Lyle Says: Summer Reading Recommendations and Reminiscences from My Dad


When I was a kid (a thousand years ago) summer was a time for no school, no homework, spending all day at the park or pool, getting ice cream from the Good Humor truck, and it was a time for the summer reading program at our local library.

I’m showing my inner nerd here but I loved it! Going to the library each week, picking out two (or even three) books, checking them out with my own library card, and racing home to start reading them, knowing that each one I finished meant another sticker on my summer reading chart. I told you I’m a nerd.

I guess that’s why, all these years later, I still love libraries and bookstores. Being surrounded by books makes me almost as happy as being surrounded by dogs. So, being surrounded by books about dogs…you get the idea. Here is a short list of some of my favorites—for both “big dogs” and “pups.” Enjoy! The team at Downtown Dogs wishes you and yours a happy and safe rest of summer. If you have not visited us in a while, remember we are here for an hour, a day, or an overnight stay.

— Ralph Bernstein, dad of Lyle, Frannie, and Helen and Owner/Operator of Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out

Inside of a Dog – explore “what dogs see, smell and know”…”as close as you can get to knowing about dogs without being a dog yourself,” by Alexandra Horowitz

Off the Leash: A Year in the Dog Park – “take a trip into the dog park subculture,” by Matthew Gilbert

E.B. White on Dogs – witty essays, poems, letters, and sketches about this Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little author’s canine companions.

Travels with Charley In Search of America – travel on a road trip across America with beloved writer  John Steinbeck and Charley, his French Poodle

A Big Little Life – “a memoir a joyful [retired service dog] dog named Trixie,” by Dean Koontz

Last but not least, I love ANY book by Jon Katz, ESPECIALLY the ones about dogs. Shocking, right? Katz is an incredibly talented, versatile, modern writer of both fiction and non-fiction. His early books were more in the mystery/crime genre and about Geek Culture. His many, fantastic, non-fiction dog books — including two children’s books: Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm and Lenore Finds a Friend — eloquently explore our relationships with dogs (and other animals).

If you have young ones in your life, consider introducing them to these, somewhat classic, children’s books too. All of them are Bernstein family favorites. They have stood the test of time and I’m confident you’ll find that they all still hold up today:

The Poky Little Puppy — a 1942 Classic Little Golden Book, by Janette Sebring Lowrey

Pretzel — written and illustrated in 1944 by the husband and team who created Curious George, H. A. And Margret Rey

Harry the Dirty Dog — a beloved children’s book published in 1956, by Gene Zion

Go, Dog. Go., The Digging-Est Dog, and Put me in the Zoo — all written in the 1960’s and part of Dr. Seuss’ Beginner Book Collection

Clifford the Big Red Dog — a Scholastic favorite of kids for nearly six decades, by Norman Bridwell

The Phantom Tollbooth — a children’s fantasy adventure novel published in 1961, by Norton Juster

Carl The Dog — a beautifully illustrated, nearly wordless series of more than 15 books published over the last 40 years, by Alexandra Day

The Poet’s Dog — by Newbery Medal-winning author Patricia MacLachlan

The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.