Introduce children to animal rescue with a good rescue story about dogs, cats, and other animals that have been rescued and adopted. (Even elephants, pigs, skunks, and squirrels!)
Our family has rescued three dogs and one cat so far…and for us, it’s very rewarding. (Although, it comes with challenges, too.)
These are our dogs that we rescued this summer — one is a mutt and one is a husky.
Have you ever rescued an animal?
Dog, Cat, and Other Animal Rescue Stories for Kids
Picture Books (Ages 2 – 8)
Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing
No words are needed as the illustrations narrate the story of a scared little dog who learns to trust the kind, sensitive woman who notices him. When she first sees the dog, the dog doesn’t trust her. She sits day after day, patiently showing the dog that she’s a safe person. And eventually, they make a connection with a tennis ball. Ultimately, the dog learns to trust the woman just in time for her to rescues him from a terrible storm. Now they’re a family, living in her apartment. (Cue sappy music of love, harps, and choirs!) It’s SO SWEET.
Frank and Lucky Get Schooled by Lynne Rae Perkins
Lucky is Frank’s rescue dog and his biggest helper with learning. Together they have fun, educational adventures around the neighborhood. For example, Frank learns about math and puzzles thinking about how much hair Lucky sheds and dividing up sharing the bed with Lucky. The author makes the duo’s learning fun and embedded throughout the day whether it’s geography, science, or math.
Can I Be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings
Perdu by Richard Jones
Perdu is a lonely, scared dog who is looking for a home. He searches through the country to the city with a rumbling tummy he persists. When he enters a cafe to steal food, people yell at him, and he runs away, worried he will never find a place to belong. But, someone noticed him running from the cafe…Kids will predict the ending of this story using the pictures — and it’s lovely.
Stretchy McHandsome by Judy Schachner
If you like sweet stories with happy endings, you’ll love this story of a cat who finds his person and whose brother and sister cats find their people, too. Stretchy sets off on an adventure and discovers a girl who loves him at first sight. Their bond is made even better when her 8 brothers and sisters adopt Stretchy’s brothers and sisters.
Our Wild Tails: The Adventures of Henry & Baloo by Cynthia Bennett
RESCUE CAT & DOG
Bennett’s family adopts Henry and he starts out as a mountain dog who loves to hike and camp. But, he had severe separation anxiety — hyperventilating and refusing water and food. After three years, the family decides to give Henry a companion, a kitten named Baloo. The two become the best of friends, hiking together, sleeping together, and playing together. Baloo often rides on Henry’s back — which is adorable! Gorgeous photographs as well as some quotes and narration, this friendship story is an inspiration.
Mr. Scruff by Simon James
There’s a dog for everyone! In this story about rescue and friendship, we meet lots of dogs and their owners. Minnie belongs to Vinnie. Mick belongs to Rick. But who does old Mr. Scruff belong to? Jim takes Mr. Scruff home from the shelter and even though their names don’t rhyme, it’s all good! And later, Mr. Gruff finds his puppy…a puppy named Tim!
Maya and the Lost Cat by Caroline Magerl
Rich in figurative language and imagery, Maya rescues a cat but then searches for its owners. Finally, she finds where the cat belongs. As a thank you, the cat gives her a gift — a kitten. Gorgeous word choice and illustrations! “Then, sly and gentle, Cat carried something… a small and cloudy gray bundle…and gave her kitten to Maya.” Added to: Favorite Children’s Books About Cats
I Am a Wolf by Kelly Leigh Miller
She barks like a wolf, she’s alone like a wolf, she’s scary like a wolf. We get the sense that this rescue dog just wants to be loved and uses her wolfiness as a defense mechanism. Then, a little girl comes along and sees her, loves her, and names her Wolf. An appealing story with fun illustrations.
This Way, Charlie by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso
GOAT AND HORSE RESCUE
A tender, touching, and inspiring friendship story! Just like the Ranch believes in patience and love, the Ranch’s new goat named Charlie befriends a grumpy, blind horse named Jack through love and patience. Jack helps Charlie find his way around the Ranch. They spend their days together but not their nights because Jack is too afraid of barns. One day, a terrible storm traps Charlie outside and it’s up to Jack to go to get help. And after the Ranch friends rescue Charlie, Charlie is able to help his friend Jack overcome his fear of the barn.
The Elephant’s New Shoe by Laurel Neme, illustrated by Ariel Landy
Nick Marx of Wildlife Alliance finds a baby elephant who has a foot injury. He builds trust enough to take the little elephant named Chhouk to his rescue center where he and his staff build him a prosthetic shoe. Today, he still lives there and gets a new shoe every six months. It’s a beautiful story of love for an animal.
