CPS students practice reading at animal shelter

Published 6:45 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CHOCOWINITY — When it comes to animals and reading, Chocowinity Primary School students are combining the best of both worlds.

This unlikely combination involves students in kindergarten through fourth grade visiting the Betsy Bailey Nelson Animal Control Facility in Washington to read to some of the cats and dogs.

Paula Cox, literacy specialist at Chocowinity Primary, said she got the idea from a Lester Holt TV series and thought it would be a good activity to encourage reading in a laid-back environment. Students join the group on a voluntary basis.

Over the past month, she said she has been coordinating the reading days with Sandy Davis at the animal shelter.

“I wanted to do a little something different this year,” Cox said. “The kids can read and nobody corrects their reading.”

Not only that, the students are learning how to be responsible pet owners and can see the consequences of the alternative first hand, she said.

The students bring their favorite books to read to the animals in between giving treats and loving attention. Many have donated treats and toys to the animal facility.

Cox said it has been neat to watch some of the more nervous animals slowly warm up to the children after spending a little time together.

“We’re seeing them start to come up,” she said.

CREATING A BOND: Second-grader Brian Johnson reads a book to his assigned dog, Missy.

CREATING A BOND: Second-grader Brian Johnson reads a book to his assigned dog, Missy.

Rising fifth-grader Annabelle Howdy said she likes to bring dog-themed books to read to the puppies at the shelter. On Tuesday, she brought one of the books from “The Puppy Place” series by Ellen Miles.

“She is so sweet,” Howdy said of her assigned dog, Sam. “I just like going to the shelter.”

Cox said a lot of the animals at the shelter one week have been adopted by the next week, although that is not always the case.

Either way, the young participants look forward to creating new bonds with new animals or seeing an old friend from the previous week. And Cox enjoys seeing the students become better readers.