Children Read to Homeless Animals, Helping Both

“Rescue Reading,” a new program at the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV), gives children the opportunity to practice their reading skills in front of a nonjudgmental audience: homeless animals. In turn, the animals receive extra attention and a calming experience with local little people.

“It’s so heartwarming and a real win-win,” says Karen Patterson, a former elementary school teacher and VP of Humane Education and Volunteering at HSHV. “Research shows that children can improve their reading speed and accuracy by reading aloud repeatedly. And while it’s sometimes tough for them to do this in front of their peers or parents, the animals provide an attentive audience who not only dote on their every word, but don’t flinch when they stumble. So the children’s confidence in reading improves, too.”

And the animals love the attention; HSHV staff say the dogs and cats come right to the front of their kennels when the kids arrive and start reading.

“We originally saw the program being just one day a week,” says Patterson. “But it’s been so popular with both families and our animals, that we are already expanding.”

Rescue Reading is currently offered Wednesday afternoons and Sunday mornings. Each program includes a humane education lesson, time for a group read-aloud, and a dog meet-and-greet for a $10 program fee which goes to help care for the animals as they await adoption. Space is limited to 8 children, facial coverings are required, and the programs are drop-off events. See more at hshv.org/rescuereading.

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