Polly and Her Duck Costume The True Story of a Little Blind Rescue Goat by Leanne Lauricella, illustrated by Jill Howarth
Sweet little Polly, a goat, loves snuggling in a blanket on the couch of her new home because she easily feels anxious. But one day, something unexpected soothes her — a fuzzy duck costume. It makes her feel safe and happy. When she grows out of her costume, she gives it to her new goat friend, Pippa. Pippa’s friendship makes Polly feel safe now, too. Check out the photographs in the back of the real-life Polly in her duck costume! This story will help you learn about the rescue animals from Goats of Anarchy as well as acceptance and inclusion.
Chapter and Middle Grade Books (Ages 6 – 12)
Emmet and Jez Adventures in Fosterland by Hannah Shaw, illustrated by Bev Johnson (ages 6 – 9)
Jez, a kitten with three legs, assumes that Emmett is a kitten. Emmett notices that he’s not a very good kitten — and learns that it’s because he’s a pig. They wonder what Foreverland will be like. Emmett’s Foreverland is exactly what he always dreamed of — a friendly farm with other pigs and cows and many new friends. A funny and sweet book about kindness and learning to be yourself.
The Nearly Calamitous Taming of PZ by Martha Ritter, illustrated by Matt Ryan
A mute, nameless foxhound has spent her life in a laboratory cage. She has never seen the sun. When she gets rescued, Dottie, a diva ladybug with a heart as big as her hat, helps the dog understand the world and find a home with Olivia, a restless, solitary girl seeking comfort that her new pet cannot supply.
Misty the Abandoned Kitten (Pet Rescue Adventures) by Holly Webb
Good Dog, McTavish by Meg Rosoff, illustrated by Grace Easton
I adore this endearing story about a family in chaos and the dog (and youngest sibling) who fixes everything. The writing is brilliant with subtle, wry humor. When a mom quits “momming”, the youngest daughter, Betty, suggests that the family get a dog. Betty chooses McTavish the dog at a shelter or does McTavish choose them? Right away, he gets to work organizing the family which… takes plans and more plans.
Rainbow Street Shelter: A Dog Called Bear by Wendy Orr
Rainbow Street Shelter books are fantastic stories of mystery and compassion toward animals, great for any animal lover. In this story, Logan’s beloved dog named Bear runs away. Logan will eventually find Bear after Bear finds Hannah first then ends up at the Rainbow Street Shelter.
When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin
Tear alert! Ben has been through so many challenges– a foster family, adoption by an amazing woman who dies after a few years, and now a bad new situation with his adopted mother’s sister. But, he has two things that are good, really good — his rescued dog, Flip, and his favorite librarian’s daughter as a good friend. Until his friend’s cancer gets worse . . . and his uncle punches him in the face . . .The story is gripping, the ending bittersweet, and the writing amazing.
Shelter Pet Squad: Jelly Bean by Cynthia Lord
Suzannah joins the Shelter Pet Squad because her apartment building doesn’t allow pets. She meets a sad girl who has to leave her guinea pig, Jelly Bean, at the shelter due to moving. Suzannah promises the girl she’ll find Jelly Bean a good home. Only it’s not as easy as she first thought. The Shelter Pet Squad works together to find the perfect home — a kindergarten classroom.
White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan
Zoe’s family rescues dogs in need. A new family has moved in across the street and Phillip, the boy, has stopped speaking. He doesn’t even want to try. But Zoe’s new rescue dog might just help the boy heal and speak.
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Quirky and delightful, this is the tale of a girl named Flora who rescues a squirrel and keeps it as a friend. Together they experience the world in a unique, funny, and wonderful way, and straighten it out, too — along with Flora’s mother.
Case File Little Claws Animal Rescue Agency #1 by Eliot Schrefer
POLAR BEAR RESCUE
Esquire Fox, a fox, runs the Animal Rescue Agency with the help of her business manager, a rooster named Mr. Pepper. Despite the prey-predator scenario, the duo travels to the Arctic to save a polar bear cub adrift at sea, separated from his mother, and hunted by a dangerous human who wants to sell him. Entertaining writing, lovable main characters with distinctive personalities, and an exciting adventure make this an excellent start to a new series.
Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere by Elise Gravel
If you LOVE kooky books, this book fits the bill. Olga finds a most unusual, unknown creature whom she names “MEH” after the sound it makes. She uses her deductive reasoning to figure out what it is (something new!) and what it likes to eat (olives)! But what will she do when Meh disappears? Things I love about this book: 1) the illustrations — they rock! 2) the narrator’s voice — it’s believable and funny 3) the plot — especially finding out that the mean girls aren’t so mean after all.
