GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A new program at the Humane Society of West Michigan is helping kids and animals gain more confidence and comfortability through the power of reading.
While the program is currently in its testing phase, a group of fourth and fifth graders from Saint Stephens Catholic School in Grand Rapids got the chance to be the guinea pigs for the dozens of shelter animals.
The program allows young readers to come into the shelter, sit down with them and read any book of their choice.
You might call the students the rescue readers for these rescues.
"What’s great about reading to the animals is not only is it teaching the kids to read without judgment and with patience and they can take their time with reading, but it also helps our animals destress in the stressful environment that we have," said Ashley Dahl, director of community programs for the Humane Society of West Michigan.
Program organizers hope by giving the kids an opportunity to step outside of the classroom and be in the comfort of an animal, their reading skills will improve, along with lives of the animals.
"I have one in my class especially who really struggles with opening up in the classroom and reading in front of people who has been reading like nonstop to the animals here, which has been awesome and she’s been doing a great job. So, that’s been really exciting to see," says Alyssa Wysocki, fourth grade teacher at Saint Stephens Catholic School.
Every animal that participates in the program will be adoptable.
The Humane Society hopes to launch the program and work with multiple schools by March for national reading month.
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