“Read for the Animals” ​Read-a-thon

A read-a-thon is a great activity for families to encourage beginning readers. For kids who want to learn more about animals and help those in need, a read-a-thon is also a wonderful way for them to play a big role in raising money for your local shelter or animal rescue group.

It will take a little planning to organize your read-a-thon, and a lot of reading! But the rewards are great—for the organization that receives your donation and for your motivated and engaged family of readers.

Introduce the read-a-thon

If you have a pet at home, your child already knows about the care and attention a pet receives. Explain how not every pet is fortunate to have a loving home. Talk with your child about why donating money to your local shelter can help animals that need homes and how your family can raise money to give. Describe how a read-a-thon works so your child understands that he or she would be asking people he or she knows well to agree to give him or her a certain amount of money for each page he or she reads during a defined period of time. Make sure your child is comfortable with the idea and enthusiastic about reading for the animals.

Decide where your donation will go

There may be several organizations in your community that help animals in need. Look online or call to learn about their mission and goals, their finances, and how your donation will be used. Check too to see which groups offer tours for families so your family can see firsthand the work—and the animals—that your donation will support.

When you’ve decided where to give your donation, write the name of the organization on the Read-a-thon Sponsor Sheet.

Set goals for your read-a-thon

Talk about these questions with your child:

How much money would you like to be able to donate? Talk with your child about the costs involved in caring for animals. It may be easier to set a goal if you help him or her get a sense of how much food and other items cost for your pet. Then talk about how many pets are sheltered during the year. Once you have dollar goal in mind, include it on the Read-a-thon Sponsor Sheet.

How long will your read-a-thon take place? For a day or a week or even longer? Some families may want to compress the read-a-thon time into one fun day of staying at home in pajamas and reading from breakfast until bedtime. Reading whenever there’s a free moment from Sunday to Saturday may work better for other family schedules.

How many pages can you read in a limited amount of time? To set a reading goal, your child may want to do a timed trial. See how many pages he or she can read in twenty minutes, then estimate how many he or she might be able to read for the duration of your read-a-thon. Print out this Reading Log to keep track of the number of pages read during the read-a-thon, and have him or her include a reading goal on it.

The read-a-thon can be tailored to each reader in your family, so readers at different ages and stages should set appropriate goals.

Seek sponsors

Sponsors pledge to pay a set amount for each page your child reads. With your child, brainstorm a list of family members and friends to sponsor your child’s reading. Talk with your child about how to ask for sponsorship, describe his or her goals to potential sponsors, and share information about the organization he or she is supporting. Go with your child to visit or help him or her call friends and relatives as he or she asks for sponsorship. Be sure your child lets sponsors know when he or she will announce how many pages he or she read and come to collect the money they were so generous to pledge.


There are lots of different ways to read for a read-a-thon, and all reading done counts. Your child may prefer to do all the reading silently. You can also make it a family activity, with everyone taking turns reading aloud or having your child read to you, a sibling, or even your pet! Just make sure your child keeps track of the number of pages read on the Reading Log and that you verify that he or she has done the reading.

Your child should choose which books to read, but you can also put together a selection of books about animals to have on hand so your child can explore and learn more about the cause he or she is reading for. Have your child include the titles of the books read on the Reading Log so he or she can tell sponsors about all the books he or she enjoyed.

Collect from sponsors

When read-a-thon time is up, help your child add up the total number of pages read. Then, for each sponsor, multiply that number by the pledged amount to find the total due. Help your child get in touch with his or her sponsors and share his or her accomplishment! Your child should ask his or her sponsors for a check made out to the organization listed on your Read-a-thon Sponsor Sheet.

Make your donation

After all checks have been collected, make arrangements to deliver your donation. If your child wants to deliver the donation in person, it is best to call ahead to be sure that someone from the organization can receive it and perhaps talk with your child about his or her efforts.

Thank your sponsors

Encourage your child to write a note of thanks to every sponsor. To add to his or her appreciation, your child might also include a photograph that shows him or her visiting the shelter and delivering the donation, or a handmade bookmark featuring a list of some of the books your child most enjoyed reading during the read-a-thon.


You may want to have a special meal or make a tasty treat to celebrate your child’s accomplishments. Just be sure to also make time to give your family a moment to reflect on and discuss what everyone learned from the experience.