Humane Society of Pinellas County program lets children read to animals during the summer

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – With school out for the summer, some parents are scrambling to find educationally safe places for their kids to retain and maybe even improve on what they learned during the school year.

With that in mind, the Humane Society of Pinellas County has a program where children can read books to any animal in the facility to improve their reading skills.

“Kids build confidence in their reading skills when they are reading to animals that don’t judge and they don’t care if they mess up a word or stumble a little bit here and there,” said Humane Society of Pinellas Humane Education and Outreach Coordinator Lucy Monette.

Joanna Barsema, 6, joined the reading program and a few weeks later, she was able to confidently read “Dick and Jane Jump and Run” from cover to cover.

“She has always been a pretty shy little girl and she finds she has the best confidence with dogs and cats, and so sometimes when she sits down with the cats, they come up to her and show her some cat love and it gives her a boost of confidence to want to continue to read even if she is stuck on words,” said Joanna’s father, Eric.

“The cats don’t give up on her and she continues to read,” he added.

The program is free of charge and children are welcome to go in and read during business hours.

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