Maryland Pet

Children Improve Reading While Comforting Homeless Shelter Pets

April 24, 2014 Reisterstown, MD – See Spot. See Sally read to Spot. Sally and Spot love to read together. Baltimore Humane Society’s new program, Read to the Animals, is giving children an opportunity to improve their reading skills while also comforting homeless dogs, cats, and rabbits. The launch coincides two days before National Kids &Pets Day on April 26th.

On April 24th, come to Baltimore Humane Society and you may think you’ve walked into a classroom instead of a dog kennel. Rather than the sound of dogs barking, you’ll hear children sounding out letters. Pre-K children reading aloud will be heard in the dog kennel and cattery at Baltimore Humane Society as the no-kill shelter launches its Read to the Animals program with Sweet Potato Kids Children’s Community Center. The intent is for both the animals and children to benefit.

Studies have shown that children who read to animals dramatically increase their reading and comprehension skills. One study by University of California found that over the course of a ten week program, children improved their reading skills by thirty percent. The judgment-free attitudes of the companion pets help motivate the kids to want to practice reading, give them more confidence, and in turn become more competent readers. The extra bonus is that they learn to be more respectful of animals.

The children are not the only ones to benefit. With the quiet one-on-one attention of the readers, the dogs, cats, and rabbits gain companionship and an overall calming effect. Bonus — they learn to enjoy the company of children.

Michelle Hall-Davis, founder and COO of the Randallstown-based Sweet Potato Kids says, “This is a wonderful opportunity for our children to improve their reading skills in a fun way and learn to be kind to animals. We’re very excited to be partnering with Baltimore Humane Society on this new venture.”

The program will begin with Sweet Potato Kids coming once a month. Baltimore Humane Society hopes that they will be able to increase the frequency of reading sessions, or to partner with an additional educational program on some of the other weeks.

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