Four Clifford books along with the plush toys are $5 each as part of Kohl's Cares.

Kohl's Department Stores has partnered with the 40-plus-year-old children's book series about little Emily Elizabeth and her pet, Clifford — you remember the 25-foot-high, fire-engine-red dog you dreamed of taking to show and tell as a child — to raise money for kids' heath and education initiatives.

The store's summer fundraising program, which will continue until the end of September, has repackaged four 56-page hardcover books. Each includes two classic Clifford tales and sells for $5. If you're not doing your math already, that's eight stories for a cool $20.

If you're wallet-whipped and you can only choose one, though, illustrator and author Norman Bridwell's first book, a vintage classic, "Clifford the Big Red Dog," is it. Published in 1963, it's not only an introduction to the house-sized canine, it's also a peek into Bridwell's original — and unrefined — vision of his big, red character. In the inaugural book, Clifford dons a metal-studded collar; his fur is shabbier; he growls at "mean boys," bears saggy cheeks and resembles something much closer to a famished porch-lazy bloodhound. All quite different than the younger, cheerier rounded-out dog we've come to recognize in subsequent books and cartoons.

And if you're still feeling nostalgic for more of the Big Red Dog series, after buying a book or two, grab one of four plush toys of Clifford and his friends that's being sold with the books. Although the 12- to 14-inch soft toys, at $5 each, aren't as good of a deal as hardbound books, they're still a bargain because 100 percent of Kohl's net profit on each item, book or plush goes toward benefiting kids' initiatives. The Clifford merchandise can also be found online.

Since the store launched its Kohl's Cares program, it's raised more than $180 million to help kids, according to Sydney Hofer, Kohl's spokeswoman.

Last month, for example, the family and values-oriented department chain used $1.5 million of its Kohl's Cares merchandise fund to sponsor a three-year summer meal program for Milwaukee children who aren't fed as regularly when school is out.