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"The Poky Little Puppy": What Lessons Does This Book Teach Your Children?

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I enjoy crocheting and loom knitting, spending time with my family, and my job at a local hospital.

"The Poky Little Puppy": What Lessons and Morals Does This Book Teach Your Children?

"The Poky Little Puppy": What Lessons and Morals Does This Book Teach Your Children?

Little Golden Books

This Little Golden Book was one of the original twelve and was written in 1942 by Janette Sebring Lowery. The pictures are brightly colored and grab a child’s attention. The cover is made of a cardboard-like material, making it easier for a child to hold and less likely to get damaged; it pictures a puppy in a low, playful stance with bright flowers, a caterpillar, and a lizard. The book has sold over 15 million copies and is one of the most popular children’s books out there.

Lessons From The Poky Little Puppy

In this book, there are many lessons and morals to help children learn while being entertained.

  • Counting to 5. The first of the things a child will learn from this book is counting to five. They start off with five little puppies and when they reach the hill “they count themselves: “one, two, three, and four. One little puppy wasn’t there.” This same phrase is repeated three times in the story so the child counts to four and remembers there were five, three times. This repetition appeals because the author introduces new and interesting animals that readers find when looking for the lost puppy. A small lesson, yet still important.
  • New Animals. Introducing new animals helps a child develop an awareness of different species. They learn that a dog and a horse are not the same thing—that a caterpillar is not a snake and a spider is not a toad. The author also tells children how they move, what color they are, and how big, and uses classifiers to differentiate them. As an adult, I notice that the animals she shows can be divided into two categories: insects (caterpillar, spider, and grasshopper) and amphibians (snake, toad, lizard). Granted these classifications may not be noticed by a child, it is still a lesson.
  • Vocabulary and Opposites. The author uses descriptive words that can be imagined as opposites, like “up the hill” and “down the hill.” She also uses large and small, green and brown, big and little, quick, hop, and fuzzy. All these words help to describe the animals they see coming up or going down the hill.
  • Directions. She also uses words to help children use and understand direction. The story takes us through the meadow, down the road, over the bridge, across the green grass, and up the hill. This helps children learn the proper words for directions and it reads very rhythmically so it is entertaining as well.

Moral Lessons Taught in The Poky Little Puppy

The big lesson of the book is a little more complicated. At first, I just thought the lesson was to obey your parents and the rules or you will be punished. However, after reading it for the 20th or so time, I began to see that the pokey little puppy is quite devious. He lags behind and, even though he knows it is wrong, he shows up after the other puppies have gone to bed without their dessert (punished for digging a hole under the fence and running off). Seeing that everyone is asleep, he eats all the dessert and happily falls asleep. The second day goes the same.

Now mind you he is not a “slow” puppy—he is quite aware and keen on details. He smelled the rice pudding and chocolate custard and the strawberry shortcake. He held back because he knew he would get in trouble and dessert would be withheld as a punishment. So by arriving late, he can sneak it all for himself and not be punished.

He is caught on the third day because the other puppies realize what their mother was trying to teach them. As a group they fill in the holes, and she rewards them with dessert. By the time the pokey little puppy gets home (thinking he will have the dessert all to himself) there is none left.

The Morals of the Story:

This book does more than just teach a simple lesson like caring or sharing: these lessons can be deep when really thought out.

  • Listen to your parents and don’t break the rules.
  • If a rule is broken, it is best to learn from your mistakes.
  • Groups (or peer pressure) can be bad or good.

Janette Sebring Lowrey's Book

The book is entertaining with colorful pictures. The emotion in the puppies’ faces as they are being punished, being adventurous, and doing the right thing are very appealing and instructive. The author writes with a slow but steady rhythm that as a child I found soothing. There are many good reasons why this book has been popular for so long!


TripleAMom from Florida on July 11, 2012:

I had this book as a child and my children have it and love it. Fun hub to read.

LaDena Campbell from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz... on September 07, 2011:

My mom gave me her copy of Poky Little Puppy when I started school...I gave that same book to my daughter....and now my grandson reads that same exact book....and it's still in great shape!

Ashley (author) from georgia on September 07, 2011:

Wow, thanks for all the comments. It’s great to know that this book still touches so many. This too was one of my favorites and I was going through a box and found it. i sat down in the middle of my basement and read it, so many memories. And Patricia, your right it’s said kids rely on electronic wizardry so much now. I am going to read to my kids every day and I hope to spark an interest in book by doing so.

perfectmom from Chicago burbs, IL on September 07, 2011:

I have many great memories of Little Golden Books. My mom used to let me pick one out at the grocery store and I'd read it while she shopped. Then I'd always convince her to buy it even though I had already read it.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on September 07, 2011:

Wow, this has taken me back several decades! I had this book in the early 1950s, probably as a gift. I loved it - the wonderful phrases 'up the hill' and 'down the hill' had a beautiful rythem. Of course, it could be that I simply enjoyed hearing my mother read.

I feel sorry for kids now who get fobbed off with electronic games. Electronic wizardry is no substitute for sitting with a loving parent and having their attention.

Marissa from United States on September 07, 2011:

The Pokey Little Puppy was a favorite childhood book of mine. I believe I still have my original copy...

I love that you described the lessons taught in this book. They certainly are great little lessons for young children.

Thanks for sharing! I'm going to see if I can find my copy and read it to my kids. :)