George Angell founded the Humane Education Society in 1889, believing that reaching out to youth with stories of courage and compassion was one of the most powerful ways to help build character. By 1909, he distributed the classic Ann Sewell book about a horse, Black Beauty, to 3 million youth, many of whom become involved in animal protection as a result. Angell then held a writing contest and the winner, “Beautiful Joe” by Margaret Saunders, helped create widespread sympathy for mistreated dogs as well. Not long after, the national Parent Teacher Association embraced the idea of character education in schools and “Be Kind to Animals” became a familiar theme.Animal stories in particular have wide appeal and hold reader interest, from youth to adult, including reluctant readers. The giving season offers an opportunity to choose these literary gifts that are opened again and again, each time strengthening the human-animal bond and the connection with the earth and all living things. Here is a short list of award-winning and educator-recommended titles. Subjects cover empathy, bullying, loss, diversity and tolerance, friendship, peace, respect, responsibility, violence prevention and more. These books are just a sampling of the kind of literature available from pre-K to adult. Full descriptions are readily available with an internet title search. Interest ages are general suggestions.
“Above All, Be Kind: Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times,” Zoe Weil; “Animals Make Us Human,” Temple Grandin; “Dog Sense,” John Bradshaw; “Dominion,” Matthew Scully; “For the Love of a Dog,” Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.; “Grieving the Death of a Pet,” Betty Jo Carmack; “Last Child in the Woods,” Richard Louv; Pleasurable Kingdom, Jonathan Balcombe; “Reason for Hope,” Jane Goodall; “The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats,” Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
“Because of Winn Dixie,” Kate DiCamillo; “Ghost of Cutler Creek,” Cynthia DeFelice; “High in the Clouds,” Paul McCartney, Geoff Dunbar and Philip Ardagh; “Shadow Horse,” Alison Hart; “Shiloh,” Phyllis Reynolds Naylor; “Star in the Storm,” Joan Hiatt Harlow; “Straydog,” Kathe Koja Strider, Beverly Cleary; “The Cat Who Came for Christmas,” Cleveland Amory; “The World According to Dog,” Joyce Sidman and Doug Mindell.
“Second Chance: How Adoption Saved a Boy with Autism & His Shelter Dog,” Sandra J. Gerencher and Virginia Cody; “The Very Best of Friends,” Margaret Wild; “Hachiko Waits,” Leslea Newman and Machiyo Kodaira; “Phantom Stallion,” Terri Farley; “Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends,” Carol Buckley; “Lucky the Lorikeet,” Monica Engebretson; “A Home for Dakota,” Jan Grover and Nancy Lane; “Charlotte's Web,” E. B. White; “Fun Stuff to Do with Your Best Friend,” Nancy Furstinger; “ER Vets,” Donna M. Jackson; “Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship,” Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Peter Greste; “Rickie & Henri: A True Story,” Jane Goodall and Alan Marks.
“A Home for Nathan” by Claudia M. Roll; “The Great Kapok,” Lynne Cherry; “Hey, Little Ant,” Phillip and Hannah Hoose; “Jasper's Day” by Marjorie Blain Parker; “Madeline's Miracles” by Loren Spiotta-DiMare; “Mutt Dog,” Stephen Michael King; “Stellaluna,” Janell Cannon; “Dogku,” Andrew Clements and Tim Bowers; “Fred Stays With Me!,” Nancy Coffelt, and Tricia Tusa; “Max Talks to Me,” Claire Buchwald and Karen Ritz; “Oh, Theodore!,” Susan Katz and Stacey Schuett; “Not Afraid of Dogs,” Susanna Pitzer and Larry Day; “Buddy Unchained,” Daisy Bix and Joe Hyatt; “Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina,” Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery.
“A Kid’s Best Friend,” Maya Ajmera and Alex Fisher; “Chewy Louie,” Howie Schneider; “Goyangi Means Cat,” Christine Duncan; “Nico & Lola,” Meggan Hill and Susan M. Graunke; “The Way I Love You,” David Bedford and Ann James; “Each Living Thing,” Joanne Ryder and Ashley Wolff; “Before You Were Mine,” Maribeth Boelts and David Walker; “Ginger Finds a Home,” Charlotte Voakel; “Don’t Lick the Dog,” Wendy Wahman; “‘The Trouble with Dogs,’ said Dad,” Bob Graham; “The Stray Kitten,” Judy Waite and Gavin Rowe; “Each Living Thing,” Joanne Ryder and Ashley Wolff.There are many more titles which enthrall, entertain and nurture core values in readers of all ages. For more complete lists call 530-542-2857.— Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.” Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.