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Hank the Cowdog Chapter Books

Looking for a series of chapter books that includes a delightful mix of fun, mystery, and adventure? Get ready for a treat when you introduce your children to John R. Erickson’s Hank the Cowdog series.

Who Is Hank the Cowdog?

As you might have guessed, Hank is a cowdog who happens to be the “Head of Ranch Security”—a job he takes very seriously. Hank and his sidekick, Drover, get tangled up in all sorts of interesting situations as they work together to protect the ranch. But things don’t always work out the way Hank expects.

Follow along as Hank messes with a porcupine, humbles cats, and mixes with coyotes—all in the name of ranch security.

Take our free Hank the Cowdog checklist to your local library!

About the Author and Series

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog book cover

John R. Erickson is a real Texan cowboy with a great sense of humor. He masterfully pulls pieces of real ranch life into the Hank the Cowdog series, which have sold nearly eight million copies over more than 30 years. With humor that both parents and kids will find irresistible, these books make fun read-alouds. Since new books are added to the series at the rate of about two books per year, Hank-loving kids will have plenty of reading material to keep them busy!

The publisher’s suggested age range for the Hank the Cowdog books is 8 to 12, and their vast appeal helps them engage even reluctant readers. There’s a lot of dialogue, so if you are working with a struggling reader, make sure he understands how to read dialogue before he begins the series. Some children may need to be explicitly taught how to anticipate who is speaking. To help prevent frustration on your child’s part, model reading several pages, and then have your child read aloud to you so you can check his understanding of how dialogue works. You might want to try buddy reading, a great tool for teaching this skill!

If your family enjoys audio books, the audio versions of the Hank the Cowdog series, read by the author himself, are wonderful. Erickson acts out each character’s part to perfection and makes you want to stick around for more.

About the Books

There are currently sixty-nine books in the Hank the Cowdog series. Here is a small sampling of them.

The Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog book cover

In the first book, The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, Hank sets out to solve the mystery of a murdered chicken, but the case isn’t as clear-cut as Hank initially expects. When Hank’s crime-solving antics place him in the spotlight of suspicion, he’s forced to leave the ranch and live among the coyotes. When Hank discovers that life as a coyote isn’t as glamorous as he imagined, he ultimately realizes that there’s no place like home.

Hank’s adventures continue in The Further Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, the second book in the series. A mysterious, beakless “silver monster bird” has been spotted near the ranch, and Hank is concerned about the danger. But then Hank develops a condition called “eye-crosserosis.” If Hank is going to be able to protect the ranch from the peril of the silver monster bird, he must seek the help of an owl.

In book three, It’s a Dog’s Life, Hank worries that the world is coming to an end, so he decides to spend some time away from the ranch. He sets out to visit his sister in town and to spend some time with her puppies. But, as usual for Hank, things don’t go as he expects, and before long Hank finds himself in the dog pound.

Hank the Cowdog Series at a Glance

It's a Dog's Life book cover

Author: John R. Erickson
Genre: children’s fiction, humor, mystery
Interests: animals, ranch life
Suggested age range: 8 to 12
Gender preference: boys and girls
In the series: 69 books, 120-130 pages each

Other Books in the Series

Currently, there are sixty-nine books in the series … way too many to list here! But you can explore the complete collection on the official Hank the Cowdog book list, or you can print out our library list below.

Hank the Cowdog Series Library Checklist

Hank the Cowdog library checklist download

Do your kids need extra encouragement to read?

Take our The Hank the Cowdog Series checklist to your local library and have your child check off books as he reads them.

Looking for more great chapter books? We’ve got you covered!

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Leave a Comment

Stephanie

says:

My kids love Hank the Cowdog!! They are a fun read aloud or for kids just getting into chapter books.

Bethani

says:

Thank you for the suggestion! We just finished a book series and were wondering what to do next. This looks awesome!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have, Bethani!

Tami

says:

We’ve read a few and they were a hit.

Kimberly Holder

says:

I am interested in trying this program with my daughter and I hope I can find it at the NC homeschool convention!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kimberly,
Unfortunately, we won’t be there. You might see if Rainbow Resource Center will be, as they carry our entire product line.

Another option, although I know it’s not the same as seeing things in person, is to check out our online samples. You can go to the product pages on our website to find links to samples of each product. Here is a couple to get you started:

All About Reading samples and scope and sequence links

All About Spelling samples and scope and sequence links

Also, we do have a 1-year, 100% satisfaction guarantee when you order from our website. If you decide to try one of our products and it just doesn’t work for you and your children, you are free to return the product (even used), for a refund of your purchase price.

Michelle

says:

These look really great, thank you for telling us about this series.

Kaitlin

says:

Thanks for the recommendation!

Annette

says:

I’m looking forward to checking some of these out at the library this summer!

Saph

says:

Will have to try a book to see if my girls will like this.

