Roughly 85 million U.S. families own a pet, the 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association reveals. Many children love the idea of owning a pet — whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig, or even a snake. If you’re preparing for a new pet to join the family, books are a great way to teach your child about pets and pet care.  

Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet

Gilbert is a happy and healthy goldfish. But, he’s missing the thing he desires most in life: his own pet. Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet (by Kelly DiPucchio) follows the story of Gilbert’s search to find the perfect animal companion. On his journey he encounters a dog, a mouse, and a fly before meeting his new best friend. This story teaches children all about friendship and the responsibility that comes with looking after a pet. It’s particularly helpful if your children are interested in getting a fish. They’ll learn about choosing the right aquarium, a healthy feeding schedule, and necessary exercise. You can also use this opportunity to discuss the benefits of eco-friendly fish ownership. For example, discuss why your family can choose an aquaponic fish tank for your fish, which is a low-maintenance, self-sustaining system that can also help you grow a flourishing indoor garden. Ages 3-5

Tails Are Not for Pulling  

Part of the award-winning Best Behavior book series, Tails Are Not for Pulling (by Elizabeth Verdick) teaches children how to interact with pets peacefully and positively — and the importance of doing so. It explains the sorts of interactions pets enjoy (petting) and don’t enjoy (tail pulling). It also teaches children about the ways animals communicate with humans through wagging tails, purring, growling, and hissing. The book provides the opportunity for children to learn new words (like squeezing, nuzzling, warn, and teasing). Also included at the end of the book are animal-friendly activities and fun facts about pets. Ages 2 and up. For parents with younger children, there’s a shorter version of the book available — Tails Are Not for Pulling for toddlers.

Oh, Theodore!

Oh, Theodore! by Susan Katz is a series of poems written about a pet guinea pig named Theodore. The poems tell the simple story of the daily life of a child looking after her pet. Children will learn all about what’s involved in taking care of a guinea pig — such as, feeding, cleaning the cage, and daily exercise. They’ll also learn about how to become friends with their guinea pig. The poems are easy to read and packed with delightful, colorful illustrations. It’s a great way to introduce children to poetry. Suitable for ages 4 and up.

Whether you’re looking to get a new pet or are simply interested in teaching your child about animals, books are a great way to do it. These titles will delight children and adults alike and impart valuable lessons concerning pet ownership. 

Contributed by freelance writer Jocelyn Brown

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