–Guest Blog by Rebecca Holland

International Book Giving Day is February 14th!

Thats right! February 14th is more special than you may realize! While typically regarded as being synonymous with the ‘day of love’, as cupid’s arrow strikes romantic couples across the world–it has other purposes as well. In recent years, friends have also recognised the day to celebrate their platonic love, too. But not all our love is for our partners or friends. As pet parents, we also love our pets, and many of us can’t resist a good book about fictional furry friends.

Giving a book is seen as an act of love, which is why we also celebrate International Book Giving Day on Valentines day. This volunteer-run initiative gets books into the hands of children who don’t have any, with donation drives in the United States and 43 other countries. This initiative is a great reminder that all children deserve access to good books, no matter their circumstance.

It also gives us a way to share the love with the children in our lives this year. By giving them a book, we can ignite their reading spark, and give them something to fall in love with.

And what better books to give than those that celebrate the human-animal bond? I know for many of us that stories about animals from our childhood helped us fall in love with animals, become responsible pet parents, and develop compassion for animals.

I’ve rounded up our recommendations of some of the best literary pet books that are great stories for children and, of course, feature our lovable animal friends.

1) Horse Girl, by Carrie Seim

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group. Published; 30 March 2021

Buy on Barnes and Noble

This is a lovely book for any child who asks for a pony every year on their birthday, or dreams of riding lessons. The story follows a girl named Willis, who tries to navigate school at the prestigious Oakwood Riding Academy–including boys and mean girls–all with her trusty steed, her rescue horse, Clyde, by her side. Described as Black Beauty meets Mean Girls, it is a tale of friendship and growing up and fitting in. Perfect for readers aged 8-12.

2) The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, by Megan Shepherd

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books. Published; 6 March 2016

Buy on Barnes and Noble

When it comes to magic, this book has it in buckets. There are horses that transform into enchanting, winged creatures, and an adventure for readers to get lost and escape in. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016 suggests, the plotline is “reminiscent of the Chronicles of Narnia” and thus ideal for slightly older children who quietly daydream of magic. Perfect for readers aged 10-12.

3) Kiki’s Delivery Service, by Eiko Kadono

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books. Published; 1985

Buy on Barnes and Noble

The book that inspired Studio Ghibli’s 1989 movie Kiki’s Delivery Service is a children’s novel that will appeal to any reader who would be charmed by a friendly, talking cat. As a young witch, Kiki’s adventure will excite younger readers and open up a world of possibilities. It’s a tale about finding your own destiny, following your dreams, and making friends and new family along the way. Perfect for readers aged 10-12.

4) 5)The Jungle Book (originally published 1967), by Rudyard Kipling

Publisher: Manga Classics. Published; 24 August 2021

Buy on Barnes and Noble

This story has become iconic thanks to the Disney movie adaptation, and so will be familiar to many children. This manga adaptation, featuring full-page illustrations and an edgier, newer art style, will appeal to the young teenager who says they’re “too old for children’s stories” and seeks more independence, but also finds comfort in their childhood favourites when you’re not looking. Perfect for readers aged 13-14.

5) The Cat in the Hat, by Dr Seuss

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books. Published; 12 March 1957

Buy on Barnes and Noble

This is a tale that younger readers may like more than adults, because of all the mess and antics that the Cat in the Hat and the children get up to! It is a great bedtime read to enjoy reading along with children, and spark their imagination with the full-page illustrations. Children can also grow with the story, eventually reading it by themselves, because as a hardback, it will last for many years. Perfect for readers aged 5-8.

6) Five on a Treasure Island (originally published 1942), by Enid Blyton

Publisher: Hachette Children’s Group. Published; 8 September 2014.

Buy on Barnes and Noble

This is one of Enid Blyton’s series, which appeals to older children looking for an adventure, as it follows five children who find themselves in all kinds of thrilling adventures. In this book, a large brown mongrel dog called Timmy joins the children and is described as having “lovely eyes”, which is sure to delight any child. There are even 28 books in this series, which will keep any child busy over the summer holidays. Perfect for readers aged 9-11 years.

7) The 101 Dalmatians (originally published 1956), by Dodie Smith

Publisher; Penguin Young Reader’s Group. Published: 22 January 2002.

Buy on Barnes and Noble

Many people are familiar with the Disney version of this story, but the original book is a dog-lovers dream. The plotline ollows Pongo and Missis, two proud new Dalmatian parents, as they try to rescue their litter of puppies from becoming fur coats!. As the inspiration for the Disney movie, this would be great for readers who are gaining more independence, but still wishing to read a story that is familiar. Perfect for readers aged 8-12.

Rebecca Holland is a writer from the UK. She’s an animal lover with a soft spot for purring cats, especially when she’s reading, and loves nothing more than a good book with animal companions. Check out some of Rebecca’s other work at VelvetOpus.com and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter. Read more about companion animals in fiction by Rebecca here.

Published On: February 11, 2022|Categories: Cats, Dogs|