Kimber

says:

These look like fun reads!

Christine Nadolny

says:

Looking for these to see if my boys will like them.

Jessie Peckens

says:

These look really fun for my boys!

Trina Greene

says:

We are excited to read these!

Corrine H

says:

Thanks for this book suggestion. I was looking for something new for my 8 year old to read and she lives dogs. Hopefully this will be a good fit.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Corrine,
I hope your daughter enjoys Hank as much as my children have!

Julie S

says:

Which level would these be good for?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
The Hank the Cowdog books are great read alouds (that you read to your child or use a recorded audiobook) for ages 6 up to 12 or so. Although, I know many adults that would enjoy listening to Hank’s exploits! For the child to read the book himself, the Hank the Cowdog books are on 3rd to 4th-grade reading level, but as with listening to the story, students that read on a higher level will likely enjoy reading these as well.

Angie T

says:

Such a great series!

Rachel Dewey

says:

I enjoyed these as a child…. listening to them in the car while my grandpa drove us to his farm. Hank is hilarious!!!

Crystal

says:

We LOVE Hank the Cowboy! We were introduced to the series by a good friend who loaned us a couple of audio books for a road trip. We have since purchased several of the books and try to snatch them up whenever we see them on our favorite book-selling groups. The great thing to me is that all three of my son’s like them and they are 14, 11 and 5!

Crystal

says:

Haha, I have no idea why my phone autocorrected cowdog to cowboy! Lol

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Crystal,
Thank you for letting us know that Hank is a hit with all of your son, even though they are such a wide age range. It’s hard to find books that teens and kindergartners like equally!

Sarah

says:

I used to love Hank the cowdog books when I was a kid I can’t wait to introduce them my kids!

Elissa Hardy

says:

Those look great! I will have to look for them.

Cecily D.

says:

I’m introducing this to my boys this week. I hope they like it.

Kristie

says:

Thanks for the recommendation. My son is really taking off in reading and I’m always on the look out for more books that will be engaging for him.

Merry

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome. :) How exciting that your son is taking off in reading!

Jessica Del Santo

says:

Thank you for your review, and recommendation; I was really excited about these books until I read a sample from the first book – it seemed a bit inappropriate in my opinion. At one point the dog states that he has a nose that “the women really go for”. The fact that the dog solves murders doesn’t make me comfortable either. Can you reccomend something more (wholesome?) for boys? Thank you for developing these programs; my son is a struggled learner, and I’m excited to use the “All About Spelling” program with him!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for your comment–I’ll be sure to pass this on to Marie. Here’s a link to our other book reviews. There are some other resources mentioned in our article, What Happens after All About Reading? that you might also find helpful. You might really like the book Honey for a Child’s Heart mentioned there, and Andrew Pudewa’s list for boys. I often pulled from literature-based curriculum for good reading materials too. It’s always good to check books out to see if they are a match for your family though.

Every parent has to decide what is appropriate for his or her child, so I say this with the upmost respect for you, the parent, in the position of having to decide whether or not a book series is appropriate. I am only commenting to hopefully shed more light on the Hank the Cowdog series. If you find this unhelpful, please feel free to disregard.
We are a Christian family, and we also try to make sure the media our kids are exposed to is appropriate and “wholesome.” The Hank the Cowdog series is about typical life on a ranch, told from a dog’s point of view. Most of Hank’s point of view is intended to be comical, as Hank’s view of himself often does not line up with reality (which quickly becomes clear to the reader). For example, while Hank thinks he has a nose “the women really go for,” most of the female dogs he encounters are typically very unimpressed (and even disgusted) by his attitude and behavior. These books are told from the point of view of a dog, and it is generally hilarious because it is easy to imagine a dog thinking the way that Hank does. The point the author is trying to make when Hank makes the comment about his nose is less about him “trying to get women” than it is about showing Hank’s tendency to think more highly of himself than he ought. While the book does not come right out and say “Pride comes before a fall,” this happens over and over for Hank.
As to him solving a “murder,” the tone of the books is always very light. While Hank takes his “job” very seriously, he is a terrible detective, and most of the books are not about “murder.” While the first one does include “murder” (of a chicken), it is clear that it isn’t so much murder as it is the natural order of animal and ranch life. Animals (and even humans!) eat other animals, and Hank himself is often tempted to eat one of the ranch chickens. No humans are ever harmed in any of the books, and Hank even saves some of the human characters from time to time from hazards of ranch life.
Anyway, I hope that helps! We love the Hank the Cowdog series. They are all quite funny. Also, as a side note, I was very pleased and impressed to see that in one of the books the author dedicated that particular one to Linda and James Dobson (head of Focus on the Family) “for everything they do for the American family.”

