The best children’s books about service dogs

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a mother, author, teacher, and animal lover. I write humorous picture books focused on gratitude, persistence, and joy. My inspiration for writing I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog came from my oldest daughter’s painful celiac struggles, which included steroids and hospitalizations. As I researched ways to keep her healthy long-term, without medication, I read more about gluten-sniffing dogs and how amazingly helpful they are for people with severely sensitive celiac disease. Fast forward a few years and now my daughter always has her best friend, Chewie, by her side: the goofiest, sweetest, most lovable gluten-sniffing poodle in town! I hope you enjoy these picture books showcasing disabilities and service dogs.


I wrote...

I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog

By Michal Babay, Ela Smietanka (illustrator),

Book cover of I'm a Gluten-Sniffing Service Dog

What is my book about?

Chewie's nose always knows. That's why he's training to be a gluten-detection service dog for Alice. His job will be to keep Alice from getting sick. But Chewie gets distracted by bugs in the air and pizza on the sidewalk. He must find a way to focus and complete his training―because Alice needs him.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship

Michal Babay Why did I love this book?

I love everything about this book! Loosely based on the partnership between Boston Marathon bombing victim Jessica and her real-life service dog, this story is heart-warming and inspirational. Rescue grew up expecting to become a Seeing Eye dog, but when it turns out he’s better suited to being a service dog, Rescue worries he won’t be able to do the job. Then one day, he meets Jessica, whose life has also been turned upside down. Rescue and Jessica work together to help each other find a way forward, one step at a time. This book belongs in every school and home library!

By Jessica Kensky, Patrick Downes (, Scott Magoon (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rescue and Jessica as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

“An inspiring tale of compassion and perseverance.” —Booklist (starred review)

Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog, but when he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. Based on…


Book cover of Alice Eloise's Silver Linings: The Story of a Silly Service Dog

Michal Babay Why did I love this book?

Another uplifting, “pawsitive,” diversity-inclusive book based on a real-life service dog! This wonderful story reminds kids to look for the silver linings in life, believe in themselves, and never give up. Readers will cheer for Alice Eloise as she overcomes obstacles and works hard to become the perfect silly service dog for her girl. Author Sarah Katherine Frey has overcome numerous health obstacles in her life, yet she always looks for the silver lining. Help promote empathy and disability inclusion in readers by joining Frey and Alice Eloise “on their journey as they go on adventures with a smile and a tail wag, making friends and finding joy wherever their paws may take them.” 

By Sarah Kathryn Frey, Kit Laurence Nacua (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Alice Eloise's Silver Linings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How can you stay positive in the face of adversity? A service dog in training learns that how we face challenges can be bigger than the challenges themselves. Inspire kids to see the positive side of life with this heartwarming puppy dog tale. If we dream big and believe in ourselves, we can achieve most anything!

Alice Eloise’s Silver Linings is the true story of a silly Double Doodle pup named Alice Eloise who dreams of becoming a service dog. Follow Alice Eloise as she overcomes obstacles in her efforts to become a service dog, looking for silver linings along…


Book cover of Sago, A Very Special Service Dog

Michal Babay Why did I love this book?

Diversity representation is a must in books for young readers, and Sago, A Very Special Service Dog, accomplishes this perfectly! Readers will meet Debbie, who is in a wheelchair, and her real-life service dog, Sago. A very sweet book to introduce young readers to these amazing dogs, the jobs they can do, and what to do when we encounter service dogs out and about in the world. 

By Beth Davis, Deborah Schilling (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sago, A Very Special Service Dog as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This colorfully illustrated story reveals the extraordinary true to life relationship between Debbie, a girl in a wheelchair, and her service dog, Sago. Sago, A Very Special Service Dog is a wonderful way to learn about the many ways service and working dogs assist people. Take a close look at the photographs and see a few real dogs in action. Sago, A Very Special Service Dog is a book that matters and makes a difference!


Book cover of Raising a Hero

Michal Babay Why did I love this book?

From the #1 best-selling children’s author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give… series, this story follows Max the puppy as he learns to become a service dog. Max is being trained by Sam, a young boy who knows Max can do it – if only he’d figure out how to stay under the table and ignore those delicious-smelling fries! Follow these two as Max works to earn his service vest and become a hero for someone special. An excellent conversation starter about service dogs and what it takes to be a puppy raiser. 

By Laura Numeroff, Lynn Munsinger (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Raising a Hero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the beloved #1 New York Times best-selling children's author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Give... series.

Max is a lovable and determined puppy with a lot to learn on his adventure of becoming someone's life-changing friend and helper. Max's puppy raiser, Sam, takes him everywhere; on the bus, to puppy kindergarten, and even to restaurants. But it's tough staying underneath the table when the french fries smell so good!

Discover all the fun and important ways Max earns his special yellow vest as he and Sam work together to help someone in need…


Book cover of Our Service Dogs

Michal Babay Why did I love this book?

Come meet a variety of service dogs and their superstar kids! This book introduces real-life service dog teams such as Kaylee and her dog Riley, Thunder the diabetes alert dog, and 6 other amazing fuzzy friends. The book also includes information on what to do when you meet a service dog in a store or anywhere in public. I love this book for many reasons (who wouldn’t love adorable kids and dogs!), but especially for the diversity and disability inclusion shown on every page.

By Amber Diane Hill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Our Service Dogs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

There are so many amazing dogs doing important jobs! Come with Kaylee and her service dog, Riley, as we meet 8 other kids and their service dogs. Then we will find out what to do when you see a service dog! This engaging, inclusive, educational read will help kids better understand the work service dogs do and how to act when they encounter one. Every team in the book is based on a real-life child who uses a service dog to help them navigate life with disability.


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Hotel Oscar Mike Echo

By Linda MacKillop,

Book cover of Hotel Oscar Mike Echo

Linda MacKillop Author Of Hotel Oscar Mike Echo

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

For decades I have volunteered in different capacities, helping the hurting and those living on the margins by tutoring and teaching literacy to the formally incarcerated or homeless, teaching parenting in a maximum-security jail, and teaching ESL to resettled immigrants. Because my own suburban father fell into homelessness at the end of his life due to depression, job losses, divorce, and more, I feel tremendous compassion for anyone in this situation. And as the mother of four grown sons, we filled our home with books—especially books that taught compassion so our sons would grow into men with big hearts towards others. I believe we succeeded.

Linda's book list on hard family circumstances for middle-grade readers

What is my book about?

Home isn’t always what we dream it will be.

Eleven-year-old Sierra just wants a normal life. After her military mother returns from the war overseas, the two hop from home to homelessness while Sierra tries to help her mom through the throes of PTSD.

When they end up at a shelter for women and children, Sierra is even more aware of what her life is not. The kind couple who run the shelter, Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, attempt to show her parental love as she faces the uncertainties of her mom’s emotional health and the challenges of being the brand-new poor kid in middle school. The longer she stays at the shelter, the more Sierra realizes she may have to face an impossible choice as she redefines home.

Hotel Oscar Mike Echo

By Linda MacKillop,

What is this book about?

Home isn’t always what we dream it will be. 

Eleven-year-old Sierra just wants a normal life. After her military mother returns from the war overseas, the two hop from home to homelessness while Sierra tries to help her mom through the throes of PTSD.  

When they end up at a shelter for women and children, Sierra is even more aware of what her life is not. The kind couple who run the shelter, Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin, attempt to show her parental love as she faces the uncertainties of her mom’s emotional health and the challenges of being the brand-new…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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