Harry the Dirty Dog

Written by: Gene Zion

Illustrated by: Margaret Bloy Graham

Before Reading

How would you feel if your family couldn't recognize you? That's what happens when Harry the dog goes on an adventure and gets so dirty that his own family doesn't even know it's him when he returns. Work together to make predictions and observations by looking over the cover and illustrations. Ask questions like:

What do you see on the cover?

How do you think Harry gets so dirty?

Do you like bath time? Why/why not?

What do you think will happen in this story?

As You Read

Build Vocabulary

Encourage your child to stop when s/he gets to a new word in the story. See if s/he can discover its meaning by using the illustrations and words surrounding it. Examples of new words from Harry the Dirty Dog include:


On subsequent readings, have a more in-depth discussion about some of the words that your child is seeing and talk about the sounds that make them up. Say things like, "_______ starts with the ___ sound. What's another word that starts with the ___ sound? What are some words that rhyme with ____?"


Monitor Comprehension

Be sure to stop every once in awhile to check for comprehension and discuss certain parts of the story. Ask questions like, "What has happened so far? Why do you think Harry ran away? What might happen next?"

After Reading

Make Connections

Once you've finished your read-through, take some time to discuss the story as a whole with your child. Help your child summarize the story and talk about the character's motives and experiences. 

Did you like that story? What was your favorite part?

What did Harry look like in the beginning? Middle? End?

How did Harry get so dirty?! How do you get dirty? Do you like to play outside? Are you a messy eater? 

What lesson do you think Harry learned from this story?

Extending the Story

Recreate the Story and Make Your Own Adventure

Kids love to get their hands dirty, so these Harry the Dirty Dog inspired activities are sure to be a hit. Squashed Tomatoes include things such as a recipe for bone-shaped cookies and ideas for recreating the story. 

Also, you can channel Harry's curious and adventurous nature by going on your own adventure with your child around your neighborhood or city. Take a kid-directed walk and let your little one call the shots on which way to go. You will have to help get back home but it is a great way to see different parts of your area, and give your child the opportunity to make decisions. Have your child make observations about what s/he sees, what buildings and people they notice, and s/he can even bring along a notepad and draw pictures of their surroundings.