LITTER-ARY CLUB: Students Read To Pets

One Des Moines teacher found an interesting way to help students improve their reading skills. And, the program is helping more than just the kids.

Reading is fun for Adrian Sanchez, especially when he’s turning the page for man’s best friend. He says, “Sometimes you can tell what they’re thinking. Like right now, I think she’s thinking read to me again.”

It seems dog Jasmine enjoys the book “Throne of Fire.” Adrian says, “It’s about these two kids Carter and Sadie supposedly being blamed for a lot of bad stuff.”

And, Adrian likes her company. He says, “She sits down and listens and doesn’t jump around a lot.”

This is part of the new “Litter-ary” club at the Animal Rescue League. Eleven students from Des Moines’ Amos Hiatt Middle School volunteer to read to the dogs and cats every other week. Teacher Courtney Bright says, “For children, it’s excellent for them, for the stress level.”

Some of the readers are advanced and others are struggling. But, Bright says all benefit because reading to a pet isn’t as intimidating as reading to a peer or parent. She says, “This way it’s just a quiet ear to be able to work on the fluency. Nobody’s judging them.”

And, it’s a calming experience for the animals. Tom Colvin with the ARL says, “The nice even tone that the kids are using, and they stay seated. So, I think just the body language and the tone of their voice is going to be something the animals find very soothing.”

The program doesn’t cost any money. The Boys and Girls Club provides the transportation. Organizers hope one day they’ll be able to do this for more students down the road. Bright says, “I’d love to see this grow into maybe a summer reading program because students, you know, don’t read as much during the summer, so to kind of keep up their fluency, keep up their comprehension skills.”

The club started this winter. Thirty students are on a waiting list to read.  Bright got the idea from a school in Wyoming and thought it would be a win-win situation here.

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