Magic Bookshelf Online

Exploring the Children’s Reading World with Parents and Educators –

Need an audience? Read to the dog! October 14, 2008


I’m always interested in new read-aloud exercises to help improve children’s confidence and reading skills, and believe wholeheartedly in the ideas of school reading buddies, and reading to siblings at home (which is a relationship booster too).

But here’s a new one on me: reading to the dog?

OK, I’m listening…

Starting this evening, the Great Falls, Montana Public Library and the Great Falls Animal Shelter are slated to begin their “Read to an Orphan” program, which promotes reading and pet adoption in tandem.

What does reading have to do with pet adoption, you may ask? Well, say organizers, the “Read to an Orphan” program “aims to reduce the number of dog bites through education and interaction, while also promoting reading and pet adoption.”

Reports Montana’s KRTV station, a CBS affiliate, an animal control officer will bring one orphaned dog from the animal shelter to the library, featuring a new dog each month. “Children will then be able to read to the dog – and other attendees – to foster better reading skills and promote healthy interaction with both people and pets.”

Organizers hope people will come to the library to see the dogs, and afterward visit the shelter to see who else may need a home.

I think this is a great idea — but reading to a dog (or cat, for that matter) need not be just a novelty. You can try it at home. Can’t you picture your young budding reader eager to share some skills with a quiet and ever-attentive listener?

My two older children read mostly to themselves these days. But with our twins on the way, and my clamping onto this novel idea, our dog Gypsy may be able to look forward to more literary exposure than the average dog experiences. And I think she’ll love it.

posted by Janie McQueen, author of The New Magic Bookshelf: Finding Great Books Your Child Will Treasure Forever



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