Un-Forgettable Friday: A Home for Dakota by Jan Zita Grover; Illustrated by Nancy Lane
February 12, 2010 in Elementary Educators, Grover Jan Zita, Lane Nancy, Making Personal Connections, Personal Connections, Picture Book, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, Research Ideas, Un-Forgettable Friday Tags: A Home for Dakota, Animal shelters, childhood cancer, Humane Society, Jan Zita Grover, Nancy Lane, puppy mills, rescue dogs
I decided to write about this book today in honor of the approaching holiday–Valentine’s Day. This book is about love in one of the most selfless and special ways we can give love–to animals who have been in puppy mills. **A portion of the sales profits from A Home for Dakota go to shelters and animal rescue groups.
*Picture book for preschoolers through second graders, contemporary fiction
*Puppy mill pup as main character
*Rating: A Home for Dakota will pull at your heartstrings and make you want to hug your pets and your children!
Short, short summary: A Home for Dakota is told from the point of view of puppy number 241, who starts his life in a puppy mill and is rescued. After being held in a shelter, a human named Emma takes him home to help him get adjusted to living with humans. Emma is patient, kind, loving, and knows how to take care of a sick dog who has lost most of his fur from infection. She names him Dakota, and he learns to trust her. When he is on the mend, Emma brings a family in to see Dakota, and he learns to live with a new owner. The book being told from the puppy’s point of view makes it that much more powerful, and in my opinion, endearing to children.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. The last page of the book has special information for parents and teachers to teach your students or children more about how to treat dogs. This information may also help you to answer some questions that come up while reading A Home for Dakota. For example, many children might not understand why Dakota has lost his hair and the illustrations show that he has bumps on his skin. As a service learning project to go with A Home for Dakota, students could bring in their pennies to donate to a local animal shelter; or you could find the animal shelter needs list online or by calling, and students could each donate one item off of the list.
2. This is the perfect book to teach animal safety, especially when finding stray dogs or cats. Children often approach stray animals and scare them, and then the animal attacks. You can also discuss with students the proper way to care for and treat an animal that is in their home. After these discussions, allow students to create posters, sharing information they learned. You can hang these in the hallway at your school or in your kitchen (if you home school) to remind others of these important lessons.
3. Children may want to know why “Sweetie” is drawn without any hair. The text never says that Sweetie has cancer, and so children who are not familiar with this may not understand. Take some time to discuss with children why Sweetie may react the way she does to Dakota at first, why she has no hair, and how Dakota and Sweetie become friends. Give children plenty of time to ask questions and share stories of family members or friends with cancer.
Don’t forget–there’s still time to win your very own copy of Hate List by Jennifer Brown. This is a young adult book, fiction, about a school shooting and how students deal with the aftermath. Make a comment on the post about the book by Feb. 14 at 8:00 p.m. CST.