LEMOORE — With each turn of the page, children are practicing their reading skills and helping the dogs at Valley Animal Haven.
Over the summer one of Valley Animal Haven’s younger volunteers began a program called Read to a Pup.
Kalob Jones, 8, has been volunteering at the shelter since he was 4 years old. He has always loved animals, his mother Stacey Jones said.
He has helped in the socializing of animals and in various maintenance tasks to help keep the shelter running.
One day Kalob was reading to his dogs at home, and Jones suggested that he read to the dogs at the shelter.
So he did and he brought friends with him each time.
“It was a way to keep his reading current during the summertime,” Jones said. “We try to bring other kids so they can benefit as well.”
The children line up at the various kennels to read a couple of pages of a book to one dog and then rotate around the shelter until all the dogs have been read to.
Pam Brasil, executive director of Valley Animal Haven, said that watching the children read to the dogs is a sight to see.
“When they come up the dogs just bark, but when they start to read the dogs just sit down and listen,” she said.
Brasil said that the children reading to the dogs has a calming effect on the dogs.
Kalob said that the shelter is somewhere he likes to be and that he appreciates getting to interact with the animals.
Brasil said that the program went so well in the summer that she feels comfortable inviting other children of the community to come read to the dogs.
Jones and Brasil see this program as a good opportunity for children to practice their reading skills and build confidence when it comes to public speaking.
Nancy Jeffcoach, the supervisor of the Child Development Center at West Hills College Lemoore, said that children hearing themselves pronounce words correctly and incorrectly gives them an opportunity to build their language skills and an understanding of phonetics and tone.
Jeffcoach also said that children learn their language skills, especially at a young age, from hearing words spoken correctly. She said that there is also a greater connection and bond formed between the child and the person reading to them.
Jones also said that coming to spend time at the shelter helps Kalob get his “puppy fill."
Brasil said that children and adults wanting to volunteer time at the shelter can contact them by calling 997-3601.