Jessica Del Santo

says:

Hi Autumn, thank you so much for taking the time to reply, it is very appreciated. As a Christian, I am sure you can understand that many times what others (and sadly even other Christians) deem as “appropriate” are dabbled with bits of inappropriate content; based on the wee bit I read, I was skeptical, and was not willing to chance the book. I am thankful you are familiar with the series, and can offer more insight to the small amount I was able to review! I will definitely pick up one of the books now, and see how it goes!

Sure! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks for taking the time to respond, Autumn–great observations!

Aseffa Berhanu

says:

thank you

Rachel Carroll

says:

Ericksonis one of my favorite children’s book writers of all time. He captures the essence of Texas ranch life down to the last mesquite thorn. Love hearing my kids howl with laughter over the same books I enjoyed in middle school!

Amanda

says:

These sound fun. Maybe they will be the books to turn my reluctant reader into a voracious reader!

Hadley

says:

Thanks for the recommendation! I got the audiobook of the first Hank book from the library for my four-year-old, and he loved it.

Jennifer

says:

Cool! Looks like something my boys would enjoy!

Laura Walton

says:

I can’t wait to start reading these with my first grader. I’m definitely taking the checklist to the library with me this week! Thank you!

Elizabeth

says:

I remember reading some of these as a kid. Cute and clean. Erickson has also been featured lately in World Magazine either in interviews or articles written by him. Check those out too.

Candace Doriety

says:

So happy to see your recommendation of these books my little cowboy already likes! Anything y’all approve keeps me from having to check it out!

Erma

says:

Sounds interesting. Never heard of them.

Kc

says:

We love hank the cowdog

Linda G.

says:

My son loves Hank the Cowdog!!

Amber

says:

I have been looking for books for my level 2, animal-loving reader. I think she would love these! Thanks for the suggestion!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amber,
It sounds like these books would be right up your daughter’s alley!

Kim Slease

says:

Oh! My kids love mysteries. I’ll have to check this one out.

Melissa Ireland

says:

Thanks for the suggestion! We are always looking for new books to keep us interested :)

Jacque

says:

My son LOVES this series. We’ve read several but are far from finished.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jacque,
That is the best thing about series with so many books in them. There is (almost) always another one to read.

Shannon

says:

I just put the first one in hold at the library! Thanks

Rita Nunley

says:

I spent several years teaching in Keller, TX, juston the outskirts of Ft. Worth. Hank the Cowboy was just coming out, and he was an instant hit. JWe were lucky enough to have an author’s visit with John R. Erickson. He was great with the kiddos. Very funny. If you can do a read aloud with the first book, your kiddos will be instant fans!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great recommendation, Rita! Thank you.

Christy

says:

Thanks for the book tip! It’s great to find a new adventure series for my boys.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christy,
I hope your boys love Hank!

Heidi

says:

I’ve never heard of Hank the Cowdog! Looks like something I’ll have to check out for my youngest.

Mamak

says:

I had not heard of Hank. I think my son would love him!

Julissa Ortiz

says:

I really need this for my girls!!

Brooke d

says:

Love to try these! My oldest turned 5 abc this would be perfect.

Brenda

says:

Thanks for the suggestion! Our first Hank the Cowdog book just arrived. Looking forward to reading it with the kiddos!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brenda,
I hope you enjoy it immensely!

Oh. My. Yes! My son LOVES Hank the Cowdog. When we first checked out a Hank the Cowdog audio book, he listened to it over and over AND OVER and over again! I even caught him making up a dance to one of Hank’s songs. The books are quite funny. It was Hank the Cowdog that really got my son interested in reading chapter books for the first time. And John Erickson does a great job doing all the voices on the audio books!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Autumn,
I got a great big smiling imagining your son doing a dance to one of Hank’s songs!

Annette M

says:

We started with AAS-Level 1, when my oldest daughter was in gr.4(6yrs ago). She was a struggling learner due to a speech impediment since birth which also affected her reading ability. I knew (mother’s instinct) that comprehension wasn’t a problem. So much of her effort was poured into producing sounds and being understood that it pushed back her reading readiness. (We worked with a Speech Pathologist for only 6mos. since we lived in a remote community that could not afford full-time support). After 2 Levels of AAS, I am happy to report that her reading took off with lightning speed. By gr. 7, she was reading historical biographies and in gr.9 she completed an online Literature class. Now (in gr.10) you would never know that she ever had any struggle at all. WE would really like to add Levels to our collection for the other kids. Thanks AAS!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Annette,
This is wonderful! I am so pleased to hear how well your daughter has done, and how she is excelling now. Thank you for sharing this!

Hannah Wilgus

says:

This looks like exactly what we need to be using!

amy

says:

I look forward to reading these.

Tara Wilson

says:

These posts are so informative and helpful! Thank you!

Samantha Jo Parr

says:

Really alot of fun to learn with!

S

says:

We love Hank the Cowdog!

