Is reading only limited to human beings? We may not remember it but we had to go through great lengths to learn our ABCs and then, move on to parts of speech and finally, read and understand anything representing a narrative or a story. However, before we could learn to read, we were able to talk, listen, understand, and respond.
Long before we could read, our granny or our mommy would narrate us such wonderful tales of fairies and princesses that we would go on a magical ride in our own minds. And as we grow up and meet our children or anyone younger than us, we like to take them on this magical journey too, our own narrative voices guiding them. It’s a unique relationship that humans share with one another – of reading and listening.
Well, now, it seems that the listening part is also being captured by shelter animals. Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter have many shelter animals living under its roof. These animals may have been victims of torture and abuse and they require a lot of time to adapt and be with human beings again. They are likely nervous around humans.
Well, Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter decided to try out a novel way of helping these shelter animals adapt to the human world again. The shelter knew that children love to read and also, require a lot of reading practice. So, they tied the need for shelter animals to come in human contact and the enthusiasm of children to read in a unique way – they invited children to read out to rescue animals.
They posted the invite on Facebook on 31st October and from that day onwards, they had a large influx of volunteers enrolling for this reading program. The S.P.A.C.E Tails program of open for children aging between 6 and 16. The aim of this program is to reduce the nervousness of rescue dogs around children and to make them feel safe and loved as they wait for someone to adopt them.
The shelter announced this program with the Facebook post stating that one of their residents, Waffles, loves to be read to. So, the shelter was asking for donations of children’s books. Plus, they were also planning to start this program where volunteer children could read out to the rescue animals.
The response was overwhelming and after posting the offer on Facebook, the S.P.A.C.E Tails first session was completely booked. The shelter also found out that these reading exercises were calming to the residents of the shelter.
As per the event page, the next session is scheduled for 4th December, for 45 minutes.
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The benefit of reading to pets or animals is not only going to help the animals but is going to help the children too. According to Rebecca Barker Bridges, an education therapist, kids know that animals are non-judgmental and hence, kids are less self-conscious about being judged when they are with an animal. It alleviates anxiety. Bridges, herself, adopted a Golden Retriever called Stanley and when she introduced Stanley to self-conscious kids, they were more comfortable to read to Stanley than before other students and the teacher. According to Bridges, you don’t even need a live dog – stuffed animals can also work wonders.
The children just need privacy and security when they embark on something new like reading before someone.