Saturday, November 23, 2019

Benefits of Reading with Animals - guest infowraps

Guest Post:

A Reader’s Best Friend: The Many Benefits of Reading with Animals
by Melissa Taylor

Melissa Taylor, MA, is a teacher, mama, and writer from Colorado. Her goal in childhood was to read every book in the children's section of the library. She loves (in no particular order) children's books, her Kindle, Pinterest, and knitting rectangles. An education expert, she’s written for many publications, including, USA Today Health, and Scholastic Parent and Child. Connect with Melissa on her learning blog, Imagination Soup, or on Pinterest.


A reluctant reader plus a loving animal can be a powerful combination for reading practice.
Reading to a dog, or any pet, gives children a safe environment to practice their reading, make mistakes, and grow as a reader. Plus, it’s way cooler than reading to mom and dad every night.

Darcy, a blond 7-year-old with dyslexia, struggles with reading. Tonight she’s nestled in a corner of pillows with a picture book and her greyhound, Pippi. Slowly the words come out. Halting. Unsure. But Pippi doesn’t care. She listens attentively as Darcy reads aloud.
Other nights, Darcy reads to their new kitty. She loves reading to an attentive animal audience, one who loves her and never says she’s doing it wrong.
“It’s easier for [Darcy] to read to them because she doesn’t feel like they are judging her and they don’t jump in to correct her or help her like her older sister does,” says Darcy’s mom.

For struggling readers like Darcy, who need to practice reading to build their reading confidence and fluency, the feeling of safety with an animal allows for uninhibited reading risk and practice.

Educational researcher and linguist Stephen Krashen explains that a child’s “affective filter,” or affective emotions such as low self-esteem and anxiety, can create a mental block that often inhibits learning.
Reading to pets removes that mental block and increases the chance for learning to occur.
And let’s be honest, it’s always fun to spend time with our pets.

Case in point: Jake and his pet gerbils. As Jake’s dad recounts, “We recently adopted gerbils. On their first day in our house, Jake read them Geronimo Stilton stories to help them feel more at home.”
Jake doesn’t need to read to his gerbils; he wants to because it’s so much fun.
Or Amanda’s daughter and her guinea pig: “We have a guinea pig and my 8-year-old takes it out every day after school and reads to it (and her younger brothers). It’s the sweetest thing in the world to see them.”

If you don’t have a pet in your household, you can find programs for reading to animals through libraries, hospitals, and schools. Organizations such as R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) provide well-trained therapy dogs for child-animal reading experiences. And some animal shelters open their doors to children who want to read to their homeless pets.
Even Grumpy Cat might sit still for a good story.

Reading for a Purpose: The benefits of reading to animals isn't just for the children. Animals are also helped from the attention they receive. It gives kids a sense of purpose when they sense the animals are benefiting from their kindness and attention through the act of reading.


(Related article the you may enjoy....)

How Reading Aloud to Animals Can Boost Kids' Literacy Skills

Learn four ways early and struggling readers can bond with pets and shelter animals, while practicing reading without any judgment.

It's often said that a dog is man's best friend. But did you know that dogs, cats, birds, and pretty much any pet can be a friend to a struggling reader? Family pets, shelter animals, or even visiting animals at your local library can help enhance your child's reading skills. Here are just a few ways practicing reading aloud to animals can benefit your child:

1. Motivation: If you were a child who was told you could pick any book to read aloud without your mistakes being corrected, your motivation to read would jump up a few notches. That's exactly what happens when we provide the opportunity for kids to practice reading to animals. Often children will bond with the animal they are reading to and be motivated to visit that animal over and over again to read aloud.

2. Confidence: Struggling and reluctant readers often lack confidence when reading, especially when reading aloud. When a child reads to an animal, there is no judgment. A child can stumble through a word, read at a choppy rate, or take an extended amount of time to read a passage. The animal remains a consistent listening companion. Over time, a child will begin to feel more comfortable reading aloud, thus building reading confidence.

3. Fluency: Reading fluency, including reading speed and phrasing, improves with reading aloud and practicing the same material over and over. Animals don't mind if a child reads Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman twenty times. This safe listening environment provides opportunities for kids to rack up lots of practice time.

4. Reading for a Purpose: The benefits of reading to animals isn't just for the children. Animals are also helped from the attention they receive. It gives kids a sense of purpose when they sense the animals are benefiting from their kindness and attention through the act of reading.

So, where can you find an animal for your child to practice her reading? Here are a few opportunities:

Pets: If you have a family pet, then your child has a built-in reading partner every day of the week. Dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, and birds all make good listening partners. A neighbor or an outside family member's pet can also work if you don't have your own.

Shelter Animals: There are many animals who spend long days in small spaces with limited human interaction. Shelters like your local Humane Society allow kids to read to the animals. Check with a local shelter near you for availability, hours, and other requirements.

Service Animals: Check your local library for reading to animal programs. Many have select days during the month that service animals visit the library. Your child can sign up for a time slot to read to an animal. The service animals are specially trained to sit or lay still next to the child during their reading session.

Stuffed Animals: Perhaps your child has pet allergies and reading to a live pet just isn't in the cards. A stuffed animal friend can serve the same role. Little ones especially love to read to their favourite stuffie.

Have your young or struggling reader give reading to an animal a try. You will be pleased to see your child's love of reading — and your animal's — flourish.

Connect with Jodie Rodriguez on her site, Growing Book by Book.

And who knows the benefits that may occur?  lol!


Hi everyone!   I'm ready to read to my buddies.  Nothing like furry, fun reading buddies to enjoy the read-aloud experience!  Now if I can dig out my book from underneath this grateful, happy pet-pile I shall begin.  

I hope you enjoyed your week with me and have scheduled a re-visit for next week.  I love sharing great kid books with you and encouraging you to keep the reading flame alive.  Come back and join me next week as I unwrap some more awesome kid books and delightful music that will not only entertain your kids but educate them as well.  Happy weekend everybody and happy reading. 

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