Mango and Bambang The Not-a-Pig by Clara Vulliamy
Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes
I picked this book because of the cat pictured on the front cover — and found it to be more meaningful than I had expected. Gaby loves animals and hopes to one day adopt a cat. But that’s not possible since her mom was deported to Honduras. Now Gaby had to live with her neglectful father but she hopes that when her mom returns, everything will be better and she can adopt her favorite shelter cat.
Sparkle Spa: Purple Nails and Puppy Tails by Jill Santopolo
Surprisingly, I thought this was a delightful new easy chapter book series. Sisters, Aly and Brooke, start their own nail business in the back room of their mother’s nail salon for their soccer friends. To help a local animal shelter, the girls decide to give free pedicures to help support the shelter’s efforts find homes for the animals. And yes, pet-icures are in the story, too!
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold, illustrated by Charles Santoso
When Bat’s veterinarian mom brings home an orphaned baby skunk, Bat immediately wants to prove that he can be the best pet caretaker ever in order to keep the kit named Thor. Bat’s life isn’t only about taking care of Thor but going to school and visiting his dad every other weekend. The author skillfully weaves in Bat’s unique perspective on life showing the characteristics of his neurodiversity.
Crime Biters: My Dog Is Better Than Your Dog by Tommy Greenwald
This is a funny beginning chapter book about a boy who is convinced (rightly so?!) that his rescue dog is a crime-solving, vampire, genius! A great easy book for older readers.
One-Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans
Animal Rescue Friends by Meika Hashimoto, Gina Loveless, and Genevieve Kote
Interconnected stories of children’s lives show how they find solace and purpose through the Animal Rescue Friends shelter. Each child’s character is well-developed and we feel connected to their story and to their life. Kids who love animals will fall in love with this beautiful, appealing graphic novel.
Dolphin Rescue (Animal Planet Adventures #1) by Catherine Nichols
Almost Home by Joan Bauer
A great teacher, a rescue dog, and a love of poetry help Sugar face the challenges of homelessness.
Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata, illustrated by Marianna Raskin
The Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
Short but filled with tenderness! When a grief-stricken dog rescues two lost children in a terrible snowstorm, he takes them to the cabin of his deceased poet friend. Told from the dog’s perspective we watch the kids and dog bond while they try to survive without any adults.
Saving H’Non Chang and the Elephant by Trang Nguyen and Jeet Zdung
EPISTOLARY GRAPHIC NOVEL / ANIMAL RESCUE
Written like a graphic novel combined with a scrapbook, this based on a true story is both heartbreaking and heartwarming with a beautiful emotional arc. In first-person narration, Chang describes working at a wildlife rescue center in Vietnam and meeting an abused older elephant named H’Non. She and her boss save him from maltreatment and search for a kind trainer to work with H’Non. As you cheer Chang along, you’ll learn about Vietnam, elephants, and animal rescue work. The illustrations are detailed, gorgeous, and memorable. You won’t want to miss this exceptional middle grade graphic novel with four starred reviews. It belongs in every school library!
Elephant Secret by Eric Walters
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
My daughter and I love this book — it was her favorite of 2018 by far! The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl is a thoughtful coming-of-age story about a girl genius with OCD whose grandma wants her to go to public middle school for three reasons: to make one friend, read one non-math book, and join one school activity. Although she’s reluctant to go, Lucy finds friends and connects with a rescue dog for a school project. It’s a well-written, heart-warming story that will change your perspective of mental illness and give you hope for humanity.
Wild Survival: Crocodile Rescue! by Melissa Cristina Marquez
Adrianna’s parents have an animal sanctuary and host an animal rescue that is moving from YouTube to television. On this trip, which is being filmed for the new show, the family goes to the mangrove forest of Cuba to help an injured crocodile. (The book is interspersed with factual information about all the wildlife they encounter!) Andriana messes up and gets grounded but besides saving a dog, she realizes something the grown-ups missed– that the rescued crocodile had a nest of eggs. She convinces her brother to help her save the eggs but they have a very close call with poachers, adding in suspense and a touch of danger. Engaging and interesting!
The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan
A heartwarming story of family separation, animal rescue, and friendship!
Sila and her dad miss Sila’s mom who has been stuck in Turkey for a year trying to fix her immigration problems. When her dad brings her to a mechanic job, Sila meets Gio, a lonely older man named Gio who had won the lottery. Gio spontaneously uses the money to buy an old circus elephant named Veda. He hires Sila and an autistic boy named Mateo for the summer to help with the elephant, building a close friendship with each other and the animals. When Gio’s mom, a lawyer, learns about Sila’s mom, she gets involved. The story’s beautiful ending made me cry!