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They're All Ears

Volunteers and pets help kids improve reading and social skills

Volunteers and pets help kids improve reading and social skills

Virginia Beach SPCA

While countless kids have blamed their canine friends for their academic missteps with that classic excuse, "The dog at my homework," you're likely to hear something altogether different from the children in Virginia Beach, Minneapolis, and other cities and towns across the country: "The dog helped me read."

Through programs coordinated by nonprofit organizations, volunteers bring pets to schools and libraries, and kids read out loud to these furry audiences of one. The programs help beginning and reluctant readers, children with speech difficulties or learning disabilities, and students learning English.

Most people would say that these animals don't understand a word the kids are saying (though those of us convinced our pets are geniuses might beg to differ) but pets are the perfect nonjudgmental listeners. Kids don't have to worry that a dog will giggle or smirk if they pronounce words incorrectly, read slowly, stutter, or get frustrated. That soft bunny or calm cat will never correct, tease, interrupt, or ask if they've done their homework.

 Read the full article.

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