Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Dog Days of Summer

We are truly in the dog days of summer - record high temps, record low rainfall. Just where did this saying come from? According to Wilstar.com, it has to do with the constellations, and the brightest star in Canis Major, Sirius.

 In the summer, however, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star.

So what to do to make these days better? How about reading some books about dogs? There are so many books about dogs for all ages, you could make a readathon of dog books the whole family could participate in. For the youngest readers, there is Dr. Seuss' Go, Dog, Go; Gene Zion's Harry, The Dirty Dog; and Laura Numeroff's If You Give A Dog A Donut. For the elementary-aged children try Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh , William H. Armstrong's Sounder, Wilson Rawls' Where The Red Fern Grows, Fred Gipson's Old Yeller, Jack London's Call of the Wild or White Fang, John R. Erickson's Hank the Cowdog series and Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmations. If these books don't teach your children something about empathy, nothing will.

For mom and dad, how about Garth Stein's The Art of Racing In the Rain or David Wroblewski's The Story of Edgar Sawtelle? Looking for something scarier? Try Stephen King's Cujo or for a touch of fantasy there's Carolyn Parkhurt's The Dogs of Babel. If you're looking for a dog book that will make you laugh and cry, try John Grogan's Marley and Me. 

 When you're reading marathon is done, you can still stay inside and enjoy air-conditioning by watching the movie adaptations of a number of these great books. What books featuring dogs would you add to this list?

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