Christinna

says:

I love all about spelling’s multi sensory approach!

Kelly

says:

These look fun!

Brenda

says:

I’ve seen this book series at our local library and wondered about them. Now with the useful checklist provided, my three boys and I are excited to check them out! Thank you!

Holly Scogin

says:

These look so fun! We love AAR!

Beth Smith

says:

Thanks for the heads up on this book series! My boys have enjoyed Gary Paulson’s Hatchet series and have just about finished reading it with my husband. This looks like a great new series to start, especially since they love dogs! :) I reserved book #1 at the library for us and just picked it up this afternoon. Can’t wait to start learning about Hank and his adventures!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Beth,
I hope you have fun with this series!

Austin

says:

These look great!

I think these will be a good fit for my daughter

Misti

says:

We love AAR and AAS!

Misti

says:

Hank the Cowdog has been highly recommended to us. Can’t wait to check it out! We love AAS.

Michelle

says:

I’m hoping to use this program soon and introduce my kids to one of my favorites as a child, hank the cowdog!

Jessica

says:

These books sound like so much fun!

Lisa D

says:

This series sounds so great!! And I am so thankful to the commenters who mentioned that they are also available in audiobooks!

Tina Blevins

says:

This is perfect for my grandson and granddaughter. I homeschool both of them. We love All About Reading.

Lacey

says:

Very cute! I think my daughter would love this series

Amy Larkin

says:

We are just starting these. My little boy is going to love them!

Lydia R.

says:

I’ll have to check this out after my 8 y.o. has exhausted The Boxcar Children series =)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lydia,
Wow! There are so many books in the Boxcar Children series. What a reader!

Tammy

says:

My children love Hank the Cowdog! We often take a Hank book for the road when we travel.

Amy Krohn

says:

Nice books! Thanks for the post.

Anna L

says:

How fun! I’ve never heard of this series before. I think my son would enjoy these.

Dandi D

says:

We have never read any of these, but now that my son is reading on his own, I think he would really enjoy these!

Jessica

says:

We LOVE Hank The Cowdog! My son laughs at all their adventures!

My boys LOVED these growing up! They are such fun and silly books for any cowdog loving kid. :)

Jamie Nixon

says:

These are such fun little stories!

Lindsay

says:

Awesome books!

Sonja Brow

says:

These are such fun stories!

Dawn

says:

Thanks for the recommended reading. These look like great books, gonna check them out at our local library.

Jeannie Childers

says:

My kids and I love Hank the Cowdog books! I was just reading one with my 10 yr old earlier this evening. I’m not sure you are aware, but the author lives in the Texas Panhandle where all of the wildfires were occurring. His family made it out safe with their dogs and horses, but lost all of their belongings, and I believe their cattle, on the ranch.
Thank you for supporting him in this time. Also, the son of the illustrator for Hank books lives in our tiny town. Him and his wife are veterinarians.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jeannie,
We had heard about the wildfire just yesterday. The family is in our prayers.

Lisa Haines

says:

My daughter would love this series.

Allison

says:

I’ve heard such good things about this series!

Robyn McLeod

says:

OMGosh! We *adore* Hank the Cowdog!! Seriously, favourite of the entire family. The audiobook versions are fantastic! They’re so good, they’ve almost ruined the print versions for me because the voice in my head doesn’t sound as good as the narrator on audible lol. That aside, the stories are both hilarious and 100% accurate. I’ve lived on a ranch my whole life and my husband raises cowdogs. They are like a whole
different species of dog and they are so well portrayed on these books – as is life on a ranch in general. Whenever they talk about Slim’s pick up, I just about die laughing!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Robyn,
I have little to no experience with ranch life, but I always thought these books had a ring of truth in them! Thank you for verifying that for us. I’ve only ever read these aloud, but now you have convinced me to search down the audiobooks!

K Young

says:

Thank you! Can’t wait to read them aloud!

Jennifer H

says:

I think my son will like these!

Kathleen R Dancer

says:

When I was homeschooling my grandson, who had high-functioning autism, we listened to Hank the Cow Dog audiobooks all the time when we were commuting in the car–checked them out from the local library. I am certain they helped his language development and they certainly are engaging and funny.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for letting us know your grandson enjoyed them, Kathleen!

Today is his 16th birthday, and he passed his driving test the first try with flying colors and is now a licensed driver…but I’m about to see if the library has some new volumes for myself!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Well, happy birthday and congratulations to him!

Kathleen Hamilton

says:

Just letting you know that Hank’s family home was destroyed in the wildfires in the Texas panhandle a week or so ago. John and his wife are fine, but they lost their home and other buildings on their ranch.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kathleen,
Oh, no! We did not know this and our prayers go out to the family. Thank you for letting us know.

Theresa

says:

This sounds like a fun series. I will have to check it out. I read chapter books to our kids every night.

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