themes in this book. Gr. Pre S-1.

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