Becoming a strong reader takes practice. For kids who are beginning readers or who may be struggling, reading aloud to a nonjudgmental animal gives them a comfortable way to practice reading and an opportunity to spend time with a beloved pet that makes them feel safe and accepted.
Reading aloud is important for your child because it helps build fluency. Fluent readers have the ability to read accurately, quickly, and with appropriate expression. Fluency is essential because it means that a reader can spend time and energy on understanding what he or she is reading rather than trying to figure out what the words are and what they mean.
You and your pet can give your child a fun and relaxing opportunity to practice reading:
- To get your pet accustomed to read-aloud time, include your pet when you read aloud to your child. Read aloud with expression to model fluency for your child.
- It is best if your pet will sit calmly with your child for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. Have your child read to your pet at a time of day when your pet is ready to relax.
- Give your child and pet some privacy for their read-aloud sessions. But make a point of talking with your child about what he or she read to your pet. Chances are your child will be excited to share his or her experiences without prompting.
- If you don’t have a pet for your child to read to, check with your local public library. Many offer special “Paws to Read” programs for kids to read with trained therapy dogs and other animals.