2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup: Dogs on Duty

Welcome to 2015 Rebecca Caudill Roundup, my new Thursday feature which will introduce you to the 20 books on the  2015 Master List of nominees for the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award.

dogsondutyWhen I introduced this book at the Illinois Reading Council conference last March I said, “It’s a book about dogs–military dogs.” And then I bowed and said, “Next!”

My point was that Dogs on Duty: Soldiers’ Best Friends on the Battlefield and Beyond by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent is not going to need a lot of selling to students in grades 4-8. The length, the picture book format, and especially the topic will take care of piquing their interest just fine. And once the students open its pages, they will certainly not want to put this stellar informational text down.

Dogs on Duty is an in-depth look at the dog’s important role in U.S. military history, dating back to World War I. Students will learn not only the many types of jobs dogs do but will also go behind-the-scenes at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, where dogs are bred, trained, and prepared for military duty. Also included are sidebars which highlight “famous” dogs in U.S. wars and conflicts throughout the years. The writing is concise, clear, and draws readers in.

The pictures of dogs and their trainers and partners are well-chosen and highlight how both dogs and people prepare to work together and the equipment they use. There are lots of “awww…” moments, and there’s even a picture from Scott Air Force Base in Rantoul, and, thus, an Illinois connection.

Patent includes informational text conventions such as section headings, a glossary, a healthy index, photo and source credits, and a list of books and websites for further reading, making this a good mentor text.

Many teachers of social studies and science would definitely find ways to integrate this book and its information into their curriculum. An extension would be to contact your local police department to see if any K-9 units would be available for a demonstration. A team of teachers at my middle school has scheduled such a presentation annually, and it is one that students remember fondly all throughout the year.

I can think of a number of novels with which Dogs on Duty would pair well, including three I highlighted in a previous post, Bow-WOW! Booktalking Brevity; another 2015 RCYRBA nominee, Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow; and C. Alexander London’s Dog Tags series. I’m sure a search of your public or school library’s catalog would result in many more as well.

Other 2015 Rebecca Caudill Reading Roundup Posts

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