Whether you’re in the mood for a good tearjerker or you’d prefer to avoid them, here are 10 books about dogs that are sure to make you cry:
1. Armstrong, William – Sounder
A classic tearjerker about a poor black sharecropping family during the Jim Crow era, and their loyal coonhound, Sounder.
2. Cameron, W. Bruce – A Dog’s Purpose
In this touching story, a dog named Bailey dies and is reborn several times in pursuit of the answer to the eternal question: “What is the purpose of life?”
3. Creech, Sharon – Love That Dog
Written entirely in free verse, this creative book tells the story of a young boy who learns to love poetry with the help of his teacher and his beloved dog, Sky.
4. Gardiner, John Reynolds – Stone Fox
A boy is determined to win the National Dog Sled Race with the help of his gallant dog, Searchlight, so he can save his grandfather’s farm.
5. Gipson, Fred – Old Yeller
A classic tearjerker about a boy and his dog on the 19th century Texas frontier. Once you’ve dried your tears, you may want to check out the author’s lesser known novel Savage Sam, which tells the story of Old Yeller’s son Sam and has a happier ending.
6. Grogan, Josh – Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog
A recent bestseller about the life of a hyperactive and naughty Labrador retriever.
7. Homer – The Odyssey
The Odyssey, one of the oldest pieces of literature still in existence, is also the earliest dog-related tearjerker. It has a brief, but very moving, scene when the Greek hero Odysseus, returning home disguised after 10 years fighting the Trojan War and another 10 years lost at sea, is recognized only by his faithful dog Argos, who has waited loyally for his master to return home and is so overcome with joy to see him again that he dies on the spot. Argos is also honored in Eleanor Farjeon’s poem Argus and Ulysses, which has been recited by sobbing schoolchildren around the world for decades.
8. Rawls, Wilson – Where the Red Fern Grows
Another classic tearjerker about a boy growing up in the Ozarks and trying to train his coonhounds to win the annual coon-hunt contest.
9. Stein, Garth – The Art of Racing in the Rain
This one is more up-front about the fact that the dog dies than some of the others. It’s narrated by a dying dog convinced that he will be reincarnated as a human being and tells the story of his long and happy, though tumultuous, life with a race car driver and his family.
10. Wallace, Bill – A Dog Called Kitty
The story of an Oklahoma boy who was mauled by a dog when he was young and overcomes his fear of dogs with the help of a scruffy little stray.
Bonus: Rylant, Cynthia – Dog Heaven
This picture book has comforted children and adults alike who are mourning the death of a beloved dog. Simple, bright illustrations and moving text depict a heaven full of dogs’ favorite things, from big open fields to run in to delicious biscuits.
What are your favorite doggy tearjerkers?
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