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Once Upon a Tail

By Grace Spampinato and Shireen Haynes

There are many benefits of reading for children.  Reading helps to improve vocabulary and language skills.  As children read, they learn words, sentence structure and new ways to use their words in both speaking and writing.   Their imaginations develop and grow as the brain turns words into descriptions and pictures in their minds.  Reading also helps develop empathy skills as children learn about people and places outside of their usual environment.  Children who regularly read also do better across all subjects in school.  Children can be self-conscious when it comes to their reading skills and many shy away from reading aloud in school.

As such, Rochester Animal Services is pleased to host a monthly reading session during which children can visit the shelter and read to our available animals.  A study from the University of California Davis showed that children who read aloud to dogs for 10 to 15 minutes a week experienced a 12% increase in reading proficiency.  They also reported feeling “happy and safe” when reading to the animals versus feeling “self-conscious, clumsy and uncomfortable” when reading out loud without an animal.  TherapyAnimals.org reports that over 70% of children of all ages talk to and confide in animals and when coupled with a reading program, their reading proficiency increases by at least two grade levels.  Reading to an animal also increases the child’s self-confidence, which in turn, helps in the childs’s interactions with other children and adults.

Reading programs not only benefit the children but also the animals.  Shy or fearful animals become more comfortable around humans because there is not forced interaction.  Animals develop their social skills, which help lead to greater adoption rates.  The one-on-one reading time also provides much needed enrichment for the animals who may be lonely and bored while waiting for their forever homes.

If you are interested in having your children participate in this program, please watch our Facebook page for updates.  You can also find event info on the Rochester Animal Services website or our events page.  This event is very popular and space is limited so be sure to sign up as quickly as possible.